Make Mine Khemisset!

In the post "The Assignment," I promised more information about my assigned site to follow .. well, that time is now. Here's what I know about my assigned site, and hope that future travel guides (ie Lonely Planet, Fodor's, Rough Guides Travel, etc) will include: Khemisset, Morocco.
Pointed out by fellow Peace Corps/Morocco volunteers that I was "Most Likely to Give a Corporate Marketing Presentation to Berber Villagers"

Note: actual names have been changed/withheld for obvious reasons (re: safety/security)

December is World AIDS (SIDA) Awareness Month**. As I'm always interested in AIDS-awareness campaigns, I noticed this billboard. Oddly, the only other billboard I saw in Khemisset is the one of the current and progressive Moroccan monarch, King Mohammed VI.

My host-family took me on a hike yesterday [Dec 11] to their zitoon [olive] farm. We spent most of the mid-morning picking olives off and around the trees. We spent the afternoon sorting olives according to ripeness**** before laboriously preparing them for zit [oil] extraction (green/red) or curing (black). The family donkey was a great help when it came to hauling the olives to the mill. At one point olive oil covered us just like Lucy and Ethel in the grape-stomping "I Love Lucy" episode.

Though I have seen drying machines (for clothes) only in stores in the big cities (Fes, Rabat), it seems like every rooftop has drying-lines. There are even communal drying-lines in most communities.

This is the handy indoor plumbing work of my host-brother. I asked him if he was going to patch up the wall after the work is completed, and he just gave me a puzzled look.

I think this is my first post of a Moroccan sunset .. looks just like a sunset over a groove of eukalyptus trees in Golden Gate Park. All my sunset pictures with a mosque silloqett do not look that impressive .. mostly cuz I've not taken the time to take a decent picture.

Though I see sheep and goats crossing town streets daily, I am still amaze there are not more road-kills. L3id kibera [big feast] is the most important religious holi-day in the Islamic calendar. I don't know much about this important day, but it has to do with slaughtering of sheep .. am told that, starting in three weeks, most households will keep a live (live!) sheep roof-top for a few days before mass-slaughtering .. am stocking up on ear-plugs and pepto for silencing of the lambs.

Other sheep-related sighting is this wool-dying operation on the roof-top of a rural neighborhood .. one of the five wood-carving cooperatives is located here, so I come to this part of town a couple of days a week.

I have just started a "photo shoot" of some of the wood-carver crafts. I decided to take these pictures now for future projects .. stay tuned.

I am currently working with five wood-carver cooperatives in the Khemisset Province. There are three cooperatives within the city limit that I visit almost on a daily basis; however, I need to get travel approval (not a problem) to visit the other two cooperatives. Khemisset is actually known for the rug/carpet cooperatives, and I hope to eventually work with these and other artisan cooperatives (such as metal and other textiles). I know I should not have "favorites," but the artisan I enjoy working with is CIMG2977 & CIMG2978; he's so great to work with because he has infinite patience and forgiveness when I try to speak darija [Moroccan Arabic] with him. He understands English perfectly.

Peace Corps volunteer SF suggested that I submit some of the photos to the next "Sports Illustrated" swim-suit issue. I think not, but I might make a "Wood-Carvers of Khemisset" 2006 calendar!

* the souq is an outdoor market that can start as early as 3:00am. Don't click on the following link unless you have a strong stomach; while having lunch at the souq, I sat next to this carved sheep. My host-father explained that the testicles are left hanging to let lunch-goers know that it is a male animal. Am told that Khemisset hosts the largest souq in all of Morocco; I heard it, so it must be true.
** maybe it's just Dec 1 .. not sure as I'm so clueless at the moment; I'm not flooded with AIDS-awareness messages as I would be if I were in San Francisco/Bay Area.
*** it's more like a tourist crooked-line route, but everyone here seems to describe this route as a "tourist triangle".
**** green is unripe, red is just ripening and black is most ripe.

tags: ..
another point of view ...

Anonymous Anonymous

Great posts - And great to see you enjoying yourself. I hope it continues, Inshallah! How long are you there? As I will be in the area in the next few months.


Blogger frankysbride

Great photos-- I hate I Love Lucy, so no comment on that one. *bg

Blogger Nam LaMore

SAMIR: hey, how are you enjoying your visit to Morocco? any advice you can give me? i'll email you in a bit to see if you want to get together for lunch.

FRANKYSBRIDE: ah, i grew up watching "i love lucy" reruns (and "the brady bunch"), and those were formative years! anyhow, am still looking for an albatross to take a picture for you. so far, nothing .. but lots of donkeys and malnurished cats.

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