Friday, April 13, 2007


I lost a staredown with a sheep this week. I was on the way to the artisana and passed through a flock of sheep. There are often sheep grazing nearby, and donkeys, and while I don’t walk past them as if I had grown up with them, I try not to stare, either. I think they’re cute. I love the sheep and donkey faces (we do get goats around here too, but their faces aren’t as endearing to me). Well, one caught my eye and wouldn’t stop looking at me! I might have won, except that I had to keep going, so I blinked first.

Other goings-on this week: I made peanut butter. You take peanuts and roast them for ten minutes, stirring constantly. Then, while still warm, you take off the skins. Then you put them in the spice grinder that comes with your blender (do they come with blenders in the U.S.? I like mine! Used it to grind some herbs from the medicinal herb cooperative too), add honey to taste, and do it some more (the spice grinder grinds only a little at a time). Why am I telling anyone who can just go to a supermarket and buy a jar of peanut butter how to do this? Will anyone out there actually do it? I don’t think so! It is good, and certainly all-natural, but Skippy it aint (which reminds me, I dreamed about finding a jar of Skippy in Marjane last week…alas, only a dream). I guess I’m telling you because it took two hours and that is how PCVs sometimes spend their time. It isn’t that I was craving peanut butter, either – just that I had the peanuts for guests and the guests didn’t eat them, so I thought why not. And then I made peanut butter brownies (added chocolate powder to the recipe – it seemed to be calling for it – easier to get here than chocolate chips, which are climbing my list of all-time great inventions) and peanut butter cookies – another evening accounted for! I might make peanut butter sauce for pasta next, too – kind of a PCV satay sauce (not in the Peace Corps cookbook but maybe it should be!). Other things I have done more than usual of this week are skypeing and talking on the phone with friends – e-mail and text messages are effective and cost-efficient, but every so often it is nice to hear someone’s voice. I also made more homemade sage incense sticks - I think they're good gifts for when I take trips to see other volunteers, as I will this weekend.

I think I mentioned that I am the alternate warden for the region – meaning I help to coordinate things with a group of PCVs if there are safety and security issues – meaning that if we have to get consolidated or evacuated I help coordinate…and I had my first official warden duty this week, since the other PCV was on vacation. There were some terrorists arrested and killed in Casablanca (or maybe just killed, now that I think about it) – suspects wanted in conjunction with the bombing last month – and I had to call everyone and let them know. At the time that I made the calls, they thought a tourist had been killed, too. It was harder to make the calls than I thought – you want to be chatty and see how people are doing (I had to introduce myself to some and wish I could have said more than hello, and the ones I know I am friendly with and would have liked to catch up with) but you also want to get to the point and get through the list of calls as quickly as possible.

A new phase of work this week – doing PACA with the artisans. I went over the questions I wanted to ask with my tutor, but brought him with me so that I could be sure I understood the answers. I had taken March off from tutoring because I felt that I was asking for words that I had already asked for and not spending time processing or practicing or studying at home. Now that I am back to tutoring, I remember why I wanted the month off. This isn’t working for me. I have to do something else – maybe change tutors – but for now it was (mostly) helpful that he came with me. We interviewed one of the woodcarvers and the president and treasurer of the carpet cooperative. We talked about daily routine, seasonal differences and what their needs might be (I skipped community mapping because they spend the mornings and the afternoons at the artisana, so for all intents and purposes that is the community). I was glad to be telling them that I am working on the web site and catalog – something that I can offer them - because they didn’t come up with all that many needs. More interviews to come. I did some “old phase” work too – the usual rounds of hellos and teas, and going to the souk with my artisan success story, Amanda’s husband Youssef, who saw the drawstring sack that Joy had given me and, light-bulb-like, we realized together that it would be good to make them out of ponge fabric. He ultimately didn’t buy any at the souk, but got ideas on patterns and style, and I bought some antique coins while I was there.

And I also spent a lot of time working on the computer, again in a new phase. I wrote up my TimHdit trip – trip reports are good. I worked on a Power Point for GAD; another volunteer and I are presenting GAD to the environment trainees next week. – Power Points are good. I went down to the Auberge to review it with the Program Assistant there, and we started talking about other things that GAD can do – somehow we got into a discussion of strong women portrayed in the Koran, which in a way was interesting and in a way I wasn’t sure what to say. I worked on my homestay follow-up survey, complimenting my host family and recommending them to host again (though could they improve on me as someone they take in?). Still have the living allowance survey to do – that’ll take a block of time. The end of the week is the Peace Works deadline, and I am coordinating the GAD input - I had expected news to come to me, which I would then edit and compile, but I should have known from past volunteer experience that I would have to dig up news, remind, cajole, and in the end go with what I have even though there is more out there that never got to me. Maybe for the next issue. I also set up my printer (it came free with the computer and was hand-carried by Amanda when she went home at Christmastime) and printed out the guide and catalog that had been done by other volunteers, so I could show my counterpart. All was going well until I had a paper jam and a little torn piece stuck in the printer. A fork seemed to be the best use of available resources (after unplugging the printer), but I panicked, thinking I had broken the printer on its first day. Luckily, I was able to get it going again, but it was scary.

Speaking of scary, my CO detector went off again. I really don’t know what to do. For weeks it had been quiet (or had least not gone off while I was in the house) and then it went off while I was showering (which was not comforting) and again while I was washing dishes. Again, door open enough to let in fresh air. I don’t know! And further on the home front - I had had my eye on a refrigerator for weeks - right size (small), right color (white - the other small ones I have seen are faux wood grain). Only one of its kind in Azrou - left a visit with my host family early to finally buy it - and it had been sold! I hesitated, I lost.

And then the lights went out. All of them – in my house, and outside as far as I can see. The only lights I had were the light from my computer screen and the teeny flashlight on my cell phone. At least I had those! This happened to a friend of mine in his town and he could see the Milky Way – I cannot see stars because it has been rainy all week! And cold. I guess I am used to cold and rainy (or snowy) Aprils and should just be glad I am not shivering at a ballpark now. The lights came back on, and then they went back off, and it was close enough to bedtime that I decided to go to bed.

I was going to start to write about my vacation, but somehow, talking about the sheep and the peanut butter and the CO and the lack of electricity, it seems as if talking about luxury should go in a different entry…

I've uploaded a picture of one of the display areas at the artisana - I will load an "after" picture when I write an early May entry.

We've been hearing in the news about anti-American sentiment in Morocco and Algeria rearing its ugly head. Are you experiencing any of this? Hope you are well!
We’ve been kept well-informed about the events in Casablanca, through e-mails and the warden system described above. Algeria, though next door, is unrelated. Right now Casablanca is off-limits for now, and we’re advised to keep away from major tourist places such as McDonald’s, but it’s really business-as-usual. No anti-American sentiment that I can detect in Azrou!
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?