We actually had Halloween come a little early to Ain Leuh. On Tuesday we carved up the pumpkin we bought at the souk last week. (You should have seen our cook’s face when we brought it home-she thought we wanted her to cook all of it). The seeds were cooked on the buta stove and Lisa cooked down a lot of the pumpkin and made pie-yum. We bought candles in the hanut and invited the neighbor, our cook and a couple of others to join us for the “lighting” of our pumpkin. We brought it indoors (too brrd outside), turned out the lights and lit her up! We took turns telling ghost stories, with Amina translating both directions. You should have seen the neighbor and our cook get into the “spirit” of things by telling stories of their own-some involving ghosts from the cemetery just down the road from our classroom! Who knew!
Wednesday we started talking about what we need to be able to say once we’re on our site visit. It seemed like training was going to go on forever, and now it’s almost done! Well, at least the formal classroom and CBT training-we still have 2+ weeks to go before swearing in. We had a farewell party for the people of Ain Leuh who have been so great to us, ie; our host families and the women of the taeawniya. You should have seen the women dance to the Moroccan music-now I know how to stay warm thru the cold winter months-invite Moroccan women to dance!
Speaking of final sites, I finally know where I'll be for the next 2 years! We had to say our goodbyes to our host families on Thurs morning before leaving for Azrou, where all the SBD trainees were once again gathering, this time with a lot of anticipation, as we were to find out our final service sites that afternoon. The Program Director was running a couple hours late, so everything was delayed, and at first she was going to wait until today to tell us. Talk about near-revolt! We didn't eat dinner until about 9pm, giving her time to tell us all-in a group-where each of us was going and a little bit about the site. We got more information today about the sites, who we're replacing and a little bit about our host families.
So here goes:
I'll be in a place called Ribat El Kheir. It is 50 km east of Sefrou and another 40 min to Fez and at about 3000 ft. The town has about 13,000 people. My host family has both mother and father and they're both teachers, and they have 4 daughters. We have running water and electricity. There's internet availability in town-don't know yet if that's just at cybers or if I'll be able to get it at home when I get my own place (2 mos required w/home stay family). I'll have cell phone service. There is a post office, so I'll be getting my very own personal PO Box and address soon, but there is no bank-the closest one is in Sefrou. There is souk weekly, but fresh produce is available in the hanuts in town. I'll be working with an established Coop of women weavers who are asking for help in marketing their products. I'll be replacing a current PCV who is finishing his service the end of November. It apparently gets very cold in winter, incl. snow, and while summer anywhere in Morocco is very hot, Ribat El Kheir doesn't get as bad as other areas. One of our LCF trainers is from Ribat El Kheir and helped start the Coop I'll be working with. She now lives in Fez, but will help me find a tutor in Ribat El Kheir. Inshallah!
At least now we all know where we'll be-scattered across the country (some will take 2 days to get to their sites, but we'll have other PCV's (SBD and other sectors) nearby to work with and celebrate American holidays with. Of all the cities in Morocco to be close to, my preference would be Fez, so I'm glad that I'm close enough to get there and back in a day.
Tomorrow we travel out to our sites for one week of intro. I go first to Fez for my dentist appt., then the guy I'm replacing will meet me there-he's going to Fez tomorrow for some shopping anyway-and shepherd me to Ribat El Kheir and my host family's house. Triq slama!