New phone, and other day-in-the-life stuff.  January 20-February 17, 2020 (part 2 of 4)


The Superbowl overnighter was just one of 3 shopping trips to Fes.  I needed to get more sporting materials for the youth soccer program, check out Riads (old medina hotels) for upcoming friend visits, and most time consuming…buy a new phone.  The phone buying trip turned into an overnighter.  I gave up on getting help from Verizon and just broke down and bought one.  The Samsung should be compatible when I return to the states as well.  During this time, I lost all ability to call home to America, as no one could tell me how to re-load those minutes on the Moroccan phone.  This did help light a fire under me to get the new phone.  My old sim card and photo card were not damaged.  As soon as that sim card was installed in a new phone, Verizon answered.  They just would not answer the Moroccan phone.  I have spent a lot of time trying to rebuild my lost contacts.  Many people have been great about answering my emailed request for updates, but there are many numbers that I just did not have anywhere else.  So, when you are wondering, “why haven’t I heard from Linda?”, you know.


I bought the Youth Center a Jenga game, which is a huge hit with the kids.  They like the game, but also just making things out of the blocks.  Got two puzzles too, which they also love.


During these drives back and forth to Fes, I have enjoyed seeing the beginning signs of spring throughout the countryside.  There were a few days of rain, resulting in snow on the surrounding mountains down to very low elevations, and just spectacular to behold.  We even had a few flakes in our village, but they did not stick.  Since the 22nd of January there has been no rain, however, and things are extremely dry, with the weather turning quite warm, as high as 70 at times.  The crops look weak and the sheep have grazed the wild areas, of roadsides and rocky hills, to nothing.  Almonds and narcissus are in full bloom and I saw the beginnings of peach and apple blossoms today.


On one of my trips to Fes, I first stopped in Sefrou to pick up my new Carte d’ sejour (Green Card), so I am good to stay the duration.  I enjoyed coffee with some other volunteers on that trip.  Last weekend I was finally home on my one day off.  I went to the Souk, which was brimming with beautiful produce and mountains of strawberries.  I made the rounds to see and be seen, and had coffee with my historian friend, who has returned home for a time.  He has been exorcised of all but one ghost, and is starting to think about what his life will be like in the next chapter, when he is finally rid of this black magic.  I was hoping he would get a great job, but appreciate seeing him and all the help he gives us at the Youth Center.  He spent a lot of time translating announcements for the upcoming Global Art for Peace project and my Spring Art Day-camp.


After the souk, I spent the day cooking food for the freezer, so I would have dinner after work days.  The previous afternoon, I finally washed the floors of the Youth Center.  I sweep every day, but need drying time without kids, for the washing.  No one mops here, you just pour buckets of soapy water, scrub, squeegee it out the front door and repeat with clear water.  Washed footprints off the walls.  On the way to the Center, bucket, flip flops and scrub brush in hand, I was invited to have a coffee by the President of the Beladia (like the mayor).  My town is pretty liberal and they don’t care what foreigners do, but a local woman does not sit at the coffee shop (but being the renegade that I am).  Then, he asks me what music I like.  I say that my favorite is likely Garth Brooks.  He proclaims “The Boss!  Bruce Springsteen!”  at which point he pulls out his phone, and we are singing along with Dancing in the Dark.  Just then, my sweet host-brother comes by, we exchange waves and hellos, but no doubt he was telling the family of my scandalous behavior.  My host sisters don’t like the President.  They accuse him of drinking and stealing.  (if you drink, you must be guilty of all other crimes as well, right?).


I watched my last movie from my hard drive and signed up for Netflix, but it is not practical without good internet, so dropped it.  I read a Clive Custler, and The Lighthouse, still working on The History of the Arab Peoples by Albert Hourani, and just started How Soccer Explains the World (or something like that, it is at the Youth Center).


I delivered photocopies of my Green card to all the authorities.  I finally made a long overdue visit to the mother of one of my students, whose father had died.  I brought the traditional sugar cones (weddings, babies and funerals) I was treated to lunch.  Schools were closed for a week, but most Moroccans take two weeks.  My host family spent a week at a spa-hotel near Fes.  My host sister came to my house, and stayed for coffee for the first time since the incident.  My neighbor and I bring each other food, which I enjoy, because she is a really good cook.


The Youth Center tends to be slow during school breaks, but we also get a lot of interesting visitors.  I had a very exciting group of advanced English speakers coming nearly every day, but then they just stopped.  Mostly girls who had been in before, but also one new young man.  My class at Nour has been joined by three men at the very beginning level, so I am back to the alphabet with that one.  After being busy for several months, my Counterpart that helped teach English last spring-summer, is back, wanting to start a grammar class.


All the Peace Corps Volunteers were evacuated from China out of concern for the Coronavirus.  There have been no cases reported in Morocco.  Two minor earthquakes reported yesterday in our region, but I did not feel either.


Lastly, one of the other PCVs hosted a very nice “Palentine’s” Day sleepover last night, for volunteers in our region.  Today we all went to the goat cheese farm, just outside my old village, so I was able to have breakfast and a quick visit with the first family as well.  The new baby is cute as a button.  The sister who lost her baby was not looking well, but that is probably because I woke her up.  More coming…