Thursday, December 14, 2006
This week has required some flexibility. I felt all achey on Monday so after tutoring I went to bed for a while. Went out to see the counterpart and to look for the rockcarver, who once again sold more than any other artisan at the craft fair in Rabat over the weekend, but the former couldn’t leave the artisana to take me to the sewing cooperative and the latter wasn’t in, so I went back to bed. I thought I was going to Meknes to see the delegate (ministry representative) this week and to the two rural communities with whom I’ll be working, but both of those journeys were postponed. And new meetings materialized – one about the GLOW camp, with an organization that runs campsites and might be able to host, and the other a meeting with the counterpart, Katie and three of the women from TimHdit (!), about the legal requirements of forming their cooperative (that was mostly in Tamazight but Katie and the counterpart translated enough for me to get it – more incentive to learn some Tamazight though, once I have more darija under my belt!). I still haven’t really been to the souk. On site visit, I went with my host mother to get vegetables, but didn’t really explore. The first week I was meeting with the tutor, last week I think I also was squeezed for time, and this week I was achey. But every week I try to leave Tuesday morning open for it.
I also had a massage! I had wanted to get one in Fes, but that proved harder to find than anticipated, so I decided to try the one in town that Amanda had told me about (but has not yet experienced herself – she just met the massage therapist by chance). It was a metaphor for my life here – the ones in America are easier and better (for example, the room was cold), but I am here for a variety of reasons and overall am glad to be in Azrou where at least they have massages (and the other creature comforts).
House-hunting has taken on more of a priority now – without the travel, I’ve had more time this week, and my goal is to have an idea of what I want by the end of the month so the Peace Corps can send someone out to inspect it in early January. I can’t move until the end of January so if I don’t find something this month, more could open up…still, I’m stressing a bit about it.
I’ve now seen three PCV houses – Lee’s, Katie’s, and Amanda’s. They each had some charm but also some flaws. All were/are in good locations. All have kitchens that seem hard to work with – and this coming from someone who is not much of a cook. They’re all sparsely furnished, too, which gives me an idea that the Peace Corps settling-in allowance does not go far. I understand that we’re supposed to live at the level of the people we’re living with and working with, but I also want to have a comfortable and nice place for the next two years. All had mattresses on the floor – this after the medical staff said not to do that, but maybe that only applies in the scorpion areas. Lee was the only one with couches not on the floor, but that’s because he borrowed the couches.
I realize that when I get back I will have a much harder housing decision – what city to live in, what neighborhood to live in, whether to finally take the plunge and buy, getting quality furniture – but it’s still been tough so far house-hunting here.
Last week I saw a beautiful place – all new, with lots of tile, new fixtures (nice big sink, shower head), one balcony with a view of a mountain (unless you look down – then you see trash), another balcony just for the clotheslines, and a shared (but not used by the other people much) roof with a view of the city. It’s in a strange location though – new neighborhood, up a steep side hill from the Supermarche, but underpopulated, and you have to walk past the bus station to get to it – sort of a Port Authority crowd – and then through a dirt/mud patch. I have to see what it’s like going to and from the artisana from there. Yesterday I saw a place in the neighborhood next to the artisana – I think I referred to it as Brooklyn. It was a room, and “if I liked it they would add another room, a kitchen, a bathroom and a small roof.” What? I don’t have the imagination for that. I told them I would have a hard time getting the Peace Corps to come out and approve that. I still have the carpenter’s place to see – the one used by the previous PCV, the one used as an LCF house – and I have high hopes for that, though I don’t want to get my hopes up. Then there’s Lee’s place – I could take another look, now that it’s empty, but for whatever reason I just didn’t love it (though it does have a great roof). It may not be available anymore, either – the language barrier made that unclear. I have been putting out feelers as I’ve been talking to people but I don’t know if I’m going to get more help (I did get help on all of the above, so I don’t feel unhelped – the options just may be more limited than I thought). Tomorrow is another day, but I feel discouraged today. Well, tomorrow is another day (didn’t I just say that? See, I’m already picking myself up off of the mat!). Maybe I’ll take a step back and walk around a bit more, explore some of the different areas (“uptown” and “downtown” are oversimplifications – each has nuances and nooks, and there’s more to Azrou than just those two…) and maybe I’ll fall in love with a neighborhood and then focus on what’s available there. If there's a sunny day it would help - lately it's been raining off and on, and chilly - not good exploration weather.
Pictured is the approach to the Azrou souk...even though in the narrative I haven't been there yet.