Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How's Morocco, homeslice?

This was a question Brian asked me in an email. Well, it was the entirety of the email but that's besides the point. The point is that my response is a good overview of what life at site has been like. It's free of vulgarity so I figured I'd just publish it here for my family and any other interested parties. Forgive the punctuation; these keyboards really are annoying. There are only a couple jabs at Studwell. See if you can find them!

morocco's kickin. im living in a small mountain town as the only non-moroccan, which has given me quite a bit of perspective of being the minority. my arabic is coming along, but everyone likes to joke that i know nothing, which i understand in arabic, thereby refuting their point. its hard to get that idea across, though. for the most part everyone is really nice and welcoming, especially among younger people. the village elders can be quite distant towards outsiders, it would seem. im going to be working with the high school, which just got out for summer so im basically going to be spending the next three months sitting in cafes and getting to know people while improving my language skills. there isnt much to do here, and most of the adults are unemployed so they spend their time sitting and playing parchesi and rummy. ive been reading a lot, which i can see is one of the only things to do to pass the time in a small town where you dont speak the language well. im praising my ability to be patient, as it has eased my transition here and will continue to be a vital asset as i spend the next two years. a more fidgety person might go stir-crazy in just a few hours. i keep thinking about how much you would hate it here; nothing to do, no-one to talk to, nothing to drink and a very limited menu. the scenery is beautiful, as i mentioned in one of my blog posts, and i hope to upload some pictures soon. im planning an extensive exploratory hiking trip of the surrounding ridgeline mountains in the next week or so, it really just depends on weather.
this cyber cafe business is driving me nuts, what with the terrible french and arabic script formatted keyboard, the slow and public access, and the infrequency with which i can read the news or check email. im going to buy a usb-modem, as most people in this country with personal computers are wont to do, but im afraid ill just spend all day online and not talking with people and learning, which, as far as i can tell right now, are my only real duties.
i was elected to the volunteer advisory council by my peers as the representative for our "staj"- our class of spring 2011 environment volunteers. its like a student council, and i was happy to be elected for reasons other than but also including 4 paid trips to rabat each year. adam eldahan is the rep from the 2010 health staj, so ill be seeing him regularly until he finishes his service next year. small world, right?
im trying to obtain my work papers- or that is i have been trying since i first got to my site a week and a half ago- but the bureaucracy here gives new meaning to the phrase 'ludicrously inefficient'. i have until tomorrow to get the receipt of my papers to peace corps. wish me luck!
the spanish enclave city of melilla (sp?) is quite close to my site. i will be using it as a much needed getaway from time to time. if youre ever touring europe in the next two years....
i hear youre becoming a fireman? i neednt point out the obvious and documented trend of pyromaniacs in firefighting brigades to you, do i?

Yes, Brian is becoming a fireman. But you should ask him about that.

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