My permanent site location revealed, beginning our goodbyes. November 15-19, 2018
As promised, our permanent sites were revealed to us in Meknes. We are never allowed to give the location of Peace Corps members and meetings in social media, but I will tell you what I can. I will actually be moving there on December 1st. My new town is bigger than where I am now, but still small, about 14,000 people. It is in the same region, so near all the cities that I already know, Sefrou, Immouzier, Ifrane and Fes. It also sits at the edge of the Tazzeka National Park. It is a mountainous site, but near prune orchards. I am being told it is very cold. I will be working at a Dar Shbaab (Youth Center), the Nour (morning) Association and a Cooperative ADWAL (handicrafts for women) that apparently is a very big rug-making cooperative.
For the first month, I will be living with a host Mom in her 70s and two of her daughters, ages 40 and 50. There is also a married son living near-by. After that I can find my own house or apartment. They have not hosted a volunteer before, but the town has had a fairly active history with Peace Corps. In the past it was a training site at least twice. There was an older married couple there before me, though they left in March, so there has been a lapse. They did not leave early, but rather, had extended to a longer stay, hence being on a different cycle.
Being in the same Region means that I already know two of the existing volunteers and like them. One is the PCV in my current village, that has been tutoring me, and the other was hosted by my current family during last year’s training. There are also 12 other people from Stagé 100 that will be in this Region. It also means that I will be able to visit my current family without too much difficulty, I think. Not far if you had your own car, but when dependent on taxis and buses it can take a while.
On Sunday, my host Mom, Dad and I all traveled to Fes and wondered the Old City. We visited the museum, which was good, but did not have time to see the whole thing.
As I write, it is Monday the 19th. Tomorrow we will have our formal Language Proficiency Interview. My Darija is still quite poor, but I have already been told that I will not be sent home for that. I will continue learning with a tutor, which I wanted anyway. Tomorrow is also an important Islamic holiday, the Birthday of the Prophet Mohammed. For families in our town, it sounds much like our Christmas celebrations, although some regions have different interpretations/practices. In Morocco, the holiday is especially important because the King is a direct descendant of the Prophet. Schools and many businesses will be closed, some for two days.
Then, on Thursday it will be Thanksgiving. This is a time I will be most homesick. It is my favorite holiday, whether spent with family or friends or both. Still, I will make a few calls and am staying in touch as best I can here. I will be cooking a Thanksgiving style dinner (as much as local ingredients and equipment permit). I have Thanksgiving cards to deliver to all the host families (thank you Diane for shopping and mailing!).
We have a few more classroom projects to prepare. We will also be giving our host families a “thank you/farewell” party on Saturday. Then, on Sunday, after breakfast we depart for another week of training meetings before our trip to our final site.
More details to unfold.