Friday, June 5, 2009

Extended Update

First, in an earlier post entitled “America,” I wrote some things that easily could have been perceived as very critical of American culture. I’d just like to say that I meant the tone of that post to be joking and light – I didn’t mean to express that I don’t like America. I had a great time in America and I love the country.

Next, several people have asked why I wrote my last post, “No To War.” I wrote it for a creative writing group that I am a part of. The prompt for that essay was: Is war ever justified? That was my response. I posted it on my blog because a) I thought people would be interested and b) there aren’t enough people saying publicly what I said.

About a week and a half ago, I spent two days in Midelt working on a project with hammams (public baths) there. As I’ve explained before, our project with hammams is to convince the hammam owners to convert their stoves to a more efficient kind of stove in order to reduce wood consumption. When I was in Midelt, two other volunteers and I went around to all the hammams in the town (21) to collect basic diagnostic data from the owners and briefly explain the project. We got data about wood consumption, their current furnace, and how many clients frequent their hammam. Using this data we hope show the owners how much money they would save (in reduceed wood costs) if they convert to the more efficient stove. I thought the meetings went very well. Luckily we have found a local man who is interested in the project and well connected. He accompanied us to the hammams, which was very helpful. Some of the hammam owners were very interested in the project, others not. But I’m hopeful that after we make our big pitch to the owners (early July) that at least one hammam will convert.

After my time in Midelt, all volunteers in the country had a consolidation drill. Peace Corps wants all the volunteers to be able to get to consolidation points (spread throughout the country) in case of an emergency. So I was called to Meknes. It was a lot of time and money just for a drill, but the drill meant that I got to watch the Champions League Final (which I otherwise would have missed), so it wasn’t all bad. Also I like Meknes and the people there.

Back at site, I only had a few days before leaving again. I tried to hang out with people as much as possible. On Saturday I went to Tounfite for a going away party for David and Kristin LaFever. On Sunday night I accompanied them to Casablanca (where they caught their plane) and I went onto Rabat.

In Rabat, all the health volunteers who swore in with me (over a year ago) had mid-service medicals. We all got physicals, a dental check-up, and tests for tuberculosis and parasites. I got a clean bill of health! My biggest health problem was “a little dandruff.” I weigh 4 more pounds than I did than when I came into country over 15 months ago. Although this is partly due to being healthy in Morocco, it may also because I stuffed my face with delicious food for 2 weeks in America. My favorite part of the health check-ups was definitely the dental clean. No cavities. In a sort of backhanded compliment (or fronthanded insult) the dentist commented on the discoloration of my teeth and said that it was due to all the fluoride in the water in America. Then he said that the fluoride was why I didn’t have any cavities, so it was a good thing. Uh, thanks.

In addition to the health stuff in Rabat, I also had fun seeing all the people from my stage, most of whom I haven’t seen since November. I also really like Rabat and I enjoyed walking around. The best day I had there was Tuesday, when I had no appointments. I bought a half kilo of apricots (which are my favorite fruit at the moment) and a half kilo of cherries. I took the fruit, a book, and my ipod down to the beach and relaxed for several hours.

The other notable thing about Rabat was my interactions with the other volunteers. Volunteers here have wide range of experiences and perspectives on Morocco and their time here. Unfortunately, some volunteers are quite unhappy here and have very negative attitudes. They are quick to anger and they expect the worst from Moroccans. It made me grateful for my happiness here. Also grateful that the volunteers around me are positive people.

Wrapping up, being back in Morocco has been good. I miss America and family and friends there, but at the same time I’m excited for the next year. My comfort level in the country and my ability to navigate social situations is way up, making things easier. I’ve learned some Arabic, which means that I have an easier time interacting with people in cities. This summer is going to be full of rewarding work (inchallah). And the summer is the most beautiful time of the year in my site. It sucks that David, Kristin, and Mara are gone, but I like the new people around me.

I hope all is well back home, take care.


Franny said...

yo dunc.

thought your post on america was hilarious. im glad to know you have no cavities. keep brushing!

Colton Bangs said...

glad to hear you are still hitting the dried fruit hard.