Friday, October 31, 2008

This just in: I know where I’m going.

Photo from a local wedding procession.

We learned our site placements this afternoon; didn’t realize just how anxious I’ve been until I felt the wave of relief when I learned about my town and the surrounding area.

For security purposes I can’t blog my exact location – email me privately if you want more info! – but I will be way down south, about an hour inland from the coastal resort city of Agadir. Hot climate, near a beach and less than five hours from Marrakesch – how did I manage to score this?

My site is quite small, only 3,000 residents, but it’s flanked by two good-sized cities, so I should have everything I need close to hand. The town is surrounded by orange farms; the current volunteer there tells me I’ll have all the free oranges and clementines I can eat. Sounds heavenly. Other local agricultural endeavors include honey and argan oil, an expensive oil used for cooking and for facial creams.

As soon as I read the current volunteer’s description, I this is the right town for me. Thought I wanted a large community, but small suddenly sounds more manageable (especially knowing I can easily get to a city when I need something). The dar chebab is very active when it comes to boys, but there are opportunities aplenty to encourage girls and young women to get involved. There’s also an active nedi neswi, or women’s center.

I will be only the second Peace Corps volunteer the town has ever had. The current volunteer is very enthusiastic and says my host family can’t wait to meet me. Very few people in town speak English; that sounds daunting, but she says she managed just fine despite having little Darija at first.

It’ll be a busy week – meeting my new host family, seeing the local dar chebab, starting the paperwork for my Moroccan work card and bank account, finding a Darija tutor and learning my way around town. And, of course, staying up all night Nov. 4 for the U.S. election results.

Inshallah, I’ll also be setting up a post-office box – so bring on those care packages! And I may have jumped the gun on my pleas for Polarfleece and wool socks; I’ll scope the situation out and let you know. I’ll have to email the address to y’all privately rather than post my exact whereabouts here.

Can’t wait to meet my new home; I’ll post an update to introduce you as soon as I’m able. May be awol for a while in the meantime, but don’t worry – I’m on top of my game and couldn’t be more excited. Frxhna bzzf! (I’m very excited) (And I’ll be warm!)

Leaving CBT.

We had a final party with all of our families before leaving our community-based training site. They dressed us to the nines in caftans and costume jewelry. I find it difficult to feel attractive in such heavy, bulky fabrics, but everyone gasped when we entered the room. Good fun. Lots of pastries. Lots of slightly hshuma dancing.

This is me with my Hajja and her youngest daughter, Khadija. “Formidable” is the best word to describe Hajja. She’s a force – in her community, in any room she enters. Very religious and conservative, yet also extremely laid back (“Self-service!” she’d call to me me in broken English when I arrived home late every evening, pointing me toward the kitchen) and very, very drifa (kind). I’ll miss her.

Quote of the day.

Htta haja masa3iba: “Nothing is hard.”
– the owner of the shop where I had some photos printed.

(I would say that he’s obviously never tried to learn another language, but he taught himself English via books and “Dr. Phil”)


Krista said...

A beach! You are going to be near a beach. Fate smiles upon you, my dear friend. Congrats on the posting. I'm already looking it up in my Lonely Planet on Morocco.

Happy Halloween1

Melissa said...

Hot climate? Ah, as we head into winter here that sounds just heavenly! Congratulations on your location assignment.

I wish there were a way to say it without being repetitive or tearing up...but I just admire you very, very much Ms. Roberts!

Anonymous said...

Yay! I bet your beach is better than my beach!

The adventures continue!!

jill said...

when you get back to the states, you will get to enjoy two (hopefully 6) years of obama as president.

it's so very exciting! did you do an absentee ballot?

i voted at mccain's polling place, so my vote cancelled his out!

congrats on the assignment. sounds like a great spot! are women allowed to wear swimsuits at the beaches? and oranges every day. how heavenly!

can't wait to hear more!

hooray for obama!!!!

Jenna said...

I love that you're so happy; that makes me smile.

What kind of celebrations took place, if any, in Morocco as a result of the US election? I'm collecting stories from around the globe and would love to hear about your experience.

Can't wait to read more.