Saturday, November 10, 2007


This week it was back to work, though there really is no typical day or routine or structure. Still, it feels good to be in my site for a while, and I prefer the non-Ramadan life, where things close at lunchtime and I can go home for a respite (or go to someone’s house for lunch, or go out to lunch). Monday morning I went to the post office and Maroc Telecom and the artisana, and I looked at some shops for material – I want to have a fall jellaba made – something warmer than the spring jellaba I have, but not as warm as the polar fleece one. I’d like a short one – jacket length, though of course covering the rear end is essential here. I really like the colors and patterns of the men’s jellabas, but don’t want to commit a faux pas by wearing anything that looks like men’s clothes…have to ascertain whether men’s material in a feminine cut is acceptable. I don’t really have the right clothes for fall weather (it has warmed up from that initial cold week but it will get cold again).

I went back to the artisana in the afternoon to meet the new volunteer from Ain Leuh – the current one announced her intention to ET just in time for the site placements. I didn’t get to say more than hello, though, since they were about to start a meeting, so I went on to the cyber, where I sent a writeup of the GAD meeting to my stage. And then I went to visit the rock-carver – he didn’t work at all during Ramadan and I think I have stopped by every day since and his door has been closed. It felt so good to see him – he asked me to email some pictures to a potential customer, something I can do (to be sustainable, I will show him how to do it) and to come with him to the next craft fair, in Rabat in December (I requested the work-related leave but don’t expect it to be approved – found out last night that the KSA training at PST was cancelled, so I am not going!). Then I went to my favorite carpet shop – there were other people there so it wasn’t quite the sanctuary I was looking for; I sat there wondering how long I had to stay before I could politely leave – finally told them I had to go for a run since I was training for the Marrakesh half-marathon – now that I have told people I now have to do it!

Tuesday was a holiday, Green March Day (commemorating King Hassan II’s peaceful march of 350,000 people into the Western Sahara) – an opportunity for a day trip. I went to El Menzel, the site where Mark, my warden, lives; I had wanted to see him before he COSes. YDs Darren and Nico came along, as did Rose. Mark is another mid-career volunteer, who used to be a sportswriter in the Midwest - I have always wanted to talk to him more! Immouzer to Sefrou to El Menzel – I was reminded that last week when I rode to Sefrou, the taxi driver stopped to get some apples along the side of the road (this is a big apple-growing area and this is the season), giving an apple to everyone in the taxi. We arrived in time for lunch of chicken and fries. Then we all took a transit (as I did this past weekend – transit, by the way, has the emphasis on the second syllable and rhymes with feet – basically, a van) to a nearby spring (here they are called sources) where we sat by the river, soaked up the fall sun, and skipped stones (I haven’t done that in years!). It was a peaceful place and a nice visit – until the stress of making it home before dark, which I did, barely. It has been nice to visit people before the leave, to see them and to see their sites. As a bonus, they are giving things away – Deanedra gave me yarn and knitting patterns, Jennifer GRE books (does that mean I am taking it? Still thinking about it) and some spices and teas, and from Mark, I got electric fish in a frame! I have seen these in restaurants and other places and think they are so strange that they are great – I can visualize watching this in the manner of watching clothes go around a dryer. And to get one without spending the money on one is quite a coup. It doesn’t work, though – I hope Youssef can fix it! Speaking of which, he packed and mailed Martha and Susan’s souvenirs this week – and now that I know how much it cost, I recommend that all future visitors bring an empty suitcase or at least extra room! And I have to prepare myself for a significant expense next year when I figure out how to get my own stuff home. It’s common in the culture here to ask how much things cost, but I am not used to it or comfortable with it (though I notice that many PCVs now ask each other how much things cost) so I will leave it at that.

Rose mentioned that friends of hers (who I met in Sefrou last week) asked her to go with them to Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand after we finish service. I’ve had in mind that I would travel, musing about seeing more of Morocco, going to Spain and Portugal (since they are so close and yet so far), or maybe Holland (to see family), Italy (since I keep mentioning that I want to do Peace Corps Italy next), Eastern Europe (see a what-might-have-been Peace Corps option?), South Africa (loved it there and want to go back), Indonesia (since I promised myself a trip there after my aunt died; my father and aunt lived there when they were little), Australia and New Zealand (high on my list, and if I’m in the neighborhood?), Chile (ever since I worked on the materials for the Chilean wines, I’m intrigued) or all, some or none of the above (can I stop by Alaska on the way back if I go the long way around, and reach my 50th state? Have I named enough places?) – but so far only dreaming, not really planning or even thinking. I will have the sending-stuff-home issue and the what-to-pack-and-bring-with-me issue (so going to a variety of climates may not make sense) but this is an offer I have to think about. I know I travel well with Rose and I liked her friends. I had in mind that I would travel solo or that maybe someone would want to come with me or join me for part – well, I didn’t really have anything in mind yet, but I like this idea. Of course, what I will do and where I will live when I come back are things I haven’t done much thinking or even musing about – other than not looking forward to job-hunting and knowing I will have to!

Wednesday was mostly a day of working from home – I worked on work-related leave requests, my email for the rock-carver, proposed additions/edits for the next Peace Corps Morocco welcome book – packing list, SBD-specific things, and diversity. Did some GAD work and some writing for Peace Works (the Morocco newsletter), made CDs of photos for people and one from which to get prints made, wrote a double column for the Princeton Alumni Weekly. The collaborative issues referred to in the last post came to the fore (that was quick) so it was a good day to move ahead on other fronts. And to restock on fruits and vegetables and eggs. And to run! I’m aiming for a run every other day, increasing my distance and doing yoga or stretching on the off-days. I’m motivated, and right now it’s good running weather.

Thursday was another day of making the rounds – saw the rock-carver, asked the metal worker if he would help train a group just starting up in Sefrou, working with homeless and poor youth and children of prostitutes; Rose met them yesterday and felt inspired. Asked the weavers if they wanted a training from a former PCV with weaving and dyeing expertise who is back in the country visiting his host family; I had met him in Rabat last week. Got pictures made and handed them out, ordered the fall jellaba (there’s a seamstress by the bisara (fava bean soup) place who made a short jellaba for Amanda – turned out she had nice material (flannel?), so there’s no need for men’s material. Did a couple of other errands too – everyone was friendly today. That’s another plus for the non-Ramadan schedule – people are friendlier when they’re not hungry! Stopped for tea at the carpet shop and reserved a sheepskin – I was advised to get one last winter to keep my feet warm and didn’t find one; this one is nice, and I don’t feel the least bit guilty, since I know that every part of the sheep was used by Moroccans and that it had a good life, grazing the Middle Atlas.

I spent most of yesterday with Katie and her replacement, Elizabeth. We went to the artisana and met everyone, had a juice/coffee, went to the carpet shop, and had a couscous lunch with Abdou and his family. What a contrast to the Ain Leuh people, who were too busy for coffee with me (of course, nobody is that busy here). Amazing – we all need each other. Are we competing for a raise or a promotion? No! And even if those things were possible, I would not be competing! Elizabeth seemed really happy to be in the beautiful, green Middle Atlas after training in the desert. Meanwhile, the Environment volunteers are all at IST this week. It’s early due to the timing of l-Eid Kbir – they’ve been in site five months, not six – but it’s amazing how time flies. By the end of the month the second-year SBDs and YDs will be gone and the new ones will have sworn in – and I will then be a second-year! A junior, if you use the college analogy. It occurred to me with a jolt that I have to get my carte de sejour renewed!

Today Nam and Nadine, a COSing YD I had not yet met, came for tea and cake on the way to overnight stays elsewhere. We went to the artisana, the rock-carver, the sandwich shop with the tuna-and-tomato sandwiches and what might be the best juices in town, and the carpet shop. The moral equivalent of a work day on a Saturday! The picture was taken in one of the shoe stores in Azrou – I love all the colors. Tomorrow I have plans to go on a hike with Youssef (while the weather is so nice) and I want to read up on/plan out the destinations I’ll be going to with the next guests and make some hotel or riad reservations. Except that as I was posting this, someone called and wants to stop by on the way back to her site - so reading up may be postponed in favor of a few hours of piffle!

This is Yale weekend, and the kickoff of the next Princeton capital campaign. I always enjoyed those weekends and events, and I feel a little sad that I am not there. Ah, but luckily campaigns last for five years, so I will get my chance to participate…. In the small world category, my friend Joy was ice skating (something I miss – they have ice skating and bowling in the Rabat mega-mall; can I go at mid-service medicals? Could use more sushi too!) and she told a fellow skater about her friend in SBD in the Peace Corps in Morocco – the fellow skater had one too, in SBD in the Peace Corps in Morocco – it’s someone in my stage! They were skating in the DC area; neither I or that stage-mate have lived there... And clementines are back! They’ve been here for a couple of weeks but are finally delicious – with clementines and pomegranates this is definitely my favorite time of the fruit year!

Glad you said those were shoes...I thought they were skeins of yarn!! Time to get the eyes checked!

Have fun!
Skeins of yarn are colorful too - there are so many colorful things in Morocco! Shoes, yarn, embroidery thread, scarves, blankets, fruits, vegetables - not to mention all of the doors I have been photographing!
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