Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thoughts of Departed Friends

Ok, so that sounded dramatic. She just went back to the States, but we miss her none the less...

So here's to Kaylene.

Mara and I

Well here are some pictures of us working. Not actually teaching people becuase let's be honest, I think it's kind of tacky to take a digital camera in a room full of people who can barely afford food and snap pictures for my own benefit.

So these are poses of us working hard preparing our lesson. We actually did work hard, but by the time we got the camera out we were done working, so this is us acting. Mara's a better actor than I. :)

My Friend Alex

I went to go visit my roommate from our training... My brother from a different mother. His site is considerably different from mine as you will soon see.

So he always makes this face for pictures. He's not crazy... well maybe a little, but only as crazy as the rest of us here.

The rainy season has started, and we got caught in a strom on a hike. This is the rain coming down from the mountains.

So his site is actually in the mountains... barren, imposing, threatening mountains. I loved every second of it.

Site Pictures

Ok, these are long awaited pictures of my site. These are shots from the roof of my house.

This is the mosque where I get my water. Someone blew the speakers on the minaret so the call to prayer is a little distorted, but it's become a fixture in my life.

This is the view from the opposite direction. The houses you see on the hills are populated by shepherds. There isn't any water up there so they all have to come down and get water from the same place I do.

This is the line of "hanuts" (shops)... and by plural, I really mean a chicken butcher and a general store.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

An Amazing Day

So I am kicking myself that I forgot my connecting chord for my camera because I have some good pictures for you. I'll get back online soon, because I need to type out a site report for our In Service Training (IST) coming up next month.

So let me outline the events of the past couple of days. I took an out-of-site weekend to go visit the site of my roommate from training, Alex. He works in an extremely isolated site in the Errachidia province up in the High Atlas. There was a rugged beauty there that had me absolutely breathless. Part of that might have had to do with the higher consistency of smokers, but I'm going to go with the landscape as the cause. It just sounds better. We were in this relatively lush valley, but surrounded on all sides by vast tracks of sun-scorched plains and rocky mountain peaks. I've got pictures, don't worry, you'll just have to be patient. We spent the weekend doing the things we did in training... talking history and politics, playing chess, making fun of each other, and watching Sopranos. Now this is his favorite show, but I had never seen it. I'm shiwa (a little bit) hooked now. I don't have a computer, so I only get to watch movies when I visit other people, and it was a nice change of pace.

The visit was also an interesting insight into my own existence here. My site is extremely different from his, and I couldn't help but ponder how things would have changed if those would have been the circumstances of my experience. I'm not dwelling on that too much, simply because I love my life at the moment. I also stocked up on books. My friend Alex is quite the connoisseur of literature... a good friend to have.

From Alex's site, I proceeded on to Mara's site for another health lesson, and here is where the amazing day begins. So I'm skipping a lot of the trip, but I won't bore you with details...

So we had to get up at five in the morning for various reasons. Two hours later we would be saying that we just had the most productive morning of our lives. If the same set of events had happened in the States and we had described it in that manner, you would probably laugh. All we did was shower and eat breakfast. What you don't understand is that those few actions involve gathering water from the well, heating up the water (normally I don't do that, but it is REALLY cold in Mara's site right now), taking turns bucket bathing, and then cooking breakfast. First of all it was a miracle that we were both clean at the same time, that never happens.

So our clean, well-fed bodies were off to make the 15 km trek to the Health Center where we would be teaching people how to make Oral Re hydration Drink. We spent the morning teaching, which was good. Both of our language skills are beginning to be honed to the point where people understand what we're saying half the time. We got people to demonstrate successfully what we taught, so we know we were getting our message across.

We left the Health Center around noon and on the way out were offered a tea invitation which we accepted. We had tea and talked with some more people and then headed back to Mara's house. We then ate some amazing vegetarian chili we had prepared the night before and took a much needed nap. The nap lasted a bit longer than we expected, but we were up at 3 and went running for the next hour.

What then transpired, I still think was a dream. WE GOT ANOTHER SHOWER!! If you don't recognize the sound you're hearing, it's angels singing. Taking two showers in a day... well it's just unheard of. I usually take one a week.

We then proceeded to make some banana bread to bring to her host family's house where we were having dinner. We stayed there and ate where they made fun of the fact that the last time I was there, I fell asleep waiting for the meal and was snoring... apparently really loud. Now I think they are exaggerating a bit, but none the less it was not one of my finer moments in life.

In order to understand what happened next I need to give you some background. Mara's site is full of apple orchards and over the last week and a half, people have been coming from all over the country to pick the apples. Now Mara has been trying ever since the gathering season began to figure out how to get apples out of someone, but to no avail.

So as we were leaving her host family's house, the brother runs outside with a big cardboard box and fills it up with apples for me to take back to my house. So now I am in the possession of about 60 or 70 Dh worth of apples. Amazing. This would have been a full and amazing day, but it was not yet over.

We got back to her house planning on maybe baking some cookies, doing back rubs, and then turning in for another early morning, but the night before I had asked the family that lives in the same compound as Mara some questions about the Qur'an and they had told me that their brother who is studying to be an Imam was going to be back the next day. So we returned to find that the brother was not only waiting to talk to us (2 1/2 hours) but that he had bought what I assume was about $50 worth of books... an Arabic/English Qur'an with commentary and another book explaining Muslim theology. Mara and I were and still are taken aback by just how amazing the gift was.

After that was over, we headed back to her house, drank some coffee, ate the banana bread, read some poetry and then turned in.

Welcome to a picture of an amazing life.