Friday, November 5, 2010

Ruth and the Middle of the Desert

I'm going to back track over the last couple of days - this is going to be a long blog post - bear with me - but I'm going to talk a while since this is all about my final site!

So Sunday morning, we set off at 8 am for the Supratour station - there are several different types of coaches you can take within Morocco, and I've now tried several of them, and I've decided that I'm a fan of the CTM buses - CTM is government owned, and it's a little more expensive (25 DHs more on the way back from Kech) but it has air conditioning, which, when you're going to be living in a region that gets to 120 degrees in the summer, becomes very important.

There is another PCT in a site not far from me, so she and I traveled to Agadir, stopped and had lunch - fish tagine - obviously I need to explore Agadir more, but it would make sense that there is a fair amount of fish there. The LCF of another of our CBT groups is from there, so I'll be asking her for tips and hints.

After this, we went to the taxi station to get a petit taxi to the next town, Inzegan, from which we could both get grand taxis going our separate ways. I managed to negotiate that, in darija - was feeling pretty good about it, but turns out I was given the wrong address for my host family (which of course I didn't find out until 4 days later). I was given the address of my host mum's father, who lives in the large town next to mine, so unfortunately I ended up spending an obscene amount in a petit taxi that had to keep stopping and asking people if they knew my host family on the way there. Fun times! Now I know for the next time I suppose - it will be so much easier getting back.

So, I arrived around 3.30pm on Sunday, and met my host mum, Noura, who is great. She speaks some English, which is incredibly helpful as one can imagine. She is a stay at home mum to her 4 year old boy, Aymane, and likes watching arabic music videos, and blasting the stereo while she's cleaning each morning. Nourdine is my host dad, who is a farmer, and he works from 5am until around 8pm, coming home during the day for lunch some days. The little boy goes to kindergarden from 8am to 11am each day, and then generally runs around playing with the other neighborhood kids for the rest of the day.

After arriving, I was promptly introduced to all the people in the same courtyard of houses, who are actually all related to my family. The houses in my town are built differently than in the North - there is a central courtyard, off of which there are lots of doors to the rooms of the house, but you can't go through the rooms to another - you go out in to the courtyard. So in my courtyard, most everyone is somehow related to my host dad - he has 4 or 5 brothers and sisters, and at least 2 or 3 of them, plus their families, live in this courtyard.

Amina (and I'm unclear on the relationship to Nourdine) became my guide for my visit, which was really helpful, even though she speaks no English. Although I feel like my darija improved over the last couple of days, there was still some miming going on between she and I, but she was such a huge help in introducing me to people like my mul xodra - vegetable guy - who I went and sat with for a couple of hours on Wednesday, and he tested me on vegetable vocabulary. He also took me to see another of the co-ops in Ouled Teima, which is the town next to me.
Which brings me to Ouled Teima, which is a town of 60,000 people about 2km from Ait Chaib, and is my souk town. The souk there appears to be every single day, and has everything. There's quite the contrast between Ain Chaib and Ouled Teima - Ain Chaib is, as far as I can tell, is mostly women and children - I'm not sure what happens to the men during the day, but they seem to disappear to somewhere. The children have to come from somewhere, so they must be around. But Ouled Teima is mostly men, like all the hanoot owners and souq stall owners, so even after a couple of days in a town with all women, it was a little intimidating to be in a town full of men, especially as the American (well, English, we all know that) woman in town.

To jump to the women in my town - so I went to the co-op I will be working with seem great. They met with a distributor on Wednesday, who sells their product in Rabat and Marrakech as far as I can tell. Just as something to remember - all of this information is what I'm deciphering through limited darija - so some details may be inaccurate, since I don't know what they're talking about a lot of the time. But the products that they make are embroidered table runners, place mats, and napkins, crocheted bags for cell phones and candles, and amazing crocheted wire bracelets, earrings and necklaces. There is a craft fair in Marrakech at the beginning of December which my women are on the pending list for, but I'm going to attend anyway in order to get an idea of how the craft fair works - it's a Peace Corps initiated fair, so it'll be interesting to see in action.

So yesterday I left my town to get back to Marrakech (where I had real pizza, btw - it was pretty exciting in terms of the past two months), and met back up with a number of the Youth Development volunteers who are in what we've already dubbed the Dirty South with us. And what happens in the South, stays in the South, just remember that.

Anyway… I'm tired from being up since 5.30 am and being sat on a coach for 8.5 hours, so I'm done for now. If I think of something else I will let you all know! And there will be pictures soon.


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