Joy has a great site-small douar but right off the main transit road heading east from Agadir, so very accessible. Of course, it’s so flat down there that everything’s pretty accessible. See a lot more bicycles and even strollers due to flat terrain. (Usually women strap their kids w/a scarf or blanket on their backs-very practical for hilly terrain and stairs). The women Joy works with are great and since she has really great language, has developed really strong bonds with them. Wish I had her conversational Darija!
Riada went well on Friday-we did a “circuit training” concept with the women. Joy leads riada M/W/F at 9 and would like the women to be able to do it without her, ie; if she’s travelling. About 8 of them showed up, moved the tables and chairs in the neddi and worked out for an hour. By the time we finished, had a “bath” (mine was a bucket bath and Joy used the neighbor’s hamam-see photo-in these parts they have individual hamams usually built on their roofs), Ali, from the new SBD group had arrived. Got to the neddi to do the Costing and Pricing Workshop that I had prepared only to discover that a sewing teacher who was supposed to come the prior week had shown up and was conducting a training session. By the time she finished after 5pm the women had had enough for the day. (I later instead did a “train the trainer” with Joy and Ali on the workshop so they can do it themselves. As Joy and I discovered, maybe it was for the best, as she has a lot of questions she wants to ask of the President before she does the workshop to maximize what they get from it).
Now it was time for kaskrut (snack). Nimshiu? (Shall we go?). Iyeah. Follow the women. Keep walking for about 15 minutes. Don’t go to one of the agricultural fields. No, we end up in the gravel parking lot of what is eventually intended to be a housing development, sitting on the curb of the empty lots eating our sardine sandwiches and strawberry yogurts (delivered by a kid on a bike who went and bought the stuff for us). One of the more unusual kaskruts to date. Bismillah.
So Saturday dawns and we get up leisurely to catch transit to Tiznit-the silver capitol of Morocco. Very excited to be going-way south and never thought I’d get down there. About 2 hours later we arrive, park our bags in the 50DH/night Hotel Touriste, grab a bite to eat to build up our shopping strength and the games begin. That took the rest of the day-looking, trying things on, comparison shopping, bargaining, calling a friend to make purchases for her. We both fell in love w/the same earrings-so we own matching pairs. Zwin jewelry. Nothing else to see in Tiznit-pretty much the silver souk and the Ensemble Artisana. Purchases complete, we settle in for a couple games of Bananagrams before sleep. Big hug and thanks to Joy for sharing her Morocco with me.
Up early Sunday to start the 12 hour journey to Rabat-1 ½ hr taxi, 1 hour wait, 5 ½ hr bus, 4 hr train. Get to Rabat in time for a quick cyber, sandwich, shower and bed. Travel is tiring in taxis, buses and trains that are loaded to capacity where you can’t even move your feet.
Productive day Monday, or should I say one with a lot of potential, Hamdullah. Met with Sandy and Heather at the American Center. This is a site in Rabat that is open to US citizens only-passport required. They have a restaurant, bar, commissary and playground for kids. Local spot for American ex-pats to hang out. Anyway, we’ve been in discussion for some time about doing an artisan craft fair on their lawn. They were willing, but had planning on hold awaiting the date for the nearby Lycee Descartes (French School) Spring Bazaar, with the intent of having them both on the same weekend. Finally got ahold of Nadia at the Lycee and their date won’t work for us to combine craft fairs. So we decided that we’ll have a 3 day Moroccan Cultural Festival at the American Center May 7-9. Friday we’ll do a workshop with the artisans in the am and they can set up their booths. Craft Fair will run Fri pm thru Sun pm. Saturday they’re looking into getting a Moroccan percussion group in for the evening and having a Moroccan couscous night. That would be a great addition (got the idea from looking at the photos from the Fes Marche Maroc and the Sat night entertainment). That Sunday is Mother’s Day-they have a brunch at the Center and then the women and families can shop at the craft fair. The other great thing about this is that we’ll not be paying the artisans way-they need to go this one alone (and the American Center has tables, chairs, tents, and will take care of all publicity-really cheap for us). Our goal with these craft fairs (this would make 3 in 6 months) is to demonstrate and train the artisans to do these themselves and not wait for the Ministry (or Peace Corps Volunteers) to put them on to have selling opportunities. Inshallah this works according to the plan.
Later in the afternoon we met with the Country Director for Women in Technology Morocco. Two of us approached her on how to get their resources into our communities, and have been offered to be the pilot sites for moving their model into rural communities. In a nutshell, they provide training on several platforms: IT (complete Microsoft Office and blogging), Professional Development and Entrepreneurship. This involves at least 2 people from each community to be trained to do this training to others in that same community. We’ve identified a very cost effective way to do this if we can identify the right people. The community requirements include computers, internet access, space, commitment by trainers to conduct the trainings (they sign contracts-better accountability built into the program than I’ve ever seen in Morocco) and interested parties to be trained. Financial commitment and risk is relatively modest. Now I need to get home to share this with Meriem and the other women. Hopefully they are as excited about this opportunity as I am-can’t imagine how they would turn it down, but we have work to do.
Back to the office for meetings w/Program Staff re; the new SBD PCV’s training next week and then 6 ½ hour bus ride home. Will be good to sleep in my own bed.
Wellllll. Seems that the bus doesn’t go direct to REK every day-I’ve just been lucky on the days I’ve taken it, so a bit disappointed I can only take it to Sefrou-but can get transit from there. My luck, I’ve arrived early enough at the bus station to grab the Sefrou bus leaving at 1pm just as it’s going….and it’s an express! I’m in Sefrou in 4 hours, and manage to catch a taxi (!) to REK-this is only the 2nd time I’ve ever found a taxi going to REK. (I always ask since I have to walk thru the taxi stand to get to my regular transit). Home in only 5 hours-yipee.
Wait. What? Is that my balcony door open? Yikes! How long has that been open? I’ve been gone a week. Well, not a thing disturbed. You see 1.) I live on the 3rd floor 2.) The gendarmes (local police) can look right up to my balcony 3.) It’s the same temp inside and out, so it’s not like weather will hurt anything and 4.) I obviously live in a safe town. Hamdullah.