Saturday, May 3, 2008

My Home For the Next Two Years

My Home For the Next Two Years

So I’ve spent the last week in my permanent site on “site visit.” There’s a lot to say about my site and I don’t know where to start.
As I mentioned before, it’s in the mountains. In late April, the temperature was just a bit chilly, but comfortable. The people in my village tell me that summer will get a little hot, but nothing unbearable.
Winters, on the other hand, are a different story. It gets cold and very snowy. I’m going to have to get a wood stove for my house to keep it warm. I also might need snowshoes to get around because the snow is quite deep. The winters are going to be a little challenging.
There really isn’t any commerce in my village, so I have to go 28km away to a place called Tounfite. There are transit buses that ran a couple times back and forth. Tounfite is relatively big. There are internet cafes, teleboutiques, a weekly market, a hammam (public bath) and two Peace Corps environment volunteers. I’m guessing that I’ll be going in once or twice a week.
My site is very beautiful. There are two duoars (little communities) and they are both situated in a valley between large mountains. There is a river running through the valley and the surrounding plains are used for agriculture – mostly wheat and and some apple trees. People have some farm animals: mostly cows, donkeys, and chickens.
My host family is just a husband and wife. My host dad is 72 and my host mom is 38 – it’s my dad’s second wife. They don’t have any children together, but my dad has children from his first marriage, although I don’t know where they are. They work in the fields and we have a cow and some chickens, but they also get money from family in France.
As a health worker, there’s a lot of work to do in my village. As I found out first hand, the water isn’t especially sanitary and causes illness. I think that I’ll be treating all of my water with chlorine for the time being. There’s also a lack of bit l-ma’s (bathrooms), so people often use the outdoors. The nurses in the sbitar (public health clinic) told me that hand washing is non-existent. They also said that there are a lot of fungal/skin problems. So I think there’s a lot to do.
My community was very welcoming to me. People were inviting me over for tea and food the whole week. (By the way, the tea in Morocco is very sugary; it’ll be a miracle if I’m not diabetic by the end of my service). A number of people told me to come to them if I had any problems, which was nice. They’re all shocked when I tell them I will live in their village for two years. Also, everyone is very impressed that I’m learning Tamazight as opposed to Arabic. Generally, people all over Morocco who speak a Berber language are thrilled when you speak to them in Berber – their faces light up and they smile.

I took some pictures that Ill post when I get the chance.

But we’re back in Ouarzazate now. We go back to our CBT sites for a week on Wednesday (the big family with the cute baby). Hope all is well.

1 comment:

maryellen said...

Great post, Dunc, can't wait to see the photos. So, how sick did you get? Could you use a personal water filtration system to go with your snowshoes?

Love, Mom