Credit Where Due

I have been in Morocco for exactly (exactly!) two months, and this is what I am thinking about to celebrate this amazing journey ... the need to acknowledge the recent kind words and phrases from (varified as not spam-, sex- or ad-bots*):
Remember the "Hi Babs!" posting from a couple of weeks ago? Well, I received a very nice (unexpected!) email-letter from Babs saying she's in good spirit. Barb writes real (yes, real! scratching pen on linen stationary!) letters as often as I like to take pictures; however, in the interest of time, she emailed me instead. Here is an edited version of that email-letter (if it's quiet, then I can almost hear her proofing it several times over before sending it):
The past week has been good. My homestay family and community (artisans, police, shopkeepers, etc) have been terrific from the biginning; however, now that I am based in Khemisset for the next couple of years, bonds have deepened beyond the minute-long greetings and relationships have extended beyond immediate contacts. Heck, from time to time I even have my own police guy following me around to keep me safe!

One thing I have not done on this trip: I still do not have a "permanent" post box. The artisans insist that I use their post box, and save my money. Post box rental is on a yearly lease, so I will wait until the beginning of the year to get my own; besides, the main branch is full and there is a waiting list.

I did manage to register with the police, speak with the local pharmacist, draw a map to my homestay family's apartment, get info to open a bank account, survey the local shops and marketplace, etc. What do you know ... it was a "work" week after all.


All over Khemisset are hanging festive banners and flags commemorating the Green March (re: march into the Western Sahara). One of the three topics we are asked not to discuss is the sensitive issue of the Western Sahara. Browse Hale's blog for some excellent information regarding the Western Sahara. I cannot assume all of Morocco is hanging such banners, as I have not travelled the country much aside from the fieldtrip, but I bet my donkey that banners can be seen in other cities, towns and villages.


My badboy host-brother RA** is full of surprises and talents. Though the family already get some 300-plus channels via the satellite dish, he (here recruiting host-dad and cousin) has figured out a way to rig the system to get some 1,000-plus channels! The funny thing is, the family is still surfing the familiar five channels, with the occasional browse over to the Austrian channels (as yet, I am not sure what this is about).


RA** is way connected with the community. One night, we were just bumming around and he introduced me to some friends. One of his friends owns a warehouse. The night we visited was banana-packing night at the warehouse, so I got to help a bit and got to bring home some just-ripe bananas for the breakfast table. The bananas are destined for the local fruitstands.


Taking pictures of government buildings is not allowed (not entirely sure the reason or when this became effective), except when said buildings are in the background and not the sole intent of the picture. So, just imagine the horse-drawn carriage that was cropped out of this picture of the local police building.


While hanging out with the artisans, I discoverd that apprentice TF** lives in my neighborhood. Sure enough, badboy host-brother knows him and the homestay family wants to invite TF over for a cup of much-too-sweet mint-steeped green tea when I move to Khemisset permanently. Until then, I am constantly shuttling between community-based training and session sites. On swearing-in, I can ditch the honorific title of "Trainee" for "Volunteer". TF speaks a good amount of English, and has agreed to help me with my darija [Moroccan Arabic] when I visit the cooperative.


I cannot stress enough how thrilled I am to be assigned to my site. The wood-carvers are just amazing. Within ten minutes, I witnessed the master wood-carver -- using only a crude hand-axe (no stencil or model) -- freed an elephant from its wood-block prison. The rough elephant is then given to one of the apprentices to sand, stain and polish. The whole process took less than an hour.

* technology is moving fast, and, somehow, I've been left in the slow lane. A few weeks before I left for Morocco, I called customer support at a large financial institution to settle my account. After "talking" to the person for about ten minutes, I realized it was a freakin' decision tree; the whole interaction was so natural that I didn't catch on until "she" said, "Please wait. I need to transfer you to a live representative"!
** actual names have been changed/withheld for obvious reasons (re: safety/security)
*** LCF = Language and Culture Facilitator. The LCFs have been providing us with intensive language and culture training to successfully get around on our own. Key in the training sessions is understanding cultural norms; textbook examples cannot adequately cover this elusive, yet critical, topic .. less making a mistake, such as walking around sporting mid-rib tops, outcasts us from our communities!

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another point of view ...

Blogger Fred


I'm getting hooked more and more as you tell your story. The pictures are amazing.

I don't blog during the week, but I'll check in next weekend. Keep up the great work!
 

Blogger Mizez Slocombe


Your bold and admirable move came as a pleasant surprise, and it's been a privilege to witness the story as it unfolds.

Mail me if you should ever need a place to stay in Paris.
 

Blogger mquest


nice picture of a horse-drawn carriage.
I really like the picture of the flags.
 

Blogger frankysbride


Thank The One Who Knows The True Nature Of Reality that you joined the Peace Corps!! I LOVE your blog!
Thank you for the terrific photos and the fabulous writing!! :-)
 

Blogger frankysbride


ps-- This is my favorite French Onion Soup recipe. It is very simple and does not involve wine or alcohol:

1.5 litres bouillon (vegetable or meat, whatever you prefer)
250 grams onions (or more, if you like onions)
60 grams butter
80 grams flour

Peel onions, cut in rounds. Saute in butter until golden brown. Sprinkle with flour, brown, cover with the bouillon and let simmer 10 minutes. Salt, pepper to taste. Dump the soup into heavy bowls on top of sliced bread (preferably French bread or bread with substance). You can eat it just like this, and it's delicious, or you can do what I love, which is to slice Gruyere or your favorite cheese fairly thinly, spread the slices on top of the soup, and brown the bowls on a baking sheet under a top broiler until the cheese melts to orgasmic gooiness.

Happy Winter!
 

Blogger Nam LaMore


FRED: thanks so much for your kind words. i do take requests, so do give me some ideas on what to posts!

MIZEZ SLOCOMBE: 'nuff said .. you've been there from the beginning, so thanks you have a place to hang out in morocco when you hope the straight of gilbraltar! hope you got the email i sent you!

MQUEST: yeah, i keep finding images that would never occur to me as interesting states-side .. i think being in a different country heightens my artistic lenses!

FRANKYSBRIDE: thank you so much for the onion soup recipe .. onion is available year-round here (and so cheap!), and it's a hit with the homestay family. i told them about your whale-blubber experience and they were glazed over with wonderment!
 

Anonymous Anonymous


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Ciao!
 

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