There is a blind lady living on my roof, rain arrived, break in, a man’s word…. January 12-23, 2019. So, I was at the Belladia (not sure what all they do), waiting for Hamza, one of the adult Dar Shbaab regulars to sign a letter, formalizing and recording our agreement that I would loan him my camera. It was my day off, I had spent time and 6 cents printing the document, at the insistence of my Director, and yes, raining. I arrived early, and waited. When Hamza did not show, the clerk looked at me, and said in English “It is Morocco”. Yes, indeed. Fortunately, our training warned us of the Moroccan disregard for time and appointments, to not take it personally. Every comment toward the future is followed by “God willing” (insha Allah). This apparently negates all responsibility for anything in the future. This no-show is a common theme in my life here. The officers of my Ping-Pong club have yet to show up for a meeting within an hour of the start time. I wait all day for repairmen that do not show, students with special tutoring requests, photos that take 3 days instead of one, and more. “It is Morocco.” I tried to buy two desks at the souk. When I found a guy with a truck to transport them, and we returned, the guy had put them away and did not want to dig them out. And, in fairness, no money had changed hands. He and the driver knew each other and made arrangements for the pulling and returning. The driver called every day (friend of my sister’s) but no answer. Come next Monday (souk day) desk guy tried to ignore me. Finally, he asked if the driver was there. I called the driver and he was there in a flash. The guy had sold the nicer of the two, and wanted more money now for the remaining one. I showed him the quote in his own hand and he just left, and did not return.
I was on the roof, hanging clothes to dry, when a I heard someone coughing in this little cinderblock enclosure there. I said “good morning” and a woman emerged from the enclosure, apparently her bathroom, and we chatted. Aisha is blind, and lives in a separate room, on my roof. I did not know someone lived on my roof. I thought that these 2 little rooms were storage sheds. It is embarrassing that I have such a large apartment all to myself, but not embarrassing enough to invite her to live with me.
Another woman, apparently a friend of the landlady, came into my house, uninvited, and no doubt with mischief on her mind. Indeed, my sisters and everyone are forceful about diligence of locking everything. I had the keys in the door and thought they were well turned, but no. Once she realized I was there, she backed up fast and made up a story about being there to clean the landlady’s house. I won’t waste breath on why this is unlikely, but I have my eye on her. Also, I am more motivated to add those bolts I have been meaning to install.
On Monday, after the souk/desk episode, and finding I had no internet for the second day in a row, I decided a shopping trip to Fes was in order. I bought a lot of needed household items that I had not been able to find in town, including an electric coffee pot (to go with the Starbucks sent by Tom and Donna!) and cheddar cheese. I took too long and had a tough time getting home. Finally, I had to buy all 6 seats in the taxi. As soon as we pulled out, I handed the guy a 200 DH note and asked for change. He showed me a paper that entitled him to 300. No sir. You can just turn right back around. I agreed to buy 6 seats (in a car that only had seatbelts and seats for 4 passengers) at 30 DH each. He whined off and on all the way, but we got there and no, I did not get change.
The rain finally arrived on the 18th. The crops really needed it, but it has ramped up the cold factor. Lots of snow covering our nearby mountains, when the clouds part to give us a glimpse. Things have been slow at the Youth Center. First, there was a week of exam schedules for older kids, younger ones off. Then, this week everyone is off. Lots of families leave town, including mine (well, half anyway). The University students are in town and several have been in and out. But between the mid-term break and the rain, the streets that are normally swarming with high school kids are empty.
I continue to be very blessed by the care and friendship of my host family. They frequently ask me to eat with them, but I try not to wear out my welcome. I have a steady supply of cookies and cake also. I was hoping to break away from all the goodies, but I am just too weak. There are also ladies on every block, baking and selling fresh bread, rolls, and mssiman (thicker than a flour tortilla, flaky, chewy) hot, for pennies.
My toes are red and swollen, apparently with a malady common among PC Volunteers, called “chill blains”. We got a detailed notice about the problem, and yep, my toes look like the pictures. I started looking on Amazon to see if I can get some better boots sent here. Too many choices. I will need to look again later.
I finally installed my “wall of love”, where I have arranged all the cards, letters and photos sent by family and friends. I have lots of wall space, so I would love to add something from you. I am not allowed to post our location on social media, but just write me privately for the mailing address.
A young woman I did not know was at my door, explaining that my sister had sent her, and I was to go with her. It was not a good time, but not knowing what it was about, I followed. It turns out it was a sales pitch meeting for some snake-oil product line of Aloe Vera products. I was summoned when it was learned that the company was American (Forever something), based in Texas. I was there nearly 2 hours, and they were just barely half way across the table. In that time however, they had cured cancer, anorexia, obesity, stomach disorders, de-toxified, improved fertility, improved my likelihood to yield a boy child, improved my sex life, re-grown my hair, and more I forget. They were on package 19 when I excused myself. I love to see a good sales woman at work and would have stuck it out if I had known in advance, but had just put dinner on the stove and sprayed all the walls with oven cleaner.
Everything is very inexpensive here, but it also means that many things just don’t work quite right. The heater that shuts off every 30 seconds, the umbrella that acts like a movie prop and turns inside out at the slightest gust, the lamp that fried the 100 watt bulb, the water heater that blew flames, the paint that rubs off on everything, the “scotch” tape that requires scissors to cut, the washing machine that takes 3 ½ hours for a econo cycle, the stove that has no low, the stapler that needs to be opened and closed between each staple, the door locks that just don’t turn right, the brand new duffle bag strap falling off the first use, knives that don’t cut, lovely big houses with no insulation. No trouble with the food though! Inexpensive and very good.
I promised a description of shopping, but that will need to be a separate installment, as I need to get to bed now.
This sounds very frustrating, but will make great conversations. Have you considered a post-deployment book with photos?