Monday, August 17, 2009


The following is from an email was sent to a dear friend, Fabienne Gauthier, who was inspired to become a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco as well:

A lot depends on your site.  The first 2 months are intense training in culture, customs & language.  (You might want to study Moroccan Arabic before you come.  You'll probably learn one of the Berber dialects but Arabic is helpful.) With site assignment you will know better what the options are.  Some of my buddies have been assigned near cities and others are at really remote sites with water & electric only a couple of days a week.  I am lucky because I have everything at my fingertips: water, electric, hanuts, sibtar, souk, Cyber, hamman, post office, and cafes, only thing missing is a bank.
Because of my language lack I haven't made any "friends" but everyone is welcoming and affectionate.  They are amused with my stumbling tashilheet, but encouraging. Many of them, expecially tradespeople, understand a little English so we get by. Each day I study language, read a little and shop.  Right now my project is on hold until school reopens and Ramadan is past in October.  
Normally I have tutoring twice a week for two hours which takes most of the day since I have to travel an hour to the tutor and wait for transportation.  Some of my best hours of meditation are spent in taxi stands.  Right now the tutor is on vacation.  
There is a certain amount of washing of floors & clothes - the dust is wicked - and the heat is debilitating, so napping is a major thing for me.  It's quiet here at night.  Sometimes I sit outside with the neighbors & chat, or just read. Food is no problem.  Fresh fruits & vegetables are plentiful and cheap.
The apartment boasts two plastic chairs, two wooden tables, a fancy bed! and some kitchen stuff.  No blender, pressure cooker, or couscous pot and no refrigerator as yet, but mashi mushkil, no problem.  Just have to shop everyday.
And that's the scoop.  Keep the faith.  love Muriel

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Just returned from 2 weeks training in Azrou were the weather was delightful and the hotel quite plush.  A little shopping area was close by and we walked to town for treats.  Some of the others returned with me to my home base to visit their host families. I entertained my first company who cooked supper for me and slept on my roof.  
Rachel, another PCV, convinced me to accompany her the next day partway to her site with a stop in Marakeech.  What a hoot. Getting off the bus into hordes of tourists left me bewildered and I was happy that Rachel was an experienced traveler and speaker of Tash. We taxied to the medina, center of the old town.  Here we wandered in and out of a warren of lanes until we found the hotel Rachel had chosen, Hotel Aday. We booked space on the roof - yes on the roof 3 stories up a narrow staircase and finally a ladder - and left our gear at the desk, all for only 30 durhams. 
We wandered around enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells.  There was every kind of kiosk imaginable, from ice cream stands to fancy carpet shops.  We looked at a variety of exotic jalabas and Moroccan slippers.  I bought some spices.  Rachel looked for a program for her computer and finally found what she wanted, but the cost was almost a whole month's allowance! So forget that.  We continued our wandering and I spotted a gorgeous woven silk bag, but again unaffordable.  But it doesn't cost to look and that we did. 
The medina in transformed at night into a noisy, crowded wonderland with flashing lights and clashing music.  The center is filled with food of every sort.  The juice dispensing stands are lined up in a row. The oranges stacked behind the counter form a long lines of their bright color as the stands blend one into the other.  Behind them are tent covered tables, all numbered. Here you can order you favorite food from shish kabob to French fries, and everything in between. Time spent people watching can fill an entire evening.  A what a show it was for this village oriented PCV.  Every mode of dress, from short shorts and halter top to complete coverage of a hooded jalaba and face veil.  Hikers, hippies, all sorts of tourists and families, from grandmothers to infants swarmed the medina.  The crowd was friendly and noisy and really, really BIG.
With full tummies and tired feet we headed to Hotel Aday and the 3 flight climb to the ladder that led to our resting place.  With pillow, mat, and blanket we snuggled in under the stars.