Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Moving forward from swearing-in (and then I'll move back...) - by the way I have now learned how to change to an English keyboard at a cyber, which makes things much easier. It would be even easier had I ever learned to touch-type, but I semi-touch-type, and I'm familiar enough with the QWERTY keyboard to know where things are. Which leads me to digress to today - I went to the police station to apply for my carte de sejour. Somehow I knew that I wouldn't have everything in order and would have to come back. In my case, I need the moaqddem of my neighborhood to confirm my residence with the host family and to certify the copies of my passport. But while I was waiting I heard a sound from the past - the sound of typewriter keys - a comforting sound. And then I looked down and saw a piece of carbon paper. Until then I had been focused on the Hello Kitty wall clock permanently stopped at 5:50. The people at the police station were very nice - it seemed less frantic than it had been when I was here for site visit.
Anyway...after the swearing-in I thought I would nap but then found what turned out to be a long card game. Then with a few people went for a long walk. Immouzzer du Kandar, the final seminar site, is beautiful. There are tree-lined streets (trees make a big difference!) and we walked though the old medina to yet another tree-lined street at the top of a ridge. There were some old ruins there - maybe a stadium, maybe a jail, maybe a fort - and a vista that kind of looked like Tuscany, and some interesting houses - a combination of Germany and Pennsylvania, maybe. Some people then went off to the bar (and some were already there). Because we weren't all together - there was a late curfew - and because some people may have had a few too many, there wasn't the tearful goodbye that there might have been. The plumbing in our bungalow was suffering under the strain of many Americans, so it was not that hard to leave the next day. I think I experienced my separation sadness when we had site visit. Saturday we said goodbye and that we hope to visit each other - but the reality is that the next time we will be together is in six months for In-Service Training, and by then, statistically, some of us will have gone home.
Anyway - went to my host family and hung out with them for a while; I really like them and feel quite at home. Then I went to Motasim's, where some of his friends were, and we just hung out on the roof. He did have some work information for me - there's a conference at the English-speaking university in Ifrane this week and they wanted to ahve some artisan products for sale on Friday afternoon - but other than that I think it was a typical Moroccan weekend afternoon, hanging out. After a while I realized that I had no energy and I went to a cyber briefly and then went home to read a bit - and went to bed at 7 pm (and the only reason I stayed up that late was that my family had gone out for the day and I waited for them to come home).
Sunday I was refreshed and my usual peppy self. I thought Motasim might text me to go for a hike, but he did not, and it was just as well - I had a chance to organize my stuff and all the papers from the final week and to write some letters and to just hang with the family in the one warm room (the one with the wood stove). And I went with my host mother, sister and little brother to the hammam - we were there a little long for my tastes, but so be it.
Sunday night, Lee had a farewell party. Andy and Victoria, two other COSing (close-of-service) volunteers who had led some of our sessions during training, were there along with their counterparts, who had come along to say goodbye. Also there was Katie, back from her Thanksgiving vacation (with my new laptop!). And most of Motasim's Moroccan friends who I had met over the course of site visit and the last week in Azrou were there. I felt very comfortable this time - as discussed in previous posts, I don't have to inherit all of his friends, but there was such good will in the room that I just might!
The counterpart from Imilchil was henna-ing everyone's feet, and someone else was henna-ing everyone's hands (Andy described this as a "girl party" because that's usually where it's done) - I had my feet done but kept my hands free for photography - it takes a while to dry! I had brought some cookies. Some tea appeared later; the round of women left and there was a second round of men, including some of the artisans. Then it was just the Americans and the counterparts from the south (interestingly, Lee's counterpart - mine - was not at the party) and somehow it was 2:00 am. At Lee's suggestion, I had brought my sleeping bag (which I had been on the fence about packing - so now I'm glad I did) - it was weird telling my family I wasn't coming home, but then I remembered that I have lived on my own for most of the past 25+ years. We got a few hours' sleep and then it was time for the COSers to catch the 6:00 bus to Rabat. As the bus started to leave, Victoria's counterpart from Imichil started to sob. Katie and I gave her big hugs and then I started welling-up too. Here I am just starting and I had a peek into what it is like to be finishing - saying goodbye (the artisans brought presents for Lee - at the same time he was giving away things that he wasn't bringing back) to people with whom you have become very close. Should I be here for the full two years, imshallah, I hope to invite my replacement to my last night here....I should add that Lee also polished my shoes, which I thought had been ruined by TimHdit, and they look much better. I appropriated some of his maps and accepted a sweater, towel and some miscellaneous things, but it didn't occur to me to take the shoe polish or polisher!
Much, much more coming! Pix too. In the meantime, I'll remind you to read the comment section. Just click on the link below each message. I added some comments yesterday to respond to some of yours, including a discussion of the candy here in Morocco!