Thursday, November 4, 2010

On Being Replaced

My priority this week has been to do whatever I can to help Doug and Karen get introduced and updated on activities and organizations in Ribat El Kheir. They’re very nice and very experienced and will bring a fresh pair of eyes and ideas to these same organizations to help them over the next 2 years. It’s time for me to go and all is in good hands.

Adwal had a couple visitors from the UK on Tuesday-they were coming to see what Adwal could do for them when they bring a group of 12-15 knitters to Morocco in March. (Day Trip marketing payoff). OK, so knitting isn’t exactly a common activity in Morocco, but hand spinning bldi wool and then using natural dyes is, and Adwal can put on a participatory workshop for the group. Hamdullah they’re in agreement and this should be a good project for Karen and Doug to follow up on with the Adwal women. Inshallah it becomes a regular tour each year.

I’ve demonstrated that even 2 years in, my Darija leaves a lot to be desired, but it gets me whatever I need. Examples aplenty today. I thought Zahra wanted Doug and Karen to meet the belladya. No, she was just inviting us to walk with her as she went there at the end of the day. Amina asked me to come meet her at 4pm-I thought to go see the new location for the Creamery. Nope, just wanted to meet me, and was also telling me at the time that the Assn is having trouble deciding about a new location. Waxa. Oh, then we went to meet my landlord-Karen and Doug thought they’d like to rent my apartment. Hmmm, high rent. They want to talk it over, we’ll come back. Which we did. He’s not budging on rent. I know he’s a savvy businessman. Is he bluffing about having 2 teachers who want to rent it starting Dec 1 for 1000DH? I think he does have someone who wants to rent it, but the price seems high. What to do? I leave it to Doug and Karen to decide, then negotiate on their behalf. They decide to pay what he’s asking, but I get him to agree to fix all the things that need to be fixed. Hamdullah. So the language can still both fail and save me. Go figure. Time to go.

As we’re walking around town, Doug asks about all the construction that’s going on. According to Pete, there’s a new tax on empty lots in the village. If you build, you no longer have to pay the tax. The belladya wants development completed in the village. I think he’s gonna get piles of rubble instead.

There have been sweet moments this week. Halima stops me on the street and asks me to come to her house. Can’t as I’m on my way to the Coop. Can’t she come down there? When? After lunch. Waxa. She’s a Coop member, but hasn’t been coming since her diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer. She was diagnosed at the cancer screening I helped organize my first year. She was successfully treated as a result. She comes to the Coop and takes me aside privately. In tears, she says she wants to give me something in thanks-apologizing that it’s not something ‘bigger’. I’m blown away. We’re not close, but I’m witnessing the outcome of the project-live-in front of me. No Halima, thank YOU. I go up later to meet w/Amina. No, she doesn’t want to go see the new Creamery site. OK, let’s go have you meet Doug and Karen. OK, but first, she takes me aside to give me a scarf and thank you. Wow. She doesn’t have money to buy anything to be giving away. Oh-and this is after yesterday’s fall (on my part) when she comes by my place to tell me “I saw you fall my sister, all you all right?” Amazing. Side note-she said “shft xti” (I saw, my sister) and I thought she said “shfti xti?” (have you seen my sister?). I was confused-I don’t know her sisters. Took me a minute to realize she was calling me her sister. Wow. Then there’s Ferida. Oh my gosh. She was really glum Tuesday-listening to her music, not really working at the Coop, just not herself. I asked what’s wrong. She just shook her head. I asked again and she started to cry. Shnu? What? Walu. Nothing. Waxa. She doesn’t want to talk to me about whatever it is. I see her again yesterday. She’s the same. “What’s going on?” “I am going to miss you”. Oh. Wow. Htta ana (me too). She’s the newest member of the Coop-finished her apprenticeship and joined when I arrived and we’ve been the Coop novices together these last 2 years.

I’ve pretty much cleaned out my apartment and have piles for different people for distribution/carrying away on Sunday when I all-but-move-out. I’ll actually be taking the bus out on Monday. I’m feeling bad that I’ve promised virtually everything to others-not selling, but giving everything away. Unfortunately there isn’t much left for Doug and Karen-they’ll have to buy their own things. They will get the allowance as I did from Peace Corps, and the purchasing will help the community, just sorry I’m not helping them out more. Zahra and Fatima came by today to check out the shelves for the Coop-if they didn’t want them, others did, but wanted to give them first dibs, since I know they need them to get their materials off the ground in the workroom. They’ll take them, just need to get the legs shaved off a bit (thanks for that idea Doug) so we can get them back down the stairwell.

Another bit of misc. good news. Pete says he’s heard it’s official that the mudir (Director) of the Dar Chebab (Youth Center) in Immouzer Marmoucha is moving here Jan 1 when the mudir here retires. This means Pete will definitely be able to stay here. Great news for him and REK. He’s got quite a following in his English classes and has been working hard to get some activities, ie; summer camp, going. Looks like it will happen this coming year. Tbarkalih.

We (Karen and Doug, Jo and I) set off to Sefrou today for them to meet the Sefrou Artisana Delegate. We were able to see him before lunch, so had a walk around town to show them things like the medina, taxi and bus stations and *ahem* the liquor store. We then met up w/Jess so they could all meet one another. It was also fortunate that Yassine showed up at the cafĂ©. He’s an impressive young man in Sefrou who has always been a big supporter and friend to PCVs. He was selected to participate in a MENA Youth Leadership Program last summer and spent 6 weeks in Montana. Wouldn’t you know, Doug and Karen are from Montana, so they got to chat a bit. Yes, it is a small world.

We had good transit karma all day. Got on the nuql to Sefrou despite the crowd waiting for it to come. Nice introduction to Karen/Doug/Jo on how to fight for seats. Stopped ½ km out of the village for a new battery. Got 10 feet down the road and got a flat tire. Basically in front of the car repair place that just installed the new battery. They jack up the nuql-with all of us still in it, the motor running-and we’re on our way w/in 10 minutes. When we say our goodbyes in Sefrou, we make it to the nuql stand there as there are 4 seats left. We fill them and take off for REK. Jo and I are just killing a bit of time now before we head over to Nora’s family’s place to join them and Karen and Doug for dinner.

Then they’ll be leaving tomorrow to go back to Azrou, then on Saturday to their training site in Midelt. They’ll be sworn in the day before Thanksgiving and will return back here on Thanksgiving Day to start their 2 years of service. Merhababihum.

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