If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
-Mother Teresa

December 17, 2008

Music and Cake

Have my last few entries focused too much on the 16 months that have flown by? Because folks, I remain in complete shock that I am going into my final 11 months in service not to mention the impending landmark of 2009, the year I finally go home. Where has the time gone?

It’s complete cliché, I know, but I really do feel as I’m just getting adjusted to my life here in Morocco. It’s only in the last month that my town appears to “get it” with regards to why I’m here and what I’m supposed to be doing. Only now are shop owners, taxi drivers and school kids treating me as if I’m just another community member and not the fish-in-a-fishbowl I felt that I was all throughout my first 14 months of service. Only now does the routine of market day come naturally. Only now do I feel completely comfortable inviting myself over to people’s houses.

The odd thing is the sudden realization of this new “normal” occurred to me amidst two of the craziest months I’ve had here yet. October and November brought with them two trips to Rabat (GRE & Mid-Service Medicals), Halloween alone with gobs of candy, the election, a first-time visit to my friend Anny’s site, heavy rains and flooding, unseasonably cold weather (snow on the mountains twice, and sleet in my town once), a fantastic visit with our new Country Director, an unforgettable Thanksgiving, uncharacteristically productive meetings at the Nedi, and many successful English classes. No wonder I’m looking forward to the post lEid Kbir winter routine.

So what’s been most notable? What am I itching to share with my dear readers? Actually, the two things that stand out the most during the whirlwind of fall are the following: the acquisition of a guitar and the purchase of an oven. Yes, those two things have improved the quality of my life in ways I didn’t think possible, even more than not having to study for the GRE anymore.

I’ve been meaning to get a guitar since the moment I arrived in country. But as luck would have it as many of you know I inherited a “fixer-upper” of a house and most of my budget has gone towards making my humble abode livable. The second time I was up in Rabat I happened to be in a taxi with a friend when she got a text message asking if she knew anyone that wanted a guitar. A couple that was finishing their service and was in the throes of getting rid of everything was offering it for a more-than-reasonable price. I believe they call that serendipity, right? I jumped at the chance and a handful of hours later I was the proud owner of a Melody guitar, complete with a soft case and three picks. I was on my way straight to the top, as soon as I could learn how to play the thing…

Now the oven is a similar story, in that I have been meaning to get one since I arrived at site. I kept telling myself “as soon as your butane tank runs out and you have to refill you can buy the oven”. I had my eye on the tiniest fire-in-a-box thing you could imagine, but for many moons the whopping $19 US seemed unjustifiable. Nobody NEEDS baked goods, and heaven knows I have no willpower up against sweets. But again I received a little nod from serendipity when simultaneously my butane tank gave out (9 months!) and the temperature dropped from pleasant to freezing in the blink of an eye. The day I broke down and bought the oven I baked the most delicious apple cake that I shared with my neighbors, not to mention I spent a glorious day basking in the warmth of my tiny kitchen. Life is indeed good!

What I haven’t mentioned is that as a result of the flooding (i.e. my house) I was forced to rethink my living space once again. After much deliberation, and days of more hard labor, I changed the tiny storage room into the “salon”, changed the leaky salon into the storage room, hung some holiday decorations and voila!, I suddenly have a cozy space that I enjoy: a first in this house. Now my leisure hours are spent picking away at the guitar, eating baked goods, and wondering why I waited so long to do all these things. Necessity if the mother of all inventions…

So after having found such happiness during the last number of weeks it may be hard to believe that anything could top any of this. I happen to know that without a doubt, though, the grand finale of 2008 is going to be better than all these things combined: my parents and two of my siblings are coming to visit. The day that I see Mom and Dad will mark 474 days since I have seen them. 474. Every day leading up to this visit I wake up reworking what I will feed them, or adding one more thing to my to do list in preparing the house, or think of one more thing I need to procure for the kitchen or the bathroom… the closer I get to the day, the less I am able to believe that it’s actually going to happen. But it will, and it will fly by just as all the rest of my time as a volunteer has.

I don’t like do too much reflection at the end of the year; I suppose I’m usually too consumed with the next year to come. For me half the fun in life is wondering what’s going to happen next. But I can say with certainty that whether you prefer dreaming of the future or reflecting on the past, I truly hope you are all looking forward to such happy reunions. I hope you’re all enjoying good music, good food, warm and dry shelter, and the feeling of being part of some “community”. You don’t have to go halfway around the world to find those things, but I’m glad that I did. Here’s to 2008; it sure has been great.


A group of us went to see the ruins in Rabat. Kate and I in front of the mineret

Ruins at the ruins

There was a Gnawan musical group outside of the ruins taking pictures. I had just seen them a few days before on TV!

A protest in Rabat

One of the main drags in Rabat (the road towards the medina)

Staring longingly at the commissary that is off-limits to PCVs

Good times at the American Club

Happy PCVs after delicious toast and the end of Mid-Service Medicals


Anny on the way to her weavers association

Anny and the weavers busy at work

Meg and Anny enjoying delicious tea and cookies

Anny in front of her association building

Meg and the beautiful carpet she bought from Anny's artists

Anny and I walking back from her association

Some turkeys that are probably really happy nobody in Morocco celebrates Thanksgiving

A view of Anny's site from the top of the hill


Snow on our mountains on Thanksgiving Day... and that's the second time this fall.

Thanksgiving #1

As you can see I was working really hard to help Anny with her cooking and baking...

Anny and Jessica play take a break from cooking to play a tune or two. It was indeed a holiday filled with great live music...

Amelia and Matthew give Zonga the Thanksgiving turkey a "nip/tuck" job in order to make it fit in the neighbor's oven

Mahri (a.k.a. Decorating Comittee) sets the mood in the garden

Our amazing hostess (and dear friend) Amelia

The beautiful Thanksgiving spread (and that doesn't include the dessert!)

Meg and the beautiful turkey decor

Thanksgiving plate #2.

Happy PCVs after a delicious Thanksgiving meal