Volunteer Life

This article was first publised in the in-country publication PeaceWorks/Summer '07 edition ...

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Come Into the Light

Living in Morocco was an interesting experience in many ways. Indeed it is probably one of the most liberal of Muslim countries; I witnessed this act of religious tolerance first hand every day. I was asked if I was Muslim1 on a daily basis. Typical conversation (translated in English for my benefit):

Moroccan lampshade The above conversation, whether with a stranger or a member of my host family, recycled itself without fail.

1. Because to people in my community they don't understand why I would be in Morocco if not to become one with the religion.
2. Buddha isn't considered a prophet. Muslims consider Buddhists to be immoral (not amoral) and god-less. Though I don't identify as Buddhist, I was often told bluntly by complete strangers that I could still go to heaven if I converted to Muslim. I guess my share of 50 virgins will go to someone else.

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Homebound - the short take

Orly Airport, waiting for AirFrance Couch to CDG airportThis the last SMS text message I sent in Morocco to some friends and volunteers:

"Thank you Morocco! Boarding plane for an epic 36-hour, airport-hopping journey: Fes-Paris-New York-Los Angeles. See you out in the world! NL" - Fes airport, 18:12, 12 December, 2007

Getting out of Morocco was easy, but the security check in Paris was not easy. Because I had lived in Morocco for more than two years, there were many, DETAILED questions about my activities abroad. Unfortunately the non-American security check personnel for the American-based airline had never heard of the United States Peace Corps; I had to discuss in detail the mission and goals of the Peace Corps, my host-family, my Arabic language skill, etc.

I had been up practically all night so that I could catch the first AirFrance Coach bus from Orly airport ot Charles De Gaulle airport. In my sleep-deprived state, I managed to explain everything coherently if not slowly, and subconsciously throwing in Arabic phrases that confused the inquisitor; this only prolonged my detention with airport security.

All this was worth it to get on the plane, where it was a good feeling washed over me as the cabin crew treated like a human being.

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Signing Off

I alluded to the fact that this blog is no longer flying under the radar, that it is actively being observed by forces beyond my comprehension. Spikes in site traffic from certain domains beg the question of why the increased traffic from said domains: does this blog have anything of value to offer think tanks?

The bottom-line to all this cloak-and-dagger is that some options surfaced, including:
This blog is in no way retired, it is just suspended. This blog served as an extension to my journal (as I mentioned many entries ago), and suspending it neither invalidates my experience, nor diminishes my commitment, as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco. So, it looks like I'll need to look elsewhere to fulfill the Peace Corps' Third Goal; YouTube and flickr come to mind! The mice in me noggin are scheduled to work overtime for other solutions5.
Sunset in Morocco

1. Any Silicon Valley six-grader knows that Web pages are cached on many servers, and can take YEARS for edited and/or deleted pages to actually vanish on the World Wide Web; until then, these so called unwanted, abandoned and orphaned pages become part of the vast, expanding cobweb.
2. You're kidding, right?
3. Though I've tried to be sensitive about cultural and safety/security issues with each entry, I'm far from infallible. As Alexander Pope said, "To err is human." The other part of this quote is sorta boring, so I've leaving it out.
4. Thinking it through, this is not an option! If you think otherwise, then the Peace Corps might not be for you!
5. No, email SPAM is not an acceptable solution!
6. Complete plagiarism from the end of the sci-fi horror fest Alien (1979), where Ripley (played by then-unknown Sigourney Weaver) reports before going into deep sleep, "Final report of the commercial starship Nostromo, third officer reporting. The other members of the crew, Kane, Lambert, Parker, Brett, Ash and Captain Dallas, are dead. Cargo and ship destroyed. I should reach the frontier in about six weeks. With a little luck, the network will pick me up. This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off."

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I HEART San Francisco

I'm feeling a bit homesick, specifically for San Francisco, California.

Aside from staging all-night Ramadan movie marathons of bootleg DVD movies with the City by the Bay San Francisco as the location set, this Peace Corps Morocco Volunteer looked through his photo archive and created the following heart-arts postcard. More about the 130+ heart-arts at the website Hearts in San Francisco.

Hearts in San Francisco postcard

Here's a partial list of movies I'm watching1 with San Francisco (or the Bay Area) as the set location ...
If you're not familiar with these movies, hop over to the Internet Movie Database, IMDB, and check out the write-ups (some are not unlike sixth grade book reports).

This post is dedicated to all the Peace Corps Volunteers, past, current and inspired, who call San Francisco, and the Bay Area, home.

1. Listing and watching these movies is in no way my endorsement of their entertainment value; I simply have them in my DVD collection.
2. She's moving out of the Bay Area to be closer to her niece.
3. He's been keeping me updated on Hollywood's gossips & rumours; but he's been MIA for a couple of months, so I've no idea what that crack-smoking Whitney's been up to or if Britney's popping out another swamp rat.
4. He's moving back to NY, saying that the City by the Bay is a bit too laid-back for him; exactly the reason why I HEART San Francisco.

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