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

June 13, 2009

A Long Time Comin'

Since I last wrote an entry my life in Peace Corps has completely changed. Where do I start? I live in a new site, I have new work, I have a new apartment, I am engaged to be married… tackling this task of reporting what has happened seems quite overwhelming. In this case I guess I just have to take it imik simik [little by little].

Ayyur Wissin (February)

February can be described as such:

1. lots of rain
2. a flooded house (complete with ruined books, pictures and clothes)
3. more rain

Ayyur Wiskrad (March)

As the saying goes, March came in like a lion and went out like a lamb. At the beginning of the month I was overwhelmed with all kinds of challenges. I continued to face significant “roadblocks” in the work department, my house was literally falling apart at the seams since the flooding, I continued to be sick, and I was gripped with the growing sensation that my service was all for naught.
During that time I ended up taking two trips to Rabat. During the first visit one of the staff members asked me how work was going and I described to her the situation. She pointed out that I still had 8 months of service left, and perhaps a site change was in order. By the end of the impromptu meeting, I had come to realize that not only was it a good idea, but a site-change was in fact necessary for my own safety and sanity.

Things moved fairly quickly after that. We worked hard to get the necessary paperwork completed, while I worked with my community to help them understand why the change was happening. Meanwhile, amidst all the chaos my cat did me a great favor by biting me, thus requiring me to return to Rabat to receive the rabies prophylaxis… on St. Patrick’s Day. I won’t spell it out, but suffice to say that was the best place for me to be to celebrate my favorite holiday. Tanmirt, Mr. Potato Bed!

In the last few days of March I packed up my dusty, meager belongings and moved to my new site just over the mountains. It was only then it occurred to me that I was starting over completely, and the end of my service was going to be very different than what I had envisioned.

Ayyur Wiskoos (April)

In April I visited the USA for the first time since I left in September 2007. My cousin got married and I was a bridesmaid, so not only was I going for a visit but I took part in a beautiful wedding that was quite the cultural experience. The timing couldn’t have been better, though. Not only was I able to see everyone in my immediate family, but I got to see my youngest brother play one of his last college baseball games, I ran a 5K with my sister, I spent a day with my World Wise Schools students talking about Peace Corps and Morocco, I ate many delicious foods, and I briefly saw a good many of my beloved co-workers and friends from my previous job.

I was overjoyed to see so many people in such a short amount of time, but after being gone so long I became acutely aware of how I had changed and how my country had changed as well. I am so glad I had a chance to visit the States before COS (Close of Service); I think I am better prepared for some of the challenges I will face, especially in terms of reintegration and the economic crisis. But I must confess that by the end of my 2 ½ week stay, I was ready to come home.
When I returned from the States I got to work on setting up my new apartment. I had found a place to live before I left, but getting the utilities turned on was quite the arduous task. In fact, when all was said and done it took over three weeks for my apartment to be ready for move #2. In the mean time, I lived with my friend Brooke and we had a blast. In retrospect, as much as I love having a nice place to myself, I wonder if Peace Corps would have approved us living together for the rest of our service. We made quite the pair! Tanmirt, Brooke!

Ayyur Wissmoos (May)

I’m not entirely sure what happened to May. It started and it ended and I can’t account for what happened in between. As I recall, I spent most of the month moving in and unpacking, and also trying to establish a routine (and relationships) at my new work site.

My work site is about 10 km by road, and 6 km on foot from where I am living. Unfortunately, as amazing as this new site is, it has one thing in common with my previous site: there are no houses available for rent. We’re hoping to rectify that before the next volunteer arrives, but for the time being the solution we found was the only solution. Anyhow, getting to site is quite the adventure. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays I can usually find transportation to and from work because those are souq [market] days. But any other day of the week there are no guarantees. Depending on the time of day, weather, my energy level, and the women’s work schedule I either walk (about 2 hours) back and forth, or bike it (about 1 hour). Getting there is almost all the battle.

The work I am doing is completely different than before. I have been assigned to work with an argan co-operative run by women, most of which are married with children. Their product is lovely, but they currently only sell out of their workspace that is about 10 km from the main tourist center. Because my time with them will be short, I will probably only have time to assess their needs, establish some short-term and long-term goals, and perhaps work on some simple projects such as updating their business card, creating a brochure, and assessing new, local markets. They are a wonderful group of motivated, hardworking women, and I’m sure that the time will pass too quickly with them. In fact, it already is…

Ayyur Wissdis (June)

This is the first month since last fall that I have felt settled. Having some semblance of a routine and a place to call home is crucial in the life of a PCV, especially one nearing the end of service. In this month we became the most senior PCVs in country and it feels like it. The times they are a changin’…

June has already proved to be a good month for me. I was finally diagnosed with a parasite. I’m sure that sounds like a strange thing to celebrate, but I’ve been sick off and on for 11 months and I was really, really tired of it. A diagnosis is good news indeed, and I’m diligently taking all my meds so that I can finish service a happy AND healthy Megan.

Now that I don’t have to worry about having a roof over my head or a mystery illness I can spend the last 160 days focused on the things I’m supposed to as a PCV: work, community integration, and language acquisition. Between those things and planning a wedding, I have little time during the week to simply relax and reflect. But perhaps that’s the best way for a PCV’s service to conclude: we’re always learning, we’re always growing, life is always changing, and we’re just along for the ride.



St. Patrick's Day in the Rabat (I love cat bites!)

An amazing scene on the train from Rabat to Marrakech

Moving Day: all of my belongings fit in this truck, believe it or not.

Life on the other side of the mountain

View of the valley from afar

Lunch in one of the caves on the beach

A beautiful sunset in Morocco

The bridesmaid in Washington

At Brendan's ballgame with the family

Brendan pitching

Teaching my World Wise Schools students. Thank you again!

Argan tree (indigenous to southern Morocco)

Argan nut before being harvested, dried and processed.