Monday, October 26, 2009

I'm so over Marrakech

I’m ready to leave Marrakech. I’ve really tried to love it, but it makes it so hard. OK, so some of the blame can go to the tourists. They’re everywhere. In droves. Who wouldn’t try to take advantage of all those pockets filled w/Dirhams? But come on, please start the taxi meter and please don’t pull on my arm to try to get me into your shop or pull on my sleeve to beg for a dirham and please don’t push that menu in my face as I walk by or shove the card for a hotel at me as I pass by. Aggression is not marketing. We’ve created a monster, fed on tourism, that knows no shame. Ugh. Get me outta here.

OK, I realize I’m feeling the effects of being away from “home” for almost 2 weeks, living out of a suitcase, bored after seeing all the sights, traversing the Ville Nouvelle, anyplace else to visit requires a taxi and I’m boycotting them. Good news, I travel today. Never been so happy to travel. It’s off to Azilal for the PST workshops-training for the new SBD group. Hamdullah.

So since I’m on a ranting and raving kick, I’ll get a couple additional annoyances off my chest:
Those who call your phone and hang up after the first ring, so you’ll call them back. This means you pay for the call (receiving is free) and they’re the one who wants to talk to you.
Waiting to answer the cell phone in one’s hand until the stupid ring tone music has played at least one full minute. What? Too busy? Right! You’re just sitting there staring at your phone! Answer it already.
Trash and the lack of pick up. Just unwrap stuff and drop the wrapping on the ground. There’s gotta be a way....
Public transit (taxi, bus) that stops on the side of the road for the men to get out and pee. While the women wait inside.
No one has change. How do you get change if no one has any? Seems they always manage to find it when push comes to shove.
Who do you trust? Guy in taxi takes us the wrong direction, apologizes and turns off meter, then gets us to our destination (bus station) and tries to get us to pay 4x the correct price. Hshuma. Then as we’re waiting for the bus, a guy insists that the bus is on the other side of the building. Right, just trying to scam more passengers off the CTM bus onto theirs, yak? Turns out he’s right and was trying to help us, but our cynicism prevailed and assumed there was a rip-off in the works. Yikes. Have to be able to trust.

Thanks for that-feel much better now.

OK, so I'll throw Marrakech a bone. Great dried apricots. Zwin cyber w/fast connection, clean and a/c. Simple hotel w/great staff for only $12/night. Great harsha at bakery. Beautiful gardens. Mundub willing to work with us on another craft fair. Earth Cafe. Putting up w/all the tourists.

Safi? Baraka.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


OK, so I confess, I’ve indulged a bit here in Marrakech. I started by sleeping in the last 2 mornings. Not late, just no alarm, no rush to get out of bed. Nice. I’ve got the entire weekend w/no specific plans. I get to just take my sweet time and do whatever I feel like.

I wanted to see the Ville Nouvelle and get out of the medina area. I’ve never been anywhere so tourist-mobbed. The locals treat you accordingly-everyone trying to get your money-even pulling on your arm to try to get you in their shop. The taxi drivers are the worst. It takes 3-4 petit taxis to get one who will use their meter, and even then I’ve had 2 drive the wrong way and try to get me to pay for it. So it’s time to head a different direction, away from the madness.

I mapped out where I wanted to go, some galleries I wanted to browse in, and started off on foot. I needed the exercise. Beautiful weather to walk for miles. And Ville Nouvelle didn’t disappoint. Galleries, restaurants, shops. Bought an International Herald Tribune (only English newspaper you can get in large cities in Morocco) to read over a leisurely lunch at a sweet sidewalk cafe, paid equiv. to $10 for a Vanity Fair magazine (have discovered that magazines in English are a real treat), bought some nice chocolates for after dinner and a new bag to carry my stuff in. Bought a couple tops from a Women’s Coop for winter, even found Clinique lipstick. Such indulgence! I really felt like I had treated myself. It also felt great to be out and about and on my feet after doing so much sitting the last week.

I still have 2 days here to fill. Spent this morning doing a leisurely tour of some of Marrrakech’s sites-Bahia Palace and a very cool small museum around the corner from the Palace. Walked a bit of the medina to check out more Cooperative shops and ran into one of the design students who helped with the product development consultations at Marche Maroc in Fes.She’s heading to Rabat and is interested in contemporary weavings, so I gave her a map to a very cool carpet store near the Rabat Ville train station to check out. It is a small world!

So now I’m using the cyber high speed connection to do some downloading (the dial up speed at my home link is painfully slow), will head back to the hotel and study a bit of my Arabic and think I’ll head back to Earth Café for dinner. Yum.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The "Dirty South"

So we didn’t make it to the river nor the desert. However, we threw pots, painted, glazed, polished, hennaed a lot of pottery pieces and bleach painted fabric. Nebii, Soyoun’s host brother, is the painting artist at the pottery “Coop” and was basically guiding us through the week. He is hoping to turn this type of workshop into a regular business for tourists and Moroccans interested in pottery. The purpose of our week was to try out the workshop and give our feedback on what worked and what could be improved.

His coop doesn’t work so much like a coop, but they certainly make a lot of product, most with a distinctive green glaze. I love their green glaze, but in my opinion they could use some serious finishing to their work to make it more consumer-friendly. They fill the kilns by stacking the pieces on 3-pronged clay pieces. These clay pieces leave 3 distinctive “nicks” in the glaze-they say it’s their signature-but these nicks in each piece leave a very rough finish. They have a lot of their stuff, along with pottery from other parts of Morocco, to sell to the steady stream of tourists who come through their town, which is about 1 ½ hrs from the end of the road into the desert, so a popular route for desert treks.

Each day we were doing either a different piece or finishing process, and this took up most of our time. Not a complaint, just an observation, as we thought we’d have a lot of down time. Thus no river or desert trips. We did take some time out to walk over to the Zaouia shrine and library of Mohammed Ben Nassur-patron saint of the Nacin fraternity. There are over 10,000 books in the library, dating from the 1200's, all handwritten calligraphy on gazelle skin. You have to get permission from the Ministry in Rabat to actually touch any of them, but they’re well displayed to marvel at their beauty. On the other end of the intellectual scale, we also managed to fit in a lot of Bananagram games, which I’m now completely hooked on.

So here are some observations from “the dirty south”:
Visually it is stereotypically Moroccan. Dry, dusty, mud buildings, palm trees, women in all black shuffling along slowly under a hot sun. It’s amazing to see the design detail in the mud buildings-such detail will only last in this very dry climate. It is more tribal-literally. The area is a mix of Berber, Arab and a lot of Malian descendents-originally brought in as slaves. The attire is distinct from the North. Women are entirely covered, the Malian tribe in all black. No jellabas here. They wear a gathered long skirt of black fabric, then use another large piece of black fabric that wraps around their entire upper body and head. They may adorn themselves with a colorful belt. The typical men’s garb of the area is a sky blue caftan with gold braid, and a scarf wrapped around their heads, Arab style. Other women will also be entirely covered, but in beautiful print fabric. Wish I had photos, but again, when in a very conservative area where a Peace Corp Volunteer lives, I hesitate to take photos of their community/neighbors-just seems too intrusive.

It was a good group-worked together well, got along, shared the cooking and cleaning duties, etc. PCVs are pretty used to communal living and pitching in, Hamdullah. Only downside was that of the 11 of us, I think at one point there were 6 of us feeling pretty shwiya. Myself included. After 2 full weeks of a system-gone-wrong and loading myself up with Pepto Bismol, I think I’ve forced my system into normalcy, finally. Just in time for the 9 hour bus ride from Tamegroute to Marrakech. It was a beautiful ride, despite its length. Tons of palmeries that we didn’t see on the way down as it was dark by the time we got to them. Beautiful combination of red, yellow and black dates hanging from the trees. Mud brick villages in the background. Up and over the High Atlas Mountains. Picturesque. Nice to feel well again, just in time for some fresh/yeasty/yummy bread on the ride. We had a woman baking bread for us each day in Tamagroute-strangest bread I’ve ever seen-huge rounds, all crust and no middle-incredibly dry and inedible within hours, and when your system is shwiya and all you’re eating is bread and water, you’d like the bread to be decent. Fortunately I was able to enjoy a yummy dinner at the Earth Café in Marrakech once Lisa and I got here last night. Ran into some other PCVs at the Café. This week Peace Corps is giving flu shots-(they’re mandatory), so everyone had to travel to their “consolidation point”, and Marrakech is one of them.

Had a couple of good reminders about sustainability while in Tamegroute, and the importance of involving the prospective beneficiaries. Examples: The pottery coop has 2 beautiful new gas kilns right next to the crude wood burning kilns that they’ve used for years. And still use. The gas kilns go unused. Why? Well, according to Nebii, a German NGO came in and saw the work the potters were doing and were motivated to help them out. They knew of these gas kilns and decided to pay for them to be installed. Forgot to ask the potters what they wanted/needed/why they used the wood burning kilns. Nothing wrong with the gas kilns, except the gas, in the quantity required to fire the pottery, becomes expensive. The wood is free. Certainly costly to the environment, but not to the Coop. Thus there they sit, kiln shrines to others coming in from the outside, wanting to make a difference, with good intentions, but without involving the beneficiaries, throwing money into the wind. According to Soyoun apparently now there’s a Spanish NGO who has come to her town and wants “to build something”. Great. They are offering to purchase 20 computers. Great. Who is going to say no? But why aren’t they taking the time to sit w/members of the community to determine what the community will really benefit from? Because that takes time. Then there’s the French woman who spent several days w/Nebii being trained in different pottery and painting methods. She was so inspired that she took a ton of photos and information, with the promise of putting it together and getting it all back to Nebii so he could have materials to share with others. Small problem. Seems she didn’t have enough money to pay him for her training-no problem-he tells her to send it when she sends the photos and information. That’s the last he’s heard from her-no money, no info, nothing. Promises, but nothing changes. Given these scenarios, it’s easy to see why locals get cynical to outsiders coming in with offers to “help”. Just give us the money is a typical response. More understandable as you learn about how they get burned.

So now I’m here in Marrakech until Monday. I spent yesterday trying to get time w/the mundub at the Marrakech Artisanat. I was finally successful and spent an hour with him late in the afternoon. My objective was to explore the possibility of doing a Marche Maroc in Marrakech next year. It was a successful meeting and they are willing to host the event and help do the training. I’ve seen the space available and it could work out well. I need to work with our Program staff to identify another PCV here in the south to take on this project. Marrakech is too far away for me to manage (7 hour train after I get to Fes), and since travel costs for our projects comes out of our paltry allowances, it is far too expensive for me to do from Ribat El Kheir (based on the # of trips I had to make to Fes for Marche Maroc). Hopefully this will work out.

I took advantage of the mundub’s lunchtime break, to go to the Jardin Majorelle. This beautiful garden was originally designed by Jacques Majorelle in 1924. The property (home and garden) was purchased and restored by Yves Saint Laurent and he established a trust to ensure the garden’s future existence and public access. It’s a real treasure in this tourist-trap city.

So for the most part I now have 3 days to myself here in Marakkech. I’m thinking of taking a day trip out of town. We’ll see how it goes. Still want to explore the Ville Nouvelle of Marakkech, but have had enough of the medina/el Fnaa area.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Southern Reaches

I’m back in the south. The deep south this time. About as far as Peace Corps Volunteers are allowed to travel in Morocco. We cannot travel into the Western Sahara-a disputed territory that Morocco claims to be a part of their country, but its residents insist is independent. Thus our travel restriction.

I’m in a place called Tamegroute, just south of Zagora. We’re talking dusty (but not sandy), palmeries, first camels that weren’t just posing for tourists, dress is tribal and more conservative, a hint of the “blue men” of the Sahara-the men here wear a traditional light blue overshirt. It’s still hot here, thank goodness it’s fall-cannot imagine the heat of summer.

It takes 2 very long days of travel to get here. One full day to Marrakech and one full day to Zagora, with Tamegroute ½ hour south of Zagora.

My first good sign of the trip was being able to read the Arabic timetable in the train station in Fes-the first on listed was for “mraksh”-wow-I’m starting to read Arabic (started on reading just recently-don't have the entire alphabet down yet)

My PCV friend Lisa and I were supposed to meet up on the train in Rabat (3 hrs from Fes), but she missed the train, so it was another 4 hours boring riding solo. That was the bad news.

We spent the night in Marrakech and caught the bus in the morning for Zagora. Rode 5 hours to Ouarzazate thru the High Atlas Mountains. Really a beautiful ride-red clay soil, beautiful topography, all mud houses-you have to stare into the hillside to realize there’s a town there.

We stop on the way to Ouarzazate for lunch/break. I get out to stretch my legs and realize I’m not feeling so well. My system’s been a bit swiya all week, but now I’m feeling kinda like I’m seasick. How weird. Then it dawns on me. Duh. I’m carsick. Never been carsick before. Going thru the windy mountains got to me. Bummer, but at least that’s all it is. System is still swiya but the nausea will go away.

In Ouarzazate we pick up 4 more PCVs. We’re all going to a pottery workshop/focus group that PCV Soyoun has put together. We’re staying in her house-taking turns cooking, etc. We “threw” pots yesterday and cleaned them up today. Lunch every day prepared by her host family, so we eat well.

Tamegroute is on a main road to the Sahara, so it gets tour buses. There’s a Riad (small hotel in the Kasbah) just across the dirt field from Soyoun’s, and the Swiss/German woman who owns it lets us use her wireless-just costs us the price of a Diet Coke or a small dish of her unbelievably rich homemade cardamom ice cream. Hamdullah.

The people here are very welcoming, although we may have been a sight this morning when we went to souk to get veggies. Morocco is traditionally more conservative in the south, and in these parts, the women don’t go to souk-it’s men only. So I imagine it was a bit of a surprise for 5 of us to show up at souk at 7am this morning! Wish I had my camera (although I don’t tend to take photos in places like souk-seems too intrusive) to show you all the date vendors and their “wares”. This is prime date country and the variety is endless. Quite the sight.

We’ve got some downtime while we’re here. Tomorrow we’ll hike to the river where the potters get their clay, and decorate pieces w/henna-apparently henna comes in several different colors. We’ll glaze the pieces we made on Monday-they have a distinctive green manganese glaze in this area. They fire them and we leave on Wednesday morning. Inshallah there will also be time to get to see some dunes/desert just south of here, still within our travel area, as apparently we only need one night and return in the morning. Maybe Monday night?? Will let you know.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Southern Travels

Home from Marche Maroc 2 days and back on the road. How about 1 ½ days travel to facilitate a 1 hour workshop? I was asked to do a SWOT (Strength/Weakness/Opportunity/Threat) workshop with the new staj of SBD trainees who gathered in the southern Provincial capital of Azilal. That’s a 1 hr taxi to Fes (after waiting 1 hour for it to fill up), 7 hr train to Marrakech, wait 2 hrs for a taxi to fill for a 2 ½ hr ride to Azilal. The benefits? Nice to interact with this group-many more “older” volunteers than usual (I’d chock that up to the US economy making more folks available for such an experience), and a very positive group at that. In addition, it was interesting to listen to all their questions and concerns-after all, I was one of them one year ago. It’s really by listening to them that I can see how far I’ve come.

On the return trip made it as far as Fes, no transits to REK that late, so overnight and home in the morning. Splurged for a 1st class train ticket. Nice! A reserved, comfy seat. Only 6 in a section. A/C. All for about 300DH (approx. $37, or $12 above 2nd class). Such a deal.

I also had the chance to see the countryside in the south on my journey from Marrakech to Azilal. It is definitely different. Here the buildings are the reddish-clay structures that you typically think of in Morocco. You also see that homes are typically built of mud bricks. The mud homes are great for insulation in the summer and winter. Since there’s so little rainfall in the south, this type of building has been preserved, where in the wetter, northern area, the mud bricks “melt” or collapse and have been replaced with ugly concrete blocks. And of course there's the perverse "benefit" in showing that one can affort the concrete brick. Go figure.

Feedback from Marche Maroc keeps trickling in, and I must say that it’s really gratifying. I was very pleased with how it all went, but really delighted to hear the artisan’s reactions, ie; artisans that now want to formalize a Cooperative, Neddi who told their PCV they had “the time of their life”, artisans saying they’d pay 500DH of their organization’s money to attend similar function in the future, etc. Tariq, our program manager, has asked if I’d do one in the south, ie; Marrakech. I think there’s a strong case to do it, make it more regional so travel expenses can be covered by the Coop/Assns, and a good opportunity to help someone else take charge of the project, someone who has connections in Marrakech that I don’t have, yak? Besides, I have other projects in the works that I want to get moving on.

Finally got home this morning. Can’t tell you how nice it was to get home. I really felt welcomed. Went by the Coop to say hi and give a copy of the WaresDinner Morocco booklet to the women to see. Great to see that Fatima and Zahra had already checked out shipping costs thru the Morocco Postal System (since FedEx is prohibitively expensive). I’ll check which one the WaresDinner women want us to use. Reminded Zahra that this means she also needs to get a signed, stamped document from the Ministry Delegate indicating that the shipment is traditional handicrafts, as this makes the package duty-free. Well done ladies-getting on top of it.

I also was sought out by several people in the village on my way home from the Coop-Hassan wanted to follow up on the request I gave him from another PCV-tourism opportunity for REK and he’s President of the REK Tourism Assn. Meriem came by to ask if I can help her w/referral for legal help for friend in the US. Max needed Tim’s information for his interest in the baskets that his Coop makes. Nice to feel missed and needed.

Good thing I saw all of them, as I’m back on the road on Tuesday for 2 weeks. Will be going way down south to Zagora (southernmost PCV site) for a pottery workshop, will do some business in Marrakech while I’m down that way, then going back to Azilal to help again w/the new SBD trainees. Following that I’ll stay close to Azilal-in Bzou, for a color theory workshop and Halloween party. Business and pleasure. Hopefully this Indian Summer stays with us-it’s been fabulous.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mbruk Marche Maroc 2009

aka “Exhilarated but Exhausted”

Oh my what a week it’s been. Home for a couple of days to debrief and write up the Sustainable Marketing Workshop and Marche Maroc 2009 Project reports. Have to report into grant funding agency, but also want to capture it all while it’s fresh…..

Left a week ago for Fes to put the final touches on the weekend program for 60 artisans and 35 Peace Corps Volunteers. It went better than I had hoped for. Oh sure, there were challenges and plenty of frustrations, but none that couldn’t be overcome fairly easily, and there were always lots of willing bodies to help deal with unforeseen needs.

Most everyone arrived in Fes on Thursday. All the artisans were registered in the Al Qods facility and most of the PCVs stayed at a hostel. Came up with this alternative PCV housing when Al Qods couldn’t accommodate all of us (and we PCVs are on our own dime for this sort of thing, so needed “thrifty digs”). Seemed great-very clean, nice, quiet, excellent location. Only problem is, it appears to stay fully booked, so they’ve forgotten that they’re in the service industry. Find out upon check-in that they close from 10-12 every morning, 3-6 every afternoon, curfew at 10pm and hot water only from 8-10 every morning. The woman at the front desk is a raving bit**. How did she ever get hired in tourism? It’s so unfortunate, as they have tons of potential, but turned us all off with their horrible attitude. For example, they woke up one PCV at 2:30 while taking a nap to remind her she needed to be out at 3. Can you imagine? Anyway, their loss. At least it was within a couple blocks of the American Language Center (ALC), so that made up for some of the downside.

Friday arrived with all of the artisans registered, greeted, split into 2 groups and moved into the workshop rooms across the street-in time to start only 10 minutes late at 8:40!!!! Unheard of!

They sat through 2 workshops, ½ day each, facilitated by staff from Al Akhawayn University-private Univ in Ifrane. One was on Marketing, the other on Costing and Pricing. They had interactive exercises and the feedback was terrific. One of the participating Coops made couscous lunch for everyone. That was our only scheduling goof-up. It’s Friday, and we hadn’t allowed time for the men to go to the mosque-kayn daruri (it’s necessary), so we just moved things around. At the end of the day, they had a 1 hour presentation/discussion with the Quality Consultants we brought in-all about new quality standards and design ideas for the domestic and export markets. This was stimulating enough that even at 6pm they were still asking questions. Hamdullah.

Through the course of the day, the Regional Delegate for the Artisanat Ministry came by a couple of times with Ministry press, and we had 2 other press people interviewing and photographing the participants at breaks.

It had been a long day, so artisans were on their own for the evening. Note that some had never travelled this far, some had never participated in something like this, so this was a big step for many. A bunch of the PCVs on the other hand, went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner where the food was mediocre but the beer was cold. I don’t think a “Hamdullah” is appropriate here.

Now the tent guys arrived, assembled the tents and were on their merry way w/out a single problem-loved them. The tables and chairs were another story…..Got the Ministry to allow us to use their tables and chairs. Great. Free, yak? My guy at the Ministry even arranged for a camiyo and helped negotiate a fair transport price-300DH for 60 tables and chairs. Had 2 PCVs lined up to help load/unload. Then the camiyo owner starts to do his own bargaining once they get the first load to the American Language Center (ALC). Seems they’ll need 3 loads. Says more work than he thought. I’m thinking “too bad”, I’m only paying 300DH. At this point the Ministry Delegate has come back around, and asks what the problem is. First he “hshuma’s” the guy, then agrees 800DH should be paid. I’m thinking, the guy just increased his price since he’s delivering to the ALC. (Note that ALC is a pretty wealthy private language school in a pretty posh neighborhood of the Fes Ville Nouvelle. Seems that it’s not uncommon for prices to be higher to them, per my friend who works there, since vendors figure they can pay more). However, this is NOT an ALC event, and I’m not paying more than was agreed. Oh how I love a good argument in Arabic. Even more, I love winning them. Only paid 300DH. (The camiyo driver and helpers don’t lift a finger on Friday-make the PCVs do all the work. I get retribution on Monday morning when they come to pick everything up. Guess what? All the PCVs are gone, and they need to do their own lifting. Hah!)

Now I haven’t mentioned that the drizzly, cold, shwiya weather of the last 2 weeks has disappeared and all week/weekend we enjoyed clear, beautiful sunny skies. I live under a lucky star.

So Saturday comes around and the artisans are all there at 8:30am ready to set up their exhibits. Never seen such promptness. Loving it. The booths are looking good. New guy hired by ALC has the little concession stand and makes zwin French/Moroccan food. Nice.

We get foot traffic, not as much as we’d like, but most who are coming are buying. Target audience was ex-pats and wealthier Fessians who want to support indigenous crafts and fair wages. We’re not on a major boulevard by design. Those who come in made it a point to be there, so we don’t get a lot of “looky-loos”. That’s ok, as long as the artisans are selling.

Saturday all the PCVs and Peace Corps staff who are attending are invited to a meeting with the Regional Ministry Delegate, who has been directed by the Moroccan Ministry to speak with us on their behalf, thanking us for what we’re doing and to answer questions. Both the Regional Delegate and my Delegate are very complimentary.

This is followed by the Certificate Ceremony. Don’t underestimate the importance of a signed, officially stamped Certificate of Participation. I’ve made these up, personalized for each participant and we’ve got a photographer to take their photo as each receives theirs from the Ministry representative and Peace Corps. This is a VERY big deal for the participants-disproportionately so, and we made certain that this need is met.

Jess, my friend from Sefrou who works at ALC and who was BRILLIANT in helping throughout the planning of this program, has arranged for live music in the garden of the ALC villa Saturday night. Part of the language school includes ALIF-the Arabic Language Institute of Fes. They teach Arabic to U.S. and British students who come over for a semester abroad. Part of Jess’ responsibility as cultural coordinator for ALC/ALIF is to put on a concert every 6 weeks. Works out that that comes during our event. She bring up a fabulous vocal/percussion group from Errachidia. Only took a gentle nudge to get all the artisans (and they ALL attended, along w/PCV, ALIF students, ALC/ALIF staff, etc.) on their feet dancing. What a great party it turned out to be!

Sunday arrives and it is finally time to enjoy the Craft Fair. I’ve been running all over all week, and everything’s under control. I can finally take a look at the exhibits and make my purchases, sit and talk w/artisans and other PCVs, sit and enjoy lunch in the garden. I have time to spend with my friend Samira, who came from the U.S. to visit her father's family in Fes and to come to the Marche Maroc! A bit of work still to do, but all very manageable. We take a tally of sales at the end of each day, and will send that out to the PCVs so their artisans will know how they fared vs others. Some sold more than they ever had at an expo. One group sold nothing. Lot to learn for all of us.

Throughout the Sat/Sun Craft Fair, the Quality Consultants, along with the 2 design students they brought with them, have sat down for 15 minutes with each of the artisan Coop/Assns to look at their products, ask questions, and provide some initial feedback and input. They will be following up with a written report that I’ll send out to the artisans thru their PCV.

The anecdotal stories start coming in. See exhibits with sheets for visitors to leave their information for follow up, also to collect comments. Artisans networking with one another. One Coop is going to visit another to do a design workshop for them. One coop stays an extra day in Fes to go to the medina a shop for better quality materials. Sharing information about the quality of their materials when asked about a price vs immediately just lowering the price. Asking one another how they make their patterns. Woodworkers using the spreadsheet they got in the workshop at their exhibit. This is what it’s about. Putting their workshop learning into practice.

And that speaks to measures of success. How does one measure it? For me, it is all about feedback from the artisans themselves. What did they think of the overall experience—the workshops, the quality consultations, the networking, the sales? What would they be willing to pay out of Coop/Assn proceeds to attend such an event in the future? This is what is most important.

Lessons learned? Still figuring out how to target the domestic, non-tourist market; Patience and persistence always work in your favor; Remain flexible; Have some fun; Distance myself from the nay-sayers and nitpickers-it’s always easy to be the editor!

So now I’m writing the reports, sending out the feedback, populating SBD Yahoo Group site with all my documents and planning tools for other PCVs to use, loading almost 300 photos that Lisa took, tallying up the budget and receipts, etc. Actually kinda nice to sit on my butt all day and do this work, since I was on my feet all week. It was worth it.

Mbruk Marche Maroc and all who contributed to its success.