Thursday, March 12, 2009

Happy Birthday

Well, I’m happy to say that my birthday was almost a holiday this year! Tues and Wed were national holidays for the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed. (Note that this is set by the Islamic calendar, so not always this time of year). Interestingly enough, his is about the only birthday that’s celebrated in Morocco. Just not something they do. Nevertheless it was a nice day-lots of emails, text messages, cards, etc. Spent the afternoon w/PCV from nearby and Jonathan and Joy came to visit. Joy and I were roommates all thru training and she’s posted in the far south of Morocco-this was the first time we’ve seen each other since swearing-in. Then on Tuesday the 3 of us played in Fes for the day. We could hardly stop talking-Jonathan said we were like sisters.

Got back to REK to meet up with a former PCV who served in REK 2004-2006 with Youth Development. He had the same host family and is catching up with old friends here in town. Nice guy, and people here remember him fondly, which has only made my integration easier.

So I thought I’d capture some thoughts here--notes I’ve jotted and observations from the last couple of weeks. Caution-these are random!

--The women of Morocco (like most places) are far stronger than they’re given credit for. Metalan (for example): while we may think that it’s the men who get to go out at night to the cafes and shoot the breeze with their buddies, the straight skinny is that the wife won’t let them come home after dinner until she’s ready!

-Fashionista REK style: Gotta love Mohammed-the cyber guy-saw him for the first time in several weeks-wearing his usual Nike-like warm up suit under a sleeveless jellaba and his mom’s pink fuzzy slippers! And he’s only around 30! Kinda like the women wearing their sweats w/an apron and their slippers to the hanut-good for them.

--Those flowers I’ve been admiring from the nukl and wishing I could stick my nose in them cuz I just know they smell so zwin? I go by the Dar Chebab on Sunday to make more flyers (for the April 6 pgm) and give one to a woman there on the computer and she has some of these flowers and insists that I take them in thanks for setting up the program. I can still smell them (a type of narcissus) while I type this.

--Bleach does a bang-up job getting rid of the mold on inside walls. (Is this productive cough I’ve got from the mold cuz I feel fine and no other sign of a cold?)

--Moroccans are used to living with all the family under the same roof in very close quarters-no personal space. A woman I met last weekend who has married a Moroccan says they find their own space by “zoning out” in one another’s presence. They also tend to keep their emotions to themselves due to lack of privacy.

--Kifas kantseffu? How do we line up? At the Busta (post ofc)? Take a lesson Lynn. Women get their own line, and take turns with the much, much longer line of men. Gotta remember this. Really confused the woman behind me last week. Couldn’t figure out why she came in and stood next to me instead of going to the back of the line. Did she want something? Finally figured out that I’d confused her by standing behind a man in line-where was the women’s line? Oops-smHi li (excuse me).

--Another learning. Scheduling the Women’s Health program. I think we need to avoid Monday-that’s souk day and all the women are busy going to souk, and of course Friday-mosque day for all and couscous for lunch. No? Monday is good? Eles? (why?) Because that’s the only day a lot of women can come to town-for souk-and can pay transport, so they can combine souk w/the Wellness program. Duh. Need to work within framework of what works for them.

--Nice to feel like I can be a resource, even if in a small way, already. Metalan, the mundub calls Fatima-needs photos of the building next to the coop that the Ministry is trying to buy for them-and knows I have a camera-can I take the photos and email them to him before his Monday morning mtg? Done. Zhara wants to bug the Basha again about the magana (monitor) for the du (electricity), asks if I’ll go w/her since she knows he’ll see me (thank the Peace Corps for entree like that!). Done.

--Interesting....most schools in the bled don’t have bit lma (bathrooms). Not a problem for the boys for obvious reasons. Mushkil (problem) for the girls. If they have to go, they have to go home, and likely to not return. A number of Environment PCVs have made building bit lma’s in the schools a priority project with the goal of educating girls and boys.

--Weather has definitely turned for the better. Even w/the rain we had last week, it wasn’t as cold. Today is beautiful-need to get my bike out for a ride. Been a slow week since it’s a holiday week and the Coop and Dar Chebab are both closed. Maybe I’ll get a ride in tomorrow...

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