Monthly Archives: August 2013

August 20, 3013

It seems like when PCVs get together, our talk centers on some pretty reliable topics – our work, what we miss about America, our poop (no lie). At camp, our group of seven volunteers held in-depth discussions on weird/unpleasant things prolonged stress does to your body (boils, hair loss, insomnia).

The other thing we talked about were bucket lists and all the things we wanted to do before the end of our lives. If you couldn’t tell, Peace Corps people are kind of all about big, life-changing, landmark experiences.

Anyway, while waiting for our “spectac” talent show to start, I sat down and started working on mine, so I though I would share, in case anyone out there wants to fund some of my future vacation plans.

First, some things that would have been on my bucket list if I had though to write the actual list before completing them:

  • join Peace Corps
  • attend a unicycle conference
  • go camping with friends
  • be healthy
  • learn to knit
  • go to France
  • see a musical on Broadway
  • write for a living
  • have my own apartment
  • go on a long road trip by myself
  • be in marching band
  • go to college
  • run a half marathon

And the things that are on my list:

  • complete Peace Corps with a successful service
  • be a feisty old lady, the kind still tearing around on her own at 100 years old
  • work in a library
  • go to grad school
  • write a novel
  • visit all 50 states
  • see the Grand Canyon
  • got to England
  • go to Ireland
  • go to Scandenavia
  • live without a car
  • go to Disney
  • see the redwood forest
  • meet Kermit the Frog
  • read the Bible straight through
  • read all of the Wheel of Time series
  • go to a really famous symphony orchestra concert
  • run a marathon
  • complete a long backpacking trip
  • have a 50th wedding anniversary with someone
  • complete a long bike trip
  • adopt a pet (probably a cat, but who knows)
  • go to New Zealand
  • go to Iceland
  • to to a tropical island
  • spoil nieces and nephews
  • learn to make cheese
  • have a big garden full of vegetables
  • go to Yellowstone
  • keep playing French horn, even as a feisty old lady
  • own a piano/become marginally decent at playing it
  • own a really nice camera
  • play with a really good handbell choir
  • encounter a movie star somewhere unexpected
  • learn how to keep bees
  • spend an entire day sitting in a bookstore and/or coffee shop with a new book
  • think of a really good close of service trip (it’s what you do after Peace Corps)
  • ride a camel in the desert
  • photograph a goat in a tree (I’ve seen them, but no pictures yet)
  • go zip lining
  • reach the 100+ donation mark for donating blood
  • own a house and paint the front door a crazy color


Categories: In site, Morocco | Tags: , | 2 Comments

August 19, 2013, part 2

After having three camps canceled on me this summer, I finally found one to work at, a week-long day camp organized by two of my closest neighbors in a town halfway between T– and the coast. While slightly smaller than my town, theirs has a gigantic Dar Chabab with lots of kids, many of whom came to hang out with us for the week. We had about 40 kids and seven Peace Corps Volunteers, not to mention the great Moroccan staff members we worked with, which is a ridiculously low ratio compared to what you will usually find, and as a result, class sizes were small and things were awesome.

When I say kids, I mean our 16-22 year-old campers. Most were either in high school or university, and there was a pretty good mix of English levels. We taught four levels of English, with my class being a collection of 11 intermediate speakers.

Here they are, hard at work.

Here they are, hard at work.

Our camp, unlike the spring camp held in T–, was a day camp, and a half-day camp where our involvement was concerned.

Myself, three volunteers from the region, and one volunteer for whom participation meant a two-day bus trip from her site all piled into the apartment of the two volunteers organizing the camp, both of them from my training group.

The day we arrived, we all sat down for a meeting with the director of the camp, who also serves as the director of the Dar Chabab there. We talked over the schedule and got a tour of the Dar, which is huge compared to the one in T–. They have a whole compound area, complete with a large auditorium, a basketball court, several large classrooms, a library, and a smaller field for soccer.

Water balloons on the basketball court.

Water balloons on the basketball court.

We took over the morning portion of the camp, each of us teaching an hour and a half of English, leading a club activity, and then collectively leading a larger full-camp activity. My English class was intermediate, as I said, which was nice because they understood enough already for me to speak entirely in English.

We talked about Halloween. And decorated paper pumpkins.

We talked about Halloween. And decorated paper pumpkins.


Clubs I was directly involved in included team-building, art, frisbee, and girls’ empowerment, all held on various days. While we all assisted in each of the full-camp activities, mine included a camp-wide scavenger hunt that I thought the kids enjoyed quite a bit. Other days we did environment clubs, ping pong competitions, a water-Olympics of sorts, an egg-drop competition, really a full week.

A group of girls with drawings of their dreams. I love that my job is telling kids they are awesome.

A group of girls with drawings of their dreams. I love that my job is telling kids they are awesome.

After a morning of crazy and fun, we all ate lunch together and then the Americans would head home to wilt in front of our fans for a few hours until it was (marginally) cool to resume movement (read my previous post on the temperature).

Our final day of camp, was the obligatory “spectac” or talent show. The spring camp I worked at had one of these every night, which the Moroccans love. We used the opportunity to have the whole camp sing happy birthday to one of our fellow volunteers.

Besides being a good time and good work after a month of nothing, camp was also a chance to find out how well we worked together as volunteers. I got placed in a pretty awesome region where the volunteers are pretty supportive of each other, and mostly we just really enjoyed hanging out together for the week. We cooked dinner together every night. We sat up late chatting. A bunch of people went running together in the morning.

It was also a way to wrap up and say goodbye to one of us, a volunteer from my training group who decided it was time to go home. It was a sad thing to see her go, because she would have done great things here (instead of doing them in the U.S. like she will now), but it was also good to talk with her and know she was leaving because she knew it was the right thing. We will miss her.

Categories: Camp, Morocco | Tags: , | Leave a comment

August 19, 2013

I’m currently relaxing in my apartment, back from one of the busiest weeks I’ve had all summer – summer camp! And while I plan to immediately follow this post up with one about something camp-specific, I’d like to take a moment to discuss what 117 degrees Fahrenheit feels like and how it can effect your life.

And since I know that when Monika reads this, she’ll tell me to stop complaining because it’s been 140 degrees in her site, I’d just like to point out, I’m not complaining, I’m just hoping to hold a useful discussion in case you, the reader, is ever caught in such an enviroment.

Summer didn’t get hot here (I mean in my region of Morocco) until the middle of July, which was blessedly much later than last year. And it didn’t get really hot until this past week. For future reference, “hot” refers to the 90-110-degree range, “really hot” indicates anything over 100.

If you’d like to know what the last week felt like, find yourself a hair dryer. Put it on its highest setting and hold it directed at your face for ten minutes. Ovens also provide useful illustrations.

Mornings would find us waking up already dripping with sweat, literally. Mornings might feel slightly cool on our walk to camp, and by cool, I mean the 80s. That would only last for a couple hours though, because by mid-day, the sun would be out in full force and the wind, instead of cooling us down, would make the heat worse. A hot wind is nothing to play around with.

Camp was over after lunch for us, so there was nothing to do but head back to the house, douse your t-shirt in water, put it on, and cozy up to your favorite frozen water bottle. We had fans, but believe me, there comes a point where the fan does nothing but blow hot air on you.

Because temperatures didn’t usually break until the early morning hours, the entire house of girls took to showering with their pajamas on and then going to sleep wet, half of us on the roof, half of us clustered around open windows.

On Sunday a cold spell came through and I think it only got up into the 80s during the day, which meant we had enough energy for a round of frisbee at camp. Never has 80 degrees felt so cool to me and my Michigan blood.

Even though the weather was hot, it wasn’t as impossible to function as I imagined it would be, back in March when I found out I’d be moving to the south. We had a really successful camp (I will write the post, I promise!). We learned how to fit seven water bottles in a very tiny freezer. I managed to keep up with my Insanity workouts and therefore don’t have to repeat Week 3! The temperature was a challenge. We dealt with it. Region 5 is keeping up the awesome.

Categories: Camp, Morocco | Tags: | 4 Comments

August 2, 2013

If I didn’t know any better, I’d say it was going to rain. I just made my afternoon trip up to the roof to retrieve my workout clothes, which require a rinsing after each use to avoid a certain stench that seems to develop, and the sky is covered in gray clouds and the temperature is almost cool. We’ll see if it actually rains, but I was under the impression that didn’t happen here until at least October.

People tell me it hasn’t been hot this year, and while my still-adjusting Michigan body is sweating like a champ, we haven’t hit anywhere close to 120 like it was last year during Ramadan, and for that I am grateful.

I am likewise grateful for the end of Ramadan. Of course I am happy to be able to observe such a big event in the lives of the people I’m here to work with, I’ve also found it to be a somewhat isolating time, much like what I imagine the Christmas season is like for people who are either without their families or do not celebrate the holiday in any form. I’ve spent much of the past month sitting at home, working on my computer, pretending to do things, just because so much of life turns inward here during Ramadan. Families are together, awake and enjoying each other’s company throughout the nighttime hours, but it remains a holiday that I don’t fully understand, and couldn’t understand, I don’t think, without becoming Muslim myself.

That said, I knew Ramadan would be a quiet time period for me in terms of work. It became a lot more quiet, however, when the two summer camps I was planning to work at were canceled. Be flexible they say. I try, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to sit around and feel like you’re accomplishing nothing.

Happily, the end is in sight and I have started to come out of my slump. I’ve started studying my language again, which I’m sure my tutor will be happy to know if I ever start showing improvement. I’ve started exploring the world of “plarn” – plastic yarn made from cut up plastic shopping bags. I get at least five every time I go out, and although I do use them as trashcan liners, there’s a considerable supply of them tucked away in our kitchen. My goal is to knit a reusable shopping bag out of them.

Lots of plastic.

Lots of plastic.

Fold 'em and cut 'em.

Fold ’em and cut ’em.

My other daily constant has become the Insanity workout program, which are a challenge to say the least. Every day post-workout I have to wait a few minutes before I can peel myself off the floor and go shower. I just finished the first week and tomorrow is a rest day, but it’s fun to switch up workouts.

As a result, I’m also hungry all. The. Time. And cooking. This week I made bread and cornbread. Lentil sloppy joes. And today I made a really tasty bean dip that will be dinner. And some crackers, but they didn’t turn out to be my most favorite thing in the world. But since Cheez-Its are hard to find here, my search for the perfect recipe is undeterred.

And finally, book one of the Wheel of Time series is finished. Thirteen more to go.

P.S. Scuttlebutt on Facebook is invitations to the 2014 stage have started to go out! If you’re arriving in Morocco in January and want to chat, let me know! We’re excited to have you!

Categories: In site, Invitation, Morocco | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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