Wednesday, March 05, 2008


As predicted, this past weekend I didn’t end up as I would have predicted. I didn’t feel well, and hadn’t for most of last week. I thought I was just worn down from weekend travel to Tetouan, GAD in Rabat, and VSN hosting, but now that I have more energy, I think I had some low-level thing that was slowing me down. So it was nice to take it easy a little bit. I had a list of things that I wanted to get to, but I didn’t get to many of them!

Kathy suggested that we go to Ifrane. She is the nearby volunteer with whom I had tried to go skiing back after the warm spell began – instead we ended up going to the fancy supermarket and having lunch and then coming back and tallying GAD surveys. This time we went just to go to the fancy supermarket. Ifrane is only about 20 minutes away, so it’s much less of an undertaking than going to Marjane (I have yet to make a trip to Meknes or Fes just for Marjane, though I do have some needs/wants there so hope to get to one soon). The key purchase in Ifrane was peanut butter. I go through more peanut butter here than I do in the states (maybe a small jar a month? As opposed to a big one every six at home?) but it is good comfort food and protein, and the jars are now my spice jars. Got some other goodies that I can’t get in Azrou, such as corn chips, and we sat on a bench and enjoyed the atmosphere before going back.

Once we came back, she wanted to hang out before meeting someone at the bus station, and suggested a little Piffle – hard to turn that down. Too nice a day to get right to work anyway, and the day had a Saturday feel to it, so we sat on the balcony and played. She went out to a café with Anna, the friend who came up, and I read for a bit – I had proposed a hike but realized I didn’t have the energy to even go with them to the café, so staying home seemed in order. Then they both came back here and we played more Piffle, plus Boggle and Scrabble. They went to Kathy’s house to stay over and I did some work! Sunday I cleaned all the windows (had bought window cleaner at the fancy supermarket) and read a little more on the balcony and then they came back over for more Piffle and Scrabble. It had killed me the day before to play the Q on a non-double or triple letter while leaving it for someone else to use on the triple word score (though it was towards the end of the game) but I made up for it on Sunday.

Monday morning I finally felt better. Last week I started doing some catch-up things but now I feel more in a groove. I wrote a VSN tip sheet for Peace Works – how to be a good guest and how to be a good host – and that will be my last one; someone can take over after that. Also wrote some fun facts about myself for the new VSN directory. I’ve worked on a lot of GAD follow-up – finished tallying the additional surveys (post-Environment and Health COS conference) last week and now I have to write that up. Wrote a meeting recap and sent that to my stage, along with suggestions for International Women’s Day (March 8), and wrote the GAD 2007 Annual Report. I still have to start the next GAD Peace Works column. I wrote a caption for the RPCV calendar photo and submitted some recipes; they are looking for indigenous designs as well and I will look through my photos; maybe some of my many rug photos will do. Sent in a class notes column, too, for the Princeton Alumni Weekly (so ends the Extracurricular Roundup…).

Saturday night I loaded some pictures from the other woodcarvers onto the web site, and Monday morning my tutor and I went to the artisans and showed them their draft web pages. I want to include additional words, stories, contact information and thought it would be best if my tutor came along. I also plan to take photographs of additional products that they want shown; that I can do on my own without my tutor. Took some of metal worker products today and will do the carpet cooperative tomorrow. Another thing I started this week is going to hotels and cafes with the printouts of the brochure and card. Lots of Azrou work this week – at last! Saw my host father in one of the cafes (I still have to see the rest of the family) and visited the kittens, who now have their eyes open and are starting to explore.

I’ve collected and disseminated most of the writeups from the Natural Dye/Weaving Training of Trainers workshop, and now I’m working on a proposal for another training. Jessica from Tinjdad has a sewing and textile background but not a business background. She requested that a couple of us with business backgrounds come to her site and run workshops for her women, who make whatever they want to make at home and occasionally bring them to the coop building to sell them – no group thinking or planning, no sense of product development or customer service or marketing. Seems like an interesting project! The women speak Tamazight and Jessica will do the translating, so I don’t have to worry about the language, just the workshop content. Connie is going next week for the first set of trainings – basic marketing, customer service and record-keeping. I would go for the second set, next month, and this week have been working on a proposal in which I would do appreciative inquiry (building off what works now as opposed to looking at everything as a problem to be solved – not that new a technique, but the first I had heard of it was in one of my non-profit classes just before I left, so it will be nice to use it here), discuss the roles of the people in the cooperative, and train on how to work as a team. And next week I have an exciting seminar coming up – my friend the interior decorator is coming to Morocco. His family’s spring break coincides with my nieces’ and they are going to join him later, when I’ll be away, but he planned his flights to come here a couple of days ahead, since I was the inspiration for their choosing Morocco as a destination. I asked if he would give a talk to my cooperative about trends, colors, design etc. in the U.S. – not that they will export there but it might be of interest – and we’ll be joined by the SBD PCVs in the area and possibly some of their weavers.

Yesterday, Linda, one of the new SBDs, who had come to the warden group party, the natural dye/weaving workshop and VSN training (plus, she’s the one who went to Jamaica High School!), got some work-related leave to come up here for a web site lesson. Working with freewebs is easy enough once you navigate through getting started – I found it much easier (that is, possible at all – I almost gave up more than once) when someone gave me tips, and I was able to save her hours of frustration; at the same time, as part of the demonstration, I started building a web site for Dar Neghrassi, Abdou’s store. I’m not sure this is something I can write up in my quarterly reports, since it’s not directly artisan-related, but it’s something I’m happy to do for all he’s done for me. Linda and I also went to souk and I bought a rake! Maybe this weekend I will start raking the trash in the lot across the way towards the ditch along the side of the unoccupied house – not necessarily sustainable but it will make me happier. When I got home, my landlord’s wife was hanging laundry outside and she gestured to ask why I had a rake; I didn’t want to be even more conspicuous by having a picture taken but just then a flock of sheep went by and we had to capture the moment. I hope they don’t have an issue with my trying to make the lot look nicer. I’m a little anxious about it but now that I have the rake, I’m in. Then last night I backed up my computer. Not the most glamorous activity but something I aim to do every month and had not done in a while. And perhaps a reminder that it’s time for you to back up too? Will the filing be next?

Linda got permission to come back today since she had left her power cord. We went to a sandwich shop that is a recent find – I had a roasted pepper/eggplant/potato cake sandwich, and if that doesn’t sound good, maybe the price does – six dirhams, or less than a dollar, even with the falling exchange rate. While we were there, a Dutch couple sat down near us (perhaps seeing foreigners convinced them the place was all right); they were just in town for the day. I gave them some suggestions for exploring Azrou and saw them later in Café Bilal – they fell right in with the rhythm of the town! Lots of foreigners around town this week, it seems. Spring holiday season? The days are noticeably longer once again! And a reminder – you may change your clocks this weekend but not I; Morocco doesn’t have daylight savings time. So next week I’ll be four hours ahead of the East, five ahead of Central, etc.

I haven’t been running since the half-marathon, and though I have been walking a lot, I would like to run or go for a hike. First I needed to recover from the race, and then I had guest, workshop, travel and hosting, and then I had the low-level ick, but now I am ready to run again. And still thinking about the April Casablanca race – it might be fun, but maybe first I should (at least tentatively) plan out the weekends and vacation days for the rest of my time here. The time is going so quickly! Nine months left. A friend mentioned that we’re only two-thirds of the way through (at first I admired his calculation, thinking back to how we calculated the halfway day) but then I realized – 27 months – nine left – easy calculation. Good perspective, too – it seemed to take so long to get started but it’s not nearly time to wind down; I feel in my stride and given that an entire third of the time is left, I don’t need to feel that it’s time to wind down or start thinking about what is next!

So I’ve been thinking about March Madness; need to get up to speed a little bit but last year there was a PCV pool and this year I got the ball rolling on that; I also participate in another pool and am ready to start picking (well, as soon as they announce the brackets). As an aside, I will mention that years ago I wrote to both ESPN and William Safire to speculate on the origin of the term “on the bubble” and the former quoted me and the latter asked for permission to use it in one of his books on language. I was also thinking about renewing my subscription – it took me until August last season to get the software so that I could listen to games on my Apple, but I can start right away this season – and then I realized that I can literally start right away, with spring training, and not wait for Opening Day (which, per, is only 21 days away). I check primary results more than sports scores, but Sunday talk show podcasts go only so far into the week and baseball radio is nice background music for me...

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