The views, opinions, and observations expressed in this journal are my own and in no way reflect the views, opinions, or policy of the Peace Corps, Peace Corps Morocco, nor any other governmental or non-governmental organization.

Nor is anything written here necessarily drawn from my own views, opinions, and observations. Please consider all postings and pictures complete fabrications with absolutely no bearing on reality. For legal purposes, please additionally regard the author as utterly imaginary.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

more on turkish toilets

We had a training session today both on turkish toilets and the public baths (حمام).

Everybody is a bit shell-shocked.  I guess we learned the reason why you're only supposed to eat with your right hand.  I can now see why it's impolite to use the left when reaching into the communal dish.  I armed myself with toilet paper stolen from the hotel.

The Hmmam (baths) are going to be strange.  Apparently strangers offer to wash your back if you wash theirs, which means something different than it would at Results Gym in DC.  It actually means just washing your back.  So, usually, people will bring a friend along to aid with the bathing process.

One other notable thing from today: I picked up some clothes from the dry cleaners and the guy working there, like so many people in Rabat, starting speaking french to me.  I told him je ne pas parle francais, which he took to mean that I spoke french.  It took a while to convince him that just because I could almost say that I can't speak the language, that didn't necessarily mean that I knew the language.

tomorrow, host family in Sefrou.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Introduction to Islam

Another memorable training session, introducing us to Islam in 45 minutes.  Apparently, if pressed, we should quote the Koran and say "there is no compulsion in religion" لا اكراة في الدين

Additionally, we were warned that you can have no more than four wives, and only two of them can be sisters.  That latter part is an especially good idea.

We're not allowed to drink for at least the next three months; it's "shuma", which I confuse with Shamu, the whale.  This is in part because, in the words of our Islam teacher, 'if you drink, you become the devil's workshop'.  Can't argue with that.

from the Casbah, which I rocked-- Rabat beach and lighthouse

Monday, March 26, 2012

Medical Kit

A great session this afternoon on diarrhea and our new med kits-- we all got heavy black cases, standard through the peace corps, no matter what country you’re stationed in.  Apparently we will all be spending a lot of time either pooping, or else attempting to poop.  Of course, we’re not going to know how to use the toilets/(buckets and holes-in-the-ground).  They call these facilities “Turkish”, though I’m pretty sure I never saw them in Turkey.  Another highlight of the meeting was the camouflage condoms.  Apparently we are allowed to have sex, but only discretely.  Of course, they’re urban camo so I guess no rural sex is allowed. 

I’m getting pumped to head out to Sefrou, where we do our CBT or community-based training.  We leave on Thursday, and we’ll be out there for maybe two or two and a half months.  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

day off

Yesterday was grueling. We went over, in excruciating detail, how to write a lesson plan, for several hours. There were, however, a few moments where we hit upon some idea or other for a useful project.  If nothing else, it was a great lesson in patience and endurance, particularly for a friend in my language group, who’s a college professor in his other life.  After that, we had a ‘Moroccan party’ (hefla)- dancing and music and everything but one of the volunteers, who’s on his way to being jimmy buffett JR, stole the show.  Biggest hit was probably the Peace Corps Blues, which he made up on the spot.  If these pictures work, he’s the guy with the absurd mustache and hair.

Today we had the day off, which was awesome.  Slept a solid 10 hours, and walked around Rabat a fair amount.  We saw where they buried a few kings and some sweet ruins.  At the ruins (Phoenician, roman, and so forth, on top of each other), we saw a snake, eels, hedgehog, tons of cats, roosters and chickens, and lots and lots of cranes hanging around a pool where women who are having trouble conceiving go to feed eggs to the eels aiming to enhance their fertility.  The word for cranes is apparently “lak-lak”.  Also joked with an old guy about eating the hedgehog.  We got stopped by some policemen on the walk back because we were carrying cameras and near to the embassies.  They were perfectly friendly though, and immediately recognized ‘peace corps’, so we had no hassles.  It was a good day.  I’m trying to get some pictures up on this thing, but I have no idea if it will work.  If they do, the one with the fountain is near the tombs of the kings, and the other two are from the ruins   

first round pictures

Thursday, March 22, 2012

So It Begins


There are 113 volunteers, approximately 4 times as many as I expected, and 112 more than I actually considered before arriving in Philadelphia.  Overwhelming- however, everything began with a very good omen- the first woman I met was wearing pac-man earrings.  This is very good.  Other characters include a guy who's a southern california lifeguard, and looks like he's a southern california lifeguard.  I just met another guy who's an orphan from Sao Paolo and grew up on the streets there until he was 8 and moved to Arkansas.  Another is a man in about his 50s who records every single thing that happens with complex and heavy sound equipment.  Another young woman in my group is an ex-catholic Iraqi lesbian who's been dis-owned by a significant part of her family.  There are also a number of married couples.

I have about 5 more minutes before I lose the internet, so I have to keep things short.

We're all running the gauntlet right now, everything is scheduled- all sorts of training and language training, and assembly-line shot-giving, it's been nuts.  Among other things, the ambassador to Morocco spoke with us today and was quite ambassadorial.  He warned us that Moroccans like to put a single stair in the middle of their rooms for no particular reason.  We had the regional security officer tell us the best way to get in a knife-fight (cut the forehead, the skin is tight there and the assailant won't be able to see because of the blood).  And we did a little language stuff.  I also went for a run to the beach and played some soccer with a group of shabab.  That means 'young people'.  That's it for now.

Monday, March 12, 2012


The views, opinions, and observations expressed in this journal are my own and in no way reflect the views, opinions, or policy of the Peace Corps, Peace Corps Morocco, governmental or non-governmental organizations.

Nor is anything written here necessarily my own views, opinions, or observations. Please consider all pictures and texts here to be complete fabrications with absolutely no bearing on reality, this one or any other. For legal purposes, please additionally consider the author to be utterly imaginary.