hunting for housing

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on May 31, 2010

What’s that saying…good things come in small packages? Yes they do! J

Before leaving Essa this morning, I visited the post office to pick up a care package – a letter, a book, and toiletries from Target! Yes, I may not bathe everyday but I keep up my morning and bedtime regimen daily – brush, wash, floss.

Funny thing about PCV life: you don’t realize how much your standards for cleanliness change until you talk to someone who is not a PCV. Otherwise, when among PCVs, you commiserate and/or tout your (un)cleanliness. Call them battle scars, if you will. Then again, those scars are usually dirt stains that come off after a harsh scrub session. Seriously, clean is relative. I guess smell is the bigger issue. TMI, perhaps? Hahaha.

Back at site, I arrived around 12:30pm. My host grandmother was surprised I returned at that time – peak heat. It was H-O-T. Thankfully, it’s a dry heat here as I’m not a fan of humidity (ick, ick, ick).

This last month at site, I’ve been on a housing search. June makes one more month of home stay – I think most PCVs in my staaj will understandably agree when I say, “lHamdullah!” On July 1st, I get to move out of here and into my own place, inshallah.

During this month, I asked anyone and everyone. I followed up on any and all leads. I walked up and down the main road, asking if there were any houses to rent.

I look forward to decorating my own place. Ideas are already springing up on how I want to decorate and how I want it to look and feel. I especially look forward to not living out of my backpacks.

Let the fun continue. J

art and street (junk) food

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on May 30, 2010

Today was a well-spent personal day. I didn’t have any errands to complete (a first, I know) so I took my time wandering the medina. In doing that, I accomplished two of the activities on my Essa to-do list: check out the art scene and eat street food.

I visited an art shop I’ve been eyeing and am so glad I finally went in. As it turns out the owner is also one of the featured artists in the store. Another reason for me to be excited about moving out of home stay: decorating my own place! I also met several local artisans as I peeped into several shops to look at their crafts and, of course, clothes.

One thing I like to do when I travel is eat like a local. My favorite is the hole-in-the-wall joints that all the locals frequent for meals. With this objective in mind, here’s my food log (and prices) for the day:

  • Grilled cheese with tomatoes and Poms for breakfast (<10 dhs)
  • 1 glass of raib (yogurt-like food, 4 dhs)
  • 1 fried potato (1 dh)
  • 3 oranges (4 dhs)
  • remaining bag of mixed nuts
  • iced coffee (10 dhs)
  • 1 cookie (4 dhs)
  • 1 bowl of Herrera soup (3 dhs)
  • 1 glass of sweet mint green tea (1 dh)
  • 2 fish balls (2 dhs)
  • 2 macaroons (2 dhs)
  • 1 corn on the cob (1 dh)
  • 1 bag of Crax crispy crackers (5 dhs)

Total cost: ~45 dhs (or ~$5)

As a PCV pointed out, I clearly have no problem switching from sweet to savory to sweet again. What can I say, it’s a talent I fully embrace! J

I wanted to try a lot of random food this time. However, I usually don’t spend this much money on food. I eat meals with my home stay family; beyond that, I don’t buy much if anything at my site right now.

    camel + cow + girl = priceless

    Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on May 29, 2010

    Where else but in Morocco would I see

    a camel (with its two front legs bound) hop-chasing a cow chasing a terrified girl

    while in a taxi riding into the city?

    That was this morning. As for the rest of my day…realizing that I am

    • Creating a family with people who were only strangers three months ago;
    • Keeping good friends close when they’re miles away; and
    • Hearing the waves crash through the door leading up, out, and onto the roof.


    gender and child development

    Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on May 28, 2010

    Today was the quietest and calmest day of the week. Ironically, the winds were blowing through the valley nonstop since the wee hours of the morning; in fact, they’re still going strong and it’s almost 11:00pm.

    I hand-washed my clothes and hung them to dry on the lines. After lunch, I went to the neddi and hung out there for a bit.

    I like that today was low-key. It allowed for much needed reflection time on my community and service.

    Gender and development (GAD) is a PCV committee that tries to get PCV projects to include, or at least consider, all aspects of development and not just focus on women capacity building. You can’t have one – women advancement – without considering the other factors, i.e., gender roles, child development, family, nutrition, and the list goes on. I understood the theoretical purpose of GAD.

    This week, I saw up close, to the point of being almost tangible, the importance of GAD and child development as they relate to international development work in particular and society in general.

    Which came first: chicken or the egg?

    Now reframe the question in a GAD context.

    Who learns from whom: parent or child?

    Think about it. When it comes to things like personal conduct, personal hygiene, respect for the opposite gender, the value of education, work ethic, gender roles, manners, the meaning of marriage, etc.

    Or is this a question of nature vs. nurture?

    Looks like this could be something I study for the next two years…

    equipe mobile

    Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on May 27, 2010

    The health “resource” that I’ve been waiting for since I heard about it during PST – EQUIPE MOBILE! – happened today.

    Equipe mobile is a mobile clinic sent by the Ministry of Health to remote douars to provide basic health services to people who live in the bled and cannot afford to travel to the closest sbitar. It takes medicine and vaccines into the bled. It travels once every 3 months to different douars. Equipe mobile started in 1982.

    Today’s team consisted of one male doctor, one female nurse, one male nurse (my on-site counterpart), and a driver. Oh, and myself. J We visited two remote douars.

    Douar #1:

    As the car pulled up to lmdrasa, I see a line of men waiting outside. Soon enough, I learn that the equipe mobile’s objective is to provide service to women and children (because men often have the means, or are the ones who can go to sbitar, whereas women and children need permission from the men). The doctor goes outside and announces to the men: women and (young) children are the priority of this visit.

    The school consists of two classrooms, three female teachers, and 30 students (14 girls, 16 boys). The nurses and myself pop into a class. I observe and help out with random tasks as the nurses conduct vision and basic dental checks. After, we go into the other classroom, where basic health treatment is provided. I teach a woman how to take “the pill” correctly.

    Lunch time, lunch time.

    The three teachers live in the house connected to the school. They sleep in one small room, share a toilet, and store their belongings in another. The doctor and nurses treat a few more people. Time to go, onto the next one.

    Douar #2:

    We approach another lmdrasa, this time with a different agenda. First classroom we enter, the first student the doctor/nurse sees gets scared and starts crying. She thinks we’re here to give shots. Not really. Second classroom we enter, the students stand up and greet each person with a resounding “Salaamu wa3alikum.” The doctor and nurses go around checking the students’ eyes and mouth. Then the students go into another classroom, where they are consolidating for a brief presentation by the doctor, nurse, and as it turns out, ME!

    After the doctor finished talking about eating less sugar and brushing their teeth more often, he turned to me and basically said, “Now it’s your turn to talk to them about washing their hands.” Mortifying, no? haha. Luckily, the students were young and I know enough of the language to teach hand washing. So I did it. Who knows if/how much they actually understood but I did it – I presented a mini-health lesson in front of a class! woohoo! It was over before I knew it. The doctor then asked the children to recap all that was said during the entire presentation.

    When the moq’addem arrived, we left the classroom and headed to his house to eat, a true gesture of Moroccan hospitality.

    Several humbling moments today:

    –       watching the nurses treat villagers from the back of the SUV parked in a field as villagers emerged from their houses. The nurses immunized babies and pregnant women, handed out medicine to children and adults.

    –       noticing the pronounced, even Down syndrome-like, features of some of the students.

    –       hearing the teachers say that some of their students, mostly girls, will not continue their education after lmdrasa

    By far, the “health”-iest (as in sector-related activity) work day thus far.