Desert recovery and a visit from my boss. April 10-20, 2019. First, let me ask for your help. Have you sent me any mail? Several friends and family has asked “Did you get my card (or letter)?”. Since February 2nd, the answer has been “no”. There are now too many incidents to be accidental loss. I am compiling a list, to present to the Embassy, in hopes of getting whoever is stopping my mail, to stop. If you have sent anything that I have not acknowledged receiving, please let me know in an email. Thank you!
I returned from my trip to the desert and some wonderful things happened for me at the Youth Center. Normally I clean the Youth Center on Sundays. This week I was away, and so determined to stay after work to do so. I started around 5:00, in the big room, asking the music folks to please be out by 6:00 (impossible, but worth asking). One of the older kids, saw what I was doing and jumped in to start helping me clean the walls. He got one of the girls to help as well, and toward the end a third joined us. Not only was I happy for the help, but thrilled at the display of empathy, ownership, self-motivation and more. The President of the Beladia (sort of like the city mayor) came to visit and confirm our appointment for tomorrow. My Darija teacher came by and confirmed that she would be interested in meeting my Regional Manager and being my Counterpart for Passport to Success. A man I had not seen before motioned for me to come into the Mosque to pray, my first invitation. I needed to decline, but was pleased someone wanted to include me. My landlady and her daughter dropped in to show me how lovely they were, dressed for a wedding. I bought a new water heater, but then it failed when my hair was full of shampoo, so a nearly perfect day.
During this week between travels, I managed to squeeze in most of my normal activities; youth center, English, Darija lessons, time with family. But there was also one afternoon dedicated to the visit of my Peace Corps Regional Manager. I arranged for him to meet with my Youth Center Director, the President of the Beladia, Director of the High School/Middle School, the Directors of the Nour Association, and two potential Counterparts for upcoming activities. Even after all this time, the goal is relationship building. But the President of the Beladia did offer us the use of the new sporting facility, and transportation for a field trip, for part of a summer camp. Now, I just need an association to back us.
General day-in-the-life stuff…I finally washed the Dar Shbaab windows, my new water heater got fixed, my bread lady was sick, I dropped my phone in the toilet (clean water, in case it matters). If I had taken it apart sooner, I might have saved it (including ALL my Moroccan contacts). Instead, I made a day trip to Rabat for a replacement phone and am gradually rebuilding the list (this time on the SIM card).
Friday was the weekly knock-down-drag-out-drama with the music club and my “problem man” (not to be confused with devil boy). It started in the usual manner, “problem man” came in the morning to see what trouble he could cause. He noticed my white board announcing “Camping with Khalid” at 4:00, and pronounced a long, English “nooooo”. Indeed, he invited all the music people to come to the Dar Shbaab for a practice at, you guessed it, at 4:00. For two hours they tried many creative ways to get Khalid to give up his program, thinking then I would open the music room for them. Seriously? Does anyone who has ever met me think that would work? After I threw them all outside, they started calling the Director at home, going so far as to call his Mother (he is a 50ish man) to get him to tell me to give them their way. Still not effective. All in all, just another teaching opportunity.
I have mentioned from time to time that there is a lot of building here, but now they are re-doing all the underground drainage, septic, water lines for the entire city, in preparation for paving. There are huge ditches everywhere, with big excavators all around town. These ditches are at least 15 feet deep, unsupported and frequently unguarded (as in, why hasn’t one of these free-running toddlers fallen into one yet?). I have been fascinated just watching the process.
In my next entry, my trip to Ourzazate, Morocco’s Cinema city, for a language seminar. Then, yesterday I went back to my first village for a family wedding. And…the big news of the week, Ramadan starts Monday (or Tuesday).