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10/26/09-11/1/09 - My time here is almost over. Only a week left at this site. In some respects the time has flown, and at other times it seems like I left Chicago so very long ago. I’ve had a cold for over two weeks now and I’m tired and feeling a bit old and out of sorts. Hopefully the antibiotics the doctor has put me on will knock the cold out and I’ll be back to my shining self soon!!
Today is again Sunday and souq day. It is the event of the week here and everyone looks forward to it. It reminds me of a big flea market so picture this in your mind. Guess the main difference is that they sell fresh meat. And, I mean fresh meat – they kill and clean it on the spot. Considering the fact that refrigeration is not a big thing here, this is probably the best possible choice for purchasing meat. I do wonder what they do with all they can’t eat, and I chose to believe they divide it up among the many relatives that surround them. I can’t think too much about the kitchen/food process or I won’t be able to eat and this is a HUGE statement for me to make – “can’t eat”!!! One more reason I can’t wait to get to my own home where I can control the conditions, at least to some extent.
Granted we have the big interview/language evaluation/assessment scheduled for November 6th, wherein they ascertain that we are worthy candidates to be sworn in as official PC volunteers, I am fairly certain that the remaining 57 of us will move forward. People like me will have to sign a contract agreeing to language tutoring, and the PC will pay for this for a period of time. We do have to find our own tutors and hopefully I can find one in my town. My Tashlheet needs a lot of work, so I have a job cut out for me because I have a long ways to go. We will leave out host homes on November 8th and the entire group will meet at another location for more training prior to our official swearing in on November 12th. We then move to our permanent site on November 13th and it looks to be a two day trek getting there via buses and cabs.
My site -- At this point I really don’t know that much about it. I had a short conversation with the volunteer that has been there, about to leave and she has enjoyed it a lot. I will have one day with Amy and I told her, we might have to do an all-nighter so she can tell me everything I need to know. I am southeast of Marrakech and in the Ouarzazate region. It is a mountain town of about 3,000 people. I do have a post office in town, but no banks, cyber café’s, or supermarkets. My primary job will be to work with the goat cheese and saffron cooperatives. I’m told I will have water and electricity 24/7 – hurray!! (Again, I really don’t know what those statements mean since I was told I would have water at this site and in fact I do, but they neglected to tell me it was only pumped into town twice a week and that you had to store it for future use to have it every day.) Amy also tells me I can buy a satellite internet connection (jump drive) and for an additional monthly fee I can have the internet in my home. I am intending to do this, even though I will have to pay for it out of my pocket. Otherwise, the closest internet connection is about an hour away and I find I hate being this disconnected. Contact me via my gmail address if you would like my specifics about my new home address. You’ll need it to find me when you come to visit .
We continue to study vocabulary, verbs, phrases, culture & customs. Soooo much for this old head to remember. I feel like my head is swimming at the moment and even those things I thought I once knew no longer come to mind. I’m hoping that once this cold is gone and I’m settled somewhere I’ll find that I really have absorbed something! We recently were given some words of harassment to be aware of and I found a few of them to be very entertaining. Now wouldn’t you be flattered if someone said to you – aHatasa – you are my liver, or tlla kra n lviza – give me a visa.
Since yesterday was Halloween, we had a party for the children in our host families at our school. Well it was intended to be for those children, but the word got out that there was a party in town and they were flocking in like sheep. The more the merrier, but it did cut down on the number of pieces of candy the children got when they went trick-or-treating. The children had no idea what kind of party they were coming to since they have never heard of this holiday. We purchased a pumpkin and carved a Jack-O-Lantern. We played pin the nose on the pumpkin, bobbed for apples, played hot potato (complete with me being the music – eee gads), and had them make masks out of paper plates so that they could go trick-or-treating from room to room in our school. The party was a success and LOTS of children returned home happy from the new experience.
Granted my current town is very small, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised that not only do the women greet us with a s-salom, but most of the men too. Something I did not expect and I’m sure I won’t find this everywhere. Interesting side note with re to my host dad. If he should be outside the café (remember, women are not allowed in the café) when I come home, he will not make eye contact with me or say hello. Once behind closed doors, he is a very friendly guy, affectionate with his children and I’ve seen him pat his wife. I have also noticed that if he is sitting outside with some older men and they speak to me first, he then acknowledges me. My host dad is very conservative and would not allow 5 year old Selma to attend the pre-school that opened this year, and believe me she could use some discipline. There are no requirements that any child attend school, but I am hopeful she will be allowed to go to the regular school next year. If a girl goes to school, she generally goes through 6th grade and some boys attend school through 9th grade. If a boy wants to continue with school, he will have to move to another town to do so and the probability is not great that he will be allowed to do this. My host mom attended school for a while and I’m guessing my host dad did not go long, since he usually has her do the reading if there is something that needs to be read.
When visiting Ecuador earlier this year, loud roosters frequently woke up and you can bet we complained about it. No comparison – Morocco’s roosters have them beat. I don’t know how many roosters are out there crowing in the morning, but enough to wake up an army I think. Combine this with the donkeys braying and I wake up to a real concert most mornings. I’m naturally an early riser, but they usually start my day a bit earlier than I would prefer. Not only do I start most mornings early, my nights are frequently interrupted by a thousand (at least it seems like a thousand) barking dogs. Lots of wild/stray dogs running around. They are skinny, look hungry and are covered with ticks and fleas. A friend in another town saw a pack of dogs attack a donkey. Perhaps this is why we are asked to be in by dark? I’m told the police come in occasionally to shoot them in an attempt to keep the numbers down. Makes me sad to see them and to think of their lives. On the whole, American dogs have it made in the shade.
Still warm and sunny here. I may miss this nice weather when I get to my next town so send me warm thoughts. Until I write again. Bslama.