Tuesday, July 26, 2011

15-ish kilometers for a couple pics? Okkkkkkk

I’ve been trying to get pictures of my completed SPA project for the last few weeks.  All I needed were some pictures of the preschool with the new desks in them… not too big of a deal, right?  In America I’d just drive to the place, take the pictures and done… but this is Morocco.  And Morocco sometimes (or most of the time) things take a lot longer.  So here is my story of how I FINALLY got those three pictures.
I talked to some people in Souk about transport to Tachdirt (the village with the new desks, etc) and was assured I could probably (inchallah) get transport but probably wouldn’t be able to get transport back.  No biggie- I could ride my bike back!  So I asked around about how far the village actually is.  I got all sorts of estimates, anywhere from about 8-11K.  I made sure there was a transit for the day I wanted to go (Tuesday) and Tuesday morning I showed up to Souk at 10, as told by my transit man.

So, now its 10am Tuesday morning and I show up to Souk with my bike expecting to have to bike home from Tachdirt but expecting transit on the way there.  After loading my bike up on the transit I sit to talk to the taxi drivers for a little bit.  Usually my site doesn’t get a lot of tourists, since it’s in the middle of no where but occasionally tourists stop here for transportation to Lake Ifni, a beautiful lake about 30 K into the mountains.  But for some reason, today there were about 10 tourists (in 3 different groups) hoping to get transport to Lake Ifni.  One of the tourists was a young Moroccan from Marrakesh who knew Peace Corps.  It was very interesting talking to him about how a volunteer helped him study for his BAC (a test the kids take here to ‘graduate’ high school) and the impact all the different volunteers have had on him from a young age.  After talking to two of the different groups of tourists I notice my bike being pulled down from the transit.  I walk over to ask what was going on and was informed there will be no transit to Tachdirt today since they could make more money off the tourists going to the lake.  After three weeks of trying to get these pictures I’m over it so I ask my transport man how far I could get via transit.  He tells me there is a transit that will leave within the hour that will take me about half way.  So we load my bike up on the new transit.

After getting into the transit with 4 other women and about 10 men we are finally off!  It’s really interesting to watch the reactions I get from Moroccans who I haven't met yet and that don’t know I know Tashlheet.  The women are very cold, don’t smile back and usually look at me with disgust.  During this transit ride I got a phone call from another volunteer and spoke with her on the phone for a little bit (in English, obviously.)  After getting off the phone everyone pretty much ignored me, the tourist, on the transit with them.  After about 3 minutes in the transit my carpenter calls.  He doesn’t speak any English so I talk to him on the phone in Tashlheet.  Everyones faces was PRICELESS.  Smiles all around, whispering to each other “that girl knows tashlheet!”  The mood in the transit suddenly changed.  Everyone wanted to know who I was, where I learned Tashlheet, where I live, invite me to tea!  I met two young ladies who invited me to tea and told them if I had time on the way back I’d stop in to say hello. 

After getting out in a dowar a couple kilometers in I began the first of my bike treks for the day.  I have never been to this dowar so at every dowar along the way I asked people if I was indeed on the road to Tachdirt.  Along the way I ran into woman doing laundry, had lots of tea invites and even joked around with some kids who were swimming in their underwear in the river (lucky kids- if I want to swim I have to do it in a long sleeve shirt and pants!).  After rocky terrain, lots of hills, almost falling off my bike about 3 times and having to cross a river I finally arrived to a dowar where I saw someone I knew, the principal of the school that the desks were for!  The bike ride took about 1 ½ hours and I was exhausted and hot.  I was immediately invited in for tea and a second breakfast which I happily ate.  After breakfast we went to see the desks at the school and I took some pictures.  After talking for a while about possible future projects and more tea I was brought to the principal’s house to relax before lunch.  The principal told me he was going back to work but I was told to stay there until after 4 when it would cool off and I could bike home.  Often here in Morocco I’m brought into a room and left there alone for anywhere from 1-4 hours.  Luckily, this happens a lot so I always travel with my ipod and a book.  After a quick nap and some light reading I got bored so I went to find the wife in the house to chat.  I sat and talking to the principals wife and some other ladies from the dowar for a while and then finally, at almost 3:30, lunch was served!!  I was starving so I ate lots, relaxed for another 30 minutes and then I was on my way home.

After about 5K of my bike ride home it started raining.  And not just light, cool off, nice rain, but pouring “ouch this hurts” rain.  Luckily, I was in the dowar of my two transit friends so when I was asked by one of the woman to come in for tea I told her I had friends here and she took me to their doors.  We sat, had tea, cookies, I taught them some English words and was on my way again.  The last 5K was the hardest.  By this time my legs were killing me and any hill I saw on the horizon brought tears to my eyes.  I biked down the hills and on the flat parts but walked up the hills- which were plentiful.  I passed through lots of dowars, again, lots of tea invites and walked my bike a lot.  FINALLY… after 2 ½ hours I was in my Souk!  I bought my dinner (some chicken breasts), talked to a few people and biked home. 

What a day, right?  Just another day here in Morocco! But I made it… and I got those pictures!  So, overall-  SUCCESS!!

1 comment:

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