I swear all my frustrations come from language, or lack thereof....
OK, so it started w/the vice Delegate at lunch after the annual meeting last Thursday comparing my Arabic to Jonathan’s. His is better-waxa (fine). I know that. But this guy won’t let it go-keeps going on and on about it and that I really need to try. Really??!! Geez, hadn’t thought of that.
Then Monday rolls around. One of the more frustrating days since I’ve been here....
Called my interpreter 3 times on the phone last week to remind her to call Dr. Asma to confirm she’d be at the hospital in Sefrou on Monday, as the President of the Coop and I are coming in to meet with her and confirm all the details for the Women’s Health program next Monday. Long story short, interpreter never called Asma-problems w/family-went back to her husband, etc., but doesn’t tell me this so I can make other arrangements. She shows up w/both her kids in tow, says she can’t go in to see Dr. Asma w/me and Zahra. No problem, since Dr. Asma is not scheduled in Sefrou all this week. Call Asma from outside the hospital. I still want all the questions asked. Interpreter doesn’t want to bother Dr. Asma, so won’t ask the questions, and if I ask them, I won’t understand the answers over the phone. Interpreter ends the call w/assurances that “Dr. Asma says tell the American to not worry-she’ll take care of everything”, and I should be ok with that, ie; no answers or details on the program on Monday. Dr. Asma is only now finding out the date has been switched, we don’t know how it’s to be organized once the MDs and women show up, the REK sbitar has given us a list of about 8 items to purchase even tho’ Dr. Asma initially requested only disposable speculum, etc. I have to do a culture check-am I just needing control, or is this wayyyy too loose?
We go by the Artisana since I need to fax the PC office a copy of my vacation request go to Seattle. Left it w/Delegate’s assistant last week w/request for him to sign it and bring it to the Coop Annual Meeting. He was a no-show, so I still need a copy. Assistant never mentioned it to Delegate-do I want it now? (No, I wanted it last week). Yes Please. Kayn mushkil (that’s a problem). Elesh? I just spoke w/Delegate and he’s in his office. Waxa. She gets it signed, and stamped of course. Then lengthy discussion on how I don’t need a copy, as they will fax it to Peace Corps. Fine-you do that. I still want a copy to fax myself. I understand them talking to one another in front of me about the mesquina (poor thing) who doesn’t understand Arabic and that they’ll fax it for me. Gee, maybe the fact that it wasn’t signed until I insisted might give me doubts that it will get faxed, yak? Actually I understand completely-will make certain it’s done myself. (post note-despite them giving me a confirmation slip, the only fax that PC received was mine).
So I figure I need to try to get organized this morning with the Coop on the Women's Program that's less than a week away-discuss w/them what needs to be done and leave it to them to finish. I’m not ok w/assuming everything will fall into place. It’s our program, up to 100 women coming into REK for exams-we need to have our act together. Will use my time w/my tutor to write out what I want to discuss w/Coop women. Go by the Belladya to check out the facility and what we may need there for the info session. No sign out front that Fatima said she’d do last week to have up for women to see as they come into town. Get the list for the pharmacy from Zahra-only gonna get the speculum. While I’m out, want to go by the carpenter hanut of Fatima’s brother in law-he’s building my shelves-were supposed to be done over a week ago, but he’s never open. As I discuss these w/Zahra and Fatima, they’re impatient w/my Arabic-do I want them to go with me? No, I can do these things, just need to know which pharmacy and if Fatima knows if her bro-in-law is in town. Not that hard.
So I leave to run my errands before tutoring and the Gendarme drives by-looking for me-gets out and starts rattling off in Arabic about my “attestion” to work in the Dar Chebab as requested by Police in Sefrou. Huh? Mafhmts (I don’t understand). I’m a volunteer, don’t need work permit and my Peace Corps document explaining this is in the Gendarme’s office. He's talking again about the 100DH stamp for my carte de sejour application, and I remind him that they have it already. What does he want from me? He gets impatient with me-calls over a buddy to try to talk to me in English like I don't understand him. Who am I working with? Taeawniya Adwal. No-mesquina doesn’t understand-what about the Dar Chebab? I’m teaching English there because I want to. After about 15 minutes w/3 men talking to me and one another in Arabic and throwing questions to me that I answer, they finally figure out they don’t need me for anything, they have what they need. But I'm left in tears. I’m upset that even when I do understand and can respond, they assume I don't and talk over me. SOOOOOOOO frustrating. And all for naught-the Gendarme has what he needs from me already.
Thinking I should skip my tutoring-I’m upset about language and will only be more frustrated. But no, I need to work w/Khalid to have the details in place for the Women’s Program. On the way there, the nukl guy asks where I want to be dropped off (never asked before-always one stop)-foq (the top)..mashi bomba? (didn’t know there was a bomba in El Menzel)..no, foq-dima. He says something to 2 other riders while pointing at me and they laugh. Now I’m upset all over again-have reached a tipping point. Khalid, my tutor, at ½ my age, gets it-says I’m doing great-offers to spend more time w/me next week while he’s on vacation, but I can’t, as I’m working at Spring Language (English) Camp for kids-Spring Break is next week. Nevertheless, I am touched by his support and unsolicited response. I've got my plan in place to get the Coop women to follow up on the Women's Program details.
So I get home to find that the carpenter shop is still closed. Call Fatima to see if she can round up her bro-in-law so I can get the shelves. That works and I get someone to haul them to my apt building. The carpenters across the street are coerced into helping lug them up to my 3rd floor apt. Oops-kayn mushkil. The 1st 2 floors are fine, but stairwell between 2nd and 3rd is tighter and they don’t fit. Have to disassemble the top and reassemble in my apt. Shoot. Oh well-have told them I’ll pay them for their help, and they get it done. Meanwhile, neighbor’s husband comes up and into my apt and starts lecturing me in Arabic about how I need to measure first before trying to get anything up the stairs. BsssaHHH? (Really?) There are more “mequinas” as he talks disparagingly about me to the carpenters in my apt. Did I ask his opinion? None of his business that I’m paying these men to fix the situation and they’re doing a great job. The bright side is that these 2 carpenters obviously really didn’t want to haul the shelves up 3 flights-and that’s before they discovered that they’d have to do more work to get them in. Despite this, they do a terrific job, keep assuring me it’s mushi mushkil (no problem), and spend about 1 hour getting it all done. They’re happy with what they’re paid, the job is done, and the shelves look great. Welakin rajlha d jart mashi drif (but my neighbor’s husband is not kind).
OK, thanks for letting me get that out of my system-I really reached a frustration tipping point today. Trying to help and get things done, and keep getting insulted about my language. Just when I’m getting ok with the pace with which I’m learning, I get slapped in the face w/what others think I should be doing.
All I can do is all I can do. Safi.