Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tooth Fairy Finally Arrives!

So, dental health is not a priority in Morocco if you go by the status of most smiles you see. Therefore, Peace Corps booked me with a dentist in Rabat to have my broken crown replaced. Apparently there wasn’t a good one they knew between here and 6 hours away! Yes, 6 hours-by grand taxi and train to Rabat on Thanksgiving day so I could be there in time for my Friday morning appt. So it's Thanksgiving and I’m on my own in Rabat-oh, and there’s no room at the hotel PC told me to use (and also told me to not bother w/a reservation). So the security guard takes me around the corner to another hotel that has a room. Just a room. No toilet. No shower. Bed, chair, sink, closet, overhead light. That’s it. OK, so it only cost 90DH (about $11-yes, $11!). So, I pull out all the stops and fork over the extra 10DH ($1.20) for the key to the shower (and a hand towel) on the 2nd floor and took a HOT SHOWER. The water came out of a shower head-not a bucket! Yum! I buy a couple things quickly in the hanut next door to have as a dinner snack and get back to my room to call my Aunt Geri-who I am SO GLAD I caught on the phone to wish a Happy Thanksgiving. Don’t shed any tears-I had a warm room to myself, a shower and a good but quick talk w/loved ones-that’s something to be thankful for! So the next day I check into the other hotel-now there’s room-and for another 10DH/night (or 100DH, about $12), I get my own shower and toilet in my room-feels luxurious.

So, the dentist in Morocco. First of all, I only have an address to find him. Streets aren’t marked. I ask a couple of people where the street is (after heading what I’ve been told is the right way). No one knows. I keep walking. I turn right on the last street before the medina w/its labyrinthine streets. Turns out I’m on the right street and just in time for my appt! Long story short, he’s not a big fan of novacaine, so I start to understand the poor state of dental affairs in Morocco, but he sees me Friday am, Sat am, Mon at noon and again at 5pm and I walk out w/a brand new, very nicely done crown! Yippee! This means I won’t have to trek back to Rabat again. Well done! Hamdullah!

Saturday was belated Thanksgiving dinner. There were some PCV’s in Rabat w/their artisans for a Holiday Craft fair at the American School (and I wanted to check it out as a possibility for my coop next year), and we all went to another PCV’s house for dinner. I helped smash (that’s crush between my fingers-no masher) potatoes, puree sweet potatoes, make green bean casserole. We had rotisserie chicken, stuffing and pumpkin pie. All made w/buta gas stove and oven-impressive!

I was originally supposed to go to Rabat on Thursday and return home on Sunday, but that would have meant a return trip to Rabat for the final crown. As I mentioned, the dentist did a yeoman’s job and was able to do it in 4 days, so I just prolonged the original trip. No problem, right? Right. PC is informed by medical that I’m staying longer, I let my host family know and tell my tutor that our first lesson will have to be on Tuesday. OK. Until I get a call in Rabat on Monday afternoon from the Gendarmes in Rabat El Kheir. They know I’m not there, and am I still in Rabat? Oops-didn’t let them know my trip was extended. All’s well. Except they know every move I make. Gulp. Put that on the list of adjustments. Move on.

So I have time on Monday between dentist appts-and I did say the office was close to the medina, right? I schlep over to the Rabat Artisana to do a little info gathering, and make my way back to the dentist’s with a couple stops along the way. 2 pairs of pants 100DH each ($12), socks 10DH each, 2 turtlenecks for layering 20DH each. Not breaking any banks here. Oh, I splurge on a digital tape recorder for 680DH-should really be useful in language learning.

Back on the train/grand taxi on Tuesday morning in record time-I hit every mode of transport w/perfect timing and make it in 4 ½ hours! Hamdullah. If only there wasn’t snow on the ground (only a dusting) when I arrived-oh, and it was 1 degree Celcius outside last night (remember the little detail about no insulation-that means it’s only about 5-10 degrees warmer in the house). The warmest you’ll be all day is when you wake up in bed. I keep telling myself that it just means our summer will be more bearable. Inshallah.

Now I can get on to my work-visiting w/the coop women and studying/talking w/them, meeting w/my tutor and studying, finding an apt to rent, teaching at the Dar Chabab and working w/my Environment PCV counterpart on the honey coop marketing project.

One last holiday note. I’m so far removed from “home”, that it’s easy to forget it’s holiday season in the US. Note-no Xmas decorations beginning in October. However, as I was waiting at the busta yesterday, the ring tones of 2 different people got me smiling-one was Jingle Bells, the other was Merry Christmas. You wonder if they have any idea of the use of those catchy tunes!


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