Crossing the Line

The last few weeks have been just as trying for me as for Lazarus upon resurrection .. I have crossed the line from every-day-citizen to Peace Corps Volunteer. To have come this far, I have had to deal with a personal miracle-of-a-sort in the thick of language proficiency exam, another major holiday (a month ago, Holloween just "happened" and, now, Thanksgiving Dinner**), swearing-in ceremony, making my way back to my assigned site, etc.

One strategy I use to manage stress is cooking. The host-family (and relatives) have been treated to: brownies (a big hit that has been made three times already), chicken stir-fry with peanuts, apple-chicken salad, lavender cookies (lavender is not in culinary use in Morocco), bread pudding (since bread is considered holy, it is rarely tossed out; hence, lots of stale bread available), and (excellent!) onion soup a-la-frankysbride.

This post is dedicated to PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer) JP*.

The swearing-in ceremony was a moment I will never forget .. friend and confidant JP* gave a speech that represented the trainees-to-be-volunteers in the Small Business Development sector. Her speech was given entirely in Berber dialect Tamazight without faltering. The welly [mayor] of Fez was impressed with her language proficiency and, I'm pretty sure he (and most in the audience), was unaware that JP had been learning Tamazight only for the last three months. Her very sophisticated and appropriate speech brought the audience to a standing ovation; sadly, I do not have an audio copy of the speech to share. Here are two pictures of JP in "action" and at "rest").

What's a Peace Corps Swearing-in Ceremony without a group picture to share .. spotting me in the group wins you a delicious Moroccan meal of home-made tajine, complete with much-too-sweet mint tea.***

From the top-view of the swearing-in ceremony hotel in Fez, who would have guessed it was autumn?

Here is SF* just after the swearing-in ceremony with her host-sisters.

Taking the opportunity for a social mix, some of us got together the night of swearing-in to share our hopes and expectations awaiting our lives as volunteers. Friend and confidant SF* was sharing with us the prowess of her windpipes. Clearly (clearly) she is no
stranger to the hookah

Here I am with JP's* host-mom. Trying on that Berber coat nearly broke my back!

Like most large cities in Morocco, Fez has an old and a new city. This view of the old city is seen from the hotel's balcony.

I took a quick walk around Immouzer (was training site for another Peace Corps/Morocco sector). The French's influence on Moroccan culture is obvious in this town's architecture.

I had to make it back to my assigned site, Khemisset, by any means possible. An option was this made-in-Sweden mule-drawn wagon (click on the image to see what I mean). I optioned for a less exotic method to make it back to town before the "no-night travel" policy.

* actual names have been changed/withheld for obvious reasons (re: safety/security)
** we did have a very good Thanksgiving Dinner; click here if you want to see the headless turkeys.
*** on the condition that you must collect the prize in-person in Khemisset, Morocco before Dec 2007.
**** actually, I don't know this for sure.

tags: ..
another point of view ...

Blogger frankysbride

Terrific post, Nam! ~lol~

Congratulations to JP and SF and you and all the other Peace Corps volunteers. (Incidentally, you're the dude at the far right of the group photo, the one in the shades, but there is probably no way in hell I'll be able to get to Morocco before 2007 to collect my reward, given that my significant other is planning a trip to Israel to see his daughter and I'm soon going to be embroiled in a spiritual-- and irrationally highly-entertaining-- trip to Japan.)

It's wonderful what all of you are doing, and the expertise with which you're interacting with another culture. This is the kind of thing that makes me really proud to be an American. :-)

Glad the onion soup was liked. It is a simple recipe from a simple French cookbook that has always served me well.

*plaintive tone* ~Do~ wish you'd share your brownie recipe, when you have time... *bg*

Blogger frankysbride

ps-- "kind of thing" is an awkward phrase. I should have said, "shining example of transcendental symbiosis." :-)

Blogger hale

Hi -

I spotted the 'graduation' photo on another blog and searched fruitlessly for you - but never recognized you til I looked at the pic on your blog. You're the dude (sm) on the right with the shades and wrapped in the same shawl shown in the picture below. I note that Frankysbride also identified you in the first comment, but you NEVER said that only the first person would win. So here is my hat in the ring. When's dinner?

You are one lucky dog, nam. JP is a very attractive female, but then again, ALL the females you are pictured with are attractive females!!! You must have something special!!

Take care and let's hear about the wood carvers someday and how they go about creating and carving!


ps Starting a new blog entitled 'Jes Thinking' to record jes some random thoughts.

Blogger Nam LaMore

FRANKYSBRIDE: i can't believe you actually paid attention to the footnotes .. indeed, you are a lawyer at heart! and i do hope that you will, en sha allah, make it to morocco for a tajine dinner!

Brownie Recipe (adapted for the Moroccan kitchen):

* 3 bars of dark chocolate (or a 2C of cocoa powder)
* 1 1/2 sticks butter or margarine
* 2 cups sugar
* 3 large eggs
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (can skip this, I couldn't find any)
* dash salt

In a double-boiler, melt chocolate bars + butter/margarine.
In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, salt, and soda; lightly beat in the eggs into the bowl.
Slowly fold-in chocolate/butter mixture (slowly add, or you'll poach the eggs). Pour into a greased pan and put in the oven on "on" - try to keep on medium, bout 350 (my hostfamily's oven has only "on" or "off").
Bake until a poked fork comes out clean or with a bit of warm goo (about 30 mins).

Blogger Nam LaMore

HALE: you are correct, i did not say there would be only one prize winner! thus, do come over one day! just let me know when you come over and i'll welcome you at the flight gates! as for attractive volunteers .. i concur with you. looking forward to your new blog.

speak up!

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