nothing but sheets

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on March 27, 2012

Tonight, I removed all the blankets from my bed and slept only in my sheets.

It’s not even April yet…and the heat’s already starting to kick up. Yikes.


last full PCV-style week

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on March 26, 2012

Today begins my last full PCV-style work week.

Oddly enough, I’m not out at souk, the one weekly community event that I really enjoyed participating in during my service. I’m not visiting my usual vendors, the men who I’ve come to rely on for nishan prices in our transactions.

When I finally stepped out of my house this morning – hey, some mornings are more difficult than others for me to get moving – I went to see my local officials so that they could sign off on my checkout papers.

What did I learn?

The Xalifa is no longer here as in he no longer works in Imi nTlit. Who have I been sending my travel texts to then?

In addition, I was reminded that officials, or anyone with some official standing, love to apply stamps on top of their signatures. It’s their equivalent of notarizing something…or elevating their own importance on paper.

When I returned to my house, I was greeted by MS3aud, the friendly hanut man next door, and, surprise surprise, an Englishman! Apparently the lad, Andy, had come through Imi nTlit two years ago and was returning to visit his friend, MS3aud. I chatted with Andy for a while.

The most blatant health problem that he picked up on was dental hygiene/poor dental care. He talked about how he and his mother had paid for a Moroccan family to get their teeth cleaned and repaired. While sponsoring one family was an easy solution, Andy soon realized that it’d be impossible, both practically and financially, to do that for every Moroccan family he befriended. He asked me to ask MS3aud, who himself is missing several of his teeth, why people didn’t take better care of their teeth.

Wow…that was awkward. The directness of the question is a very Western concept. Moroccans pride themselves on being indirect in their questions and inquiries.

Talking to Andy reminded me of how naïve/quick I was to formulate opinions about Moroccan people early on. Coming in, I knew I wasn’t going to solve most of their problems but I was still optimistic about simple solutions. “Brushing their teeth is such an easy idea,” I thought, “It’s a long term investment in their teeth.” Here’s the thing: people here aren’t used to thinking about the big picture and long term. They worry about the day-to-day, i.e., feeding their family, tending the livestock, and working in the fields. Toothbrushes and toothpaste are seen as luxury items that come from having discretionary income. Either that or items of necessity only after someone in the immediate family is told by a fellow Moroccan who s/he can relate to the importance of dental hygiene. It’s a message that needs to be repeated over and over by Moroccans themselves. While the intent of outsiders, i.e., foreigners, are good, it doesn’t really play into the Moroccan mindset of healthcare.

I wish this mode of thinking were easier to explain. During one part of the conversation, I sensed that Andy was getting defensive about dental hygiene so I reassured him that I agreed with him on the topic. As an educated foreigner, I can see how it’s easy to come into a village, say what could be improved, and then leave; however, as an educated foreigner who’s lived in my village for two years, I can also tell you that talking about change is much easier than getting people to implement.

Beyond recognizing how my perspective of development has evolved over two years, I find humor in noticing how much of the culture has been ingrained in my social interactions. For instance, when we were saying goodbye, he moved in for what would have been a harmless one-arm hug while I stuck out my hand to prevent him from violating my personal space. I had to remind him that hugs, especially between a man and woman who just met, are culturally inappropriate. Haha.

In a week and a half, I will have completed my service as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Yikes.


fame is a loan

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on March 23, 2012

I think of fame as a loan,” he says. “Don’t get attached to it, because you have to give it back.

– René Redzepi, the chef at Noma

Funny story:

My landlord, or more often the hanut man next door, delivers my electricity bill to my house every so often (read: once every few months). The last time the electricity bill came around was a few months ago. Since I’m moving out soon, I need to pay off all my debts.

Yesterday, I went into Essa to find out the balance of my electricity bill. After struggling through some Arabic, followed by the realization that the lady helping me spoke Tashelheit and then providing her with a more detailed explanation of what I was doing, I received the breakdown:

First, I haven’t paid my electricity bill in, oh, six months. Next, she advised me to pay it soon because if I don’t the electricity company will shut off my power next week. Then, she patiently wrote down how much I owed per month for the last six months.

Confession: I have less than 100MAD in my Moroccan bank account right now. Not alarming, not surprising – this aptly illustrates the life of a PCV: we live monthly living allowance to monthly living allowance.

After going to the electricity “office,” I meant to check my American bank account to see if I had enough to withdraw without paying a penalty fee for having insufficient funds. (Long story short, I was traveling for a couple weeks and using my personal money to finance it.) I didn’t get to it before leaving Essa this morning. “No problem,” I thought, “I’ll pay it off when I go into Essa next week.”

Well, when I got home around noon, what did I discover?

No power in my house!

Yep, that’s right – my refrigerator was moments from defrosting (i.e., leak water from the frost that melted out of my freezer).

Order of the things that popped into my head: (1) Cr*p…that lady wasn’t kidding, (2) would I really take a day-trip tomorrow just to pay my electricity bill so that I could have it on for one more week?, (3) how can I entertain myself?

Ultimately, I decided to take a nap, haha, because (1)I slept at 2:00am and woke at 7:30am so I had reason to be tired/need a nap and (2) I’m reveling in my final days of my PCV lifestyle, i.e., naps are part of the Moroccan culture!

When I woke up a couple hours later, I was pleasantly relieved that the power outage in my house was part of the greater community power outage, lHamdulilah. Winds were kicking up today and there was a minor sandstorm. Power outages are not uncommon on windy days.

Ahh…Morocco. 🙂

break stereotypes

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on March 19, 2012

March Memorable

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on March 18, 2012

March Madness Memorable

The real Diana has been showing herself the last few weeks.

– my dear friend Adam

One of the reasons I took a two-year hiatus from having a “love life” was because, in hindsight, I felt as though so much of me was being concealed during service. As my friend so aptly pointed out, I don’t express a lot of myself here in Morocco.

Why? Most probably for safety reasons.

Even without a romantic interest, this has been an incredible journey.

Then again…

You know those moments in the beginning…as you notice someone who you could be attracted to…who may or may not be attracted to you but you notice that he notices you…the excitement and uncertainty that comes with each encounter?

Yeah, I think I allowed myself to experience that recently. In keeping a realistic perspective, eye flirting will be as far as I go.