back in azrou this week, but only for 4 days. beginning to start to have a great comfort level here, and the darija is slowly coming along each and everyday. so many things that i have never experienced before, like for instance I had never had a date (the food) before coming here. very tasty. the fruits and vegetables are so amazing. esp. the avocados, which are very reasonably priced, but many things are. super duper poor, but i am pretty used to that. we have been getting about 270 dirhams, which is like 50 or so dollars. the conversion rate today is 8.7 dirhams to one dollar, so very much in our advantage. for instance, a phone call to the US from a payphone is three dirhams to start, and a five minute conversation is like 10 dh. mail is probably the most expensive thing, so sending packages will be at a minimum for me.
another adventure that i had right before leaving khemisset, was going to the hammam for the first time. and i must say unfortunately the last time. i knew that i should not have gone because of my eczema (very very dry skin), but i just wanted to go to make sure that it was bad.... my host sister charifa went with me, and we went to the part of khemisset that is much nicer and newer than my area. that area is called mouna...and is like a 5 minute walk from my part of town...taddart. the hammam has three parts, the cool, the warm, and the hella hot, and for whatever reason, my host sister took us to the hottest part. we then began the long process of scrubbing off dead skin, and cleansing, which might i add, took 2 hrs of hanging out there...which for some is very early. many women, since there are not many places where they can go and socialize here in morocco, go to the hammam and chat it up. to me it is a little odd, because you are just chillin, while naked and cleaning yourself. there are boundaries that are crossed here that would never happen in the states. it felt really great, but man o man did my skin hate me in the following days. thankfully the peace corps is able to provide me with my over the counter medicine though for eczema. seriously, thank god for that.
women here walk down the street linking arms or holding hands, and so i am getting very used to that, and actually it is very nice, because when walking in the streets linked with another, you are less likely to be harrassed.
my family in khemisset walks me to and from school each day, but i am really okay with this, in the fact that i know that they are worried about me and my safety, so there are worse things to worry about. ramadan has made for difficulties in my eatin habits. i did fast for 2 days straight, however, it does affect my learning abilities in the classroom. so i will not fully fast until next ramadan...which i hear will be in the summer time or the end of the summer, which will make it even more hard because it will be very hot here, and you are not to eat or drink water even until around 630 pm or so.
i am really appreciative of how humble my family is and gracious with everything.
khemisset is a town that has a lot of promise, and though it is not as esthetically pleasing at first glance, there are jems along the way. i have really enjoyed just observing the country so far, and can't believe that 26 months are going to go by so quickly. also, i know that i will have the opportunity to grow and learn from this experience. we have a library at hand through the peace corps, so i can order whatever books i want or desire for hte most part. i am going to read as much as possible, and hopefully even pick up french, even though i terribly dislike this language for the fact that i like the way that spanish and italian sound, but that is my own preference. however, being in morocco where the second language is french, i really think it is vital in many ways. especially in the business world. so we shall see.
already in my head i have a list of places i long to go visit, which include: Marrakech, Fes, Chefchaouen, Meknes, Volubilus (roman ruins nearby to Meknes), Sale, Rabat again, Safi, and maybe Agadir. many places to go see, and hopefully as many places that are not on the beaten path as well. I am already dreaming of when I am finished as well, because we can travel to our hearts content, and I think upon completion in the Peace Corps, I would like to travel a lot before coming back to the states...Germany, EGYPT for sure, then maybe Japan, Spain, Norway or Finland...Czec republic, Austria, so many places to see, England would be nice, Ireland too...but Egypt is the first and foremost place to visit. But that is dreaming a little too far in advance...step by step , every day little by little, bswiya, bswiya.
I love learning, and although there are many privileges and freedoms that i do not have here in Morocco, being a female first and foremost, I am okay with it, and am excited to be able to live in a Muslim country and learn a whole new perspective.
more updates tomorrow, before heading back to khemisset for another 6 days. really i need to kick it into gear though, and focus on my language for the next month, as it is going to pick up quickly now that we are getting into my favorite part of learning new languages: VERBS and tenses of verbs.
hope everyone back in the states is doing well, and know that i miss you all terribly. hope to hear from you all soon, and want to hear everything that is going on. i am well and sound in mind, and am motivated and positive at the opportunites that are front of me each day...!!!
bslama f deba.