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.
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 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.
Stay tuned for next week for an update on 3id Kbir! If you don’t remember what that is, read this – https://jbpeacecorps.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/oct-17-2013-fair-warning-theres-blood/, but only if you aren’t offended by the sight of blood.