Hello all! I hope you are all well and that life is being good to you. I apologize for being so late in updating my blog. It has been a crazy few months and internet access can be unreliable. But that’s no excuse, I know.
I have been here in Morocco for almost 5 months now and at my final site for a month. It’s been a whirlwind of an adventure. My final site is in the Southern province of Tata. This is the furthest south any volunteer is able to be placed, lucky me, huh? Tata also only has Health volunteers; no other sector has volunteers down here. During site visit I was a little weary about my final site. My main concerns were the heat and being so far away from my friends. But, hamdullah (Thank God!), Agadir is only five hours away so that allows for nice weekend getaways. If you’re not familiar with Moroccan geography, Agadir is one of its biggest and also a major sea port. It was destroyed in 1960 due to an earthquake and was rebuilt even better than ever. I have already been there twice and it’s a beautiful city. It’s a tourist city that combines the wonders of Morocco with the western world. I love it because I can stay at a nice hotel and have an actual shower with a western toilet, hamdullah!
Due to security reasons I can’t give you the exact name and location of my site, but it’s really great and I love it. The closest major cities to me are Agadir and Ouarzazate, which is about seven hours away. In Morocco five and seven hours are close. There are some good friends from stage that are in Tiznit province, which is only three hours away, whom I will be visiting often. Tiznit is known in Morocco for making some of the finest silver jewelry and overall the area is very beautiful. The temperature in Tata in the summer can go up to about 66 degrees Celsius (150 degrees Fahrenheit!). Now for those of you who question whether or not it’s possible for the earth to even get that hot, believe me, it’s possible. During site visit in April the temperature got up to about 58 degrees Celsius. In the shade the heat’s not so bad because it’s a dry heat, but even so, people do not leave their houses from about 1pm to 6pm. I noticed that my site does not get as hot as some of the other sites in Tata. There’s usually a cool breeze that blows through which cools the weather down. Hamdullah for that! My village is pretty developed, has running water, electricity, and rizzo (cell phone reception) all throughout the site. There are palm trees with dates all over the place and beautiful mountains. In September they will harvest these dates and there will be a festival to celebrate. There’s an Association and a neddy (a place where women go to do crafts or lessons). These will be very helpful as I can use them to conduct Health and English lessons. Most of the women in my village have already expressed an interest in learning English so I think that will be one of my secondary projects. There’s a large dry river bed that separates my site and another douar (community). It’s nice to walk the riverbed and see the mountains. If I walk far enough I will end up in my sitemate’s douar 2 kilometers down the road. My family tells me that the river floods when it rains once a year, must be a lot of rain. Hamdullah!
The people in my site are so amazing. They are the kindest, most welcoming people and I'm lucky that they've been so great to me. I live with 12 members of my host family, the others live elsewhere. I live with my mom, 4 sisters, a brother and his wife, 3 nieces, and 2 nephews. Big family, huh? Homestay is considered to be one of the hardest parts of PC but for me it hasn't been all that bad. I do look forward to getting my own place, though. It'll be nice to have my own space, be on my own schedule, and eat and sleep whenever I want. I found a cute little apartment I'm thinking of renting and it's only a few doors down from my host family's house so it'll be nice to be close to them. So when I first got to site my host sister asked me if I ate everything. "Oho" (no), I said. I told her specifically that I didn't eat any types of organs and goat head. She seemed fine with that. A couple of weeks ago, I went into the kitchen to help with dinner and what did I see lying in a bowl on the counter? You guessed it, a goat head. I looked at her with a disgusted look and said, "I don't eat goat head". In perfect Tash, of course ;-) She just smiled and said she knew. I lost my desire to help with dinner and walked out of the kitchen and resigned myself to the fact that I would not get any meat that night. We sit down to dinner and my sister puts a big pile of hot couscous in front of me and what meat do I see sitting on my site of the plate? CHICKEN!! I couldn't believe my eyes. They had prepared chicken just for me because they knew I didn't eat goat head. It was so sweet. I guess they do listen to me after all. Oh, life in the bled....
Lately I have been doing a lot of integration, which is good because when I first got here I wasn't. I was really lonely when I first arrived at site and stayed mostly in my house. But now I sit and talk with a lot of the women. Most of them compliment me on my Tash but every now and then there is that one person who tells me I know nothing. It's fine, it just motivates me to learn the language faster. Reverse psychology, works everytime. One of the women invited me to a wedding in August in a neighboring douar and in my village there are a lot of ahawaj's (like a type of Berber dancing) that happen in August. I've already seen one and it's really interesting. I can already tell that August and September will be a busy month for me what with the wedding and dances. Besides the date harvest and festival, September is also the month of Ramadan. I will try my hardest to fast, but living in 150 degree weather, I think it will be hard not to drink any water during the day. I'll have to see if I can get around that.
Sorry for the long post, but I thought I'd update you on everything that's been going on. As you can probably tell, it's been crazy for me and the other volunteers. Patience and flexibility, three little words which we hated to hear during PST, has become my daily mantra. I will keep you posted on all my adventures. I have a new phone number and a new address so please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like this information. I would love to hear from you guys. I miss you all very much. Take care and hope to hear from you soon!!
Peace and love,