Monthly Archives: March 2010

Hub 2

I was going to do a video blog – I took a quick video on the roof here to show the mountains and the square, and told a little story about visiting my host mom’s family’s house in the next town over from my town – but after spending 2 hours (!!!!) waiting for the video to upload onto wordpress, Iwas told that there was some security issue and I’d have to try another video type.  No video for you.

My little town has been really good – the wheat has grown 2-3 inches since we arrived, the almonds are ripening on the trees (unripe almonds are fuzzy and tart), new flowers have been blooming… the fields by the river are gorgeous. I’m learning my birds and getting Tamazight names for some of them from my host family, and I’m bringing some bike tools back with me today so I can ride our site bike around during our lunch breaks.  Letter writing will start this week – should you want letters and I don’t have your address, send it.

Now it’s time to head back to my little town.  Bslama!

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Three nights with a Host Family

To those of you at home, I’m not sure it’s possible to describe to you how much can go into four days.  To those PCVs stumbling across my blog, you already know.

I can’t do the whole time justice, so I’ll just give some timelines and highlights. We went to our CBT sites Sunday, coming back to our ‘hub’ site this morning.  When we got to our CBT sites, we were fetched by our host families and taken home, not to get back together with our group until the next morning.  Monday and Tuesday were spent in our CBT group from around 8am-6pm, and then today we came back from our sites, got typhoid shots, and talked about various subjects including our home stays, first aid, bike repair, and women’s day.

I’m also talking to people as I write this, so excuse jumbled sentences/trains of thought. I guarantee no continuity.

My host family is great. My host father is really interested in actively helping me learn Tamazight, and my host mother is very friendly and has no problem taking care of me the same way she takes care of her two year old.  I have a host sister who is five years and five months old, and a host brother who is two years old.

First night story: so my host mom determined I was incompetent at going to the bathroom when I went without getting a bucket of water from the drum first (there was water in tubs in the bathroom, how was I to know which was correct?). Anyhow, she decided to take over, so as I was about to head to bed she made me follow her as she showed me which bucket to grab and to get water from the drum, and then she basically delivered me to the bathroom to do my business.

Let me back up. In Morocco, the majority of toilets are turkish toilets. The majority of bit-lmas, or bathrooms, in rural Morocco do not contain toilet paper – instead, they have a tub of water and a little bucket, and you splash water onto your left hand from your right hand (the left hand does NOT enter the bucket) and clean yourself… well, in whatever way works. Rolling your pants up before nearing these things is a matter of necessity, and eating food from the communal dish with the right hand is more than quaint tradition. We were also warned about how Moroccan people try not to mention the bit-lma and are very discreet about it’s use… so having my host mom usher me in was a bit of a shock.

Anyhow, so there I am, doing my thing… and the electricity for the whole town goes out! I thought it was just the bathroom at first, so I was trying to figure out how to wash up and flush (by dumping the bucket down the turkish toilet) and get out of the bathroom with some dignity… and then I hear my host mom outside, and my name and “Bit-lma!” quite loudly and in quick repetition! Oh dear!

…. ok, I had way more stories, but now it’s Thursday and lunchtime. I’m about to head out for a few more weeks with my host family, and I’ve gotta eat! No time to finish this post well. Bslama!

First impressions

marHba, kulshi! (Howdy y’all!) I’ve spent the last 6 days in what is known as PST, or pre-service training. Day 1 was in Philadelphia, where I met a few people, did some paperwork, learned a bit more about PC policy, and ate at an amazing asian fusion place called Buddakan.  I really don’t know how to emphasize how sinfully delicious this place was. We paid an arm and a leg, and it was totally worth it – particularly since it was only about a third of the allowance PC gave us for our remaining time in the US.

On Tuesday, the 71 (!) of us boarded two buses and headed for JFK airport in NY. When we arrived at the Royal Air Maroc ticket counter, it took at the very least an hour for all of us to get through.. then, once in the terminal, we had at least a good 5 hours to wait before our flight took off. I had a yummy turkish cheese and spinach pastry (I can’t remember the name of it) and played Phase 10 (someone else brought it, not me!) while waiting for the plane. The plane ride was not memorable, which is good for a plane ride, and we landed safely in Casablanca at 7am Wednesday morning, 7 hours after takeoff. Once in Morocco, we boarded another two buses to Marakesh, where we stayed in posh bungalows on the edge of town. We met some of the people in charge of PC Morocco (Country Director (CD) and medical officers (PCMOs)), learned a little more about the country and PC policy, and got a little time to wander around before settling in for the night.

The next morning, we left for our current location – undisclosed due to PC safety policy – that I can say is somewhat south and a little out of the mountains. I’m loving where we are right now. The food is fantastic – Friday is my new favorite day, because Friday is Couscous day. No joke. However, my favorite single food (couscous is more of a combination, really) is pumpkin spiced heavily with cinammon. Heavenly. I’ll need to take some food pictures. 3240, 3243 Once we got to our current location, we started in with classes – language, policy, culture, safety, etc. We’ve had a lot of classes. We’ve also gotten to wander around town a bit to try our Darija (Moroccan Arabic), and a fellow Trainee and I have made friends with an herberist (not herbalist here) in the market. This guy made us the most amazing tea I have ever drunk – can you say saffron tea? We also joined some guys playing the drums and castanets in a shop, where they made us sit on little stools – “at a berber party, everyone sits.” They contradicted this later, though, when they talked about all the dancing that goes on with the drumming and singing at their village – they know how to party it up in their town.

Today, I found out that I will be learning Tamazight (that last ‘gh’ is sort of a gargling sound… think a voiced x, but in the throat). It’s one of the main berber (or “amazight”) languages in Morocco – the other two are Tashelheight and Tarufit. Other PCTs are learning Tash and Darija; no one learns Tarufit. Tomorrow all 71 of us are heading out in groups of 5-6 to take part in community based training (CBT). My CBT is about an hour and a half away from us, and there are four other environmental Tamazight-learning Trainees in my group. Each of us will be living with a host family, but we’ll meet each day for at least 4 hours of language training as well as general PC, environmental, education, community development, and other training. We’ll eat lunch together as a group (couscous, of course, on Fridays). We will get one day of the week off each week, and occasionally we’ll come together again as a larget PCT group. This is how I’ll spend my time from now to when I swear in (inshallah) in May.

Since I started writing this entry, I’ve learned how to tie a head scarf and some people have started throwing around a frisbee… time to head out. Bslama (goodbye) and layla sa3ida (goodnight).

Update:  Pictures were going to come with this post, but I played frisbee and Ring Around the Rosy with a bunch of kids, then did a little more drum circle… and I’m impatient with being on the computer. Trust that the pictures are good, the times are better.