Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sugar Cookie Baking/New House fun

So my plans of baking sugar cookies with the family never happened, :(. They finally have an oven, but everytime I said I wanted to use it, nothing ever happened. They never hooked it up for me. So finally on Saturday I made a last minute decision to visit a volunteer in the Riche area for the weekend so I could finally bake sugar cookies. I know it sounds silly, but it's something I always bake during the holiday season. It turned out to be a very nice weekend, :). It was very cold, but I got to bake and watch movies and hang out with another American during the holiday season. I also felt very guilty for leaving site again so soon after returning from Rabat 2 days earlier. I had also had to say no to a trip to reunite with others from my CBT stage because of lack of funds, :(.

Otherwise got back to site yesterday. I went to go check to see what cleaning items the previous pcv had left for me. There was a slight problem...the door wouldn't open. Somehow the "fixed" lock was still broken. Basically there are two parts to the lock, the deadbolt and the regular opening contraption used by door knobs. Well, apparently the key was not opening this latter portion. I wanted to just kick down the door and spent 5 minutes trying to explain there was no other way to enter the house. Finally the larger guy helping me finally kicked open the door. Then after shutting the door and having the same scenerio happen, I made it so the second locking portion of the door couldn't open. So now I have a semi-functioning lock and will be buying a new one.

Good news though is that Mina was able to check my house on Christmas day and approved it! So excited, :). And I have set utilities now, so the electric oven and heater are actually plausible now!

This week I will try to meet with coop women in the afternoons as they are harvesting olives now and work on cleaning and prepping my house in the morning. Then this weekend I hope to buy paint and tile and start working on tiling the floor of the bathroom and painting the walls, :). So excited!

Entry Written on December 25

It’s been a long time since I updated this. Let’s see… Not too much happened the weekend after L’3id. I baked some cookies and hung out. Then Monday I had to visit the Gendarmes again to sign more papers and hand the file of carte de sejour documents to the police. Then Tuesday I had my tutoring lesson and then met up with friends in town, it was nice. I had lunch then went back to site. Wednesday and Thursday I played the good volunteer and visited with a few people in my community including my counterpart and made a hammam trip. It was so nice, J.

Then Friday I had to go to Rabat again to have my ear checked as it still has a pain in it and my hearing seems off. So I went up a day early in case there were any travel delays as the road between Azrou and Midelt had been closed all week. I managed to make it through with no problems, J. I travelled with 2 girls from the Riche area and I had so much fun. It was really nice to hang out with some girls. Then after we got to Rabat we ate out way too much and shopped too much, but it was so nice and so worth it, J. I got to eat at TGIFridays and have a BACON cheeseburger! Then the other night we went to the German Institute and I had an awesome pizza and salad. We went to Marjane as well which is the Moroccan version on Wal-Mart and I found a really awesome purse that I can fit EVERYTHING in which is great when travelling around Morocco. Also bought some hard to find cooking supplies, etc. I also bought a really cool new hat from another store in Rabat. I definitely stayed up way too late everynight, but it was so nice.

Then Monday I had my ear appointment. Good news: No Surgery! I just have to take 3 more medications for 2 months and return for a check up in 2 months. I’ve regained the majority of my hearing but still have a slight hearing loss and the pain. Then on the way back from Rabat I got to have lunch with one friend from my CBT group and dinner with another.

Now I am just recouperating and not leaving my village for awhile. I’m putting myself under village arrest, haha. Working on getting my house approved, inch a’llah, I’ll be able to have it approved by this weekend. That would be awesome because then I could start painting, tiling, etc. I’m way too excited about fixing up my house, haha. It’ll be my weekend/free time project for the next couple months. Otherwise next month I am going to start working on daily schedules with my artisans, starting to learn what they all know how to do and where they want to go. There are 28 of them and they only meet once or sometimes twice a week, so it’ll be a process, but I have the time. It’ll be good for me to practice my language and get to know the women. Once I move into my house I plan to start hosting computer lessons and English lessons as well. You all know me, I don’t deal well without a ton on my plate! Haha.

Spending Christmas today with the host family. I’m hoping to buy a few things and make sugar cookies. I think it would be so much fun and then I can share a little bit about my American culture with them, J. It’s not Christmas without sugar cookies. It was always a family tradition every year.

Friday, December 12, 2008

You Haven't Experienced Morocco Until...

Let’s see here…my last entry detailed my doctor adventures to Rabat and back. I finally made it safely back into site before dark that Saturday. I had left the auberge in hopes of catching the 8am bus to Errachidia…haha. There was only one bus out and that was at 12pm. I managed to muscle my way on and into a seat and arrived in Errachidia in the normal 5 hours. I then went back to my site and greeted my family. I understand why people avoid traveling during l’3id, it’s crazy!

Sunday was spent relaxing and recovering from the long trip. It is very exhausting to travel by bus in Morocco and due to my southern location I had a 2 day trip back. I woke up late and went to hammam with the family to get cleaned up before the big day. It was crazy! The entire hammam was packed and it was so warm that I felt dizzy after awhile. But it was nice to get clean and it was a beautiful day. I’ve decided maybe for the next couple l’3ids I’ll just avoid hammam until afterwards. I then picked up my finished jallaba, J. Very excited, it’s very pretty, below is a photo or two of me in my l’3id dress. I felt like a dress up doll, haha. I also managed to solidify a tutor in the process of getting my jallaba. They speak words differently down here and often times in riddles. There are days where I kind of understand what they are saying, but then they completely change the subject on me and I get very very confused.

Monday, I attempted to make fudge. I really should stick to things I’ve actually made before while in Morocco. It started out well, but then I decreased the heat too much and should have added the chocolate more slowly, hence to say it was a very failed attempt. Otherwise I hung out near the stove most of the day, it was so cold! I thought they were kidding about cold winters in the dessert, haha. If they had heated buildings it wouldn’t be so bad, but the buildings were created to withstand the high heat of summer, not the cold of winter. So often times it is much warmer outside. Then that afternoon they “bear pawed” my hands and feet. That is to say they completely covered my palms and feet bottoms with henna. It looks pretty scary, haha. I wasn’t able to do anything with my hands or feet for several hours.

Then Tuesday was the big day, L’3id Kbir. Wow. It was a very long day. Had breakfast at 8am, then spent the morning greeting people in the village, this was a several hours process. After drinking lots and lots of very sugared tea and cookies, I was able to witness the killing of the sheep. This is quite the spectacle. I won’t go into details for any of you with a weak stomach, but the smell got to me so much I actually had to go lie down for awhile, haha. Never thought I had a weak stomach until that day. After they slit the sheep’s throat they felt I needed a group family photo with the dead animal, it was quite the family bonding experience, ;). All in the life in Morocco. They then had all of us women take turns holding the two babies and posing for photos. In my family of 12 there are two married couples, each with a child around 3-4 months old now. It’s very interesting to experience all of this first hand. After they finished preparing the sheep, they grilled the sheep’s head and legs…still waiting to see it turn up for dinner. I think I missed that part though, I never did see the head again. Generally the eating of the sheep is a good 2-3 day process. That night we ate the heart, liver and intestines. Then after lunch I went with my two single host sisters to a nearby village to visit family and friends, it was very beautiful. That was about an hour hike there and back, but it was nice. I was exhausted by the time I finished dinner of many many marinated beef kababs and sheep liver, heart and intestine kababs.

Wednesday, I slept in late as a result of the big day on Tuesday. I also had massive acid reflux due to the herbs they marinated the beef kababs in. They were so good though! I also ate many of these awesome carrot sugar cookies. Hopefully my host sister will teach me the recipe someday. Otherwise I spent the morning eating breakfast of sugar tea with bread and oil, then I took a walk through the nearby gaba (forest) where they have their farm lands. It was very nice and beautiful. It was a very gorgeous sunny day albeit with a cold wind.

I’ve taken many photos during the last week, I hope you enjoy them!

One of my host sisters and I at Meski

One of my host sisters and I at Meski

Me posing in Meskiin my new jallaba!

My host mom.

Me and the famales of my host fam plus an extra child or two.

They wanted me to pose with the two babies.

Family photo with the dead sheep on l'3id.

I'm the new moroccan dress up doll.

Me in my new jallaba and headscarf, :).

Me and my host mom.

Gotta love the red hands and feet from henna!

Me and some of the fam.

Me waiting for the henna to dry.

My street.

My street.


And another.

Friday, December 5, 2008

12 Hours Later...

Let’s see here…I left Peace Corps headquarters at 10:30am to catch a train to Meknes. I bought my ticket for the 11:17am train, but it was 30 minutes late, so I arrived in Meknes around 2pm instead of 1pm. I was going to taxi it the rest of the way to Midelt and stay with a volunteer there, but all the taxis wanted to me to buy the whole taxi and not just a seat. So I made my way to the bus station. I got a ticket for a 3pm bus, it didn’t leave till 4pm and then halfway between Azrou and Meknes it broke down. Sat in the bus for about an hour before they deemed it too broken down to continue. So I then waited on the side of the road for a taxi to drive by, didn’t have to wait too long. So by 7pm I was in Azrou. I am currently in the hostel we used for training here. The plan is to head back to my site tomorrow and arrive by the afternoon. Inch a’llah.

They say you aren’t a true volunteer until you have been in a suq bus that breaks down. Haha. I seem to have covered everything over these last 2 weeks. I moved to my site, went to a village near Oarzazate for Thanksgiving, then on Tuesday was instructed to go to Rabat for medical exams for my ear. I am now an expert at finding the commonly used hotel in Rabat by PCVs, finding Peace Corps Headquarters and beginning to learn a lot about traveling. I’ve spent way too much money, but was reimbursed the majority. I have to mail in another reimbursement form after this escapade. We have that whole rule of not traveling at night, but we also have a travel restriction ban in effect starting tomorrow and ending the 14th. I’m apparently one of those unique circumstance cases, but we all knew that, haha.

So I should be back in site tomorrow and plan to pick up my jallaba. I’m very excited to see how it turned out. As for medical update. These meds make me tired and a little out of it. Hence why I’m probably not crazy right now after today, but that’s also just how Morocco is. I am taking 5 different medications and hoping they work.

Well, going to meet up with a fellow PCV and hang out for a bit, catch up and swap stories. I thought my suq bus rides had been going much too smoothly, my luck had to run out sometime. At least I meet very nice helpful people along the way. Very tired, I think I am going to sleep the entire Sunday away. I’ve been trying to keep my host family informed. I will agree with the Moroccans, traveling during l’3id kbir is crazy! I can’t wait to just hide in my house!

I know I hear volunteers who get rocks thrown at them occasionally, well, I had a snowball thrown at me tonight, haha. I was peeved when it happened, but better snow than rocks, J.

Hope everyone is well back home. It’s just one adventure after another here in Morocco.
Well, here are a few pics from our swearing in:
Me and one of the buddies I really miss.

Beautiful view of Fes from the hotel.

Me and my two girls, :).

Me and our awesome homestay coordinator.

Me and my awesome LCF!

One of the pcvs near me.

Photos of my village:

Inside of future house, :)

Time Flies

Sorry it has been so long since my last update. Things have been so crazy for me. I spent last weekend celebrating Thanksgiving with a few others near Oarzazate. We had amazing food and it was great to catch up and meet a new fellow or two. Then I return to my site that Sunday and spent the next day visiting with my family, locating a coop member's home as well as the home of my counterpart. The week before was spent working on Carte de Sejour, I have to go in yet again once I return to sign something. Very frustrating process.

Sorry this entry will be short as I have limited time to express the vastness of my last week. Tuesday I went into Errachidia and bought fabric to have a tailer make me an awesome new jallaba, :). It is a darker pink and very pretty with gold lines through it. I can't wait to see the finished product tomorrow, inch a'llah. Then I had lunch with a fellow pcv and her host family before returning home. During this day I heard back from Peace Corps about my ear and was told to come to Rabat the next day, so crazy. So I took an 8am bus from Errachidia to Rabat, a very long 11 hours. The roads around the middle atlas were snowy, so travel took an extra hour or two. I managed to find the hotel I was to stay at with the help of a volunteer intown for medical servcices. It was a very nice hotel compared to what I was expecting, haha. I had a single room with a shower/western toilet in my room, :). I then went out to eat and met a bunch of now 2nd year pcvs. Then Thursday I woke up and wandered to the old medina to shop a bit. I found a beautiful gold silk headscarf to match my new jallaba for l'3id, no shoes yet. Also bought some shampoo/conditioner and a toiletry bag for hammam. I like hammam, lots of warm water in a warm area. It is getting very cold down south, it's much warmer here in Rabat to be honest. Errachidia is warm during the day, but once the sun goes down it's freezing.

So yeah, I also bought a gift to send my parents for Christmas, made it Morocco, ;). I then with several calls to the medical doctor found my way to PC HQ where I had one medical appointment and then went downtown to find the other place for my ear. I've been having ear issues, hence the sudden trip to Rabat. You know how when you cup your ear you have limited hearing, it's like that plus a ringing and dull ache. So I got slightly lost trying to find the place and none of the police knew where the street was, haha. I managed to wander in the right direction and found it and met with the specialist. Wow he had some high tech gadgets. So the diagnosis suggested I needed a hearing test as well to access the extent of the issue. Basically there is something wrong with my ear drum, like when your ear pops due to elevation changes. At the end of the examination I was given 5 different medication to take over the next week. If my ear has not improved in 3 weeks, I am to come back to Rabat for possible ear surgery. Eep! Hoping the meds work.

So I have been at site for 2 weeks and 1/2 of one of those was spent in Rabat for medical reasons. I'm getting the crash course pcv education, haha. Managed to find my way to Rabat and now as I had to get reimbursed (about 1800dh), I missed the 7am suq back, so stopping to stay the night with a pcv on the way back and taking a train partway. Pretty excited for that, :). I'm just traveling everywhere it seems, haha.

I'll post more photos once I have the chance, perhaps after l'3id kbir. For the necxt week or two my family will be celebrating with final supper by slaughtering a sheep and celebrating over the next week or two. I'm excited because I will get to visit a few more nearby villages and family in the process, :). Morocco has been great so far. Still in disbelief it's December already and I have two more years ahead of me. At least I have an awesome community and great pcvs around me and all-throughout Morocco. I will definitely travel as much as I am able and very excited to be doing something so perfect for me and so worthwhile, :).