Saturday, November 27, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Oh, and I forgot to mention my French
My time in
Thursday I woke up around and had a late start leaving the hostel by . Took a tram down to
Friday I was ready to go by and took a day trip to Kutna Hora with 3 others, an Austrian who lives in
Then woke up early at so I could take in the sites on my final full day in
Now I am on my way to
Made it to my hostel in
Thursday, November 18, 2010
And here is the rest of the Casa-Paris story. The plane was kept in
I had a simple breakfast of cereal and grape juice with my friend before leaving for the airport then a wonderful lunch of Quiche Lorraine and a Banana Chocolate tart, 2 of my favorite foods from when I studied in
Monday, November 15, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Today was my last day as a Peace Corps volunteer in
After Halloween I had a week to get everything sorted out to leave my site. My replacement came for her site visit on October 31st and was in site until November 4th. It was 5 days of craziness, but good. I met with my landlord to have him sign off that I was good to go and to discuss the new volunteer taking over the house after I leave. I also introduced her to the cooperative. There were only a few women there but she was able to meet the president. Last Tuesday we spent the day touring Errachidia. Wednesday I mailed my large suitcase through the post office and tried to visit the delegate and Gendarmes but there was a strike that day concerning government officials. I showed my replacement where to pay her electric and water bills instead. That night there was a funeral feast as my host mother’s brother had passed away. Unfortunately I was unable to attend but visited everyone the next day and had lunch with everyone. Thursday I mailed my other smaller and lighter box, visited the delegate to let him know I was leaving, to introduce him to the new volunteer and have him sign a piece of paper for me. Then we visited the Gendarmes before going back to site. Friday she returned to her hub site. I spent the day in Errachidia visiting volunteers and shipping my bike to Peace Corps headquarters. It was a nice relaxing day. Saturday I visited my host family but no one else was around. Sunday I visited my friends and neighbors in site to say my final goodbyes. It was a long day. My neighbor agreed to pay my electric bill when it comes. My counterpart and friend gave me a simple wedding caftan and tirz d fasi item as gifts. It was really sweet of her. Then I took the rest of the night to wash my hair and finish packing everything up.
Monday I left early and tossed my keys in the door as I left. I took a 5 hour bus ride to Kalaa Mgouna to meet up with a friend of mine I wanted to visit before leaving the country. It was nice visiting her village. Made good ole fashioned mac and cheese for dinner and stayed up late talking. Tuesday I woke up early and met some friends in Kalaa and traveled with them to Marrakech for one final night on our way up to
Now I am officially done! And having an amazing supper at the French Institute to celebrate with friends, :). Took many photos and will enjoy many memories.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
I know it has been awhile, almost a month since last I updated my blog. I had COS Meds and Conference in
This past week I have been deciding what to keep, what to mail home, what I will take while traveling back home, what I will sell, give away and leave for my replacement. I also have loads of other things to do before I leave in 2 weeks! I’m still not quite adjusted to the fact I am actually almost finished… On my travels I developed a sinus infection which is finally gone, humdullah. But now I have a clogged ear and a rash. The ear is from the altitude changes and remnants from the sinus infection combined in traveling back home. The rash is an allergic reaction to an antibiotic they had me on for the sinus infection. I’ve been taking Benedryl for the rach and it seems to be improving.
Last weekend I went to visit a friend about 30km from me, was nice. Made an oreo cheesecake with real oreos, :). Sunday I visited my women at the cooperative. They were working on orders and projects for the coming cold weather. Lots of knitted sweater outfits. They love the cross stitch project I am almost finished creating. I plan to leave all my leftover cross stitch items with the women when I leave they love it so much. I wasn’t feeling well yesterday so I stayed home and rested. Today I went to town and arrived home later than expected so I hope to visit some people tomorrow. Might have lunch with a friend. Lots of people to see and spend time with before I leave. I don’t know when I will be able to return for a visit.
Today I also finally got the fabric to make my Halloween costume, :). A lot of my fellow volunteers and I are celebrating Halloween this weekend. Our last hoorah before the 4 of us 2nd year SBD and YD volunteers depart the region. I’ve decided to go greek. Bought a dark green fabric and a gold sash for a belt and plan to be a Greek Goddess. Debating on who…there are so many.
These 2 years are simply flown by, I find it hard to believe it’s the actually the end and I’m not just leaving for a visit home. I’m excited and ready for whatever my next adventure will be, but I will also miss my community here. It is a bittersweet feeling. Only 2 more weeks in my site, about a week in
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Yesterday I had every single one of my medical appointments. I started off my morning with an 8:30am meeting where we also got our TB tests. Now we all know how much I dislike needles...and I had to have the test done TWICE. The first attempt didn't work so they had to give me another shot of fun tester fluid under my skin. At this point I was sufficiantly freaked out but had to be donwtown to get my dental x-rays and dental appointment and cleaning by 10am. I left Agdal at 9:30am. The taxi ride down made me very motion sick, great on top of the lowered blood sugar from my needle freak out, so I managed to get over to the x-ray place where it took me an hour to get my dental x-ray done and printed out due to so many people being there. I was an hour late to my dental appointment but was able to get in and out. Good news: no caveties and my teeth were clean! Dental cleanings are the worst though with all that scraping against my teeth and gums, but I made it through. My lower front teeth are still a bit sensitive, but clean, :).
I then had a quick lunch of yummy thin crust pizza before rushing back to Peace Corps HQ to have my physical down where I was prodded some more. Had a quick meeting with the country director before running out and having some blood drawn. COS meds are very thorough in everything. Crook of my arm is still a bit sore, but good news is all my appointments are done!
I slpurged on a nice meal at the French Institute last night. I had filet mignon with blue cheese dressing for dinner and then a small creme brulee, brownie and mousse with coffee for dessert. Delicious. Today I'll have some sushi for lunch and pizza for dinner, :). Today is my free day with no meetings or appointments.
Been thinking more and more on my return home, not long now at all.
Saturday I went up to Ifrane to visit my CBT family. It was so great to see them and I had never been to Ifrane before. It was so much cooler than my village in the south! It felt amazing to sleep with a blanket at night and wear a sweater again. Then Monday on my way up to COS medicals and conference I stayed with one of my CBT mates in Taza. I really liked Taza, it's a nice city and beautiful. I visited my friend's cooperative and some of the volunteers in the area.
Then I made my way up to Rabat for COS Meds and Conference.
It was such an amazing experience and made better by having had lived in Morocco for the past 2 years and the bride being a friend I knew. It felt so normal.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
I know everyone is probably wondering what I have been up to lately as my last update was a month ago. To be honest, not very much. Ramadan was a lazy month in the fact that no one was doing much work, or more specifically, my women were not currently meeting to work. The month of Ramadan is a very holy month for Muslims and as such, my women met twice a week to chant verses out of the Koran, retell religious stories and to pray. I went the first Monday I returned. It’s always interesting to experience a different religion and culture. I was also able to understand more of what was being said this year, though the Koran chanting still simply sounds like beautifully sung cadences to me. I did not completely fast during the month of Ramadan and only broke fast with Moroccan families a handful of times this year. My system couldn’t handle a complete fast and much of the time my ear ached enough that I preferred to stay in majority of the time. I did have a meal with the host family with the traditional figs, dates, pastries, harira (soup), milk, and eggs. Then a couple weeks later I broke fast with my friend Layla and her family in Errachidia with many of the same items with slight variations. Her mom always makes the best meals. I was supposed to go again but things came up and I was unable to.
It was a long month between the fasting, no work, and lingering summer heat. I worked on several personal projects and read many books. As well as much research on post Peace Corps plans and travel. I have finished booking my hostels and flights for
Friday was the end of Ramadan! I saw my neighbors briefly, was really nice. Saturday I went to town hoping to purchase a medicine for my ear, but I forgot the pharmacies would be closed for the holiday. I tried a week of ear drops and one antibiotic with only a little luck at slightly decreasing the inner ear pain, so I will be trying a stronger antibiotic this round. I was able to purchase it yesterday when I went to town, hope this one works!
Saw a few volunteers while I was in town, was nice. Visited my counter part and friend today. The coop isn’t meeting yet as there are still many people still visiting and out of the village. Ramadan only finished a week ago. I expect things will pick up again in a couple weeks. So I’ll probably have things to do after I go to
Saturday a friend of mine and stage mate will be getting married! Hard to believe our 2 years are nearly up. Only 2 more months now. I will miss
We’ve had several storms roll through, rainy season here in the desert. So the temperature has been slowly dropping, but not quite enough yet, still 86 in the house. Soon I won’t need to use my fan anymore, humdullah! Only 2 seasons here, Summer and Winter with a month or 2 of rainy season thrown in here and there, generally in between seasonal changes.
For those of you reading this back in
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Ok…after Al Hoceima I jumped over to Ras el Ma, aka
Then Sunday I woke up really early, changed my cell phone time as it was “fall back” here already, went back an hour. Had a breakfast of yogurt, granola and coffee before hitting the beach nice and early. Played around for hours in the water. The waves were just as strong and I decided to go out further. Was a perfectly tiring time out in the water other than the fact that a huge wave hit me and I totally lost my sunglasses, :(. Afterwards I went back to the house, showered and bought supplies to make a tuna melt for lunch and Pringles. The house was having plumbing issues so we had some staff over. At one point I took a nap only to wake up and be told we had to pack up and move to separate apartments. I was not very happy about this as I was still groggy and the house was so nice. The apartments were ok, but at least the plumbing worked. Went for another afternoon swim and then we had fajitas for dinner. Was delicious! Had a bit of a late night and a night swim before heading to bed. The water was so calm.
Monday I woke up early again and hit the beach around . Starting to get a nice tan, for me, ;). Relaxed and read for a bit and then swam. This day the sea was calmer and we swam out a ways where it was gentle and just floated. Was wonderful. Afterwards I went in and had a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch before going out on a Catamaran! That’s a type of sailboat. I should have taken my Dramamine though…got a little seasick. Was still a great experience. After we reached the open sea we all jumped/dived off/out of the boat and swam around in the clearest, blue/greenish water I have ever seen. A friend took photos but alas I was unable to get them from her. It was just beautiful. That night we went out for dinner again and of course got another fish platter. This time only calamari, sol and shrimp. And ice cream afterwards again of course, :). Then as there was a bit of a fair going on we all decided to do the bumper cars. Was a blast! Some then did the ferris wheel after that, an interesting setup. Goes around much quicker here and virtually no safety bars of any sort.
Tuesday was out final day. Went for my daily swim as usual in yet another calm sea. Was pure bliss to simply float and swim around in the water. Then for lunch we had our final fish meal of shrimp, sol and calamari. Afterwards we bought supplies to make Italian for dinner. And it was amazing! A friend of mine made an absolutely delicious tomato sauce to put over pasta and garlic bread. I made caramelized banana filling for dessert crepes. I ate way too much and just relaxed afterwards.
Wednesday morning was a long travel day with a stop in
Thursday I went to town and bought a few things and simply relaxed and caught up on sleep and rest. It was also the first day of Ramadan. I was too tired to break fast with anyone though.
The past couple days I have just been catching up, doing laundry, relaxing. I was gone nearly 3 weeks. I have also begun making my travel plans for after I COS. I find myself planning my vacation backwards. First I decided to do the cruise, then booked my final flight back to
I have so much to do before I leave in less than 3 months now. Crazy to think about it. I am thinking of applying for Teach for
That’s the final leg of my vacation through to my current standing here back in site. It’s nice to be back, though I must admit I am counting down the days till my
Monday I went to my women's new coop where they can now meet as they please, :). Due to it being Ramadan, work is at a standstill and they currently meet twice a week to sing verses out of the Koran and tell biblical stories during the morning hours.
I finally broke fast with half of my most family on Tuesday evening. Last year it was always both families but now that they have moved into their new home they have moved into 2 different floors. I was also surprised to not see the usual festive shebekiya. Deep fried pastry coated in honey and sesame seeds. It was a quiet affair. I had fasted all day and was having trouble communicating.
Yesterday I went into town to use internet as can be noted from my blog entry with Ras el Ma photos. Also to purchase a few food items.
Today was not very note worthy as I stayed in and rested. I had planned to visit my women again, but had an ear ache. I hope to visit my counterpart tomorrow and start planning a few workshops. I won't be doing very much traveling over the next 3 months and hope to get several desired projects completed before I leave. I hope to break fast with my favorite neighbor tomorrow as well. I haven't been breaking fast very often during this first week of Ramadan as I haven't been completely fasting and feeling a bit under the weather. I am feeling much better now and plan to enjoy harira (soup), shebekiya, eggs, figs, and dates during the remainder of this Ramadan month, :).
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Sunday, August 8, 2010
On Day 2 we all slept in, had a full breakfast and found a new better place to stay. This time I was allowed to share a room with a male. Just a good friend of mine. We spent all day at a beach further down the road and I lost my Moroccan silver ring, :(. Was very sad. I've lost so many things in this country. Other than that it was a great day. We then had a late lunch where I had a salad before showering and relaxing. We had a late dinner where I had calamari.
It was a nice relaxing stop along the way. The beaches were so beautiful if a bit dirty. We left early on Saturday to make our way to Ras el Ma, aka Cape de L'Eau. We had planned to take an 8am bus but it was full so we took a 9:30am instead, but I will describe my adventures here in Ras el Ma in another entry. Enjoy the photos!
Saturday, August 7, 2010
The next morning I took a 7am CTM bus to Ouazzan and then a grand taxi the rest of the way to Chefchouan. The CTM was wonderful and air conditioned, :). Fes and Chefchouan were a bit warmer than Essaouira but still cooler than Errachidia. I arrived in Chefchouan before lunch and found the hostel where I had a bed on the roof for only 40dh a night. Was awesome and so nice. I ate a delicious lunch of a cheese salad made with fresh cheese produced in the region and shrimp with a flan for dessert, then explored the old Kasbah in the square with a friends before going back to the hostel and relaxing. Met a really nice american and some australians during the day as well. Many of the australians were leaving for Fes in 2 days time.
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Then I took a very early bus to Essaouira on Monday and got there by that evening and checked into a very nice Riad reccomended by a volunteer. The Riad Maktoub. The people are very nice and the rooms are great. I went to bed early as I'd had such a long travel day, about 13 hours. Then I woke up early the next day and went on my horse beach ride. I was very excited to be near a horse. For me to be around a horse is to be home. I always feel completely myself around them and happy. I rode a half blind stallion Arab Barb named Atlas. He was a very good boy other than the head jerking. The saddle was interesting, a mix between an English and a Western. Great for trail riding other than the fact it wasn't the most comfortable. The ride included me, our guide, a girl from the Netherlands and a guy from Senegal. A very multilingual experience for me. I spoke darija with the guide, English with the girl from the Netherlands and French with the guy from Senegal. Everyone was very nice. We began the ride at a leisurely pace along the beach with some trotting here and there. After about 2.5hours of riding along the beach we went into the "forest" to have our lunch. Basically this was a trail-less meandering through low brush and loose stones and steep sand hills. Quite the experience. We ate a Moroccan picnic lunch of rice with corn and tuna, a salad of tomatoes and cucumber with yellow melon for dessert and water and coke to drink. Good and filling. We relaxed for about an hour before heading back out. We rode a bit further along the beach and then on the way back we had a couple sprints of cantering/galloping. I can't even begin to describe the feeling of riding a horse at a run along the beach, splashing through the surf, feeling the wind rush past you... It's exhilarating. The next 3.5 hours passed all too quickly. It was nice to get out of the direct sunlight. I was so sore after I dismounted but each aching muscle was completely worth it. I've missed being near horses so much. This was my first real ride in 2 years.
The next day I had a delicious lunch of a cheeseburger, chips and chocolate custard cake at a place called La Cantina which is owned by an English lady. I spent the rest of the day relaxing on the beach and reading a book before heading back to my hotel and relaxing by watching a movie, eating a yummy cheese crepe and ice cream washed down with a refreshing coke.
Wednesday I woke up, walked along the beach for a couple hours before showering and eating another cheese crepe for lunch. Had a coke at a beachside cafe before doing a little shopping. For dinner I had wonderful pasta at a place near my hotel. It was penne pasta with fresh tomato/basil sauce and shredded Parmesan on top. The food was amazing and well priced and the staff were very friendly.
Friday, July 23, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
Wow it has been a busy week. I had my site visit for a new volunteer on Thursday. One of my program staff came to my site to speak to my women and host family and ok everything for a new volunteer. All went well. I even got to see the new building my women are now renting. Yes! My women have a building now! They managed to find one free to rent and it looks to be in pretty good shape and not too large. They have all of their machinery set up now and have moved everything. They are currently cleaning it up and getting it ready to work in. This is such a relief to me and so great for them. They no longer need to share a building and can work everyday now if they chose to. Much better than the previous once a week, :).
Then that same evening I was invited to Day 3 of a Moroccan wedding. They are generally 4 day affairs here. The 3rd day is the bachelorette/bachelor party. I’m not sure what the men do but what the women do is meet with each other and basically have a long dance party with a very late dinner (around ) of couscous. The women just loved me, haha. As many of you know, I used to take belly dance lessons and performed back in
Then Saturday I had a couple friends from the region over. I met them in Errachidia where we picked up food. Then we spent the night hanging out, watching moves and eating awesome food. I made a buffalo chicken pizza and had ranch dipping sauce and made cheesecake brownies, :).
Such is the glamorous life of me n
And now my exciting news, :). I’m going on vacation! Basically I have a lot of days to use by August 12, so I am taking almost 3 weeks to travel around
Only about 16 weeks left…4 short months. I’ve been living here for 2 years now. It’s amazing how normal so many things have become to me now and how I can still be surprised every day by this or that. I love taking a Grand taxi and watching the scenery pass by me and think…I’m living in
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Yesterday I went to a friend's site about 1.5hours outside of Riche. It was so nice to have some fellow volunteer girl time. Sometimes it is difficult to find in a region where one is surrounded by boys. We spent the hottest part of the day staying cool in her house and catching up, then we went to her coop where I met her women and saw what items they made. After that we found our way to the river and hung out by the river dangling our feet in it's cool waters. Then we found our way back to her house where she made a delicious columbianesque grilled chicken salad and watched a hilarious movie, The Hangover. We were definitely both in the mood for comedy. This morning transportation was a bit shwiya (ok, slow, etc.) so we watched another movie in the cool of her house until there was a transit to be taken. A transit is a van basically that they put benches in and pack as many as they can into it. We had it to ourselves which was nice. Then I found my way back to site getting the haircut along the way.
Tomorrow I have a site visit to discuss having another volunteer replace me when I leave. I'm not sure how I feel on that subject yet, so time shall tell. And tonight I am making my yummy cheesecake brownies. Haven't been baking or cooking much due to the heat, but we just had a storm come through that cooled things down a little.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
I still remember seeing her basically shave the back of my head...I think the emotion I felt was a mixture of fear and pure liberty. There is something liberating about making such a drastic change. I also had my Moroccan friend go with me and help me with some Moroccan terminology. This is my 4th and final haircut here in Morocco. My hair is now virtually henna free, it will grow back, and as I mentioned before, perfect for summer, :). Require much less shampoo and conditioner and water as well. Which are important factors considering prices and the fact that I generally take bucket baths. Not as bad as you would think, I don't mind them at all.
As for heat, currently the weather is about 104°F, a dry heat, but getting hotter. And the sun is much stronger here than in Iowa. Also, no air conditioning, but I am lucky to have electricity and have a fan. I'm also thankful for the winds that have come through the past 2 days, cooled off the weather enough for me to regain an appetite and workout!
Enjoy the photos!
After side shot