Mike and Jana - Peace Corps Volunteers!!
We did it! We signed in this morning as Peace Corps Volunteers! The ceremony and reception were nice. We'll post some pictures soon, but for now they are still on the camera. It is nice to be done with training and on to what it is we came here to do...but a little scary too!
But I'm getting ahead of myself -- last week we finished up our training in the Azilal province up in the mountains and headed off to meet up with the environmental sector that arrived with us and has been doing their training in a different area of the country. Before we left we visited the Cascades d'Ouzoud -- a beautiful waterfall in the area where we were training.
There is the falls and us at the falls (obviously) :) and Mike waving hello to everyone at home. The last one was a mill, grinding grain, that was powered by the waterfall.
One last picture. There are monkeys at the waterfall. I don't remember why...but they are so not shy, so here is a really close picture. It was as close as it seems, and after I took the picture it started walking towards me and looking at me like it wanted something I had -- I took off!
Oh, but even before that I had a couple of pictures from our trip back from our site visit. We stopped on our way home in Marrakesh. It is all about tourists, which has its pro's and con's. There are a lot of people trying to sell a lot of things, and we get just as much attention as any tourists. It is a lot of fun though to wander the covered markets of Djemaa el Fna and take in clothes and spices and pottery and huge old wooden doors that you'll never buy but are beautiful. There are juice stalls in the square and we had some fresh orange and grapefruit juice and ate breakfast at a cafe on the square. It's a giant transportation hub, so pretty much all PCV's will visit at some point, but it was still fun to experience for the first time! A couple of pictures...
So, that's what we've been up to the past couple of weeks! We leave tomorrow to start heading to our sites and begin the process of language improvement and getting to know our community. The first months are going to be quiter because our primary jobs are the ones I mentioned above. Doing that will allow us to see what the needs in our community are, get to know who the interested people are that we can partner with when we begin more structured projects, and build trust within the community because once we have that, we'll be able to talk to people about personal concerns like health and hygiene. Peace Corps doesn't have us do any projects that require funding until 6 months, when we will have "In-service Training" and learn about grants, etc. I believe part of it is that the first months really are to focus on relationship building and language, and also because our jobs really are about education and capacity-building -- helping the community members learn how to accomplish the things they feel are important -- not about being deliverers of project money. Although that can happen too if the community is interested in providing a certain percentage of the project money or work and partnering to apply for a grant.
It will be quieter as well because things are just quieter in the summer months! People cope with the heat by taking it easy during the warmest parts of the day. We've gotten some coping tips from current PCV's -- sleeping with wet hair or clothes or sheets...especially if you have a fan you can turn on the wet sheets. :) I'm sure we'll devise some of our own strategies too and we'll keep you posted!
Next time we write we'll have moved to our final site and be settling in for the long haul...well, at our host family's house for a 2 month stay and then we'll search for our own housing but -- we finally are going to live somewhere permanently! It's been fun to see a bunch of the country, but it will be nice to retire the suitcases. We'll try and post again soon!