Finally sanity prevails! It’s apparently hot enough for the natives to be practical. The women in the Coop, while they show up in their jellabas and headscarves, are in t-shirts, cotton knit pants w/loosely tied scarves just around their hair-not all around their necks, and everyone has a water bottle. The heat is getting to everyone. The streets are pretty quiet in the middle of the day, and the cafes are hopping in the evening. It’s more rutuba (humid) than I expected-like summer mountain storm weather. Don’t know if it’s normal or not. Oh well, could be worse-could be in the south where it’s blistering.
Then it was off to Rabat and Casablanca. A call to the Country Director in Marrakech during IST that he passed on to me has resulted in an invitation to attend a couple of meetings. The Director and I met with women from the U.S.-Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research and another organization called Vital Voices on Monday at the Peace Corps office in Rabat. They are working on an initiative to empower women, and are using Breast Health Awareness as their platform to initiate a dialogue in rural Morocco. Then on Tuesday (today) there is a roundtable discussion in Casablanca that I’ve been invited to attend. I anticipate that the Casablanca meeting will be in French, so really not certain what my role, if any, will be. I’m involved due to the cancer screening we did here in REK in March and the contacts I have w/Dr. Asma and the Health mundub. (I’m delighted to know that Dr. Asma is going to be at the roundtable, so I’ll be able to introduce her to the MAEP and Vital Voices folks.) I’m bringing Azzedine, the PC staff liason to the GAD (Gender and Development) Volunteer Committee to the roundtable, as he may be able to get GAD involved with this project. There are certainly PCVs w/capacity to take on secondary projects, and this could lead to community workshops to be done by volunteers in any sector (not just Health as I initially was thinking). Hopefully we can help connect this initiative, thru PCV contacts, to key HCN (Host Country National) women who can bring the message to and work within their communities. That’s the real advantage that Peace Corps has....we’re on the ground, in the communities and really know the people and can help connect them to resources.
Learning to travel smart. Got on the shady side of the taxi to Fes. Boarded the train to Rabat in time for a window (and the little bit of AC that they pipe in) seat. OK, I got on the 3rd from last car in Fes. When we arrived at the Rabat Ville station, we were the last car. When exactly did we split off the last 2 cars? So if I got on the 2nd to last car, where would I have ended up and how would one know in advance? Note to self-check this out to avoid unintended destinations on future train travel.
OK, dare I confess? I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve lived a charmed life. Yes, I was spoiled with twice a month maincures/pedicures in Huntington Beach, even if it only cost me around $20 each time. So my made-it-thru-a-long-cold-dry-winter-without-a-pedicure feet, which are my primary mode of transportation in Morocco, are as bad as they’ve ever been. I’ll spare you the description of the callouses that my feet build up. Sooo...I booked myself for a manicure and pedicure in a swanky hotel around the corner from the swiya budget hotel we PCV’s stay at here in Rabat. It was a real treat, at the equivalent of $50. That’s more than what I’m paying for 3 nights at the budget hotel! A pedicure was never so good-almost don’t want to walk on my feet, they’re so pretty. I wanted to get the pedicure on Sunday when I arrived, but they didn’t have anyone available. I almost asked if I could go swimming instead-outside their small salon is an absolutely gorgeous pool in a garden setting and I was sweating like a pig. Instead, I bought cold water, Coke Zero, bread and cheese and walked back to my hotel where I stripped down, took a cold shower and sat on the bed in the heat in front of the (curtained) window in my room. Not quite the same as a dip in the pool. Last night, after the spa treatment it was wine and bruchetta w/another PCV at the German Institute. It’s all about give and take, choices, and staying flexible, yak?
OK, so today it’s the Roundtable meeting with Vital Voices and the US Middle East Breast Cancer group at the Meridien Hotel in Casablanca and back to my budget hotel in Rabat (the Meridien doesn’t fit into my Peace Corps budget) to sweat it out (literally) for the night before leaving for home via Fes on Wednesday. Wish me luck-hoping to meet w/the Director of the American Language Center in Fes for lunch tomorrow and get him to agree to “host" (for free) the Artisan Marketing Training and Craft Fair I’m developing in their beautiful garden venue. Inshallah.