Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ah Ellen

Jared and I headed up to Fes in the morning on Thursday with the intent of showing him a bit of the old medina before we caught our buses to Khenifra and Khemmisset, respectively. Unfortunately by the time we arrived (via Sefrou), his bus was leaving, so he saw what he could from the taxi in and the bus out-sorry he didn’t have more time.

I headed over to CafĂ© Clock since my bus runs every hour, so I had time to kill. Figured I’d have lunch, hit the internet (they have wi-fi) and put final touches on the workshop for Friday. I head upstairs to the bathroom (priorities being what they are) and I heard someone yelling my name. There was Colleen (aka DJ Collie Flower). What a nice surprise. I joined her for lunch and a chat. She also gave me a new phrase to use (hope it’s not too blasphemous). She calls Allah, “Ellen”. So instead of saying Inshallah (if Allah wills it), I’ll now be using “if Ellen’s willing”. Same goes for Hamdullah (thanks be to Allah) which is now “thanks Ellen”. I like this.

Had quite a scare while at the Clock. Tried several times, over the course of a couple hours, to boot up my laptop. Nothing, nada, walu. Crap. Tfoo. Ellen, I could use a little help here.

God bless Ellen’s parents, ‘cuz when I went to the cyber (to get online to see what day Lindsay heads over here in case I need to buy a computer and have her bring it with her), lo and behold, my laptop starts right up. Thanks Ellen-had me in a sweat.

Unfortunately I was somewhat prepared for a computer crash. I’ve been getting these blue screen “crash dump” shut downs and my screen and mouse have been acting up. I just backed everything up last week. My laptop is less than 2 years old. Tfoo. However, mine would not be the first or last PCV computer to crash in Morocco-I know at least 3 others who have had to replace theirs. It’s a tough country for electronics. Thanks Ellen for having my back.

So the “what should have been quick jaunt by bus” to Khemmisset took about 3 ½ hours, but arrived safe and sound and Lisa walked to the bus station to meet me. She’s got a lot on her plate right now, personally and professionally and we had a quiet, early evening of it.

Got up to get some finishing touches done on the workshop while Lisa baked goodies-yum-little cheesecake bites and brownies-for tea after the workshop. We had a quick, but delicious couscous lunch with her neighbors (the “mom” hand rolls her own couscous) before heading over to the Artisana. Twelve people showed up for the Marketing Workshop, from multiple associations and cooperatives. As Lisa said, some were very interested in the topic, some clearly came to support her. Nevertheless, it was nice that the guys were involved, asked questions, shared their ideas, etc. to make it interactive. Longest workshop I’ve run to date-covered a lot of ground-and hopefully they all walked away with something they can do a bit different. After all, it’s a mindset-state of mind, a willingness to explore possibilities, be inquisitive, take risks. As I told them over and over, I didn’t have the answers, I was bringing them the questions they need to be asking. Kinda satisfying to have done it all in Arabic.

Left Lisa as she was trying to rest up-oh, and try out a couple new feta recipes-and will see her next week in REK for the cheese workshop. Had perfect timing to cath the bus to Rabat to investigate housing options for the artisans and PCVs for Marche Maroc Rabat. Need to find 20 rooms (for artisans) and hopefully 10 more (for PCVs) at 50DH/peron/night (about $6). I’ve been hoofing it all over Rabat Ville today and have checked out about 10 hotels-only 2 are close to fitting our criteria. Have to come back and talk w/their managers on Monday. I’m looking in higher priced area since it’s safe and closer to the American Club where we’ll have the Craft Fair. Our other option is to use Peace Corps connections further out from Ville, but then we get into having to transport the artisans, at additional cost. The budget and grant proposal have already been submitted, so need to keep w/in what we’ve requested. Further info on a later blog, since the grant request is a PCPP-meaning that once it gets approved, it goes up on the national Peace Corps website to be funded by friends and families. Watch for a request coming to you soon to help out!

Brian K is in Rabat so we had a chance to meet to discuss what we want to propose for the future of the Marche Maroc initiative. I want to see it turned over to the artisans to run, but this will likely take some time, with continued Peace Corps support-financial and Volunteer. This means we need to put together a proposal, test the ideas and submit it so that future Volunteers take on its continuation. If Ellen wills it.

A pleasant surprise to the weekend is that there are a number of PCV friends in town-for various reasons-so getting to catch up a bit w/others while I’m here.

No comments: