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.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

More Pictures

I'm having flashbacks to last summer. Months of relative inactivity loom in front of me. Two weeks until the end of regular classes. English-teaching-induced malaise is overpowering me.
Not much to say, so here are some shots that my Aunt Ellen took while visiting a few weeks ago.
main street


I wore sunscreen

Ras el Ma/ Cap de L'eau/ Caboyawa

more ras el ma

main street from hotel


mountain town tourist restaurant

Main Market

Tuesday Market

Tuesday Market 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

My morning commute

It's been a while since I put some pictures up on this thing. So today I brought my camera on my walk to and from the nearby youth house. I withstood stares, yelling in Spanish and French, and one guy riding in a cart attached to a moped miming the action of cutting my throat to bring you these photos. I guess that's why I've never done it before

my alley

local wall-art and a lady (it's 90 degrees today)

empty lot full of trash, one of many

one of the main roads

local Souq

market full of stolen and smuggled goods from Spain, closed in the morning

same as above

youth center and caretaker 
former movie theater, current fish market

lovin those fish

mountains of mint n parsley n cilantro. total cost of everything on this cart, probably less than 15 bucks

local store

same as above. the sacks are full of rice, beans, couscous, spices, etc. 

local mosque. you can buy clothes and butane in the stores underneath

Friday, May 24, 2013

Birthday in maroc

I turned 24 today, and since yesterday I have a year to go in my service. Maybe it's time for just a little reflection.

A number of family members have told me in the last week or so that this blog has been a bit gloomy as of late. That's not really what I intended. In fact, I've been on a bit of an upswing recently. I'm fairly pleased with what I got done this year and believe some of the connections I've made will be useful in the months ahead.  It's common knowledge in the Peace Corps that it takes a good year before you're accepted enough in your community to attempt large projects. This is why the tour of duty lasts two years. Krista casually mentioned the idea of extending this past week. We'll see about that- I still miss America.

Perhaps the best indicator of how well I'm doing is comparing this birthday with my last. May 24, 2012 I spent sickly sitting in my own,... nevermind. If you're interested you can check out the post from that time. Today I taught my young-English-teachers' seminar on student-based teaching methodologies for a few hours in the morning. The class is usually 3 people but 8 more showed up in the middle from the engineering school in a nearby city. So I improvised. Then I went home, read, and basked in facebook birthday popularity.

In the next few weeks I'll finish up regular classes, do a reading event for small children, graduate a bunch of kids, and get a website full of resources for volunteers on "community health and special needs" up and running. And I can look forward to a parental/grandparental visit, Ireland with Krista's family, and Italy. So there's that, which is nice.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

How the hell did Krista do that?

I can't freakin' believe it. We did our first ever big event at our primary youth center and it was all thanks to Krista. Took 8 weeks to arrange something that should take a few days, due to foot-dragging, confusion, and incompetence on the part of our local 'boss', but it finally got done. We did an environmental day involving a drawing competition, a presentation by an NGO, intense cleaning, a mural painting, and a small party. 

Part of the reason why we did this was because our boss likes to complain about how dirty the Dar Shebab is and how nobody who uses it takes responsibility for its cleanliness. Well, I just found out why it's so dirty. At the beginning of the year, she was offered 2000 dh worth of cleaning supplies or the cash, ostensibly to fix whatever needs fixing. She claimed she would fix the lights and plugs with the money. They haven't been fixed. So I guess she pocketed the money. 

Or how about this one: today she knocked over and broke a big tv while trying to close the window. Turns out, she stole the tv from the other Youth Center. And who did she blame?
1. the person who put the tv where it was
2. Krista, for leaving some of the supplies in the office making it oh-so-cluttered
3. the person who built the room and put the window where it was

Talk about avoiding responsibility. For weeks, every time a single thing hasn't gone quite right she's tried to cancel the event. Well, Krista: 1 Boss: 0.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Fresh set of eyes and a dead dog

Tom and Ellen, Thank you. My aunt and uncle came to my crappy little fourth-tier, third-world city. I wonder if it was as much of an adventure for them as it was for me to see my site through a fresh set of eyes. 

For a while now I've thought of this place as 'not Africa'. This place is easier to define by what it isn't rather than by what it is. It's not Europe, it's not Africa, it's not clean, it's not fun, there's no art, there are no parks, etc. When I say it's 'not Africa', I basically intend to say that it's better than most of Africa. There is pretty good infrastructure, some people have money to spend, and corruption isn't as bad as in other countries. Or, for example, Mauritania is just to our south and boasts a population who are 90% not-slaves.

I realized that I'm pretty much used to how crappy everything is. Sure there's trash everywhere, but I'm only really bothered when I see piles of burning plastic. Most people goggle at me but I've gotten pretty good at not looking at anybody when I walk around. Cleanliness isn't good, but I've long been resigned to the fact that I'm gonna be sick all the time. And I've gotten used to dressing and looking like crap. 

So, simple existence here isn't quite as much of an adventure as it once was. Of course, there are still moments when I cringe or I think, 'ha, holy shit that's crazy'. Like today when I was about a block from my youth center and saw a dead dog seeping onto a piece of cardboard next to some vendors going about their business.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Kafka Summer

In DC you know that summer is on its way when the cherry blossoms are clearing up and the restaurant patios are opening onto the street. You can walk comfortably in the evening and the mall is mobbed with mid-western families in matching bright green t-shirts.

Here you know summer is on its way when it hits 90 degrees, a haze of burning trash obscures the mountains and huge, disgusting cockroaches fly out of the toilet while you're trying to relieve yourself. That's right, the first cockroach of the season, and it was a big one. The cats, it turns out, are totally useless when it comes to these things. I'm scared of them even though I'm 1000 times bigger. And the cats are pretty much the same size so what did I expect?

Along with summer comes the prospect of empty months ahead. But in the mean time, I've been enjoying classic Moroccan bureaucracy. I've been here over a year and so my 'carte de sejour' has expired. It's this shitty little laminated piece of paper that says my name is Michael Dominic and I am allowed to work and travel in Morocco.

First, I had to mail several meaningless forms to Peace Corps after paying for a man to put stamps on them and charge me for said stamps. It took a little while to find this office. Then I had to wait over a month for the Peace Corps to send me back another sheet of paper with stamps on it from the court system saying that I wasn't a criminal. They sent me a bunch of other paperwork as well, I had to get more copies of my passport stamped again and go to the police station. While I was at the police station there were two guys. One of them helped me by walking through the forms with me, and the other kept on trying to screw up the whole thing by making me get more meaningless forms and papers stamped (including my birth certificate; I mean, who the hell has their own birth certificate?).

It reminded me of the DMV where your success is absolutely dependent upon whether or not the person helping you is an asshole. There don't seem to be any rules for this thing so I'm glad I got a nice guy this time. The stamp place, however, is ridiculous. For whatever reason, these two guys are endowed with great power. They have some stamps. If you have a form, pretty much any form, or anything at all for that matter, that you need to convince somebody is important and real, you bring it to these guys and they stamp it. Then you pay them. And that's it. It is, without a doubt, the most ludicrous bureaucratic waste I could possibly imagine. I'm sure we can thank the French for this system. Now I just need to wait 2 months to get my new shitty little laminated piece of paper.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


Thanks to International Labor Day, since getting back on Sunday I have taught a grand total of 8.5 hours of English, which is alright with me. Since I couldn't think of anything better to write, I've recycled a number of my best Moroccan interactions of the last 6 months for the benefit of those who may not assiduously follow my facebook. Aka, these are for the Grandmoms!

@my apartment
little neighbor girl: Mimoun you're looking very white ever since coming back from Rabat
Me: I know, I wasn't allowed to leave the hotel for a week so I didn't see the sun
little neighbor girl: I'll tell all the girls in the town who want to marry to come to this house, they like white colored-people like you

@the barbershop
Me: Godwilling I'll come back here for a haircut in the future
Young barber: Come anytime
Old barber: or just come back to sit and talk
Me: Thanks bizeff. What are your names?
Young barber: We are Moroccans. So he's Mohammed, I'm mohammed, everybody's Mohammed.

@Moroccan girl's house
Moroccan girl: Oh and I love this excellent show WWE Raw.
Me: really? wrestling?
Moroccan girl: yes and my mom loves it too
Me (to the mom): who's your favorite wrestler?
Old Moroccan lady: Big Show

6:30 pm, outside the youth center with my Moroccan boss and his bro abdelatif
me: (pointing at moon) What's the word for when the moon is like that [a sliver]?
Abdelatif: Hillel my friend
me: Oh cool, what about when it's more than half?
Abdelatif: That's Badr, we say Badr.
me: ok
Abdelatif: Badr is also the word for a woman's sex.
me: what?
Abdelatif: oh sorry, not the whole thing, just the top (makes inappropriate tongue movements)
me: ah
Abdelatif (to my boss): oh whoops, look at the time, I have to go pray.

@my youth center
7 pm. Annoying lady in her 30s has been talking loudly in the Youth House for a while, including trying to make me feel like shit for not being Muslim. I leave. While outside getting on my bike I talk to Mohamed the security guard through one of the windows as he's sitting, drinking tea and shelling peas.
Me: I have to go. I have a headache. That woman just talks and talks and talks
Mohamed: Yes, she doesn't have a man/husband.
Me: What?
Mohamed: If she had a man and she were out this late [makes hand motion that indicates beating somebody]


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.