Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ait Ben Haddou and Klaa

April 6th:
Today we had our interviews for our final sight. They asked us mostly basic questions, like if we want/need electricity and/or water at our sight, what our ideal sight would be and what the worst sight we could imagine would be what we are bringing to our community and lots of other stuff. We finally find out where we are going on the 15th (when I will probably be able to post this, since I only get internet at Hub in Ourzazate anyway).Its super exciting that we are finally going to have information on what we’re doing and where we’re going for the next two years but its also kind of scary because who is going to be around us and where we are going to be is really going to make or break the next two years. I’m trying to think as positive as possible but it’s tough. Alright- that’s all I'm going to write for the night, I don’t feel good at all and I’m just all over the place tonight. Off to bed I go..

April 11th:
I feel like I have to catch you up on a lot! Before I begin I have to let you all know that I’m writing this blog as my toes dry (bright red) and I couldn’t be happier about it. I found nail polish today in Ourzazate and I am SOOO excited that I will have painted toes for tomorrow.
Well to start off, I was really sick the last week, I think I just caught the flu or something caught up with me due to all the hand shaking, cheek kissing and lack of sleep. I’m fine now though, I came straight home from school and went to bed for two days in a row to try and sleep which sucked for my poor host family, but they knew I was sick so it wasn’t too big a deal. We only have a little bit of time left with our families, which is crazy. I cant believe I’ve been in Morocco for 5 weeks now!! Only 26ish months to go, haha. Quick catch up:
Language is definalty coming along. My family is amazing and so patient with me, so its really helpful when learning verbs and different tenses. My brother is also awesome about trying to learn English so we constantly quiz each other on words, numbers and days of the week.
We went to Ait Ben Haddou for our first weekend we had off. We don’t have school on Saturday afternoons or Sundays but we have to stay in our sights and hang out with our host family most weekends. However, for two weekends during or CBT (while I’m in tazentoute) we were able to travel. So for the first visit we went to Ait Ben Haddou which is where a lot of movies are filmed (Gladiator, The Mummy, Prince of Arabia) were filmed. Ait Ben Haddou is only a 20 minute taxi ride from Tazentoute so it didn’t make sense not to go, plus there are volunteers there for CBT so they found us a cheap hotel. The town is gorgeous, their CBT experience is definalty different from ours, they have cyber cafes and restaurants in their town where we have 3 small Hanuts (small shops) and that’s about it in ours. Plus almost everyone spoke some English so it was a lot easier to communicate. Highlights of the trip were my new purse (that I got ripped off on, bad- but oh well, I love it), visiting the casba, seeing other Peace Corps people, showering at the hotel (with semi warm/mostly cold water) and having wireless internet in our hotel.
This weekend we went to Klaa which is the city of roses and they have a huge rose festval around May.. On Saturdays we also have time built into our school day to do something related to culture, which can be our American culture or Morocaan culture. Last week we made a cake, Moroccan way (2 cups of yogurt, 2 cups of sugar, 2 cups of oil, 10 eggs, 7 packages of yeast, 2 packages of vanilla yeast and flour) and this weekend we decided we wanted to try and make an American lunch. What did we decide on you ask? Fried chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans of course! (hey, we have limited resources here in Tazentoute!) Lunch turned out AMAZING and we danced around to Lady Gaga, Britney Spreas and Spice Girls while we waited (poor Aaron). After lunch Alexa met us in Tazentoute and we jumped in a taxi on the way to Klaa. Originally we were going to have to change taxis in Ourzazate but our amazing taxi driver got permission from the gendarms to take us all the way so we arrived in Klaa at about 3:30ish. A LOT of other Peace Corps trainees also had the idea to go to Klaa so there ended up being about 20 of us staying in our hotel. The hotel was alright, it didn’t have hot water and the beds were a little lumpy but it was a roof over our heads so it worked out. We walked around Klaa for a few hours, stopped to have some tea and just checked out the city. We found a super marche that sold ICE CREAM so that was a really nice treat. We also ran into 3 current Peace Corps volunteers so it was nice to chat with them for a little bit and get some questions answered. After walking around the city we found a cyber to make some calls home and check email. After our internet fix we found a restaurant were we had dinner. It’s so weird going to any cafĂ© here because woman typically do not sit at restaurant or cafes, they are reserved for men. In my final site this is a luxury I will not be able to have, but in tourist areas its usually more acceptable for tourists to sit at these cafes. I had dinner with 4 other girls, Monica, Tina, Alexa and Caity. Dinner was good; the Barcelona/Real Madrid game was on TV as we ate in the other cafes so there was a lot of yelling and screaming that went on over dinner. After dinner we went back to the hotel and called it a night.
The next day (Sunday) we woke up up at about 9 to hammering and lots of noise and got dressed for a hike/exploration of Hdida. We finally got a taxi to take us (along with a lady and her 2 children, a younger boy and another man) so were pretty cozy- there ended up being Nina in the front seat with the little boy, Monica, Eric, Alexa and the man in the front row of seats and Myself, Caity and the 3 children in the back seat. Some of the taxis here are like Hurst’s and have an extra row of seating. The ride up to Hdida (its in the mountains) was a crazy twisted road so there was a lot of head hitting and falling on top of each other that occurred. After our interesting 30 minute taxi ride we arrived in Hdida to begin our exploration. Caity is learning Darija and she speaks wonderfully so she got the taxi drivers phone number to call him when were done to take us back (very good call since there were no taxis in town). We began our walk through the town and saw a sign for a Casba of roses. This sounded like it might be something fun to check out so we walked in and were greeted by a small family (2 ladies and a younger boy). They seemed confused about why were there and kept saying something about calling Christian. Since we have no idea who that is we kept insisting they didn’t. They offered to show us the view from the roof so we agreed. They also showed us that they were building a hotel in their home, which was beautiful. The view from the roof was nice. After looking out and taking a few pictures Nina (side note: Here name is really Tina but it turned out Tina is slang for a woman’s private parts so we now call her Nina) and I asked where the bathroom was thinking we were going to get the typical Turkish toilet…. But what did we get? We got a SUPER nice western style bathroom, with a toilet, sink AND shower. We were obviously pretty surprised by this so the lady showed us two other rooms after, one of which we learned was Christians bedroom, with a super nice bed and carper and the other with couches and a flat screen tv! It turns out Christian created a natural bath product with the roses from Klaa and he lives with these people. So after our potty break the family invited us to stay for tea and snacks (not un-usual in Morocc) so we had tea and chatted for a bit. This is where it started to get weird, we thought the people were going to join us for tea but instead they dropped things off, and served us. After tea we decided it was probably best for us to leave, btu we wanted to see if we could buy the bath products (since there was some oil by the sink that we used and really liked.) So we asked if we could buy the product andthats where the language and everything just stopped. An older man came out and started talking to Monica, a grandma started talking to me and everyone was just confused. We didn’t know what was going on, but they wanted us to stay for lunch and thenthey wanted us to wait for Christian to come home and well… we just left. After that weird adventure we decided to walk around by the river and saw a group of French tourists with a tourguide so we followed them and they went through some beautiful fields, waterfalls. Rose fields and poppy fields. We walked around for about an hour to another town, got some candy at the Hanut and then walked back. When walking back to town we saw some other volunteers that left earlier to hike. We all got in our cabs back to Klaa. At this point we were a little hungry so Monica and I ventured out to find some sandwiches (delish) in Klaa and then jumped online for 30 minutes before we needed to leave. We caught a taxi back to Ourzazate and I just thought I would share the highlights of our 1 ½ hour taxi ride: I saw a little boy peeing on the side of the street which we ran the same direction he was peeing, a dead dog on the side of the road (legs up in the air), other PCVs walking back to their town, a beautiful river, mountains in the backdrop, hills, desert and a casba that our taxi driver told us is used to film movies. Once we finally arrived to Ourzazate we had coffee while waiting for the rest of our group and then caught another Taxi into Tazentoute. I got back home at about 6:30, talked to my family, showered and then went to bed without dinner since I was exhausted at about 830 and couldn’t bear to wait until 10 for dinner.
Since our arrival back to Tazentoute we’ve had class yesterday and today. We have been having class from 8-12 consisting of Tashleet language and then time in the evenings to work on creating 2 projects for our town. So far we have created a handwashing class for preschool children and began a trash awareness session for the elementary school and woman in the community about what to do with their trash (ie, burn, recycle, bury and feed to animals).

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