Evacuation, part 4.  March 17, 2020

The hotel fed us B-L-D.  Our staj had stayed at this hotel recently and it is a comfortable one.  There were only a handful of travelers in the hotel that were not part of our group.  There were definitely more than 20 people at a time in the restaurant, but no one seemed worried about that.  We appreciated not having to eat in our rooms.


Staff had planned medical exams, closure activities for our work and projects, counseling and more.  None of this was permitted.  Close of Service is normally a week-long meeting, held 2 months before departure, followed by 3-4 more days at the time of departure.  In the end, we took turns having brief meetings with our Regional Manager, where we signed forms regarding housing, pay, health insurance, disposition of belongings, unpaid bills, and more.  We gave him the keys to our apartments.  We met with our Wardens if we wanted to have PC deposit our Moroccan money into our accounts, for transfer to the US.  We were issued $35 each of American dollars to cover incidentals on the travel home.


Later there were impromptu gatherings to thank our three American staff members.  All but the top boss would now be evacuating with us.  Cards were circulated for the Moroccan staff members.  We took Staj photos.  Each Region of the Staj 100 met with the Country Director separately for our “Stamp Out” ceremony.  We sign our name and information of service in the book, stamp the official stamp and sign the date.  This is followed by each signer hitting a big drum, after which she gave us each a pin with the flags of America and Morocco, joined by the Peace Corps logo.  After this, each small group had the option to meet with a member of the Volunteer Support Network, where we recited a statement about acknowledging our grief and accomplishments, then left to discuss.


Many gathered to socialize, and I did join a couple of girls briefly, but needed to take advantage of the time to start letting my family know what was happening.  I had been getting hints of the severity and quickness of the situation in America as well.  The young couple living in my house had seen the evacuation, on BBC, a couple of days ago, but I was just now starting to get messages from other folks.  I did not want to alarm loved ones prematurely, and frankly, did not really know what to tell people.  The details of our evacuation were constantly changing.  I got to bed around midnight.  Looking at emails, I saw that there were lots of tasks and reports to do for Peace Corps before I would be officially done.  Summarizing projects and activities, medical exams and reports, and more I need to read.