Our First Month in Azilal

We’ve been away from the blog for a bit since we’ve been working at a Spring Camp here for the last couple weeks, which has taken up a lot of our time (although we are now experts at sitting around not knowing what’s going on). Here’s a quick summary of what we’ve been up to:

Tuesday the 9th – Monday the 15th was our 1st camp. We were tasked with teaching English for an hour each afternoon, which went pretty well for the most part. We also helped with some time filler activities, including a STOMP-inspired activity which was actually pretty cool (we even showed the video from JI-row in the Red Bull Tum Tum Pa competition that some of you might remember – the kids loved it). We got lots of practice in writing quick lesson plans, teaching to students with a big range of abilities, and playing camp games.

Fun quotes of the week:
“I’m going to go to America and sell perfume until I’m rich. Then I’m going to move to Italy and become a murderer.” (This was definitely said as a joke).
“Obama has the blood of the pharaohs in him.” (This was definitely not said as a joke).

Last Tuesday we took advantage of a much-needed day off and visited a current volunteer (Vandy) living in Ait M’hamed, a small town a little bit further into the mountains. That Tuesday there happened to be a Moroccan horsemanship festival going on that was pretty awesome. As far as we could understand, it was a celebration of ancient warfare techniques and the aim of the group of horsemen is to maintain a straight line while first having their horses trot and then charge in unison, with the charge ending in a synchronized gunshot. We had a great time getting to know Vandy, eating some delicious street food, and getting up close and personal with some very excited horses.

Cori and Vandy enjoying the freshly cooked amazing street food

Cori and Vandy enjoying the freshly cooked amazing street food

Right next to the horses... whoa.

We may have almost gotten trampled…

Synchronized gunshot at the end of the ride.

Synchronized gunshot at the end of the ride.

Wednesday the 17th – Sunday the 21st was our 2nd week of camp. It turned out to be basically all of the same kids as our first camp, so we got lots more practice writing new lesson plans for our afternoon English lessons. This camp was a little bit shorter and it included a field trip day to a beautiful waterfall just outside of Azilal (not the famous Ouzoud falls – a smaller more local one called Ifrane) that was a really great opportunity for us to see some of Azilal’s surroundings and to hang out with the kids informally. We even both ended up swimming – Matt in a pair of shorts and Cori in a full t-shirt and pants.

Fun quote of the week:
Our test question: “What color is the teapot?” (Answer: red)
Student’s written answer: “What hat what.”

Cori in front of the Ifrane waterfall.

Cori in front of the Ifrane waterfall.

Youth at our spring camp.

Youth at our spring camp having a good time.

This week we’ve been preparing to start classes at the Dar Chebab while also spending lots of time with the current volunteers here. We visited Ait M’hamed again to see Vandy and went on some great hikes with him before he left this week, and we’ve been working on setting up our utilities and running other house-related errands with Donna, the volunteer who lives in the apartment we’ll be inheriting in Azilal. She is leaving for the good old USA next week, and while that means we finally get to move into our own place (woohoo!), it also means we’ll be the only Americans in Azilal (yikes!).

Our first month here has been pretty busy and full of ups and downs. Camp was a big challenge, but now that we’re done with it we appreciate it as an opportunity to get to know some of the kids at the Dar Chebab. We’ve had a great time getting to know our new host family – they’ve been super welcoming and our host sisters have been fantastic at showing us around Azilal.  We’re looking forward to keeping close ties with them after we move out. We’ve also had a great time getting to know Donna and Vandy here and learning all the important secrets of Azilal from them, like where to buy soy sauce and which butcher knows the word for “steak”. We know we’ll have plenty more challenges associated with moving into our own place and starting classes at the Dar Chebab, but we’re pretty happy with what we’ve accomplished here so far!

Got to see our first Scorpion on our hike with Vandy - zoom in on the photo and check out the needle on the end of his tail.  Scary!

Got to see our first Scorpion on our hike with Vandy – zoom in on the photo and check out the needle on the end of his tail. Scary!

View from our hike in Ait M'hamed

View from our hike in Ait M’hamed

3 thoughts on “Our First Month in Azilal

  1. Wow – looks amazing! Glad to hear you’re staying busy and exploring the area a bit. How’s your housing situation at the moment?

  2. The pictures are Great! That scorpion is scary!! I bought all the stuff you requested for the care package and hope to get it in the mail this weekend. Love you and miss you guys.

    Love, Mom and Dad

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