The last week has been crazy. We traveled to Ourzazate to find out our sites, visited them, traveled back to Ourzazate to debrief and then returned to our CBT sites. As I said a little earlier, I’m going to be living in a site named Tidilli. It's a HUGE site, about 50 dowars. A dowar is a small rural village in Morocco. There is a total population of about 17,000 people in the area. Tidili is in the middle atlas mountains in Morocco, so it doesn’t get too hot (compared to the 145 degrees some places get) but we do get snow, as much as a foot from what I’ve heard. The town in pretty high in elevation and they just paved the road to the main dowar (souk- where we have our market once a week) about 2 years ago. Most of the dowars have running water, which to the best of my knowledge is just mountain spring water- I don’t think It's filtered but I’ve been drinking it and have yet to go sick so we’ll see how that goes. And only about 5 dowars currently live without electricity. When I look for a house I will only be looking in the dowars with both running water and electricity, I was willing to live without if my whole site didn’t have such amenities, but I don’t see a point in doing so if It's available to me.
The main point of our site visit was to visit the site, visit the sbitar (which is a hospital in the rural areas of Morocco) which we will be working at (inchallah=god willing), tell the gendarms (the local police) that we have arrived and what our plans were for leaving, check in with our caid (the mayor of Tidili and a few other towns) and set up our post office situation.
What I learned on site visit:
- The Moroccan people are extremely welcoming and will let a complete stranger eat dinner with them and stay the night. Story behind this? Well, turns out I went to the wrong host families’ house the first night and not only ate dinner with the wrong family but also stayed the night. How did I know I was in the wrong house? Well, the first sign was when the two little girls laid their blankets down on the floor to sleep in the same room. This was bad, but the thing that really made me realize something was wrong was when my host aunt crawled into bed with me. Needless to say, I didn’t really sleep well the first night smashed up against the wall next to a complete stranger.
- Moroccans eat askeef A LOT. Not only have I eaten it everyday for breakfast but I’ve also had it for first tea and kasqrut (tea between lunch and dinner). Askeef is a warm soupy goo. It is basically just water, salt, milk and wheat cooked in a pot and served in a bowl- don’t love it but don’t hate it either. I have a feeling I’m going to have to learn to like it.
- Morocco has A LOT of bugs. I was ready to live with them and most of the time it’s alright, but sometimes it really just gets to me. The amount of flies in this country is UNREAL. As I'm sitting inside typing up this post I can count 10 flies sitting on my body at this very moment. And when you’re outside the flies, bees and gnats are just ridiculous. I haven’t been getting too many bites, a few here and there but nothing like some of the other volunteers that are covered. I’ve also been lucky enough to not have to deal with bedbugs which other volunteers have had some issues with.
- Working in my sbitar is going to be very difficult. Like I said earlier, Tidili is home to 17,000 people. And how many doctors and nurses do they have? Zero doctors and two nurses. ZERO DOCTORS! Currently I have two nurses at my sbitar, Mohammed and Khadija. Khadija has been at the sbitar for almost 10 years and speaks Tashleet and Darija while Mohammed has been at the sbitar for only a few months, speaks English, French and Darija. When meeting with Mohammed he refused to speak to me but spoke to Andy about me since I was a female. That was super frustrating but it’s just something I’m going to have to try and work with. The biggest obstacle with Mohammed is going to be the fact that he could do some really great things at our sbitar but he doesn’t want to be in Tidili so he’s requesting a move and hopes to be gone in a few months. This is really unfortunate because the sbitar will go back to one nurse for 17,000 people.
- Home births and children dying at home are a HUGE problem in Morocco. Currently woman in Tidili choose to have their children at home since there are no doctors in the area. This is usually done by either a member of the family or a traditional birth attendant who has very little training in the birthing of children. An example of how large a problem of this is my new host mother. She currently has 7 children but has lost 5 children due to home births-5 CHILDREN!!! This number is just outrageous, but I think a project I want to get started is getting some more training for these traditional birth attendants and also more awareness and possible transportation to a new birthing center that has just been built about 30 K away.
- Elf pasta is real! Spaghetti can be eaten a variety of different ways, including with sugar, yogurt and fruit (think the movie “Elf”). It's not terrible but It's defiantly not something I will be making at my new home. They do have a great recipe for Spaghetti that tastes like fancy ramen noodles that I’m learning from my family in Tazentout though.