l'aventure africaine

our travel journal

Thursday, July 27, 2006

How cool is this?

From dear old mini apple... the Mother Bear Project.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

More from Mike

Well we are definitely on the back end of our 2 month stay, and it is a time to reflect on what we have learned and the many things we still need to try to get our head around. During the past month and a half we have, on occasion, had to catch a few pigeons that live with us and throw them into the homemade house that is above the entrance to our house. The logic of putting birds that have no regard for where they “go” directly above the entryway has evaded me thus far. Regardless, about 2 weeks ago the local troublemaker cat snatched one of these birds because we didn’t throw some of them up in the house. Well, this week he came back and ate 2 birds in 2 nights. It was beginning to feel a bit like survivor, sure a slightly more gruesome version, but still they were dropping like flies, (actually the flies seem to be multiplying here) to where there is only one lonely bird left. I haven’t told him yet but there is not really much of a prize for being last one in the house, just the knowledge that he’ll be extra plump when the cat does eat him, and he will get him!
Growing up in the rainforest of the Philippines I always loved the rains we had there. They would usually come in the afternoon, while we were taking our afternoon nap. The noise it made on our tin roof is a sound I will always remember. After living here for a month and a half, we have had only one real rain and 3 other sprinkles. The effect these have on the temperature is amazing. There is almost always a breeze here for which I am grateful, however, when it is really hot here, it feels like you are sticking your face in an oven that just cooked thanksgiving turkey The few times it has rained, the temperature drops to a much more bearable degree. Even though there is dirt particles in the rain that makes everything feel grimy, people, including me, still go out and enjoy the cooler weather. I wrote in my journal that it feels like a big spray bottle, which by the way, I have come to love and use daily. Other volunteers have said that when it rains really hard, houses in this area sometimes crumble since they are made primarily out of clay and mud, with some cement. We haven’t seen anything close to this yet.

Okay, more from me too -- Jana here. :)

Just some lists of things!

Things we miss...

1. people, of course. we couldn't even begin to name you and all we love and miss about you! and the ability to talk to you whenever we want.
2. ice water! it was everywhere in the u.s. and we did not appreciate it! the belief here is that drinking really cold water will make you sick, so it's hard to find.
3. eddington's soup and breadsticks on a chilly day
4. chilly days :)
5. fall (okay, we haven't even missed it yet, but i LOVE fall!)
6. chipotle
7. coffee shops
8. dear old AC

things we appreciate here...
1. fruit equals dessert here. it is eaten sometimes for snacks, but mostly at the end of meals! it is just a good thing.
2. the hospitality morocco is famous for really does exist. people are so generous and open with their homes.
3. orange blossom tea... when we were up north a little during training, the orange trees were in blossom, and if you rinse them and put them in tea they taste as amazing as they smell!
4. community. if someone is sick or injured, or leaving town, or whatever, everyone goes to visit. it's cool to be a part of that!
5. public transportation and local produce are just cool things -- good for the environment and all. :) that's all we've got here baby! okay, we miss the convenience of our cars...but learning patience is a good thing too. :)
6. i've always wanted to live by some mountains, and now we do!
7. courtyards -- you are outside, but inside. :)

this is a pretty upbeat blog, and things here are generally upbeat, but as can be expected when two different cultures collide, there are some struggles too. here's a list of things are difficult here, because we want to be honest and it's part of our experience too...
1. moroccan ideas of privacy, i think mike alluded to, are pretty different. people have grown up being together all day, all the time. they sleep and eat and just plain live together! it's not a bad thing, but definately different than the states where we have our own space and personal time. our host family has been very accomodating, i think we just feel guilty when we take our personal time, because we know they don't really understand!
2. although public transportation is admirable, travel is definately a hassle!
3. relationships between men and women here are different. it was something we were aware of before we came, but navigating how to be in day to day life is a struggle. we want to be respectful of the culture we are here to be a part of, but not lose ourselves in the process. and don't get me wrong! mike's job of supporting me and knowing when to push the issue and not is just as difficult as mine -- and he's doing a rockstar job.
4. we are foreigners. most foreigners here are tourists, and are perceived as having a bit of money to spare. a couple of results of this are that we get asked for money at times and when we go to buy things, we, not always but at times, get the "foreigner" price. it doesn't always happen, and there have been a lot of positive experiences developing relationships with store owners. as we have gotten to know people in our town and the big town near us where we do our shopping, these have gotten better and better, but at times, it is just a nuisance, you know? :)
5. one last thing, not necessarily a morocco thing even, is small town life. :) we go on a walk and talk to someone, and news of what we said gets home before we do! or if we ask a silly question at the local shop, we hear about it at home... we are a novelty still and what we said was probably pretty funny...but it will be nice when we are old news. :)

that's what is going through our heads! we have been purchasing lots of things to move into our house august 1st, which has been a little stressful, but a lot of fun too. mike made the comment that it is like getting married again, because we are setting up a house from scratch, which is really true! we are hoping to get the key in the next week or so, so we can start cleaning and moving things in, so hopefully we'll have pictures soon!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Some random things...

It’s been a couple of crazy weeks for us here as you can tell from the pictures last time. Alright, so crazy might be a bit of an overstatement, but we do finally have a place to live once we move out at the beginning of August. The time has gone by pretty quickly until this point but the last week and I fear the following couple might not move at the same speed. In the next couple weeks we’ll get to go on a spending spree of sorts buying up all sorts of stuff to fill our house. Some of the essentials already have been purchased. The always useful spice rack and juicer were Jana’s high priority items. Lesser items like somewhere to sleep and eat are soon to follow. I’m sure once we move in pictures will be forthcoming but there are a couple rooms and a kitchen. The landlord did take back one room he had promised us but we will survive. All the inside walls are cement covered which is the exception here but hopefully should cut down on the amount of dust we inhale.

In general it is nice to use our Arabic with people but occasionally there are people who speak English to some degree. There is one nice man who talks to us using English and most of the time can be understood, however, on a couple of occasion we have been thrown by his use of the word “needs.” An innocent word it would seem but, one time he was asking about how long we had been here and then he asked about my family. Then he asked “… and do you have needs?” Well, sure I have needs, like an air conditioner for one but I wasn’t quite following so we tried again. Eventually we got it straightened out that he was asking if I missed my family back in the states after these 4 months. I said I did a little and he just smiled and shook is head. It’s probably not the easiest for a lot of them to understand since they usually don’t leave the house unless they go to school or work somewhere else. Women usually move in with their husband’s family, sometimes into a different portion of the same house but in very close proximity.

Jana may add something too. The computer is hot on my lap and its 9:30, time to move the bedding outside so that after dinner – about 11:00- all we have to do is take our showers to cool down and then hop right into our little mosquito net, spray down the sheet with water, spray down myself with water, and then its off to air conditioned land.

I think this is how we write our names, basically the sounds translate like this and of course your reading right to left
Maik u djana hoofman
مايك و دجانا هوفمان

Hello now from jana hoofman... I'm just going to add a few random thoughts and happenings.

First, a blog has been created for the newest member of the Huffman family! Michael's brother and sister-in-law are expecting in November, so we're excited to keep up with them here!

I said I couldn't find the temperature here on the internet, so my mom the internet whiz took over. Here's the link, if you are interested,but just FYI we're in the hundreds this week...and as far as the extended forecast looks...yikes!

This link was sent, due to the heat, by a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer. :) It is vital info for us, but maybe for you too if you are ACless or just want to put off turning your's on for a little while!

Another Girl at Play is a group of women who have taken the scary step of declaring themselves "artists" and choosing it as their profession. Not only are they inspirational, they make great stuff! Jewelry...songs...books...

A couple of my favorites are Andrea Scher's Superhero Designs (check out her blog too for good pictures, good thoughts, and links to other good sites!) and and Jenny Hart's Sublime Stitching... cool girls.

One last link -- the Nata Village Blog (brought to my attention at Botsblog -- if you'd like go read why they feel this blog is so valuable!)

And it isn't that I thought the spice rack was the most important thing... we just found a cute one! Spices are bought here in bulk, so a spice rack will be very useful. :)

Stay cool!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Henna and a Haircut!

Hey everyone! We didn't bring a thermometer...and I can't find a website with a temperature...but it is starting to get REALLY hot here. We say that every day now, and the next day seems a little hotter. :) The nights have been cooling down most of the time, which is heavenly. The nights it doesn't are not fun because you wake up still sleepy and really thirsty! Us Minnesota kids are definately making an adjustment, but so far we're doing pretty well. There is usually somewhere to sit in the house where the wind is blowing and it's a little cooler -- that, and some water -- perfect. :)

Not too much is happening as far as daily life is concerned. We are talking to more people, learning things about our community little by little. We did look at a house that we could live in starting in August which was fun. It's a cute place, so now we are excited to start shopping for house things.

Mike got a haircut! Normally, not that big of a piece of news, but Mike received the first ever haircut given by ME. Brave guy! He had purchased clippers so we could shave it if something went terribly wrong, which was a strong possibility. Luckily it went pretty well, with lots of teamwork and direction from Mike. Here's the new look. Oh, and he ditched the goatee and moustache too!

Mike thought I should include this picture he took of me talking on the phone to the States from the phone booth. The cheapest way in town!

I have had henna done 3 times since I've been here by very kind people. I don't think I got any pictures up last time, but this time can't be missed. My host mom is the rockstar of henna in our town. She takes electrical tape and makes fabulous designs and then puts the henna over the tape. When the henna and tape come off, this is what we are left with:

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and my feet...

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okay, last one. with sandals :)

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doesn't she do fabulous stuff? I'm so lucky she's my host mom, and grateful she took the time to do it! It's a process...the application of the tape, leaving it about 2 1/2 hours, and then removing it -- for both hands and both feet. All in the name of beauty :)

Mike's birthday is coming up this week! Birthdays are not celebrated much here. Some of the people in our area don't know when their birthday is, and don't know therefore their exact age. Others have it written on papers somewhere, but don't know it by heart. I think we'll just have our own quiet celebration! Happy 26th Michael :)