Sunday, June 08, 2008


I’m just back from a run – perhaps inspired by learning that the winner of this year’s Boulder Bolder, one of the premier 10Ks in the U.S., hails from Azrou – and I continue to revel in the beauty of the Middle Atlas mountains. I have a friend from the Salt Lake area who once said that the mountains make up for the ocean – I am such a water person that I don’t know if that’s true in my case, but I do know that as I never took for granted the fact that I lived right next to Lake Michigan, I also never take for granted the natural beauty of my site.

Now that I am back in Azrou and my precious things traveled safely to Howie’s guest closet, I can elaborate. I wonder if, after not seeing them for the next six-plus months, I won’t miss them? I don’t miss a lot of what’s in storage in Chicago. Will I be able to let more go and live more clutter-free? I hope so! In the meantime, though, I keep buying Moroccan things for my imaginary next home. As I buy things, I do try to picture how they will fit in the imaginary home. Or at least fit into this home… Joy said that when she was in Tunisia doing research she knew a lot of Peace Corps Volunteers and when they got their things home they didn’t fit. I’ll be starting more or less from scratch, so I can build around things. And what doesn’t fit will make a lovely gift!

Carpets: I was able to take three home. As I mentioned before (without elaborating), the ones I first bought were the ones I was most attracted to in the first place, so they came home. Check out the April 8, 2007 entry for the bedroom double-sized wedding cape that I was using as a bedspread, and for the rug with Berber symbols. Note that the poufs would have made the cut, except I am still using them! The third rug that fit in the suitcase is in an even earlier entry, the one with the living room (now Marrakesh room) furniture, but the picture doesn’t show its more interesting summer side of black and white traditional stripes. There are lots of black and white rugs around here, but none of them have the wooly white winter side that mine does – it was an impulse purchase on the Fes “girls’ day” with Amanda, and I am glad it fit in the suitcase.

Ceramics – I thought I would take a little bit of everything; the ponge foam protected everything well, but that was in a carry-on. I hope that everything else makes it home intact in the mail, but if not, at least I have a little bit of everything, and I’ll get more when I come back in the future! From Fes I packed a calligraphy bowl and a square plate with the traditional blue and white, along with a couple of tiny tagines that people here use for salt and cumin (if they put a third spice on the table it is pepper but if there are only two they are salt and cumin). From Tamegroute I wrapped a third small tagine, in the traditional green, and a spice jar decorated with henna designs and not re-fired. From Safi I wrapped my big blue bowl and two of the smaller bowls – the white and blue and the white and multi-colored. The more colorful ones had to stay behind, as did (just by a hair) the Fes coffee mugs. I brought one tadelakt plate back from a set of three that I bought in Tangier, and next weekend in Marrakesh I might get a piece or two more.

I packed a couple of fossil platters from Erfoud (I am not sure I ever put a picture of one in here – so here’s one from the artisana showroom - though the background looks too wrinkled, so I should probably reshoot it!). They’re quite remarkable. Also a damascene Hand of Fatima from Meknes – damascene is a process where fine silver thread is inlaid onto black metal. I packed a Hand of Fatima door knocker, too – the “King’s Knocker” (see the Fes Royal Palace from around May 2007 – mine is not quite as nice but that’s what I kept saying I wanted and that’s what the faux guide in Fes brought me to based on calling it that) didn’t fit. I wore some orange and black clothes to Reunions and brought them back here – Rose told me I had enough orange and black clothes but after last week I think she’s wrong (those I know can be gifts!) so I will renew the search for more. In the meantime, the orange and black flowered jellaba that I wore to Amanda’s wedding made it back, as did an orange and black Sahara wrap, called a MeHlfa, from Zagora, and an orange and black Fes embroidery table runner.

The brass tray from the artisan in Marrakesh is back in the States, as is a little wooden heart that I bought from Rose’s artisan and a set of wooden dominoes that I bought from one of the artisans here (that might have been a strategic error – now I can’t play with them! Unless I get another set…). Almost all of the jewelry that I have picked up along the way - in Tiznit, Fes, Ouarzazate, Rabat, and elsewhere (I’ll know where everything’s from when I see it again) went in the carry-on, along with an antique purple silk fringe Berber belt. And a couple of leather pocketbooks from Asilah and Chefchouan – I have a number of nice bags that I have bought here (including an orange one that got many compliments last week, so maybe I should get a couple more of those too – everything adds up, but they would cost so much more in the States...). And the process of going through this made me realize what’s most precious that’s still here – i.e. the first things I would have packed had there been room – my sheepskin (but it’s just as well I didn’t bring that – I will need it to keep under my feet this fall, especially since I gave back the space heater!) and a painted wood tea tray that I got in Rabat (I should take a picture of that one for illustrative purposes too). Well, maybe one of my other rugs might be next precious too, but once I put three in I knew that’s all I could take, and then there are the poufs.

As long as I’m in a listy mood tonight, I thought I would list what’s in the Peace Corps Morocco first aid kit. For Elisa’s upcoming life-changing experience (filming a documentary in Uganda about her school’s partner school) she needed to put together a kit, and when I told her what was in mine, I thought it might be of interest to others. We’re given a kit in training and can then replenish as needed. Other items – such as eye drops and vitamins and Vaseline and Lubriderm – were not in the medical kit but can be ordered more or less on demand (actually, Lubriderm and sun block are rationed). Also, it should be noted that if you have any prescriptions, you were to come here with a three-month supply and a written prescription for two years, and Peace Corps would fill it. And I should mention that since I developed sensitive teeth while here (overbrushing after all that sugary tea?) they gave me a prescription for Sensodyne toothpaste, which I buy in a pharmacie and for which I am reimbursed.

In some cases I’ll list generic name, and for some, brand name. I thought for fun I’d asterisk the things I have not had occasion to use. I’ll leave one item out because this is a family blog, but suffice it to say that they told us in training that 90 percent of PCVs have sex while they are here, and the PCMO wants to make sure those PCVs use quality items for birth control (no rationing on those).

Aspirin (not in the original kit, but I requested some because it is more effective for me than the other two – and Debbie also sent me Excedrin Migrane….even though I get many fewer and less intense headaches than I did in the past, it’s still an issue)
Pepto-Bismol *
Tums *
Eye drops (hm, it says they were in the kit but I thought I had to request them)
Eye wash *
Antifungal cream *
Anti-itch cream
Antibiotic ointment
Skin cleanser for wounds *
Sepasoothe *
Cough drops (I almost want to asterisk this because I haven’t ever used mine – just some from the LCF kit in CBT)
Oral rehydration salts (these are great! Do they even have them in the U.S.?)
Water purification salts *
Insect repellent *
Tamiflu (this came in a special session and we can take it only if there’s an outbreak of bird flu here - they will let us know)
Carmex *
Adhesive tape *
Ace bandage * (though Jong used mine while she was here so I did have to replenish it; some of my other items, such as Pepto-Bismol, have also needed replenishment due to guest use)
Gauze pads *
Thermometer AND Tempa-Dot disposable thermometers
Tweezers *
Latex gloves *
Scissors *
Dental floss
Whistle *
Compact First Aid Guide (we were also given the book Where there is No Doctor and a handbook put together by the PCMO – I’ve looked at the handbook but not the other two, though I hear the book is very entertaining).*

What I wish they had here and I have had sent from the U.S. – Q-Tips. The swabs here just don’t measure up.

The last time I saw the first-year SBDs in the region and my counterpart, it was at the Timhadite weaving cooperative’s Annual Meeting, the day before I left for New Jersey. They’ve all been at IST since then; I’ll get together with them this week and will go out to Ain Leuh to do more artisan interviews for the web site (among other uses). On Wednesday I go to Rabat for a GAD meeting Thursday and Friday; I’ll go to Marrakesh for the weekend since I’ll be starting from Rabat on Saturday morning!

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