We’ve been working in site now for almost two months, and unlike many volunteers that are just starting out, we’re lucky enough to have a Dar Chebab that’s actually open. Of course, that means that we actually have to do work, and even though it’s not a lot of work, it’s still nice to have a chance to get away. We never would’ve thought that Peace Corps service could involve an all most expenses paid beach vacation, but that’s exactly what we got when Peace Corps sent us to the beach town of Oualidia for a meeting with all of the volunteers in our area.
Since the total travel time to Oualidia is about 7 hours, we left Azilal two days before the meeting to break up our travel a bit. We met a couple volunteers, Carly and Evan, who live a bit outside of Oualidia, and we spent the night with them and had a great time getting to know them and cooking delicious food. The next day we travelled together to Oualidia, our beach home for the next few days. After checking into our hotel (the nicest one we’ve seen in a long time), we got lunch and explored the town. Since the ocean was still far too cold for a recreational swim, we just enjoyed walking along the sand, hiking a bit, and meeting all the volunteers that were trickling in for our meeting the next day.
One of the highlights of our trip was that evening, when a small group of us decided to get some fresh seafood for dinner. Things are a little bit different in Morocco, so instead of heading to the nearest grocery store, we headed straight to the ocean where we were immediately surrounded by 10-15 Moroccan men shoving their daily catch in our faces while trying to tell us that their fish was the best and cheapest we would find. We ended up buying a big bag of mussels and 2 absolutely huge live crabs pulled straight from the ocean, where they were held in a net to keep fresh.
Since we lacked a kitchen of our own, we walked a short way down the road to a restaurant where we’d eaten lunch earlier that day and asked if it would be possible for the owner to cook our dinner for us. Not only did he agree to cook for us, he also invited us into the kitchen to help and to see how it was done. About an hour later we had a huge seafood feast. Total cost, less than $5 each!
We spent most of the next day in a meeting learning about other volunteers’ experiences and projects, and while it was a day of work, we both ended the day excited about the ideas we’d heard and looking forward to bringing them to our Dar Chebab in Azilal. We still had time for some fun afterwards too, including indulging in some cheesy Doritos while watching the sunset and having an impromptu dance party with some of the other volunteers in the hotel’s “Jet Set Night Club”.
The next morning we decided to extend our stay by a few hours and take advantage of an offer we’d had the night before to take some surfing lessons. That’s right, surfing… add that to the list of things we never thought we’d do as volunteers!
We had a great teacher who gave the whole lesson in Darija, and we enjoyed all the times he’d start out in French, apologize, and continue in Darija because he’s so used to the French tourists that usually take his lessons. Each person in our group managed to ride at least a couple waves, and we all had an awesome time! Two hours later (and only about $18 less well off) we finally headed back to Evan and Carly’s, where we all immediately fell asleep for about 3 hours. We spent one more night with our friends before finally heading back to our home in Azilal. We definitely feel rested and ready to get back to work here. Well… at least until our 2-week-long training in Marrakesh next week!
-Cori and Matt