29 October 2010
It finally happened! I got my Morocco tattoo! Every country that I have lived in I have gotten a tattoo or has a cultural heritage symbolism for me. One in Italy while study abroad in the summer 2005. A Croatian tattoo in honor of my heritage and the close bond I have with my wonderful sister, and now I have the khmissa, the Moroccan version of the hand of Katima. It is beautiful. I took over two hours and it was the most painful tattoo to date, but it was worth it :)
I do not have a photo of it totally healed, but above is my tattoo artist, Ziki, showing off his talents on my upper back. SHUKRAN SIDI!
With the money that my mother's church donated towards my dar chabab to denefit the kids that come to the building, I used their money to buy the supplies needed to create this world map. My wonderful mudir, Khalid, donated the canvas and white paint from his studio (yes, he is an artist! awesome) to put towards making this map.
It took a couple weeks and some very dedicated Moroccan youth, landlord, and site-mate, the map is now done!
Enjoy the photos and I want to thank my mother's church again for donating their money to something that brought many students together to create something that will last years and affect the youth that come to the dar chabab to further their education and curiosity about the world around them. God bless your parents :)
** Local kids helping out with the map**
** The map SLOWLY coming together :) brush stroke after brush stroke**
** Thanks to Abdou and Lisa for their hours of labor and love towards this project**
**Thanks also to Marissa and Faye, my fellow YD staj-mates. They were amazing and so helpful! this project could not of been done without their help**
14 October 2010
10 October 2010
27 September 2010
1. She reads books, and people think that’s odd. It’s especially odd because she carries them around with her all the time.
2. People scream “Bonjour!” at her from windowsills and alleyways.
3. She lives in a “little town…a quiet village.”
4. Everyday is “like the one before.” (also see: “Every morning [is] just the same since the morning that [she] came to this poor provincial town.
5. She sees the baker first thing in the morning with the “same old bread and rolls to sell.”
6. Minute 1:00 – She excitedly recounts to someone an important story (in her mind), and is politely dismissed because the story has nothing to do with the number or price of produce that day.
7. Minute 1:07 – People in town start talking about her behind her back. She doesn’t notice — it’s almost as if they’re speaking another language and she’s happily strolling through town, oblivious to their comments…just smiling at them the whole time.
8. Minute 1:20 – She hitches a ride on a horse/donkey cart. This is a common occurrence in Peace Corps (though I can only comfortably speak to my experiences in Morocco). Sometimes there’s no other transportation available, and hitch on a donkey cart, you must.
9. Minute 1:24 – People are greeting each other, not only saying hello, but asking about their families. Although their greetings here do not extend into the 30-second long salutation that we experience in the bled, I’m sure it would if the song had been longer if American audiences were judged patient enough to sit through that kind of thing.
10. Minute 1:30 – There is an exasperated woman with multiple babies in her arms.
11. Exasperated woman wants 6 eggs, but that’s “too expensive.” Six eggs would also be deemed preventively expensive in many places here as well.
12. Minute 1:35 – Belle says, “There must be more than this provincial life!” She’s complaining again. She didn’t say, “I miss peanut butter and Mexican food,” but that’s pretty much what she meant. Again, note the complaining. Peace Corps Volunteers are EXPERT complainers.
13. Bookstore owner is a cute little goat-looking man. Those are found in abundance in Morocco.
14. Minute 1:50- Belle climbs the ladder in the bookstore and swings it to the other side of the bookshelf. In a Barnes and Noble, this would prompt screaming store attendants, wary of a possible lawsuit when you fall. In Morocco (and in Belle’s world), no problem. If you fall, Allah willed it.
15. Minute 2:00 – Belle goes on and on about how much she loves something, which basically requires the nice goat-man to give it to her. You often see this in Morocco.
16. Minute 2:02 – Men staring at her and trying to get her attention.
17. Minute 2:10 – Belle pats a random child’s head. This is considered creepy in America, but in Morocco, PCVs are encourages to pat, hold, and feed random children.
18. Minute 2:21 – Belle sits in the town center next to the fountain, (like Morocco – except their fountain works) surrounded by sheep.
19. …then Belle starts to talk to the sheep. Many a PCV talk to their pets, because they sometimes understand English better than the townspeople (or so they think).
20. Also, at the same moment, you see a woman washing her clothes in the public water source. Hopefully she’s not using Tide and exposing us all to dangerous levels of phosphates.
21. Minute 3:00- Townsfolk say they think she’s beautiful because she’s fair. Moroccans often say this about light-skinned Americans. Belle, on the other hand, probably fancies a nice tan (and could probably use one, too).
22. Minute 3:20 – Gaston wears tight Euro-trash pants and shirt, and obviously thinks more of himself than he should. Reminds me of a few select 20-something boys in Morocco.
23. Minute 3:35-4:00 – Gaston wants to marry the foreign girl because he thinks she’s pretty.
24. Minute 4:45 – Townsfolk joyfully remark how Belle doesn’t “quite” fit in (even if she has been there for almost 2 years!).
25. Minute 4:55 – Everyone is staring at her.
And finally, (26) she’s singing a Disney song!
It is that time of the year :) Berry Picking 2010 in Ain Inlueh, which is a town about 4 hours away from Kheimsset. This little village that is located on the side of the Middle Atlas Mountains is one of the most peaceful and breath taking areas up north. I got to spend some quality time with some SBD volunteers, eat some yummy food, and pick a ton of black berries that were FREEto take! In Ain Inlueh, not many Moroccans eat black berries or know that you can cook and make these berries into jam so the group I went with to berry pick just went along the sides of the roads and into peoples yards (asking the home owners first) picking away for hours. I did not realize how relaxing it was to berry pick and why I have not done this more often back in the states at my grandfather's bushes back home. I am planning on helping him out next season back in Michigan for sure now that I am a pro-berry picker now :) Bring it on thorns.. I am ready!
08 September 2010
22 August 2010
Yes. I have returned from a month long adventure/summer camp fest and man am I tried! Since July 20th, I have been on the road traveling, meeting new people, seeing new places, and working my last summer camp as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
As soon as I landed back in Fez, Morocco, I caught a train to Meknes and then a taxi back to my site where I had only 24 hours to unpack, wash clothes, pay bills, re-pack, and hit the road for another 5 hours to get to El Jadida for my last summer camp as a PCV!
It was a fun camp with some great first and second year volunteers. The Moroccan access students were super helpful this year due to the amount of beginner students I had to take on and little issues that came up between staff and the kids at camp. It was a productive and very chill camp until Ramadan hit. When Ramadan began, that was when tempers were shortened due to fasting, which is totally understandable. Not being able to eat or drink from 6am until 7:30pm while at a camp, running around, and doing activities; that is not a good and healthy combo. It was rough and most of the kids, volunteers, and Moroccan staffers got sick, but we pull through and ended the last camp of the summer on a positive note. I was able to bring my two host brothers, Yassine and Ayoub, to camp with me and they enjoyed themselves to the point that they were sad to leave and tearing up when saying goodbye to new friends that they made while at camp.
The highlights of camp:
- Going to the beach and watching the students do Tug-of-War
- One kid got pushed in between two pillars by a Moroccan staffer and it took 3 PCV’s (yes, i was one of the 3) and 5 minutes of pushing and pulling to get him out
- Fasting highs and lows
- PCV boy band being created and performed "I Want It That Way" at spectacular
- Being voted most beautiful American volunteer/teacher at camp.. sukran ya'll :)
- PCV’s getting together and performing the song “Shout”
- My beginner kids picking out American names for class
- Halloween haunted house
- The song “ I Love Dogs” classic
- Being artsy all camp. I miss doing that.
Now that I am back in site, still fighting off whatever kind of cold/sickness I have had for over a week or so now, I am getting ready to finish the Art Resource Manual that my site mate and I have been working hard at for 2 years now. It should be ready by the time the new YD and SBD group comes in on September 15th! I am still in shock with how fast time has flown by. I cannot believe that in about 3 weeks, there will be a new group that has come to replace my staj, and that there is one person in that group that will be taking over my position at the dar chabab in Khemisset. I am excited for what these next couple of months will bring! On top of all of this, I am applying for jobs back home in the museum world in ANY state that is hiring. If you know of any museum hiring or taking interns, please send the information my way. I am happy that I got to take part in Peace Corps, experience an Islamic country and the Moroccan culture, but I am eager to head home, start my life back up, and work towards my graduate school dream in Museum Studies or Conservation.
Well the Imane at the mosques are doing their calls so it is time for me to get some work done before Liftor begins. Hope all is well in your world. Peace N Love.
11 August 2010
in English, GOOD MORNING!
I started my journey in Germany where I stayed for a couple of days while waiting for my connecting flight to Croatia. I was happy to be back in Europe and in my favorite country with the best beer in the world J The highlight to my German layover was being able to walk around the countryside for a couple of hours and taking in the view of the lush green landscape. I was just walking around, jamming out to my ipod, and taking in the atmosphere that is Germany. It almost made me feel like I was back home in Michigan.(Image: Germany)
Once in Croatia, I traveled for 9 days to:
Pula: Yummy food and a good city to walk around in
Rijeka: Awesome farmers market and port
Zadar: The Sun Salutation and Sea Organ. GOOGLE this!
Zagreb: The capital and now one of my top 10 favorite cities and got a great haircut in, Humdullah!
Đurđevacv: where I met my long lost family from my grandfather Presecan heritage. This was my highlight of my Croatia trip.
Croatia.. aka… one of the coolest countries I have visited! The people are kind and super excited to see Americans. Some people who met me said that I was the first American they have ever met before. CRAZY! So to all you Americans out there, go check out Croatia! You will be pleasantly surprised how cheap things are, how welcoming the people are, and the scenery is worth traveling for, trust me on this. Also in Croatia, everyone knows English so it is super easy to get around Croatia and communicate with the Croatians.
The food there was amazing, but very buttery and rich. I could not eat a whole meal due to this, but I did leave full from every place I ate at. Honestly, I was just happy to NOT be eating Moroccan like food for 11 days, whoo! By far my favorite dish was squash deep-fried in batter at my relative’s house in the countryside. I am not a deep fried kind of girl, but wow, when I ate that with some yogurt/sour cream on top… DELIGHT!
The beaches in Croatia are crystal clear, white, and the sea is so blue that even in the Rijeka Port, I could see hundreds of fishes swimming around looking for food. I have never seen such clean and clear water before. I mean nothing can beat Lake Michigan and the beaches there, but the Croatian coast can give Lake Michigan a run for its money.
As I mentioned earlier, the highlight to my little Croatian adventure was finally meeting my relatives near the city where my grandfather was born. I met Tihana, Martina, and their family in a beautiful small town called Đurđevacv. I have never met such welcoming and happy people before. Their mother was always smiling and offering me food left and right until I could not move from my seat due to how overly stuffed I was from lunch. Their father was calling up all the family he could remember and asking about my grandfather and was sharing the baptismal certificate I brought to see if he could get any answers for me. He was very cheerful man, and helpful with looking into my grandfather’s certificate for me. I actually found out that my grandfather was from the village about 10 km down the road from them called Kolstar, that my great grandmother, Klara, her family was from around this area, and I found out how to say my last name correctly in Croatian J I am looking into changing my last name so it will sound like it should because it sounds beautiful in Croatian.
It was a sad moment when I had to leave Croatia so I could make it back in time to do summer camp in El Jadida, but I know that is was not a “good bye”; it was more like a “see you soon” kind of vibe. I hope to return again soon and visit my relatives longer in the countryside, check out the capital again, and see some of Croatia’s famous National Parks, and go more east and south within this beautiful and inspiring country.
HVALA!! vidimo se !
19 July 2010
The Art Resource Manual is almost finished! Lisa and I have started the layout and putting information that was submitted by PCVs along with our own research for this manual. I am so excited to finish A.R.M. once I return from summer camp in mid August. Our due date for this manual is the first week of September, when the new PCVs come into Morocco to start their training to replace me and my staj! WOW, I can not believe it is almost time to meet those who will be replacing me and my staj I came in with. These past 23 months have just flown by! In a blink of an eye I will find myself stamping and signing that little red book to officially become an RPCV (retired peace corps volunteer).
I just returned from my very hot, but wonderful time back down in the orginial site, Skoura, to see my old site-mate, April, and my host family in the Bled. The trip was great and being able to catch up with old family and friends in the Skoura area was wonderful. When I at souq and walking around in the Bled, people remembered me and came up welcoming me back to Skoura with open arms and a lot of hugs. It was a heart warming. The only bummer to the trip was that I feel asleep in front of a fan when I first got into Ouarzazate and, as always, I got a head cold that lasted most of my vacation down south. I think I am the only person that gets a head cold from a fan in the face.
Even though I was sick most of my vacation, I still had a blast just chilling in April’s site, seeing her women and the products they have been making, and spending some quality time with my host family, but now I am back in site preparing for my next and finale vacation as a PCV in Morocco. I will be heading to CROATIA on Saturday July 24th and will return in early August just in time to make it to El Jadida for the last English summer camp. Starting on the 24th until the middle of August, I will be out of site and off seeing the world, well at least a little portion of it.
I can not wait to make it to Croatia and see the country where my grandfather came from, and my family on my father’s side . I have contacted a couple of possible “cousins” in Croatia and hope to see them at some point throughout my journey.
Well, I must be off to finish up some last minute plans for Croatia. Hope all is well back state side or where ever you all are reading my blog.
Peace N Love.
Happy 4th of July, everyone back in the good ole USA (I know kinda late). I got to spend my last 4th of July in Moroco in my new site with my fellow Khemisset region-mates. We spent the whole day cooking, grilling, baking, and chilling on my roof listening to some American music. The weather was wonderful, the company was great, and even some Moroccans came along to enjoy this American holiday and awesome spread J I was happy to of spent some time with my new region-mates and celebrate a little bit of America with them on this day. Happy Birthday USA!!!!
Well when thought it was a smart idea for me to start my mountain climbing career in Morocco on Mt. Jebel Toubkal, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I mean, I have hiked a lot while in the states, but not a mountain, and nothing like what I experienced while getting to the peak of Mt. Jebel Toubkal.
The peak is almost 14, 00 feet above sea level. The clmib up was nothing I could of prepared myself for and my body was in a little bit of pain afterwards, but WOW, all the photos, all the beauty that I saw going up, at the peack, and climbing (more like scooting down) Mt. Jebel Toubkal was worth all the mental and physical ups and downs I experienced, and I would do it again in a heart beat just to experience that all over again.
I went on this trek with a couple of PCVs in my staj, but my true trekking partner was my girl, Marrisa, one of my roomies while in PST, and now my hiking soul mate for life. We started out trek at 6:00am and what should of taken a pro climber maybe 4 hours to go up and back down to base camp to do, with two newbies trying to hike this mountain like all the pros… it took a bit longer than expected. Let’s just say that Marrisa and I started at 6am and everyone from the base camp hostel that left after us, even climbers leaving at 3 in the afternoon, beat us down the mountain. When Marissa and I finally got down the mountain back to base camp, we found everyone at the hostel outside cheering us into camp. Kind of embarssing and supportive at the same time.
Here are some fun facts about Mt. Jebel Toubkal, if you are intested J
* Takes 3.5 hours by mule to get from base camp to the village of Imlil where everyone starts off their trek to Toubkal, so just think about that on foot.
* Mount Jebel Toubkal is one of those freaking mountains that you do not see any sign of the peak until WAY into your trek. Every time I thought I was near the peak, there was another set of mountains OR valley OR cliff you have to climb up before you see a light at the end of this hiking tunnel.
check out this website for further information on this mountain:
16 May 2010
12 May 2010
05 May 2010
21 April 2010
08 April 2010
I FINALLY MADE IT DOWN TO THE WESTERN SAHARA! and it was one of the most memorbale moments in my Peace Corps service in Morocco. I left spring camp and headed down to Merzuga where my Western Sahara camel adventure began! A group of people came along with me on this little adventure. We started at a hotel at the edge of the desert, went by camel for two hours to our camping site where I stayed overnight under the stars, saw a shooting star through clouds, and woke up to the moon slowly disappearing into the sunrise. I walked to the top of the largest san dune that I was camping next to. The view from the top was breathtaking and with how the wind was blowing the sand around me and the dunes; I can not put into words how amazing nature can create such wonderful works of beauty just by breathing :)
I spent one wonderful week up north in the small in the middle of no where town called Missour. It is about 70 km from Midelt and about a 11 hour drive north-east from my site here in Skoura. I got to teach a group of 16 kids in a beginner English class at Spring Camp Missour. My class was great and very excited about being in my class and at camp. It was a long week, but totally worth the hard work :) I have never worked with such appreciative and happy kids before at a camp. It got me excited about what great things can be done during this coming Summer camps in El Jadida! Now I am back in my site and back to work. Cross your fingers that these last 9 weeks will go well and that my last summer here in Morocco is a memorable one.