Welcome to our home!

You may have noticed, since it has been included in 4 out of the last 6 posts, that our house is pretty important to us. Today we’re dedicating the whole post to it by taking you on a tour! We’ve been lucky to inherit lots of furniture, books, food, and other miscellaneous stuff, so that’s why these rooms are already so full (well, by Peace Corps standards anyway).

First is the most important room in the house… the kitchen :). Ours is a little small but it does have a balcony – that’s a rug hanging to dry on the railing of the balcony in the back of the picture. We also have a fridge and an oven that didn’t fit into the picture. We inherited lots of seasonings and baking supplies from previous volunteers so we’ve been having a good time jumping back into cooking.

This is our kitchen (that's a rug hanging to dry on the balcony in the background)

View from the balcony off the kitchen

View from the balcony

Next is our bedroom. We love the cross breeze that these two windows create (although we might feel differently once winter comes around).

Our bedroom

View from the bedroom window

View from the open window of downtown Azilal

We also have a second bedroom, which is mostly empty except for these massive closets – hooray storage space!

IMG_1564

Last but not least is our salon, or living room. This is where we keep the computer, and consequently its where we spend most of our time when we’re at home. You can see our Ohio State flag sitting behind Matt on the couch – once we figure out how to hang it, this is where it’s going!

Looking into the sitting room from the entryway

Looking in from the entryway

IMG_1605

So that’s our little American sanctuary in the middle of Azilal. So far we’ve been concentrating on cleaning and organizing – next comes decorating and really making it feel like home. We hope this gives you all a little bit of a visual of what our life is like here… and we hope you can also see we have plenty of room to host any visitors! *wink, wink*

Life After Homestay

Big news — after nearly 3.5 months of living with families here in Morocco, we finally have a home of our own!  (Pictures will come soon.)  It’s something we’ve been looking forward to for months and we’re really excited to have finally moved in.  Don’t get us wrong; we’ve been extremely fortunate with our amazing host families, and we’re really excited to continue to enjoy couscous Fridays with our family here in Azilal… but there’s something about living on our own terms that is really, really nice.

For example, we can cook for ourselves again! We’ve both really been enjoying getting back in the kitchen and having control over what we eat again. Cori is glad to decrease the amount of bread she eats from approximately 2 Moroccan loaves daily to maybe half a loaf, Matt has been enjoying having eggs for breakfast every morning, and we’ve both been glad to get fresh fruits and veggies back into our diet. This also means that we can finally translate all of the Moroccan recipes that we (kind of) learned during homestay into American measurements and instructions and share them with you!

Other examples of things we’re excited for include not having to live out of our suitcases anymore, being able to read or watch tv shows without feeling super rude, listening to music out loud, working out, having time to relax on our own, and generally feeling like adults again. It’s amazing how much easier it’s been to get up and go work at the Dar Chebab when we know we have our own place to go back to.

We did have a bit of a reality check yesterday that reminded us that moving into our own apartment won’t be as easy as we kept making it out to be. We went to the big weekly market alone for the first time, and it was pretty overwhelming. There are tons of food stands, all selling more or less the same thing, and tons of people shopping at all of them. We have the language to ask for what we need, but it’s tough to use in a stressful situation like this one, with Moroccans constantly coming up next to you and interrupting (the concept of a line is a very foreign one here). In the end, although we’re not sure if we got any kind of a decent price, we got most of the food that we needed, and that’s good enough for week one.

Market trip aside, life after homestay is going pretty well so far. We’ll definitely face more challenges related to living alone, but we also now have a personal space to go home to if we need to. And our trip to the market does mean that we have all the food that we need to make tacos tonight to celebrate a fake American holiday – Happy (late) Cinco de Mayo!

Azilal!

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!