Ok, wow . It seems I have only a month left in Morocco and the last time I updated this blog was…. Half a year ago. Eeek. Sorry for the lack of updates. I blame the lack of updating on bad internet, lack of time, and Apollo keeping me busy. Not on my laziness……. O.O …. onto other matters.
Now half of the year we, volunteers down south, don’t do much other then small educational lessons in homes on why you should not be fasting if you’re pregnant, sick, old and so on during Ramadan (and we even quote from the Quran). Then we wait a few months for everyone to come back (those who traveled away from Tata since it gets 140-150 F sometimes). And, Hay! I caught you up to October! Lol.
During my down time I went to Portugal. Really beautiful, romantic little country. Kind of sad when I had to come back to Morocco! But I had to start on my grant for creating the SIDA (AIDS in French –read SIDA backwards..lol) theater competition. Which was work and then some. The Competition, by the way, was to get a group of kids from villages all across Tata province and a Moroccan counterpart together and talk about AIDS. Then they will create a theatrical performances meant to teach others about AIDS and perform it in Tata city. Then return and repeat their performance in their village.
So getting a grant going for this project was work. Trying to get people to agree on a price for lunch, figuring out transportation, housing, location, stereo equipment was difficult since I had to also have a 25% contribution from the community. My hat off to anyone who has ever done this before (*cough* mom *cough* dad). Its a lot of work but I did it. YAY! And overall it was fun. So all I had to do was wait until March 11.
Before March I started to teach at the women’s’ association on health topics, yoga, and American cuisine. They loved brownies, though were horrified by what went into it. Lol. Teaching women in morocco is fun because they’re so engaging during the lessons, sassy, and just a fun group of people. Also, really hard workers. More often than not, they are the ones with the best grades in school while helping clean the house, cook food, and watch their siblings. I don’t know how they do it.
Around December a friend and I went to …… SPAIN! Wow! It was the first time I planed anything all by myself. Finding hostels (fyi: hostels are GREAT!!!! I meet so many people from around the world and as long as you’re smart you’ll be safe), buses, and figuring out the metro. Thank God my friend was there because I easily get lost (which I did in Portugal but it was fogy, getting dark, I didn’t have a cell phone, and there were no road signs) and she is a walking GPS. Lol. Anyway, there were sales, flirting men that weren’t creepy, New Years Eve, the three king’s day, and OMG amazing deserts. Yes, deserts, ‘cause I wasn’t to partial to their food. BUT the history and culture was all I needed for food. Corny yes, but you have got to visit, but visit Portugal first.
I got back to morocco and it was time to revisit the people I talked with before and verify the cost for everything for the competition. Make sure the volunteers were getting groups together and had any and all support I could give them. But, during this time my Bathroom project completed!! YAyayayayayay.. An amazing group of volunteers, and local Moroccans helped me put together health lessons for the kids (all 200 of them). And really the group was amazing; I couldn’t have done it without them. The Kids were amazing and so cute! Ummm, many a volunteer wants to have children now because of their interactions with the local children. Who, by the way, always share their food with others, are willing to clean your house at the drop of a hat, and run errands for you even though they are not related/know you (Yaya for free labor..lol.. Kidding). But, not so much on my end. I love kids (taking pictures of them… they’re so dynamic. But when they hit a certain age its strait backs and NO smiling. I have no idea why.)
COS (close of service conferences). Ok, about two months before we leave we go to the close of service conference and get medically checked out, get our plane tickets ready, and so on. Translating to a very busy week up in Rabat and we had a very busy social week to because there are many people we all hadn’t seen in a year’s time. I also wanted a tattoo while I was there (there was an amazing artists who can work wonders up in Rabat), but I completely forgot about it until I was in Rabat. Therefore, I would have had to figure out fast what I wanted. And while I had an idea I have yet to find a picture that manifests that idea and timing was bad. So no tattoo. Put away the sandpaper dad …..
Now March was beginning and while volunteers were having trouble getting kids together, most had amazing counterparts who they were working with and they, eventually, all had good groups. The day of the competition was on us and I was running my ass off. People changing previously agreed on prices for food, all the help did not show up, a judge did not show up, but thankfully all the kids were on time. The competition started late but we had time to kill. The kids were excited, the judges loved the performance, and everything went smoothly. Even lunch was good and on time (wow!). Only one group was having issues(They were not polite, started fights, and went way over on their time limit). So I tried to disqualify or add a penalty onto them. But the judges wouldn’t hear of it. So that team one. Don’t get me wrong. They had an amazing performance, but there should have been some form of punishment. But, other than that everything went smoothly. ALCS did a lesson on AIDS and then question and answer session. Afterwards, the award ceremony. Wow. The kids were really nervous! They all wanted to win so much. But there could only be one and the group that did went crazy! Running and hugging each other. The thank you part was a downer though ’cause everyone left before I could hand out all of the thank you certificates. So, a tad embarrassing for me as i stood up there when everyone was leaving. Oh, and I almost forgot. We had an impromptu dance performance… These are common in Morocco at events such as these. When there is a lull then everyone dances! This group was a mix of ages that did hip-hop/break dancing. Everyone loved it. But there was also random dancing throughout the day (before lunch for example) and the associations helping were up there dancing with the kids. I do like that about Morocco. They are not scared about dancing in front of other people (also without any alcohol to give them ‘courage’ by the way), doing something embarrassing, or acting like an idiot because everyone enjoys it and joins in.
March 11th was finally over and I was relieved. But the month was far from finished. The Tata volunteers did a health hike to schools around Tamanart that are hard to reach by road/transportation. There were beautiful landscapes, plants, and a utopia feel about their ruralness (surrounded by mountains with fields of date trees, wheat, and grass. The rest of the world felt far away). I taught antismoking lessons, others taught dental, nutrition and art lessons. We hiked about 20 kilometers, round-trip.
Then we all did Murals at the local youth center in Tata city (three days of standing! God my legs hurt afterwards). I nearly killed a couple of kids, repeating, “Dip half of the paint brush, brush some paint off, and then paint slowly.” What they did was, dunk the whole brush in (stick and bristles), drip the paint all over the ground and on the wall, then paint as fast as you can, and repeat….! I did have one adult helping me at one point and that’s when I got the most work done but had the strangest conversations. He asked me if I wanted children and I said no because it’s difficult/hard. He says it’s not. I said if I marry and my husband wants children he can have them himself. Hopefully, by then, scientist will have found a way to get men pregnant. Then men can understand how ‘easy’ having a kid is. He laughed and begged God to never allow that to happen because he never wanted to get pregnant and I begged God for it to happen. Lol.
Now, it’s today, 04/02/2012. I walked Apollo across a dried river bed, over a mountain that previously had houses on it, and across old ruins. Saw a couple of donkeys grazing on our walk and Apollo decided to lie down and roll in some water and snack on some grass. Then we went home.
I have a month left now and I’ll miss my home and family here when I have to leave. I tell people my heart is here in Tata, and when I leave a piece of it will always be here, In the cold country with a hot sun.
Cya all in a months time!