farewell home stay

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on June 30, 2010

Updates on last week’s festivities are coming. For now…

2 host families and 4 months later, tonight I reached the last night of home stay. lHamdullah.

Today started off early, as in wake up at 3:20am. I rode out to the dunes near Essa and saw the production of a commercial for an British credit card. Foreigners acted the role of tourists in a made-up overnight camel trek set.

I returned to Essa around 10:00am. After a couple pastries and a glass of orange juice from Café Driss, I headed to Aswak Asalaam to pick up a few things for my house! I sped shopped, which probably worked in my (wallet’s) favor, and only picked up essential items this time.

The taxi ride home was interesting. The man seated next to me was a mudir n lmdrasa (director of an elementary school) near my village. He knew of me, I guess. No surprise there. Topic of conversation: SIDA transmission. I was impressed by the extent of his knowledge on it, highlights follow:

–       [World] AIDS Day is once a year. You forget about it the rest of the year.

–       AIDS is transmitted through risky behavior (i.e., needle sharing)

–       He acknowledged that there are gay men (or rather men who have sex with men, MSMs), sex (pre-marital, infidelity, commercial sex)

I also shared with him highlights from working at Gnaoua (i.e., people who think that because they are Muslim they are immune from AIDS).

When I returned to site, I dropped of my bags at my house before returning to my host family’s house. There’s a lot to do before the house I’m renting feels like my own but I’m excited.

The rest of the evening, I hung out with my host siblings, took a nap, and helped my host mother prepare dinner. The fabulous old woman stayed over tonight! I was so happy to see her and vice versa. J

I’m waking up early to pack the rest of my belongings. I moved about half of it to my house already. I’ll head out, or start moving, after breakfast.

I made it – though home stay!

back in the bled

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on June 29, 2010

Currently: listening to Miles Davis as I write this post.

Today, I picked up the key to what will me my own place for the next two years, or 22 months but who’s counting!

I’m one step closer to the real life of a PCV. Home-stay months are not indicative of PC life…unless you’re one of the few who decide to stay in home stay for all two years. Clearly, I am not one of those PCVs.

After breakfast, I moved a few bags into my place. Yay, yay! J Inside, I started to move furniture around – hooray for my place coming furnished! – and cleaned some of the house. I can see how dusty the place can get in a short amount of time. On the plus side, there are lots of windows and a courtyard, which means lots of natural light! Excellent!

Gnaoua: Day 7

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on June 28, 2010

Last day of Gnaoua!

Checked out of the riad.

Settled the tab and paid the lunch vendor. The workers there must be so tired. They worked from late morning, around 11:00am, to early morning, around 4:00am, each day during the festival. They made sure we had lunch to pick up each day. Each time I walked by the place, it was swarmed with people. As promised, busiest time of year for them.

Aswak Asalaam, a supermarket that I find comparable to Ranch 99, opened in Essa! Amazing, just in time as I prepare to move out of home stay and into my own place! Regular access to a big grocery store is not what I had in mind when I signed up for PC. Then again, I won’t deny its existence. J However, I can’t help but wonder, what impact does this place have on the local economy?

Returned to the bled (rural community).

Moroccan stories are hardly truly nishan (straight). I walked with a vendor to find Gnaoua posters, thinking the shop was just around the corner because that’s what he was telling me. He ended up looping me around the medina, much farther than I had any desire to go. No business for you, sir.

July 1st is so close, I’m almost out of home stay!

Gnaoua: Day 6

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on June 27, 2010

10:00 Morning shift

15:00-15:30 – Lunch break


I completed the final lunch run for all the volunteers who worked at the ALCS booth.

Now I can check off “PCV party” from my list of things to do/see while in service. Haha. With work activities complete, everyone was able to relax, socialize, and have a good time this evening.

I learned how to play “Bones,” a high-stakes betting game that is played with 6 die. To start off each round, each player wagers something of sentimental value or personal significance. Then you roll the die, one roll for each die, so up to six rolls total. With two die, you need to roll a 1 and 4 to qualify yourself for that round; with the other 4 die, you want to roll the highest number possible (24) or roll the highest among all the players.

In all my previous Gnaoua blog entries, I forgot to mention my most enjoyable activity during Gnaoua: hosting and hanging out with friends from my staaj who came to Essa! The last time I saw them was during PST, which ended in early May, so its been almost two months. So much has happened in between – moving to final site, new home stay family, “work,” getting to know a new community, not having CBT-mates to experience the daily activities with you, etc. – that having this weekend to catch up was fantastic! It was also really cool to show my friends around “my” province. J

Hooray to meeting new people, making new friends, and enriching existing friendships!

Gnaoua: Day 5

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on June 26, 2010

8:30 – Debriefing meeting

10:00-14:30 – Morning shift

14:00-14:30 – Lunch for afternoon shift

14:30-15:00 – Lunch for morning shift

14:30-19:00 – Afternoon shift

20:00 – Dinner with ALCS


Lunch and snacks

It was my day to pick up lunches and fruit and deliver them to the PCVs and ALCS volunteers. I successfully navigated my way through Essa’s crowded medina. I made friends with the fruit vendor – hooray for fair pricing! – and received complementary fries from the lunch vendor while I waited for lunch to be ready. I set up all the food near the volunteers and made sure each person received a complete lunch before I ate.

Dinner with ALCS

Arriving early, myself and two other PCVs busied ourselves with talking to members of ALCS. It was quite the spectacle: myself talking to someone in broken Spanish, a second PCV talking to another person in French, and then a third PCV talking to someone else in Arabic.

Dinner was catered. We had herrera (Moroccan soup), whole roasted chickens, and soda to top it off. ALCS people are super friendly.

Early morning music

After a long day of work, I took a much-needed and quite refreshing nap at midnight. I woke at 1:00am to see a performance on the beach that was starting at 2:00am.

At-risk population: glue sniffers

Glue-sniffers. Adolescent boys. Mind-altering substance abusers. The glue was contained in mikas (plastic bags). They were “partying” (i.e., sniffing glue) while the hip-hop/rock artist performed on stage.

These teenage boys were inhaling the glue fumes like it was their last breath of fresh air. They were so consumed by their activity that they were completely oblivious to the families (read: young children) standing three steps away from them. Then again, I’m not sure their image was a priority for them.

Clearly, this demographic is an at-risk population. Did you know glue-sniffers prefer to use condoms to contain the glue because they’re more durable than mikas and more inconspicuous (oddly enough) than glass jars?

When you forbid people to drink alcohol, not that I’m condoning it in copious, irresponsible amounts, they will find alternative substances to alter, or “enhance,” their moods.

Mosh pits

Apparently there is some order and organization to this chaos. There was one guy who served as the referee/mediator. He divided the guys participating in the mosh pits. After he says, “Ready, set, go!” the guys on both ends rush towards each other and proceed to push each other around.

Luckily, myself and the 6 other female PCVs were protected by 3 male PCVs, who protected us by creating a triangle for us to stand in. it was awesome of them to do that for us, funny in retrospect. If we needed to travel, we moved in that triangle. Funny, funny.