Tuesday, January 30, 2007


I got the keys to my new apartment on Friday and started to buy things for it over the weekend. 5000 dh disappears even more quickly than I thought it would! So far I have spent almost all of it and don’t have everything I would like.

- A forno, a set of burners. It’s funny buying a stove top without the oven underneath it. There are so many options – three, four, six – I decided on three. I rarely use more than two burners. Then of course there’s the color choice. I settled on good old white. I still have to buy the tank of butagas and all of the hardware for regulating it. At least my electricity and water come from the wall. I’m so used to just turning things on! I wonder if in the big cities the gas comes as a utility as well.

- A small oven. On my host mother’s recommendation, got electric rather than gas – this will give me more control over the temperature and more even cooking, for not much more money than a gas oven, but everything adds up. I wasn’t convinced that an oven is essential – there are plenty of things I can cook using just the burners – but she talked me into it, and now that I have it I know I will use it. I want to make some brownies for her as a thank-you and as a cultural exchange – if I don’t get to make them before I move I can make them afterwards.

- A plastic table and chairs. More choices here – arms or no arms (I like arms) and color (again, white). I am not sure where I’ll put it yet. Entrance foyer? Kitchen? Sitting room? They’re plastic – I can move them to suit the occasion. I thought about getting two small tables instead – a small would fit better on the balcony – but maybe I will get a plastic stepladder or hammam chair and use that for the balcony.

- A hot water heater. Six gallons – wait, really, gallons? Or is it liters? I’ll have to check! Seemed like enough for a shower. I have no idea but it seemed like a standard minimum size. My host mother arranged the installation with her plumber and it took about three hours on Sunday (one hour to wait for him, another hour after he checked it out so he could buy the connection things he needed, and then another hour – but now I can have hot water right when I move in! Not in the kitchen, but I can heat water on the burners to wash dishes. Had I known he was buying the connections I would have had him buy the ones for cooking too! I have yet to go to a hardware store here.

- A bed, on order. The packing list said to bring full-size sheets, so I brought a set from home rather than retire them (and have another set on the way); sheets are hard to come by here. But full-size isn’t a size of bed that they have here. So I ordered one that is almost full, and maybe the sheets will fit. Either way, it’s not a size that the stores here regularly stock, so it’ll take a week or so. When I get back, maybe a queen – or, something I’ve dreamed of – a king. Of course I could be living in a tiny place when I get back. Maybe now was the time to do it, when I have the space! I also ordered a plain wood frame so that the mattress wouldn’t be on the floor. I suppose I could have done the mattress on the floor – at least tried it – but again, I think I will be happier this way.

- Ponges (I spelled it ponjes before and I really don’t know; maybe there is no real way to spell it). Big debate – order three or order two? Two is standard Peace Corps; either way I want frames to get them off the floor. I am going to go with my host mother to look for covers for the ponges and pillows. This is a chance for some color! I am thinking purple and yellow – made a nice combination in the hotel we stayed in in Finland this summer. They seem to have all combinations here. I have to look in the low-end price range, of course. No plaid.

That’s about as far as 5000 dh went. I still have to get a wood cover for my Turkish toilet so I don’t fall in when I shower, a dresser of some sort, a desk, a wooden table for the sitting room, and bookshelves (which can be planks with cinderblocks, though I never did that in college). And then dishes, pots, pans, eating utensils etc. A big priority is cleaning supplies – I want people to take off their shoes when they come in, but the plumber and his helpers tracked wet dirt from the melting snow, plus they smoked (at least they had the door to the balcony open when they worked). At least they didn’t eat on the job and leave crumbs! But there are footprints, cement dust and cigarette butts that MUST be cleaned as soon as possible! Also, then there’s the optional refrigerator! Did that become the optional oven or am I going to visit the ATM? I think the latter. My host mother also mentioned that it will get very hot in the summer up on the second floor (including the ground floor – meaning two flights up). I had heard that one of the beauties of Azrou was that it was relatively cool in the summer when the big cities were way too hot! I guess I will find out what relatively means.

I should mention the post office. I think I talked about the day the wall of boxes disappeared. Well, I still don’t know what sort of construction they are doing but the boxes and all operations have moved to the back. And with the move to the back, the people who work there seem to have undergone a personality transformation. All of a sudden, they are friendly! They all greet me and couldn’t be more helpful – and the wait time has gone down significantly. They can take their time with the construction! Although all of my mail has cement dust on it…

The shopping didn’t take up much of the weekend; of course, I didn’t do as much as I would have liked. Had some visitors, too. Veronika, the oldest PCV in Morocco, came from Khenifra. She has a film background and lived in Montreal for 20 years but even so here she is colder than she’s ever been. Nam came from Khemisset, and I went with them to Ain LeuH to check on the progress of two rugs that she ordered. Barbara was there this time, the women of the cooperative made tea again, and it was a lovely visit. And in passing through Sidi Adi again, I saw quite a few cafes along the main street – I think they were closed the first time I went through. They were closed this time too, but they exist. I saw Nam again on Sunday afternoon; he saw the house and we walked around the medina and went to a café.

And I spent a lot of time with my host family – my last weekend with them! They are so nice – I really hope to see a lot of them during the rest of my time here. I have enjoyed their company and am glad they took me in. I especially will miss my host mother, who I feel is a friend, and the two-year-old, who is cute when he’s not taking my things and hitting me or trying to touch the computer. I went to the hammam with them on Saturday night and it was my most positive hammam experience yet. I really felt clean and scrubbed! This despite being splashed with really cold water by Mouad (at least it wasn’t from the scalding hot tap!). And there might still be Tom and Jerrys I haven’t seen! I know I won’t eat as well when I’m on my own – but here there is too much bread, not enough water, and, as predicted, we are still eating the sheep from l-Eid. There was homemade pizza on Friday but other than that it’s been all-sheep all month! I want some spaghetti!
Yesterday was Easura, the tenth day of the first month of the Islamic year. Allah created Adam and Eve, heaven and hell, and life and death on the tenth. Both the ninth and tenth days are special, though Easura comes from ashra, ten. We had sweets on Sunday night, and people wear masks or costumes. My host brothers dressed as Batman and looked so cute! There are bonfires (host mother said there might be one in the old part of town, but it isn’t much done here anymore – meaning she wasn’t going to drive me around to look for one). Water is also important – fire and water.

On television I saw highlights of the Marrakesh marathon. Can I do it next year? I’d like to! I still haven’t been running yet, though my hiking boots that can be running shoes are now comfortable enough, without the orthotics. Need running pants – shorts are not culturally acceptable.

I’m going to Rabat for the rest of the week, for my first Gender and Development meeting. And then to Marrakesh for the weekend! It’s been raining, so no blow-dry…maybe next photo-op!

Since tomorrow is Groundhog Day (actually I guess it would be today in Morocco)I wanted to drop you a note to say hello and that I was thinking of you. Hope you are doing well!

Phil? Phil?
A year ago today I was in Woodstock, IL, where the movie "Groundhog Day" was filmed! It feels so far away now....

Go Bears! I saw that the Chicago buildings are lit up, as they were for the White Sox...
Sorry about the Bears, but then again, I know football's not your sport. For New Years we went to Chicago and made a pilgrimage to Wrigley Field (Girard had never been there before). Everyone was very impressed; we wish Miller Park were in a neighborhood instead of a sea of asphalt.

Evan has his P'ton alumni interview next weekend!

I don't get to check the blog as often as I'd like, but it's great to hear what's happening.

Don't let anyone in the PUB see that you have a range powered by buttgas...
Good luck to Evan on the Princeton interview! I still can't believe he's of almost-college age, but I can see him as a Princetonian! Sorry I missed you in Chicago - sounds like a fun trip there.

And as for the butagas, I did put the reference to nervous sheep in for band types...
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