Thursday, June 24, 2010

Random Thoughts and Photos

Ok. One thing I have forgotten to mention in my previous blogs is that I painted my bathroom. That was a process. I had decided to use oil based paint as I bathe using water in a bathroom and the current water based paint is slowing being washed away. Getting oil paint out of your hair can be quite fun. The original plan was to paint it a white base coat first and then sponge a light blue coat over it... Took a little more paint than I expected and have yet to finish the job. Got a little side tracked. Here is a photo:

I also made myself a new purse. No photos yet, but it really pretty. The outside is black and the inside is a light blue. I created a blue design on the front with thread and some clear seed beads. I am very proud of my newest sewing endeavor. I also made a dress, the first I have ever fully designed myself... it is an ok first attempt. With a belt it looks great, but there are definitely a few faults. Again, soon I hope to have a photo to put up.

I've also been reading bzzaf (alot). As I mentioned in a previous blog I am reading Three Cups of Tea, an amazing book. I have also recently read Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean, Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella, The Painted Veil by Somerset Maugham, The Color Purple by Alice Walker and Dreams of Tresspass by Fatima Mernissi. Anyone wanting an insiteful and partially humourous view on Moroccan women should read Fatima Mernissi. Great author who grew up in a harem in Fez. And a harem is not a brothel or place where a man has multiple wives. A harem is basically where families live together and the women are hidden away from the public eye and not allowed to leave the house unescorted by a male of the family. This particular novel was quite fascinating and very informative. Several of its facets I see still ever present here. The hiding of women in many villages, the hammam rituals, female relationships...

Also below I have included a few sunset photos taken from the view on the roof of my house and food endeavors. I've also posted the rest of the photos I took at camp, the ones at my "wedding" and tree planting. Enjoy!

My yummy very cheesey pizza

Made from scratch black cherry pie, and yes, I did pit 2lbs of cherries.

Sunset from my roof

Sunset from my roof

The 'married' couple

The wedding platter. That gooky stuff in the center is henna.

My dirham (rather than dollar) dance

A camper doing my wedding henna

My pretty henna

My pretty henna again

The pepper tree planting the kids did while at English Spring camp

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Photos of Volubilus

Tuesday was a Long Day

Amazing, 2 updates in 2 days, :P. So... My plan yesterday was to drop off my laptop to have all the information transferred to my external harddrive (much thanks to my friend john for bringing it to me), to call the Apple store in Casablanca and walk to Marjane. Well, life wasn't so simple as that for me, of course.

First...the info from My Documents transferred just fine within an hour, hymdullah, but he was unable to transfer the documents on my desktop. But he explained he would try using a different operating system and I was to stop by tomorrow (which is now today). Then I called the Casa Apple Store. Mushkil (problem) 1: they were out of MacBooks and would not get another shipment in for 2 weeks and were unable to give me an idea of price. Mushkil 2: the laptop would be French manufactured meaning parts may or not be available in America. Of course this was upsetting to me as this was my plan of attack considering price and quality of PC's here. So I decide to walk to Marjane to cool off and think. Several friends received uninspiring texts from me which I have now apoligized for being so crazy. Well... I started my trek by the beach, but went a mile in the wrong direction. So I backtracked and then walked about another mile further and started following signs which said "Marjane" and pointing me in the correct direction. Or so I thought. Well, I started on the wrong side of the road and then ended up having to go down to a lower road and in completely the wrong direction. So I gave up for the day as my feet were accumilating nice painful blisters from wearing my Chacos sans socks. And of course there were zero taxis the entire way back to my hotel. Hence to say I 'meandered' for about 5 hours. Definitely got my workout for the day! I finished my evening eating a Big Tasty from McDonalds and watching Jerry Maguire before reading part of a really great book I am currently making my way through called Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. If anyone has the ability to get their hands on a copy of this book, it is an amazing and awe inspiring story of how one man, Greg Mortenson, began a journey to gather funding in order to build a school in an impoverished village near K2 in Balistan Pakistan and is continueing to accumulate funding to continue building schools in this part of the world in an attempt to stop terrorism by allowing both boys and girls to attend non-extremist schools.

Now for today... I woke up fairly early, for me, and took a taxi to Marjane this time. Now I know the way there. Bought a few needed and desired items, checked out DVD player prices and then had lunch at my hotel before stopping at the computer technician's place who was getting my information for me. Turns out he had a chance to look at my computer, found the issue, fixed it, and now I have a working PC again. I was so shocked. He told me it would take him 2 weeks to look at it and it sounded unlikely he could fix it. Hence to say I am a very happy volunteer now, :).

Now this evening I plan to eat some delicious sushi and meander the medina for movies and TV series.

Also after starting Three Cups of Tea I am inspired afresh to help my village. As all of you who follow my blog know, I have been having trouble getting my women a building. Either there is a place and no money, or the option of possibly getting funding only to find out there is no longer a place. I plan to bug my commune to donate land and my delegate to allocate the funds and have a building built. Where there is a will there is a way.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

May/June Shinanigans

So... In May we had our Regional meeting, was good. I had 4 of the new volunteers stay at my house that night and made really yummy buffalo chicken pizza. Otherwise not too much happened the rest of May. I had a wonderful 3 weeks in site where I relaxed and met with my counterpart/friend a few times to discuss building options. Currently no possibilities as of yet. Still trying. I rode my bike into Errachidia one day and hiked up a plateau about 6km out of Errachidia with a friend of mine. Was nice. Knee ached a few days afterwards, but it's getting stronger. Did really well and worked out for the last 2 weeks everyday in May and was even eating healthier, :). For those of who know me I know that sounds very shocking, :P.

Then at the end of May my laptop died, again. Same problem. Just stopped charging. Lasted 3 weeks after being "repaired". Memorial day weekend I went to Errachidia where we had a small BBQ prepared by 2 amazing cooks. Lots of food and all very delicious. Then the day after 2 of the same people who had stayed with me after the regional meeting asked if they could again as they were in town for a meeting, they had enjoyed my previous cooking, :). So made a very cheesey quiche and lemon bars.

Later on in June I tried to bike to a village 6km from me to help them with basic business skills for the new beef cattle cooperative. The wind that came up suddenly was terrible. I got about 5km before I had to give up and turn back home. There was visibility maybe a mile in any direction due to the dust and such strong winds I couldn't peddle forwards. The wind honestly pushed me the entire 5km back to my site without my need to peddle it was that strong. The road is almost completely flat. That was a fun adventure. I arrived home right before the rain hit.

Then the following weekend I visited some friends in the mountains. Was nice and cool and much needed. Ate really amazing food and had great company, :). After I arrived back home I relaxed and visited people. Then a couple saturdays ago I was finally able to visit the cow coop 6km from me. Was a really nice day. I taxied it this time and stayed for about 4hours. I saw their head of 12 bulls, discussed a few basic accounting terms and had really yummy couscous with 2 of the women and their family. They had rabbit as the meat. I must say it was the first time I have had the chance to eat rabbit. Before lunch I relaxed in their beautiful garden. They had grapevines overhead with date and pomegranite trees in the garden. They have a german shepard looking dog named Rocky who is afraid of water, haha. I also got to hold one of their cats, Mushid, for awhile. He was a very pretty, healthy tom cat. I really miss my cat that ran off, so it was nice. I never did manage to find a stray to take in. Most run away when you come near them. There are a few cats near my house that will randomly come in, but run away as soon as I try to go near them.

Currently I am on vacation. I stayed the night with a friend in Errachidia saturday night and we made steak with a red wine, onion and mushroom sauce, garlic mashed potatoes and green beans. So delicious. Sunday I traveled up to Khemisset to visit a friend for a couple days. Monday I went to Volubilus, near Meknes, on a day trip. Was amazing. I'll post photos as soon as I have a laptop to transfer them to. Then I went back to Khemisset where my friend and I made lemon/pepper marinated roasted chicken with a tomato/balsamic vinagarett salad and watermelon for dessert. Then today I traveled to Rabat and will be here for about 3 days before traveling onto Essaouaira for the Gnaoua music festival, then inchallah Tingrir for a day or two before making my way up the mountain near Riche for 4th of July celebrations at a volunteer's site. A very nice vacation and much needed. Errachidia is getting quite warm, but not too bad yet. Around 100F.

Also, my laptop died one last final time, lasted 3 days this time after the "repairs". Then the person tried to get to work over the course of 2 weeks with no luck. So I hope to travel to Casablanca tomorrow to visit the Mosque there as well as to purchase a new laptop. I have decided to purchase a MacBook. I hope all goes well. There are a few stores in Rabat I hope to look at as well. I was hoping my laptop would last a final 5 months, but unfortunately it will not, :(.

RIP faithful laptop.