Friday, October 26, 2007


This has been something of a lost week. On Monday, I didn’t have a lot of energy. I ascribed that to having had a wonderful time with my friends and feeling blue now that they were gone. I went to the post office and to the artisana, where I got an update on last Friday’s meeting. The sewing cooperative is going to think about things for two weeks – whether they want to remain a cooperative and who wants to stay in, who wants to leave, and how they are going to choose from among the other people interested in joining, since they have no idea of their skills. While I was there, I witnessed a heated discussion between the head of the weaving cooperative and my counterpart. She claimed that his computer (which the Ain Leuh volunteer had secured for Ain Leuh but gave to my counterpart because they had more than enough) should really go to the cooperative. This computer came from the same grant I had filled out with the weaving cooperative in the spring, but there was a big fight between the women and my counterpart over who would pay for the faxing (I was going to just do it but he ordered me not to – and to help people help themselves they really should have, but they didn’t want to spend the money), and in the end it didn’t get faxed in so Azrou never received any computers. I said I would look to see whether there were other open computer grants, and I suggested that my counterpart give them the computer anyway, since it is old and of minimal to no use to him but maybe they could use it for simple accounting. Anyway, after that I told him I didn’t feel well and I went home and read one of the mystery novels that my friends had brought for me.

Turned out it was more than the blues – I woke up Tuesday feeling all achey and congested. Went out to meet Deanedra, who had a blanket from Ait Hamza for me and I a metal bird from Azrou for her (I had not had time to get it before I went to her site); I helped her carry her bags from one taxi stand to the other and then went home and rested – I thought I would get back out but didn’t make it. Did some email and some reading and fought off napping and finally went to bed at nine.

Woke up on Wednesday and finally decided to take my temperature – 100 degrees – and take some ibuprofen. The congestion seems to have been kept at bay with Herbal Resistance Liquid (brought from home, not in the medical kit!) but then chills and some Big D reinforced that I wasn’t going out. Madeleine came over in the morning – she had spent the night with host family members in Azrou and wanted to have breakfast and hang out. I was out of it but that seemed all right with her. She’s in charge of next year’s GLOW camp so I got an update on that. With the extra money raised this year (thanks in large part to you out there!), they are doing two new initiatives this fall. One is providing seed money to some of the GLOW campers from last year who have worked on business plans and have viable ideas. The other is a women’s camp, with people from the same villages, teaching them about cooperatives and other business practices. I’ll have visitors the weekend of that camp so I won’t be able to help out, but it sounds as though everything is set anyway. Next summer’s girls’ camp is already funded, by the U.S. Embassy, though we/they may be raising more as the budget is finalized. Next year’s camp will be only for girls who are not in school, either because they dropped out or because they got their certificate and are now in their villages doing nothing; this year there was a mix of girls in school and girls out of school and they had different needs. Each year the camp evolves and each year more and more is done by the Moroccans – just the sustainability Peace Corps is looking for in its projects. I don’t know how involved I’ll be in next year’s camp - it sounds together already – but if there’s a role for me you will be hearing more about it. I slept most of Wednesday afternoon, though my temperature was even higher after that, and at night had an informal VSN session with someone who is having a hard time, so even though I didn’t go out I did interact with people.

Yesterday morning I woke up to find my apartment flooded. In the “timing is everything” category, I had noticed when doing laundry on Monday that the drain on my laundry balcony/roof was clogged; it had always been slow. Wednesday my landlord came up just to see how I was doing and I told him about it and he said he’d have the plumber come Friday morning. It started to rain Wednesday evening and I guess it rained the inch or so that is the height between the balcony and the door – water had filled the balcony and had seeped under the door near the sink area and even into the zen room. Luckily I had taken my laundry off the line before it started to rain! Going to bed at 9:00 again on Wednesday night helped my fever break and I thought I might go to the artisana. Then a combination of cold rain and more Big D convinced me otherwise, but at least I had the energy to do some work on the web site. At least my apartment didn’t flood further despite the continuing rain. And I made some progress on the web site until the internet conked out (presumably due to the rain).

I feel as though I’ve been shivering all week. Part of that could be my fever, but I think that winter has come, to my apartment if not to the outside. When I moved in last year I chose not to get a wood stove because I thought winter was almost over (and I feel uncomfortable about contributing to deforestation in that way). However, here it is the end of October and I am already wearing multiple layers and shivering – I may have to rethink. I wore my jellaba this week – first time since the spring – and got a lot of compliments. People do like it when I wear it. I thought it was too hot to wear one this summer, but seeing people so pleased makes me think I should look for a summer-weight one for next year.

Last night I went to bed at a more reasonable hour and had a more typical not-sleeping-well night; today I felt well enough to go out and it was such a treat! I went to the Artisana and to Maroc Telecom to pay my bill and to the post office and to a teleboutique to get double-recharge phone cards and to get bananas and rice (still BRATTing) and other vegetables (in the hopes that I’ll be eating other things tomorrow). Madeleine came over to shower, and then, flood gone, I washed the floors, and as I was doing that the plumber came to unclog the drain. Later I’ll have the IM session with Jong that has been postponed every day this week for one reason for another. Tomorrow Kellye from near Ouzoud is coming to visit, and then on Sunday we’ll go to Rabat for GAD, back on Wednesday night. No Halloween celebration, but I was never big on it as an adult anyway.

I do want to talk about my vacation though – I’ll start here and then finish in another entry. It’s funny – seeing Martha and Susan, it felt as though no time had passed, that I had seen them recently enough and kept in touch enough. There’s still no substitute for talking in person though, and it was really nice to spend the week together. Now that they’re gone though, I miss them and it feels as though it will be a long time before I see them again. Maybe it feels different because I don’t know where I’m coming back to and what I will be doing, because I anticipate culture shock upon my return and still have work to do on myself so that when I return I can retain some of the simplicity of my life here and still somehow manage to fit into the pace of life back in the states. I’ll get more into that as the time to move on gets nearer – but it was interesting to calculate and realize that October 19 was the halfway point of my service, counting from the first day in Philadelphia to our expected COS date of November 30. Nice to celebrate that milestone with a key member of the support team! And now I am officially in the second half of my service!

We had a reasonable itinerary, covering a northern route – meaning we left a lot undone, but I think that even in two years I will leave a lot undone; there’s so much to do and see in Morocco. It was great too that we had Youssef as our driver – when he moves out to Southern California now he will know two more people. We started in Rabat – Youssef and I got there early and scoped out lunch places in case they arrived hungry, and also located the hotel. Martha and Susan arrived ready to skip lunch, drop off the luggage and start touring! Finally a chance to see some of the tourist sites of Rabat – but not shop. Saturday was l-Eid, the end of Ramadan; that made eating easier but meant that the shops in the medina were closed all weekend. By the end of the trip there had been plenty of shopping and a you’ve-seen-one-medina-you’ve-seen-them-all attitude, but of course each one is a little different too, and I still feel I have Rabat shopping to do.

We went to the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, one of the finest pieces of craftsmanship in the country (stucco, wood, brass, tile, marble), and the Tour Hassan, an unfinished tower (when the sultan at the time died, the capital moved, and the tower never reached its full height) of the ruined big mosque (destroyed in the 1755 Lisbon earthquake). Youssef had his picture taken with one of the Royal Guards; his father had been one, but he had no pictures of his father in that uniform, so now he has one to show his grandchildren. Then we went to the Casbah Oudayas, with the streets of bluewashed walls and interesting doors. I was hoping we’d have time for a welcome tea at the touristy but picturesque Café Maure that Rose, Janeila and I had been to, but it had just closed. We walked over to the ocean view to look for the setting sun (of course sunsets on the ocean are no big deal to them but still a destination for me), and then walked back to our hotel, the Riad Oudaya. Set in the medina (as opposed to in the Casbah Oudayas, where its sister riad is and where we had originally looked for it), riads are former homes that usually look unassuming from the outside but can be lavish on the inside, with courtyard gardens. The picture is of the courtyard, from the doorway to our room. Martha likes to stay in Four Seasons-type places, so I gave her luxury hotel and riad options in every stop, and they were glad they tried the riads – very nice accommodations, and true Moroccan experiences. Our book listed the Riad Oudaya dinner as one for true foodies, and we had a good dinner there. Our suite was fun – two rooms, mine with a twin bed and a crib (so I invited my homeys to hang with me in the crib). A bit of Boggle ensued. Despite the jet lag, we had a full afternoon and evening!

To be continued…

I have this strong urge to bring you some chicken soup.
I could have used it! I made myself some tomato soup, which may have helped a bit. Thanks for the thought!
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