Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Painting a Mural

This is all happening in Mara's (my region mate/best friend) site.

Mara teaching a lesson about "Hlaqm" or as we know it... strep throat.

Me teaching about hypertension and healthy eating habits.

The girls I taught and painted with.

Mara and I were the only veterans, the rest are newly sworn in PCVs. From left to right... Duncan, Jed, Erin, Moyra, Mara, Casey and Bryan (SBD volunteer). Oh, and I'm in the front squatting.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Camel Spider

It just killed a scorpion... can I come home?

I'm not Happy

So I figured out what it is... it's a Camel Spider. I thought these were just in the south of Morocco, but apparently I'm not that lucky.

They are arachnids but not spiders so my statement that I left my fear of spiders behind remains accurate. So I ended the last blog with a statement about non-violence... I think I might have to be a hypocrite. Don't tell on me, ok?


On my way back to my site I stopped off at a friend’s house for a get together. I could tell you about the amazing food, it being good to see friends, sleeping under the stars, or any number of other good things, but I’m going to talk about bugs.

My friend Madeleine’s kitchen has strings hanging from wall to wall. If it were a porch and the strings were thicker I would say they would be for hanging clothes, but they aren’t, so I won’t. Their function is irrelevant… what is relevant is that both strings were entirely covered in flies. I don’t know what they were munching on, but they seemed quite content. I’d completely forgotten that last summer the stagnant heat brought out all of the creepy crawlies.

We’ve all had plenty of stories relating to varmints. Josh has his mouse who has chewed a hole in every article of clothing he owns. Mara has her cockroach infestation where she was killing around 30 or 40 a night (the situation has improved… she’s down to only a few a night). Big Aaron apparently has a necklace made of legs from his Camel Spider kills. I, sadly, have not been able to contribute much to the conversation. I mean I have some huge ants that come out of a hole in the wall and march in procession across my floor and out the door, but they don’t bother anyone. There’s a beetle the size of my palm that wanders my kitchen floor at night, but the only thing he’s ever done is to secrete some smelly substance onto Barry’s hand when he picked him up. Oh, and there was the jumping spider, but it was too small to make any sort of a splash in a "one-upping" conversation about bugs and I’ve left my fear of spiders behind long ago.

Tonight I think I might have something. I don’t think it’s going to win any prizes, but I could possibly be able to join in the conversation. The thing is I don’t really know what I saw. It has eight legs… I think. The front two legs never really touched the ground and looked as if they were operating more like feelers. I couldn’t see any eyes and it was a yellowish color. The remarkable thing about this creature was the fact that it was about the size of my fist. Now when I say remarkable what I really mean is that it was fast, aggressive and didn’t so much scare me in the moment as it made me afraid to fall asleep. I couldn’t find my camera so I held up my laptop’s webcam and snapped a picture. If any of you have any idea what I’m looking at, give me the heads up, especially if it’s poisonous. I know we have a few of those around here; I’m just not sure if this is one of them.

Oh, and I couldn’t bring myself to kill it. So I got a broom and as it was crawling up the wall I swept it away. For some odd reason though I swept in an upward motion, the end result of which is that it flew up into the air, hung suspended for a moment and then when it hit the floor it scurried away. The moment of suspension was quite comical I have to admit. It had this look almost like Wiley Coyote just before he realizes that he’s walked off a cliff and is about to plummet hundreds of feet.

Why didn’t I kill it you may ask? Well, I know this may sound strange considering it is a threatening looking insect and all, but lately I’ve become loathe to take a life simply because I’m being annoyed. It’s a small thing, but in my mind I link it to a much bigger problem. I’m not the only one trying to live here so I work around it. Now I’m not saying that killing bugs is a morally bankrupt enterprise, so please don’t read that into this. I am just trying to live as intentionally as possible and I believe that there are lessons to be found in the seemingly most insignificant of places. I figure that if I don't just go around killing bugs at random, I won't be as quick to sweep my fellow human beings aside for self-interested pursuits.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

And We're Back

So I have finally arrived back in country. After 26 hours of airports, a lost bag, a Shinerbock exploding in another, 2 hours of trains and lugging 50 lbs worth of books and clothes (mostly books :) ) around... I made it to the capitol city. Not quite the Morocco I know, but when I stepped out of the train station there was a protest going on where people were blocking traffic and chanting about unemployment and I felt a little at home.

There were a few scattered riot police who were trying to disperse the crowd which was mostly just comical. A group of 25 would block a side street coming out of a traffic circle and one lone man in uniform would go chasing after them with a billy club. All the while the crowd keeps moving back and forth along a continuum of either agrieved chanting all the way to laughing hystericaly at the attempts made to disperse them. I had a slight chuckle and proceeded to my hotel.

I have a doctor's appointment later today and then hopefully I'll be headed back to my site tomorrow and so begins the last 10 months of service.


Quick recap of the States:

Brother's bachelor party... Hanging out with old friends and family in for the wedding... Brother's wedding... Hanging in Austin with friends... Making beautiful music in Austin once again with an old friend... Getting books from wise friends... Hanging out in the pool with family... Packing... Hopping on a plane

Sunday, May 25, 2008

hope and the triumph of imagination

Once again I have lapsed on blog entries. Seeing a pattern? So I’m not a consistent writer… I’ve never been consistent at much of anything so no big surprise there. Let me get you updated on recent developments

The Commune finally came through and bought the pump and piping to get water into the water tower and they are installing all of it as I’m writing this. Hopefully by the middle of next week there will be water flowing in the center of town. It’s still a long way to walk for a lot of people though so I’ve combined forces with an association here to both bring water into individual homes and to make sure that the water being pumped in is clean. The end result down the road is to hopefully install latrines in people’s homes. If we installed them now, they would most likely not be used because collecting water to flush it would be too much of a strain on the women who collect water hence extending water access is Phase 1. At the moment, I’m working on writing a grant to assist in the acquisition of a water treatment system and the community is coming up with the funds to lay the piping and connect the houses. I’m actually quite impressed at the initiative taken by the president of the association Sliman. Part of what I’m supposed to do here is to help associations instill a mentality for sustainable projects and there was almost no need for that with him. He was neither looking for someone to do the work for him nor waiting for the funds… quite the opposite; he has assumed many of the costs out of his own pocket and has mobilized several members of the community in moving the work along.

Hopefully I’ll have this grant written sometime this week once we nail out the final budget and if you would like to contribute I will provide a link to it when it is posted on the Peace Corps website.

In other news, I’m getting closer to coming home for Lee’s (my brother) wedding. I can’t express just how excited I am about seeing friends and family after over a year. I’ve got a lot planned for the time I’ll be home. The vast majority of which will consist in soaking up as much of those people I love as I possibly can, eating some spectacular food (Mexican of course), and enjoying access to running water… maybe stocking up on new reading for the year I will have left. I’m flying home on the 19th of June and heading back on the 8th of July. Some of that time will be in Austin, some in Waco, some in Dallas, some in Henrietta and possibly some in Florida.

Let’s see what else… oh, my new site mate just arrived for her two months of home stay before she moves off on her own. I now have another American living about 2 km from my house which feels a little weird. Her name is Tory from Michigan and she’ll be working with the Water and Forestry. I’m not entirely sure what she’ll be doing, but my guess is that she doesn’t really know yet either. I don’t envy her next two months. Home stay is difficult on everyone and she has the added complication of the fact that I moved here after becoming well acquainted with the language so people here didn’t have to see me struggle through the beginning. The people here can be unforgiving in their judgments of ability and pull no punches in assessing someone’s ability in anything. The language we learn is also pretty much devoid of nuance so you either know everything or nothing. It can break down your confidence after a while. If she makes it through this though, she should be fine.

It’s strange to think that her arrival marks exactly a year in my site (I yr 3mo in country). A year ago at this time Mara and I were arriving in Khenifra for a week of meetings with the Ministry of Health, hanging out with Matt (who is now finished with his service and on his way home via Egypt… Godspeed). When I post this I’ll be in Khenifra translating for the two new Health volunteers in our province as they start their service. It’s interesting to see their reactions to things and wonder if mine were similar when I arrived. It was only a year ago, but so much has transpired since then… battles won and lost, friends come and gone, and up until now a consistent string of victories over the loss of idealism although it has morphed but I believe matured. I hope…

Hope has a lot to do with why I’m still here… hope that the vision that brought me from across the ocean is one that I won’t lose sight of in spite of the constant struggle of the day to day much less of trying to accomplish what it is we are here to do. Hope that strength will be found at the moment where I feel like I have no more to give. Hope that somehow what I am doing will be of some service to those formerly faceless and abstract people who were the subjects of my ideas about the event of Justice and it’s possibility and necessity in every corner of our globe. Hope…

One of my friends sent me this in the mail a few weeks ago. This person seems to always find those words or gifts that reach into whatever pit I’m wallowing in feeling trapped and pull me out reminding me to keep my eyes on the horizon. Bethany, thank you. I’ll leave you with those words…

“In my dream, the angel shrugged & said, if we fail this time, it will be a failure of imagination… & then she placed the world gently in the palm of my hand.”

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


So this is the picture of my new water source at the Chinese construction site and the walk to it from my house. Well at least the road going in the direction. You can't actually see where the water is because it's a LONG way down that road.