Wednesday, September 23, 2009

August/September Update

Blog update. Been a long time I know.

Let’s see…let’s start with August. I was pretty sick the first week, didn’t leave my house for 5 whole days. The second week I visited friends and host family in site, went to the coop a few times and started preparing for my Marrakech/Tiznit trip and trip back to America shortly after. I left for Marrakech on the 15th and spent a very hot long 10 hours on a suq bus to Marrakech as the nice air conditioned CTM was full. I then did lots of shopping for gifts for friends and family. Took awhile to find a hotel with an open room, but finally found one for a good price and crashed very late after a very nice hot shower. Got up early the next day to take a CTM down to Tiznit. Was very excited to get a ticket. It was such a nice smooth air-conditioned ride. It felt like heave after the suq bus. I met a friend of mine in her site, about an hour outside of Tiznit on the 16th. It was about another 9 hours from Marrakech to her site. It was so nice to stay for two nights and meet so many awesome volunteers. The next day we went into town for a bit where I bought too much silver jewelry and then we all met up in the village that was hosting the festival. I helped the girls with French and Arabic as they are all Tamazight speakers. It was fun. As to the significance of silver jewelry, Tiznit is very well known for it’s silver jewelry selection and Silver Souq. Then I took a city bus into Tiznit on the 18th where I caught a taxi to Inzegane, a big bus stop. I had just missed the CTM by about a half hour, so I took a suq bus. I must say it was the worst one I have yet seen here in Morocco and I got to take it for the whole 9 hours to Ouarzazate. The seats were too close for me to sit normally with my long legs and the cushions had lost their cushioning, but it made it to Ouarzazate, humdullah. I stayed at a nice hotel near the medina, took another nice hot shower, and then left around 12pm the next day via CTM where I ran into a couple other volunteers. I should have stayed with the one in her site, but I thought she was still gone. Next time. Overall it was a really good trip, very long, but successful. I bought all the gifts I had wanted to and was able to see several friends along the way and even help out with a health booth even if it was for only a few hours.

I then rested up in site for about a week before my big states trip. I had lftur (breakfast) with a friend one night of shark and sardines. Her friend can cook! Though my house reeked of fish for awhile and I’m not a big fan of fish.

Then the big day came. I began traveling to Casablanca on the 31st staying with a friend that night near Rabat. That was about a 10 hour bus ride. Then early the next morning I took a train from Rabat to the Casablanca airport, about another 2 hours, and took an easy jet flight to Madrid on the 1st. Yes, it really does take me about 12 hours to get to the airport. Once in Madrid I met a friend at the Hilton Hotel there. She was using her parents’ hotel points and boy was I lucky we were flying in and out the same day. I had never experienced such luxury. It was also my first trip out of Morocco in 12 months. We were served free champagne and wine as well as many savory snacks including several pork products. It was heaven. Alcohol and pork aren’t viewed so well in Morocco, pork is near impossible to find. I was also able to take my first bath in nearly a year and it was fabulous. Then the next day we took a shuttle to the airport and parted out separate ways. My delta flight left right on time and was so nice. I had two seats to myself and excellent service and good food. The seats seemed so spacious after 12 months of Moroccan suq buses. Then I had a 7 hour layover in Atlanta which passed quickly as I was able to chat with a really nice guy who happened to be coming from Saudi Arabia, an American. My flight left on time from Atlanta and I arrived in Des Moines, IA with all my luggage, :). My parents met me and drove me home where I crashed.

The next morning I couldn’t find my car keys. Apparently my mom had given them to me the night before while I was completely out of it. Finally found them almost 2 days later clipped to my suitcase. I spent the first two days resting and roaming around my home town. Saturday I went to Ames to see a good friend of mine. Sunday I had a family picnic, was so nice to see everyone. Then I went to Des Moines and saw the new Harry Potter! Was so excited to go to a movie theater, :). Monday I met up with an old friend for lunch and then another good friend of mine for a movie and dinner. We ate at the Cheesecake factory where I had awesome food and a very tasty beverage, ;). Then we watched The Ugly Truth. Hilarious movie! Afterwards we ate amazing cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory and then slept on the floor of her new apartment as she didn’t have furniture yet. Very comfy carpet. Tuesday I stayed home. Wednesday I went to my college town and visited with several professors. I was going to go to Ames for a belly dancing class but decided to stay home and relax as I was still tired. I wish I had gone though, I could have really used the class and it would have been nice to see my friend again. Thursday I went to Iowa City and saw a sorority sister of mine. We ate amazing steak at the Texas Roadhouse and then went out for drinks at a local bar. Was great to catch up. Friday I saw my two friends who had just gotten married and we went with another to the Cheesecake Factory again. That was a late night but a good one. Saturday I saw another sorority sister in Cedar Falls. Was great to catch up with her as well and inherited many good books and a wonderful meal and mudslide at Applebees, my favorite restaurant. I also got to see my brother, new niece and 2 nephews on the way up. Sunday I met up with my Des Moines friend one final time and we watched The Time Traveler’s Wife. Good movie, but book was way better. Ate some amazing Coldstone ice cream and just wandered the mall a bit. Monday I went shopping with my mom in Des Moines. That was a very long day but good. We went to all the craft stores and a bookstore. Bought some cross stitch supplies and salivated over books. I’ve missed Barnes and Noble so much. Then we got Culvers on the way home and I just relaxed for the night. Tuesday I went back to Des Moines to finish my shopping and had dinner with one of my aunt and uncles at a place in my home town. Wednesday I went back to my college town to look at the specialty shops and see a few more professors. I went to Central College in Pella, IA. I really like Pella. Came home and packed. Had an awesome steak and baked potato that my dad has grilled. Thought my bag was fine, 48lbs. Well, it would have been fine if not for my easy jet flight. Had to take out 4lbs, :(. Stayed up very late, but managed it.

Flight back was crazy. First a 2 hour delay in Des Moines so I didn’t get my final deli sandwich, had to run to catch my international flight. Sat by a nice woman. Then my easy jet flight was delayed 1.5 hours and they made me pay an extra 22Euroes for my purse. Luckily I was flying back with another peace corps volunteer. Got in and took a train to Rabat and a taxi to my friend’s site where I crashed for the night. Was really great to see her. Then stopped in Azrou to drop off a friend’s camera and a friend’s laptop battery. Stayed the night in Midelt and left on Sunday to finish the journey to my site. Fairly smooth other than my Azrou to Midelt taxi. We had to pull over a few times due to the transmission not working so well, but I made it. Took a nice solar shower and unpacked and relaxed. Monday I rested all day, then Tuesday I visited my counter part, host family and neighbor who took care of my cat for me while I was gone.

My birthday is tomorrow. The big 25. Not planning to do anything special, maybe bake myself some brownies and just relax. Was gone for 3 weeks and just returned 3 days ago.

As you can see it’s been an exciting 2 months for me. Hard to believe it’s nearly October already. I have a trip to Fes and Rabat next week. 2 of my women will be attending a marketing workshop in Fes and I will be going to Rabat for a second opinion on why my ear clogs up every so often and has a persistent pain. Usually not too bad.