Butagas-not to be taken lightly. Yes, the Peace Corps provides a butagas alarm, batteries included, to every volunteer w/instructions to place it high on a wall in our new homes to check for carbon monoxide. OK. I put mine up the 2nd day I’m in my place. Set it off that night when the turkey leg I have in the oven spits grease that smokes out my place and sets of the alarm. It's a smoke alarm too! Welcome new neighbor! The next morning, after dutifully completing my Pilates DVD, I take my wonderful shufu-powered HOT shower. Yum. Open the door to grab my towel. Steam sets off the alarm-It's a steam alarm too!-buck naked, freezing cold and wet, I need to get the da## alarm into another room and shut it off. Howdy new neighbor. Then I get an email from one of my training mates w/an ominous reminder to all of us to put our alarms in place, as she had to learn “the hard way”. Seems she had just moved into her apt, and later that day was feeling kinda tired and a little dizzy. Went to lay down. After about 15 minutes, when she wasn’t feeling any better, decided to call another PCV who was staying in town and had a key to her place. That PCV came over, opened the windows, and my training mate started recovering from the carbon monoxide, albeit feeling pretty hung over. Got the gas lines fixed to stop the leaking. Lucky. Could happen to any of us-you can’t smell the stuff.
Then there’s this interesting Moroccan cold bug. It hit me for the second time. Hard to know if you have a cold or if it’s all the g’s, x’s, q’s and H’s you’re trying to pronounce correctly in Darija. Starts and pretty much ends with an incredibly sore throat-sore enough that you can hardly swallow. Lasts a week. Then it’s gone. A little bit of cough. No stopped up nose, chest congestion. It all settles in the throat. Odd. Just different bugs over here.
Climate Control...aka-don’t let the weather dictate your moves…..
Had plans to go to Fes and Sefrou this last weekend. Got my internet research done Friday afternoon and night so I’d be ready for meetings w/Fatima and Jess over the weekend. Get up Sat morning to do Pilates, shower, pack and go-get to Fes between 11 and 12. Great. Huh? That brightness coming in the window is not shms (sunshine), but reflection off of the snow. And it’s coming down like gangbusters. Oh, and there’s no du (electricity). OK, so no shower (can’t dry the hair and not going out in snow w/wet head), but can still do Pilates and go. Bundled up and out the door. No transits, no taxis, nothing moving-more snow than they’ve seen in years. Need a Plan B. Buy groceries, will just nest in the apt for the weekend and cook up a storm-thinking chicken and potatoes, soup-yummmm. Get back to the apt. Still no du. Bundle up in sleeping bag and blanket over my 4 layers of clothes. Fingers so cold they hurt. Dash to cucina (kitchen) to boil some water (to hold, not drink), and no l-ma (water). Sh**. No du, no water, means no computer, no cooking, reading by candlelight in the freezing cold all weekend. Sh**. Stand at window in cucina pondering Plan C when I notice that there’s a lull in the snow and the clouds have lifted a bit and so does my attitude. I dash around to grab a couple of things and head down to the mhatta d taxiyat (taxi stand) and catch a taxi heading to Sefrou (the long way to Fes)-fishtail our way up the street and I’m on my weekend escape! Just 5km away-no snow, just some light rain!! That da** snow was just hovering over the REK village! Ham-du-li-lah!
The irony of it is that this afternoon I was sitting in the sunshine on our roof typing this in the sunshine-not a cloud in the sky! OK, so I had on longjohns, 2 wool sweaters and a fleece vest-but hey-no coat! However, I should mention that this winter has been the wettest in 30 years and that snow on Saturday was the worst in years-fortunately it all melted the next day around here. There has been terrible flooding and homes destroyed, esp. those built of mud bricks in the rural areas, so it’s a major problem this year across Morocco.
Any Californian’s reading this will appreciate the benefits of the rain. Green! While everyone thinks of Morocco as African desert, it really has many different terrains. Here in the Middle Atlas mountains it does get very hot and dry in the summer-and everything “browns” out. The rain (and just enough sun) have “greened” the fields-like a carpet. That, and the fact that this is olive country and olive trees are evergreen, and even a few wildflowers popping up, makes for a prettier landscape.
So , I am trying to appreciate the cold and rain as much as I appreciate the sunny days. Wish me luck w/that!