Our long-awaited site announcement was yesterday, and we learned that in a few weeks we’ll be moving to Azilal! It’s a mid-sized town on the edge of the High Atlas Mountains, and we couldn’t be more excited about it.
Population: around 70,000
Amenities: It’s a regional capital so it has government buildings, daily markets, restaurants, and lots of sports facilities. It basically has everything except a national bus line and a Marjane (Moroccan equivalent of Wal-Mart).
Entertainment: It’s surrounded by mountains and is close to some spectacular waterfalls, and the town is apparently kind of a hub for ecotourism. It’s also only 3 or 4 hours away from Mt. Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa (Matt’s excited to give it a try).
Accessibility: 1.5 hours to Beni-Millal (the city with the closest national bus station), 2.5 hours to Marrakesh, 7 hours to Casablanca, 9 hours to Taounate.
Where we’ll work: Dar Chebab (Youth Center) and Nedi Neswi (Women’s Center)
An extra fun fact is that there have been continuous Peace Corps volunteers living in Azilal for the last 10 years straight, so the town is very accustomed to us being there and to the work that the Peace Corps does. There is currently one volunteer living in town but she is leaving in May, so we’ll get to share the site with her for about a month. And when she leaves our regional manager told us we’ll take over her house, so that’s a huge load off our minds! We move there on March 28th and we’ll be sure to keep you all updated on what the town is actually like as we get settled in and get to know it.
Taounate has felt more and more like home the longer we’ve lived here, and we’ve absolutely loved living with Mama Naima and Anass. We’re sad to be moving so far away from them, and it’s really hard to express how thankful we are for everything they’ve done for us with our limited language – we have no idea how to say “You really made us feel like we were part of the family”. We’re not happy to be leaving them, but we are looking forward to being done with training and to becoming true Peace Corps Volunteers. We know that our new site will have just as many challenges as the ones we’ve encountered so far (if not more!) but we’re still excited to see what it brings. Azilal here we come!