l'aventure africaine

our travel journal

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Tomorrow is...

Tomorrow is Eid ul-Adha, or Eid L'Kbir in Morocco. We'll have more to say after we've experienced it, but click on the link and check out the Traditions and Practices section of that entry to see what we'll be up to -- and Mabrouk to you if you are celebrating!

So, the snow!

A couple of weeks ago it was time for our In-Service Training (IST).

IST is a lot of things. It happens after our first six months or so in site. The first six months they want you to focus on getting to know your community and language, and not on “doing stuff” without having done that important relationship-building first. To that end, we are not allowed to apply for grants for projects until IST, both because that shouldn’t be our focus, and also to avoid coming to town and bringing thousands of dollars with us and, first thing, building latrines and buying books and such and giving the impression that we are here as little Santa Clauses. So, IST is where we learn about the ins and outs of grants available through PC, and also talk with each other and our supervisors about what we’ve been doing, and what we would like to do with the remaining year and a half of our service. It’s exciting because we’ve been training and learning and practicing for so long (not that that won’t keep happening!) but after these 9 or 10 months in country we are here! These 18 months are what we’ve got to do big things and put to use what we’ve learned! Woo hoo!

Our Country Director, and the moustaches grown in his honor.

IST is also two other important things. It is a mini-celebration of completing the first six months of our service. They are supposed to be the hardest, and so the best is yet to come (of course(!) there are ups and downs throughout)! Peace Corps rewarded us with some sweet accommodations and just a great week of big city living in Agadir….I know it is a cliché thing for a PCV to say, but I too will NEVER cease to appreciate the joy of a real shower supplied by a hot water heater… a little bit of heaven :) Lastly, IST is a chance to see people we haven’t seen in six months (since training) and won’t see again for about another six months…and for some of our group – until our Close of Service conference three months before we leave… It is wonderful to see everyone, and to remember what hanging out with a bunch of people who all “get” you is like… it was a crazy, exhausting week!

The King drove past our hotel. Mike went out and snapped a pic...that's him sticking out of the sunroof!

Right :) back to the snow… we woke up the morning we were leaving while it was still dark and in our courtyard saw the UFO flashes of lightning…a storm coming. We added our Columbia jackets as the rain began to fall as we loaded up the taxi to go into town and catch the bus. By the time we got to town it was POURING and as the bus pulled out of Tata, it was crazy to see puddles and streams and full riverbeds in our desert!

Now, to get to Agadir we pass through some mountains…and they aren’t, like, high elevation kind of mountains…but we were driving, and looked out the window and all of the sudden the rain looked a lot like snow. Just seeing snow fall was CRAZY, but, well, you saw the picture, it got crazier. Snow started collecting on the ground and it looked like a whole different landscape to see our brown, rocky, palm tree-studded desert covered in white.

We had a little traffic jam where a bus and some cars lost traction going around a corner and people were getting off of our bus in their sandals(!) to assess the situation and help shovel out a little… which goes to show just how strange this was… we thought maybe it was something we didn’t expect and hadn’t seen before, but the rest of the bus was taking pictures with their cell phones and the bus driver’s assistant was calling EVERYONE he knew and yelling excitedly about the snow… by the time we got to the halfway-point of our trip the snow was about a foot deep and we got held up for a little under 3 hours because the local authorities didn’t think the bus driving around on snow-covered mountain roads was safe… We didn’t get any pictures at that point (Why, I am not sure…) but although it was a lot chilly, and we were ready to get moving, it made us Minnesota kids feel all warm and fuzzy….turned the cell phone to its Christmas rings…. :)

We hope you had a WONDERFUL Christmas, or a meaningful time whichever holiday is yours, and here is to a Happy 2007!!!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I'm dreaming of a ....

We are a little short on time today, but something to ponder...

The picture was taken through a bus window, so the quality is sketchy... but those are palm trees...and that is SNOW!!!!!!

The whole story to come.... :)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Mike here.

6 months and counting…

To be honest I sit here and don’t know what this entry is going to entail but we are about to go to our In Service Training and it is something of a milestone for us anyways because it means we can actually start applying for funding from Peace Corps for larger scale projects that we may decide to do. An added benefit of IST is that we get to see all the volunteers that we went through our training with but haven’t seen for 6 months because of our remoteness (meaning we are not by a beach, a large town, or anywhere closely resembling a tourist attraction unless you count the blue buildings Tata is “known” for, according to one website. (This of course is like saying our bed is “known” for the pink blanket we have on it, which means, because you are reading this, it can now be said that someone knows about our pink blanket- get it?))

So this was going to be just another mind-numbing entry telling you Mike and Jana in Morocco this, and Mike and Jana in Morocco that but instead I decided, since we have been in country a whole nine months and out on our own for six months why not make it list time so, here goes…

Some ways you know you’ve integrated (In some cases maybe just a little TOO well)

- “It wasn’t a bad taste, except that I know peanuts aren’t supposed to taste like VOMIT.” Said by my lovely wife just 2 days ago.

- Dreams of bacon frying in the pan have changed to dreams of me eating an entire camel rump roast

- Showers have now become optional. Bucket baths, even with warm water is just too cold!

- Everything we drink tastes better when we drink it out of teeny tea glasses.

- As of last night’s tutor session, we have learned approximately 12 variations for expressing gratitude.

- We’re actually asking tourist to “Donnez moi une stylo” and gawking at their enormous campers and tremendously taught, slightly exposed bellies in ill fitting muscle shirts. And shoulders are downright scandalous!

Okay, that's all the hilarity I've got for now. More soon...