It completely escaped me that this is 4th of July weekend. Happy Fourth to everyone! No holiday here or reminders, so it’s not until I’m asked if I want to come to party that I realize that it’s a national US holiday. Oh well. And I'm gonna miss the PCV celebrations. I’m pooped from travelling and trying to coordinate meetings in this heat. Wanna get home tomorrow, so will skip the festivities.
June was so nice that I think I’d forgotten the toll that the heat can take on you, especially when travelling.
Had a good meeting w/Amy at AUI on Wednesday. She has an interesting business proposition for me, but it would require that I stay in Morocco right after COS, and I’m not willing to do that. She’s left open the possibility of talking about it again after I’m back in the US and have time on my hands. It has to do with a business she’d like to start-producing artisanal home furnishings and selling in the US. Never say never.
Made it as far as Azrou on Wednesday to stay over at Colin’s place. First time there-he gets PCVs staying over 2-3 nights each week, as his town is a major Moroccan transportation hub. Nice place. Great host-very easygoing despite all the visitors. Thanks for your flexibility, Colin.
Thursday Emily D and I got an early start for Khenifra to check out the carpet washing guys. Hot, hot, hot. Get to see their Coop weavers in production-they get a lot of command orders from clients in the US and Marrakech. We then had them take us to where they do the actual washing-I wanted to see the process and the finished product. They weren’t actually doing the washing, but took lots of photos to compare the “before” and “after”. Supposedly this is a required step in the new Ministry quality standards for export. It’s really a 2-3 man operation. The Coop has women who weave beautiful zrbya-many in the prized Beni Ourain style. Then the 3 guys take their Coop zrbya and those of other weavers who pay for the service to their place outside of town by the river where they chemically treat/wash the carpets. They’re not set up for volume, but the result is clearly better. Whether it’s worth the added cost and hassle factor of getting zrbya to the guys to process is another questions. Will write up a summary of what we found and send it to the PC office to share w/other PCVs.
Poor Emily-I think she had a touch of heat stroke, as she had a terrific headache and vomiting all through the day. Not an easy thing to deal w/under the best of circumstances, and here she was travelling across Morocco in high heat. She did make it up to Fes and after a cold shower, fluids and a good night’s sleep, she was good to go on Friday.
Before leaving Khenifra, we had a chance to have lunch w/Annie and Michael-the 2 SBD PCVs posted there. Said a sad farewell to Annie, as she is ET’ing (that’s Early Terminating her PC service), and leaves for the states tomorrow. This is her second PC tour, she’s been PC staff and had other jobs overseas. She always told her daughters that if they wanted her back state-side, they just had to say so. And they did. So she’s US-bound. PC Morocco’s loss.
Emily and I made it up to Fes in good time, and she got her room quickly to get some rest. I headed over to Gail’s where Cynthia and her host sister were in the middle of a major ‘jam camp’. They had been making watermelon jam for 2 days, watermelon syrup, almond butter, and needed to complete the cooking and get it all in jars and sterilized for Gail’s Fez Foods business. Fez Foods is slated to open up (inchallah) in September-right under Café Clock-to sell artisanal food products of Morocco. Hopefully I can get the REK Women’s Assn going with their cheese-Gail says she’s interested in potentially selling it in her shop.
I also had a chance to see Khalid at work at Café Clock. He’s my tutor ( make that WAS my tutor)who Mike has employed as his assistant-and delighted to find that it’s working out really well all around. Siham, Khalid’s girlfriend, has found a new position w/a private school in Fes, so that means they get to get married. Ham-du-li-lah! I am so terribly excited for the 2 of them! The only sad note is that the wedding celebration is going to be in 2 weeks, while I am in Uganda. Bummer. The only wedding celebration I’ve been interested in attending since I’ve been in Morocco and I will miss it. Tfoo! (In Morocco, you’re married once you both sign the paperwork at the gov’t office-no ceremony even. However, you’re not really married in the eyes of family until you’ve gone thru the typical 3 day celebration w/friends, family and your community). I will take them out when I get back from Uganda to celebrate with them. Tbarkalikum Khalid and Siham!
Yesterday was full, hot, productive and long. I took Eric and Emily all over Fes to introduce them to the Ministry folks, printers, suppliers, venues, etc. for the next Marche Maroc Fes. Back to Gail’s to see the finishing touches of the jam/butter/etc. production and catch up a bit w/Rebecca who was on her way thru Fes. Quick shower and joined Gail and friends on Josephine’s rooftop to help Gail celebrate her birthday. I headed back to Gail’s about 2am to sleep while the rest headed out dancing until 5am.
‘Cuz I was then up to get my act together for a meeting w/other PCVs to develop the proposal for the future/sustainability of Marche Maroc. Good meeting-great input-so glad we got together-as usual, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and I think we’ve ended up w/the elements of a terrific proposal.
I also had a chance to see Becky and Faye-both up from the deep south of Morocco-again, coincidentally in Fes. Great to see them-they’re both in the Youth Development sector, but went thru training the same timing as mine, so I don’t get to see them often. Mike L. is also in town w/his parents and brother who are visiting from the states. They did a couscous-making workshop yesterday thru Fez Foods (Cynthia and her host sister managed to run it in between the jam making) at Café Clock. Mike was then able to join us for our MM strategy meeting this afternoon. His mom then joined us for lunch, but unfortunately his dad is under the weather-likely due to the heat and dehydration-not atypical in this type of weather and unusual diet. They’ve had to cancel their trip to Taza tomorrow, but probably better lying low a bit vs trying to travel further east (hotter) when not feeling your best.
Gail’s been an absolute gem. Cynthia and her host sister cooking here for 2 days. I had a hotel reservation, but they wrote down the wrong dates. I got a different place to stay on Thursday. Then yesterday I show up for my room and turns out for 150DH (relatively expensive on PC standards, but only about $20) they have this room that’s about 40 sq ft, no window and a shower stall in the corner, on the roof and it’s stifling hot. Sweat is pouring off of me as soon as I step inside the room. No way I can stay there at any price. The riad is right across from Gail’s so I knock on her door and she saw the desperation (and profuse sweat) on my face and told me to stay at her place instead. God Bless her parents!
So after spending about 5 hours on Café Clock’s rooftop today-for meetings, lunch, catching up-all in the breeze of an impending mountain thunderstorm, I head to Gail’s to dump my stuff before heading out for more errands. I shut her front door as the skies open up. Now I’m just waiting out the rain to decide what’s next-errands, meet up w/Becky? Mike? Early to bed? Who knows. But it will be an early night. Then off to finish errands and back to REK tomorrow morning.
Happy Fourth-fire up the barbecue and have an ice cold beer in a frosty glass for me!