Thursday, January 29, 2009

Why You Don’t Touch the Stove Pipe

So…ever since my family has been using the stove to cook and as a source of heat they have been telling me, “Don’t touch the stove pipe” or in Darija, “ma tqini sh l-canon sxxun”. Everytime they tell me this my first thought is: “Duh, I’m not stupid enough to touch the really hot metal stove pipe.” Well…I may have known not to touch it, but I still ended up grabbing it. Once day there were many women over, family I believe, and I had left the room to put my eating utensils on the kitchen counter. Upon re-entering the room I managed to trip and lose my balance, so instead of falling face first onto one of the women or the floor I decided to grab the nearest thing to me. You guessed it, the stove pipe. And the Moroccans were right, it was very very hot and you should never touch it. Lucky me I only managed to burn my ring finger on the lower half and not my whole hand. So, like a good little pcv I called the pcmo. That was fun. I should mention there is not a very good signal in our large mud house. So I had to run up to the roof and stay calm and comprehensible while my burn throbbed as I spoke with the pcmo for several minutes. It felt like agony at the time as all I wanted to do was run the burn under cold water. Turns out I didn’t really need to call the pcmo, I was certified in first aid back home, but at the time the burn seemed worse than it really was. I would almost call it a 2nd degree burn, I actually melted part of my skin and have a nice blister on it now. At least it doesn’t hurt anymore and it’s healing. So the moral of the story is this is why you shouldn’t touch the stove pipe, even if it does happen to be closer to than the wall as you are falling over people.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Written January 28 2009

Let’s see here…after the aforementioned stove pipe injury I went to see a friend in Erfoud this past Saturday. We just caught up a bit and I helped him sort out how to furnish his new apartment and whether he should paint certain portions or not. I also got a heater out of the trip, :). Sunday I was going to go to Errachidia to purchase items for my house, but decided to just stay in site and work on sewing the hem on one of my ponge covers.

Monday was a bit crazier. I had to go to the Gendarmes in the morning to renew my temporary carte de sejour. This was a very frustrating experience for me. It took them an hour to just change the expiration date to one month later and then another half hour to stamp the thing. Afterwards I had my first tutoring session with my new female tutor. She is awesome! I learned so much working with her one on one. She also caters to my need to see things which is amazing and our personalities jive much better. Overall it was a very good session.

Then that afternoon I received a text from my counter part telling me to come to the coop. So I went with another pcv from the Errachidia area. Turns out the coop was having their annual meeting going over how they did over the previous year. Unfortunately I understood very little about the financial part due to my Darija level, but I did understand when they started discussing food, haha. I will speak with the treasurer and president one on one after I return from Rabat so I can better understand where they are financially. I am sad I am to miss their election meeting on Thursday, but I would understand little anyway and really need to get my ear taken care of. I hope the positions don’t change too much.

Otherwise yesterday and today were spent travelling. It’s always quite the trip for me to come to Rabat as I live so far down south I am required to take 2 days to travel to Rabat. I managed to get a room at the hotel frequented by pcvs, so this made me happy. It’s actually the same room I stayed in my first trip to Rabat. Earlier I looked around for a music store as I’ve been wanting to pick the clarinet back up. I finally found one, but a clarinet was 6,000dh which is a bit out of my budget range. Overall it was a good price for the particular brand of wood clarinet that is was. Starting to really wish I had packed my clarinet from home. Also looked around at some shoes, found a couple pairs I liked but of course not in my size. I’ll look around again later once all the stores are open, they seem to be having a sale at the moment.

Otherwise I have my ear exam tomorrow. Hoping to get this thing solved one way or another this round. It’s been hurting more and more often of late and it doesn’t seem to matter if it is warm or cold out, :(. Otherwise all is well, moved into my new house! :).

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Village Update

Been awhile since I updated this. Hmm…still not too much happening in the community at the moment. I went to the coop one Thursday afternoon and met a few more women, but have been unable to go to the coop yet again since then. I tried going a couple Thursday afternoons but school was still in session. One Sunday I had planned to go but the weather was terrible, rainy and windy, but the following Sunday I fought my way through the wind only to find it was closed. I greeted two women that were also there. I am hoping there will be women at the coop this Sunday. I had planned to work on interviewing all the women about their daily routines, what products they make, and what some of their goals are except everyone has been working out in the fields, so I have been unable to meet with any of the women this month. I met with my counterpart a few times and learned that they do have a treasurer. I tried to visit my friend Khadija, but she was still out in the fields. I am hoping next year to be able to help in the fields. It would have been a good idea this year as well except that between tutoring and random other meetings and things during the week, I have been unable to go out to the fields with any of my host family. This month has also been very crazy for me as I am trying to ready my house to move into it.

Today I had the experience of telling my current tutor that I had found a new tutor. I have been wanting a female tutor and I’ve also wanted to have one on one tutoring sessions. I have been sharing Tim’s tutor for the time being and I should have been completely honest and upfront with him about my search for a female tutor. So I told him today and paid him half for the month since I went to half the month’s lessons. Well, he suddenly brought up that I had not paid him for a previous lesson the earlier month and that I was supposed to have been paying him 400dh for the whole month up front. Well, he never told me any of this, otherwise I would have. I got very angry with him about the whole situation, especially when he began lecturing me on how I should be spending my tutoring allowance. I think I know a little bit about how to use my tutoring allowance. Hence to say that is now over and I will be tutoring with a female from now on.

So far I have painted my bedroom and bought a few things, I still have many things left to buy. My main needs before I move in are a table, stove, and heater. Heater very important as it is still fairly cold here at night. It’s been getting down into the low 30’s lately. Even though I don’t get snow, I tend to get the cold off of the mountains. The day tends to be very nice, but the night tends to be very very cold.

My host family made me pillows to match the ponge covers I am still working on sewing, J. When I visited a friend in Skoura, they offered to make my pillows for me which was awesome. So I have pillows now, J.

Been doing a fair amount of travelling as well. I went to Tinjdad this past weekend and hung out with some friends there. I discussed a few possible projects and about beginning to offer English lessons to women in my village soon. There are a few that the previous volunteer had begun teaching English to. Otherwise just hoping to meet more women once the olive harvesting season is over. Then I got to watch the inauguration speech of Obama with some other volunteers in a village near Riche. It was amazing. It was also really nice to hang out with other Americans for a bit.

Lately I feel my darija has been getting worse as I hide a bit more. I did really well at first and not sure what happened. Part of it is the cold and my ear. My ear has been causing me issues since I arrived in site. I will be making my 3rd trip to Rabat this next week to have it looked at again. It started out being completely clogged round 1, then only slightly clogged round 2, now it has pain. Hoping it’s nothing. But between the cold and fatigue and pain, I tend to sleep a bit more and hide out under my covers a lot. I would try to visit people more, but as they have all been out in the fields, so there have not very many people in site to visit. I should just braven up and go out to the fields and wander around. I’m sure to come across someone that I know or knows me. I also had the flu for a couple days last week, not fun. And just dealing with a lot in general at the moment. Having a bit of a friend situation at the moment, so stressing over that a lot. I just haven’t been very sociable lately.

So that’s life for me in Morocco at the moment. Just working on creating a schedule, getting my house ready and getting my ear sorted out.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Written January 3

Things have been going fairly well in my village. I’ve been in site since last Monday. I decided I’ve been travelling way too much and needed to stay in site for a bit, amazing how time flies. I hadn’t planned on going anywhere next weekend as well, but I will be visiting a friend anyway. I haven’t seen this person since we’ve moved to our new sites and she also happens to live near Oarzazate which is the closest place to me where I can find good chocolate and cheese other than Red Ball (gouda). I didn’t do anything exciting for New Year’s, but I don’t do very much for it normally, no biggie. I’ll just party it up next year, ;).
I started moving a few things into my new house, taking measurements, and cleaning. The fridge no longer smells of milk! Yay! Haha. So far I’ve only tackled the bedroom, but that is the room I plan to paint first since that’s where I will be sleeping when I move in. After the bedroom I will start tackling the bathroom. I was going to tile the floor myself, but I don’t have a tile cutter and it is shaped a bit odd in places, so I fear I will have to pay someone to do it, L. I had really wanted to do it myself, other than cutting tile, it wouldn’t have been too difficult to do the floor. I’m also looking at putting in a new Turkish faceplate, but depends on pricing. If too much I’ll just buy some white porceline paint and just give it a fresh coat of paint. I’m painting my bedroom a blue/green and plan to leave the main room and sitting area white. The bathroom will be blue as well. I’ve been taking down quotes and such as well to paint on the walls. Then for the bathroom/sitting areas, I want to create beaded curtains, but depends if I can find the necessary supplies. I do work with a coop, so I have resources to ask. I can do two things at once, personal and work, J. Whoever said you can’t combine work and play? I also want to re-fabric my ponges, etc.
So those are my projects for the month, preparing my house for move-in on February 1st and start interviewing the women in my coop on their daily schedules, seasonal differences, what they create, etc. I have 28 women to work with, so quite the project. I’m also going to speak with my counterpart on starting English classes for women who want to learn some English, maybe some French as well.
I have had one funny incidence so far in preparing my house. I was moving my mattress around in the bedroom when somehow I finished yanking an electrical socket out of the wall, it actually sparked. Apparently one of the wires broke. So I went to try to explain what happened to the neighbor who’s relative is the landlord. Finally after kind of understanding, she came to look at it with me. All I wanted to know is if it would be a problem to leave the wire exposed like that as when I touched it to the wall, etc., nothing happened. I tried to demonstrate this for her and she kept shoving my hand away like I was going to touch the wire with my hand. I’m not an idiot! I’m not going to touch a possibly live wire. Somehow in trying to explain this the socket disconnected from the other wire. So yeah. I then asked my host brother who explained in French that no, it was not going to cause a problem. I should have went to the boys first, they at least speak enough French to understand me. So I called the landlord who was going to have his cousin come over. So far zero news, but I’ll just bug him again tomorrow or Monday. I just want the wires taped or whatnot so I can paint the walls.
I went to my coop on Thursday afternoon and met 3 more of the women. I may have met 10 of them so far during this previous month. This month I plan to really start getting to work and going in on Sunday afternoons and Thursday afternoons, visiting women in their homes, etc. It’s so easy to get caught up in just living here in Morocco. I have a few ideas for the women, but I really need to get to know them better and their products before I can really start suggesting anything. I have the next 4-5 months to lay the groundwork needed.
Otherwise not too much. I go to tutoring twice a week. Keeping my eye out for a female tutor. Current tutor is ok, but I would really prefer my own solo lessons with a female who would know more of the terminology I need to know.
My host family is great. It is now olive season, so they have been working in the fields collecting olives. I hear it is a good crop this year due to all of the rain. The weather seems to be getting slightly warmer. I really hope so! But I think it is just a warm spell. But it really will be warmer by March. The days are fine, but nights get really chilly. The people in my village are great overall, but sometimes it can be frustrating to be stopped by 5 people on my way to meet someone or go to Hammam, it’s also exhausting trying to visit everyone and maintain relationships with people in the community. It’s good and bad at the same time. I’ll never be "alone", that’s for sure!
I spent a bit over an hour at the post office Friday. I grabbed a number like I’d been told to do the last time and was waiting patiently for it to come up, no biggie. Then after 30 minutes of waiting a worker told me I could have just went to line 5, so I go to line 5, they were just closing down for prayer hour when I got to the window. Grrr… Apparently the only thing you have to grab a number for is if you are receiving money. But at 1pm, the guy kindly taps my shoulder and takes care of me. So it all ended up, but I got very frustrated for a bit there. I was finally able to mail some xmas gifts home to the family, a bit pricey, and had received two packages from my mom, J. Was very excited, she had sent me several books and a Betty Crocker brownie mix!