Saturday, July 31, 2010


I started my vacation by spending 2 nights in Tinjdad. There was a small craft fair and a few of my fellow small business development volunteers in the region there with their respective cooperatives.

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.


Stable exit

Pretty beach and fellow horses

Me on Alamo

Family of camels

The Arab Barb, Alamo, that I rode

Our lunch

Rocky Beach

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.

Hotel Room

The weather was perfect. A nice 85-90°F during the day with a cool breeze. Such a treat after 112°F dry hot desert weather.

Now I have found my way to Chefchouan and hope to enjoy another day here before visiting friends on my way to Ras Lma.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Just a short post to let everyone know I will be going on a nearly 3 week vacation around Morocco starting Saturday (tomorrow!). I'll have my laptop with me and hope to continue updates and photos along the way.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Wedding Season

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 3am) of couscous. The women just loved me, haha. As many of you know, I used to take belly dance lessons and performed back in Iowa. I just had a blast. I danced so much I got a blister on my bare foot. By then it was also around 2:30am and I ended up falling asleep and sleeping through the dinner. Then meandered my way back home around 4am. The wedding was the next night but I was too tired to do that 2 nights in a row. I also wasn’t feeling the best. I had also went to a wedding the previous Monday. Well, part of one. It was so hot in the house and so many women were wearing perfumes that I got sick and my allergies wiped me out so I had to leave around 2am when they were eating the wedding dinner. I had went over around 9pm and had my hands and feet hennaed. After 5 hours I was very sleepy and had only been invited that night so no time for a preparatory nap. The wedding on Monday was for a neighbor of the host fam’s and held at the host fam’s house. I was sad to miss the wedding part. Both events were held on the roof. The second wedding party I went to was in the next village over (basically the next mosque) and for a sister of one of the women of the coop I work with. I was sad to miss that wedding as well, but at least I got to go to the Bachelorette party. I really do just love to dance.

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 Morocco. The wedding activities were so much fun. For the one of the coop woman’s sister, my friend Khadija dressed me up in a caftan, the traditional wear you wear to a wedding. Very pretty. I hope to go to another shindig before wedding season is over. Summer here is when the majority of Moroccans get married. On the final day of the wedding, day 4, everyone eats dinner, then dances, then at the end of the night the bride leaves with the groom in a car to the groom’s house. At night you will hear much music and honking and ululating.

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 Morocco. Very excited, :). I don’t take many vacations here, lots of medical trips and work related leave, but not very many vacations. And summer is the time to take them. Been around 110°F in my site, nearly 100°F in my house during the day, a little cooler at night. I hope to update my blog along my journeys. I plan to shoot out to Essaouira, again. Really loved it and hope to ride a horse this time. Then I’ll head up to Tnagier and Chefchouan in the North before hopefully visiting friends near Midelt and in Taza from where I will finish my travels by going to Ras Lma, or Cape de L’eau in French, for about 5 days with many of my business stage mates. Very excited. Ras Lma is near Algeria on the Mediterranean, :). It will be a nice respite from the heat and a chance to relax and visit places I have not seen before.

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 Morocco. I live in the desert. I haven’t been in the snow in 2 years. A crazy concept for a born Iowan. Moroccan has wormed its way into my heart and I will miss this country despite the frustrations. There has been much to make me smile and laugh as well.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

15dh and Another Haircut Later

As posted the other day I had gotten my hair cut. I was ok with it but not ecstatic. I had wanted something more along the lines as a pixie haircut. So today after returning to Errachidia I decided to print off photos of Victoria Beckham's pixie haircut and go to another hairdresser I knew downtown. So armed with photos this time and on my own I managed to relay what I wanted and now have the cut I had been thinking about, :). Pretty proud of myself. Even made some new friends in the process.

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

Summer Style

Ok. Below are the before and after photos involved with my 15dh haircut. From a girl who has one hairdresser until she was 18, then only went to the zwine places since then, it is always quite a concept to allow myself to have my hair cut for 15dh, or in USD, about $1.7o. Yes, I got a $2 haircut. But that's the standard rate in Morocco. Majority do know what they are doing. This haircut...well, it will grow out and it is nice for summer. I wanted short and I got short. The haircut itself is well done and looks great, just very very different for me as I have never had my hair this short before in my life that I can remember. Still wrapping my mind around it... Getting your haircut in Morocco isn't that different from America. They use the same techniques, Morocco just has its own style.

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

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Worlds Apart

Worlds Apart

We seem to be worlds apart, you and I.
You say salam as I say hello.
Your time moves with a gentle purpose
As mine hurries to be rushed.

Even though your veil covers your hair,
You still feel the same wind, the same sun.
Even though we speak two tongues,
We still appreciate the other's presence.

This land you call home varies region to region
As my home varies state to state.
We both understand the value of people,
We both appreciate our lands.

To each his internal rhythm and beauty,
To each her dreams and fears.
We seem to be worlds apart, you and I,
But we're much closer than we think.

---Jennifer Jae Boyd---
An original poem written in Morocco

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Swiftly Moving Time

I finished my wonderful vacation with 3 days in Essaouira. It was beautiful. I never lived near water and when I get the chance to see the ocean it is always a majestic beauty, able to nourish and destruct. I arrived in Essa the afternoon of Friday the 25th. I managed to find my way to the main music area and some fellow volunteers who were able to take me to the apartments we had all rented out for the event. I wish I had taken photos of the apartment. It was perfect. There was the ground floor, 2 middle floors and the roof floor with an open area all the way down between them. We had several dance parties, listened to amazing African bands and wandered the streets of Essaouira. It was so amazing to watch a band perform while on the beach. The crowds at the other stand were not so much fun with all the butt pinching. Also on that same Friday I somehow flushed my phone in the toilet. Yes, I actually flushed it, I was able to save it for the SIM card though for which I was thankful. Then Saturday was amazing, to be so unconstrained by time and to live the day from need to need, sunrise to sunset. I enjoyed a couple hours on the beach with a few chances to play in the ocean waves. On a break I had to move our things away from the incoming time and accidentally tripped over a Moroccan. Oops. Then later that day I had delicious crepes for lunch, a banana and nutella and a cheese one. Took a wonderfully relaxing "real" shower and then relaxing until the early evening when we all went to a hotel and watched the American versus Ghana game. Drank some wine and smooked some hookah. Then I realized quite how sunburned I had become afterwards and had unfortunately forgotten my Aloe Vera at home in my site... Lotion was my alternative.

Sunday I saw a few friends off, took some photos of the fish market that I hope to upload another day, and bought a sun hat and new shirt that was nice and flowy. It's a beautiful green color and didn't bother my sunburn too much. Sleeping was a whole other story. Watched a bit of music that night and then ate a wonderful fish dinner of John Dorey.

Monday I made my way to Tinjdad, rested, then made my way on home to Errachidia. Unfortunately I lost one of my favorite pairs of earrings from Ireland along the way, :(.

Then this past weekend I visited the mountain near Riche where several volunteers live and we had a few 4th of July celebrations. Was so nice to enjoy the cooler weather and be around so many great people. I showed one friend how to make a cheesecake, turned out perfectly, then my other burned. C'est la vie. Unfortunately I did not take any photos.

Today I spoke to my counterpart and she told me they finally found a building for rent! Humdullah! So excited, they are hopefully to move in next month, :). I also learned I am to be replaced. I hope I can get this site ready for a new volunteer in the short amount of time I have left. I've heard the experiences of the COSing volunteers, but it is another to actually live it. I feel time is slipping by all too quickly. It will be nice to return home for a bit, a couple months. Then perhaps about 4-6months in Australia if all works out. Then not sure... I might try Crisis Corps, a 3-6 month mini version of Peace Corps for returned volunteers, or perhaps find a job somewhere, though doing what I am not sure. I know when I created this blog I mentioned International Relations and Law...but I'm not so sure. I really love working at summer camps and may try to find a year round version. A friend mentioned I should be a teacher...who knows. I know I'm not a high power executive type. I hope to find something rewarding in a beautiful place. I do miss Iowa.