Monthly Archives: October 2014

October 6, 2014

Happy 3id to everyone!

One of the three sheep on our roof.

One of the three sheep on our roof.

Today and yesterday Moroccans are celebrating 3id Kbir, which celebrates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son and God’s subsequent substitution of the boy for a ram. Much of the Muslim world celebrated the holiday yesterday, but as with Ramadan, it all depends on when the moon is seen. Each Muslim family celebrates by feasting on an animal of their choice – usually a ram, but could also be a goat or camel or cow, depending on their tastes and budget. The animal is typically slaughtered at home by the head of the household with a quick slice to the neck and then butchered if he has the proper training or a hired butcher comes to make sure things are done the right way.

Host dad (in white) and the butcher talk about their plan of attack.

Host dad (in white) and the butcher talk about their plan of attack.

3id reminds me so much of Thanksgiving. You have a traditional meal based around a certain animal. Family tries to come together to celebrate. Relative strangers (or the poor Americans who live next door) are invited over to share in the meal. You share what you have with people who aren’t as well off and are grateful for what you do have.

My day started off (relatively early) with a breakfast at our house. After scarfing down some yogurt, Liz and I dressed ourselves in our limited collection of traditional clothes and ran up to the roof where we found not one, but three sheep awaiting their fates. Each belonged to one of our various neighbors, including the cutest family ever who live directly next door to us. We wished them happy 3id and offered apologies on not being able to join them for breakfast because we were expected at host family’s house in time to see their sheep.

Liz and the second of three breakfasts.

Liz and the second of three breakfasts.

Halfway there, we were flagged down by another of our neighbors, and we ran up to her roof quickly to see their sheep and drink a quick glass of tea and some cookies before offering apologies again and making it the rest of the way to host family. We met host dad on his way back from the mosque and after greeting him, headed up to their roof to see the rest of the family.

Last year there were three sheep to be done at host family’s house – one for them, one for our host uncle, and one for the family that lives downstairs from them. This year, we arrived just as the downstairs family was finishing theirs, and since host uncle was celebrating 3id with a different branch of the family this year, we only saw one actual slaughter.

Our host family's sheep standing amidst the laundry.

Our host family’s sheep standing amidst the laundry.

Breakfast #3!

Breakfast #3!

We sat down for another breakfast, took pictures while host dad and the butcher took things apart, and spent several hours chatting with our three host sisters, punctuated with kebabs of sheep liver and lungs for lunch.

Lungs and liver! Or was it heart? I don't remember.

Lungs and liver! Or was it heart? I don’t remember.

We also saw the partial preparation of the sheep’s head for a tajine tomorrow, however, our host aunt is the one who likes to eat it, so we expect it will be going to her house for consumption.

The sheep head being prepared - held over an open flame to get the hair off, I believe.

The sheep head being prepared – held over an open flame to get the hair off, I believe.

After slinking home in a food coma, we were delivered about a kilo of mutton from one of our neighbors, which is now residing in the fridge while we decide on an appropriately delicious recipe to use it in.

This morning, we were summoned to another neighbor’s house for breakfast – which included tea, meat kebabs, bread, and cookies. They make their kebabs into sandwiches with yummy chopped onions and spices, which were super good. After several games of Uno, which is my favorite game to share with Moroccans, we got up to leave and were told to stay for lunch, which was the yummiest eat and prune tajine I have ever had. Sweet and savory has never been so good. They also sent us home with a plate of meat, which went into the freezer this time.

A nice reenactment by Liz's cat of what I will be spending the rest of the day doing.

A nice reenactment by Liz’s cat of what I will be spending the rest of the day doing.

3id this year is teaching me a new definition of the word full. For much of Morocco, meat is an expensive luxury. Meat included in meals is usually a small amount for each person, bolstered by bread and vegetables. 3id is a chance for everyone to bulk up on protein, which is why it’s eaten for several meals straight. I have felt pretty honored this year to have been invited to share the meal with multiple families. It’s a nice feeling to be a stranger and to be welcomed.

Now, time to research curry recipes and not eat anything for the rest of the day.

Categories: Holidays, In site, Morocco | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

October 1, 2014

One of my non-youth-related jobs here in Morocco is to act as one of the wardens of my region. Although that sounds like I stand guard over jail cells, my role is to act as an additional safety feature for the volunteers here (at least I hope it’s more like that than the jail cell bit). Wardens can act as a go-between between volunteers and the safety and security staff, and thank goodness, most of the job really entails doing house checks. Every volunteer’s house needs to pass a safety inspection for them to be able to move in, and because there is usually direct transportation, I decided to head south to complete a few before going from there to our required Regional Meeting in Ouarzazate instead of making a separate trip at a later date.

This is how the desert usually looks - sunny. No water.

This is how the desert usually looks – sunny. No water.

The volunteers needing the house checks live in the south of my region, which means they live in the desert. In a curious twist of fate, Liz, Leah, Dani and I (who were planning to travel to Regional Meeting together) arrived to their sites in the midst of a lull in a five-day rainstorm. In the desert. First our bus wasn’t able to get through all the way to the city where we would change to a taxi. The river was full (which never happens) and the rest of the road was littered with rocks and sand. The sun was shining, however, and we were able to pay a guy to take us the rest of the way.

We successfully got into a taxi and made it over to the volunteers’ site, did the house checks and then began panicking slightly when we were told the bus line we had been planning on taking to Ouarzazate the next day wasn’t running because of the flooding. Not great.

Quickly coordinating with three other volunteers in the region, we decided to all meet the next day, buy out two taxis and make our way north to Ouarzazate together.

Four people in the back seat of a taxi. All wearing similar glasses.

Four people in the back seat of a taxi. All wearing similar glasses.

Four volunteers in one taxi and five in another was pretty comfortable, considering we are used to taxis fitting six passengers into the same amount of space. So, with sun shining and puddles dotting the ground, we set out through the mountains to the north.

About an hour into the trip, our drivers (God bless their parents) were carefully making their way around places in the road that were washed out. About two hours into the trip, it started to rain again. Simultaneously, we got our first flat tire. Shortly after, we came to another standstill as a flash flood covered the road. We waited for the water to go down, drove across, and promptly got another flat tire. It was relatively smooth sailing from there until we had to stop at a repair shop for an hour to have the tires hot patched.



We got to Ouarzazat somewhat later than expected that day, but we had fun and got to see some of the more uninhabited parts of our region. We tipped our drivers, thanked them profusely, and slept at our zwin regional meeting hotel.

Regional Meeting in Morocco happens usually twice a year and is a chance for volunteers to gather together and talk about work. Our first day of meeting was just for volunteers – we talked to the newest arrivals about what to expect in their first year, did some reflection activities, heard from committee representatives, that sort of thing. The second day our mudirs – our direct supervisors at the dar chababs – arrived and we had mega planning sessions with them to plot out the year. Well, everyone else did. Liz and I both without mudirs as both of ours moved on to other employment in the spring and summer. So we just did our own planning.

While at the hotel, we had a small birthday celebration for Liz, whose birthday is exactly one week after mine. Before regional meeting, we celebrated with homemade eggrolls. At regional meeting, we celebrated with watching Bridesmaids (the poop scene is pretty great after you’ve been in Peace Corps). Upon returning from Regional Meeting, we celebrated with enchilladas. Cake was had, fun was shared.

Liz's first birthday cake. We improved our efforts when we had access to an oven.

Liz’s first birthday cake. We improved our efforts when we had access to an oven.

Stay tuned for next week for an update on 3id Kbir! If you don’t remember what that is, read this –, but only if you aren’t offended by the sight of blood.

Categories: Morocco, Training | 1 Comment

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: