Peace Corps Part deux: Moroccan Nights

Mandatory Disclaimer: The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or people, the Mauritanian government or people, or the Peace Corps.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Déjà vu

This is my second night in Morocco and the overwhelming sense I am getting is that I have already seen all of this before. After serving in a malaria endemic country you have to continue taking your preventative malaria medication for a month after leaving said country. I haven't even finished my Mauritanian malaria medication and already I have Peace Corps sessions that are eerily similar to the ones I had last June.

It has also been exciting to meet this new class of volunteers. It seems like a good group of people. The one major difference is that there are a lot more “experienced” volunteers in this class than in my Mauritanian group. Note that “experienced” is a euphemism for old.

Another difference is that the medical kit that they give us is a lot smaller than the one they gave us in Mauritania. I’m not sure if that’s because they assume that are luxurious houses in Mauritania have more room or if there are fewer diseases and medical problems in Morocco but I’m hoping it’s the latter. To give credit where credit is due this observation came from Kat who is a fellow Mauritanian Peace Corps refugee, also making the jump to Morocco. She is also responsible for many of the better pictures in the preceding entry. The rest of the photos are "borrowed" from my other Tagant Region mates as my camera was unable to survive even two months in the sands of the Sahara.

We haven’t started language training yet but unofficially I have been listening to Peace Corps staff speaking to each other (eavesdropping). The Moroccan language Darija is similar to the Hassaniya that I was speaking in Mauritania as they are both dialects of Arabic. This should make learning the new dialect easier although it has already caused me some problems. When a word is close but not exactly the same in the two languages it is really difficult to modify the words I have been saying for a year.

On the plane ride over I taught an Arabic newbie her first Arabic word: Mushkile. For the uninitiated it means problem. It is used in the context of “there is no tea: problem.” Or in this case, they keep turning on and off the cabin lights for the whole plane for no apparent reason: “mushkile.”

For the first few days in Morocco we are staying in a hotel on the beach doing brief introductions. Today we played a game of ultimate Frisbee on the beach with some Peace Corps staff and a few of my fellow trainees. While Mauritians could never catch anything, too much time playing soccer and not enough baseball in my opinion, this group of Moroccans could certainly catch a Frisbee and took to the game quickly despite it being played just before sundown on a hot day during Ramadaan.

I had a great trip home this past month with one regret that I didn’t have a chance to get in any ultimate so I’m glad I was able to rectify that problem. I also had missed the Super Bowl last year and the night before I left while I was in Philly, Steelers vs. Cardinals in the Super Bowl XLIII happened to be on TV and I was finally able to watch Ben Roethlisberger’s throw that game-winning touchdown. Also worth noting is that when I signed into Facebook from my computer at home in New City it said, "You are signing in from an unfamiliar address please enter the following information..."

Also Mauritania seems to be getting the short end of the deboos (stick) lately. Major flooding has happened in Rosso where I had my Pre-service training learning about Peace Corps policies last June.


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