I’m no longer a Peace Corps Volunteer. I’m now a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV), having successfully completed my full 27 months of service in Morocco. We had our official “stamping out” ceremony-nothing is complete in Morocco w/out an official stamp yesterday afternoon (started this entry on Saturday). I must say it was a fairly anticlimactic day. Basically we all just finished getting the required signatures to document that all of our paperwork was complete and spent the rest of the day sitting around. Had our last couscous Friday at the Ministry of Fisheries cafeteria across the street. Viewed Cortney’s video/final project. Stamp out. Goodbyes to all the staff and those now-RPCVs who were headed immediately to the US. The rest of us made our way back to the Ville, dinner at the French Institute and an early night of it. Set our alarms several times-2:15am for Kristen, 4:45 for Cynthia, 7:15 for me, as we’re all making our own ways to meet up in Barcelona before the trans-Atlantic cruise. Few tears, as many of us will see one another on the cruise, and besides, we’re all tired of crying-left most of the tears at our sites.
It’s weird to think as I type this-on the train to Tanger for a weekend w/Samira before heading to Spain-that I’m not going back to REK after the weekend. I see the women in my first class compartment on the train look at my hands and smirk. They’re covered with fading henna-each one done by a different woman at different going away parties in REK. It’s a very ‘bled’ thing to do, and the women riding 1st class are NOT from the bled. What they don’t know is that I’m not just some tourist who paid a ridiculous price to have someone in Jmaa el Fnaa do my henna some night on some tour. In fact, this was a gift from the REK women-they set it up for me and joined me in getting their hands hennaed. Similar to the day-before-the-wedding celebration w/your best friends when you all get hennaed together. I see my hands and am reminded of their love. Smirk away ladies, I love it.
The big question-will I return? Inshallah. Best use of the word ever. Hopefully Samira and I will have a chance to talk about her interest doing some importation/resale of Moroccan goods. If she pursues this, I’ll help in any way I can-would love to be able to support the amazing artisans I’ve grown to know, and this would be the perfect excuse to return. Gadi nchufu. We will see.
Well, I made it safe and sound to Tanger. Samira and Souad were there to pick me up at the train station. First stop-my one and only request-to buy something, maybe a ring, in the traditional Moroccan gold filigree. Well, I got that done first thing and the rest of the day was spent in the company of Samira and her friends and family. We got up leisurely today with Christmas carols to accompany our breakfast. Our plan for the day was to take the train down to Asilah. I’ve never been to this beach town, but had heard a lot about it-and the contemporary art murals painted on the media walls at their annual festival. Fortunately the rain held off long enough for us to wander around the picturesque medina, see the murals, and check out a couple galleries before sitting down to a lovely lunch at a restaurant Samira knew about. Mmmm, fresh fish, a glass of wine, how civilized. The rain came as we were searching for a petit taxi, hoping to make it to our train. Little did we know that the train would come 1 ½ hours late and we had plenty of time. Just back now. I can’t get internet to check that all’s well w/Miek’s departure from the US-we meet up in Seville tomorrow. Inshallah the rain holds off for my ferry crossing from Tanger to Spain in the morning.
Samira, I know you will be reading this, so I must thank you again for sharing your Morocco with me, for your generosity in sharing your home, friends and family with me, for experiencing ‘my’ Morocco with me. Shukran bzzaf khti. Maghreb gadi ykun dima f qlb dyali.
B’slama Maghreb/Hola Espana. I’m sitting on the ferry, waiting for transit across the Strait of Gibralter to Terifa Spain. It’s a quick 30minute crossing, not unlike the ferry from Marina del Mar to Catalina Island. Fortunately the skies are clear and bright and the seas are smooth. Already my Dirhams are of no use-I must change them to Euros on the ferry to buy a Coke Light. I will take a bus to Algecerias to catch the bus to Seville.
Well, the Spanish Immigration guys couldn’t figure something out about my passport, so the delay meant I missed the free bus to Algecieras and then the noon bus to Seville. Instead I took a taxi to Algecieras and caught the next bus onward. Bit of a nap, one bus transfer later and I made it to the apartment that Miek had beat me to by several hours. Hamdullah we both made it safe and sound. It’s in a great area-the Santa Cruz old district, with picturesque cobblestone streets and cool little shops and cafes all around. We went out for a bit of a walk and some exploring before deciding on a spot for dinner (early at 8pm). A fabulous selection of tapas and dessert and drink-all for about $30pp. I’m loving Spain already! So great to share this with Miek and catch up with her. Time for bed now, more exploring tomorrow.