Monday, September 14, 2009


9/8-9/10, 2009 Philadelphia’s one-day staging was primarily a get-acquainted time. Played games, shared stories, etc. Most of us split up into groups for dinner and became better acquainted. We were bused to JFK with hours to kill and many of us landed in a wine bar where we savored the fruits of the vine immensely since it is publicly forbidden in Morocco and who knows when we will next have the opportunity to enjoy it?
9/10-9/14, 2009 Arrived safely in Casablanca at 7:45a. We boarded a bus to a seaside facility north of Rabat. Some of us slept on the flight/bus, but many of us were up for 24 hours+. Can’t believe they held sessions that afternoon. Most of were nodding off and retention was nil. There are 63 of us and about a third are mature adults (I fit that category – right?) We represent America well (culturally, racially, etc.) Breakfast is from 7:30-8:30 and consists of coffee, orange juice, bread, croissants and condiments. I will definitely gain weight on this diet. I have made friends with Fatima (dining room attendant) so I am able to get my coffee early and I’ve been enjoying it on the rooftop with an ocean view before breakfast. Sessions begin at 9a and lunch is at 1p. We start with huge trays of salad fixins (without the lettuce) i.e., olives, beets, eggplant, hard boiled eggs, etc. usually followed by a small plate of meat (i.e., meatballs) then followed by another huge tray of meat and vegetables (yesterday chicken, peas and carrots), then followed by apples (soft, not crisp). Plus, big baskets of bread are available at every meal. Training sessions begin again at 2p and last until near 6p. Many of us have been taking walks at this time and we have found a place where we can get ice cream. I’ve enjoyed a lovely pistachio/almond ice cream and the walk back via the beach. We have been advised to not walk about alone and we must be inside before its dark (7p). Dinner is at 8p and it starts with soup/bread (of course) followed by a meat dish (last night lamb chops) and pasta. Dessert was packaged pudding, but we’ve had yogurt mostly for dinner dessert. Groups then gather on the rooftop for conversation, lobby area for internet access. And the lounge for card/other games.
Our days have been sunny, hot and humid. We are in a dorm like facility and I have three roommates (two are recent college grads from Mich and one is 40+ and originally from England). We have community bathrooms and our showers are cold, but we have modern toilets rather that squat toilets and we are thrilled. Only wish they would keep them supplied with toilet paper!! We had a free day on Sunday and most of us traveled to a city north of where we are living.. Cell phones were the purchase of the day and I will gladly share that number if you ask for it via my gmail address. I’ve received HepB, Rabies and Meningitis shots with more shots to come later in the week. We are learning survival Arabic at this time, and will concentrate on our specific dialects when we are moved to our hub on 9/15. The small business group will travel to our hub in the foothills of the mountains by bus and we’re told it will be a 6 hour drive or so. We will then split off into groups of 5 individuals and head to our village where we will live individually with host families. Each day the 5 of us will meet for 4+ hours of language training and the remainder of the day will be spent on learning the culture or jobs we will be undertaking.
We’ve had the luxury of having the internet on-site, but can’t imagine I will have it with my host family or in the village where I will live for the next nine weeks. When we travel to our hub site (every couple of weeks or so), I imagine it will be available, and I’ll update this at that time. Bslama……

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