Starting to Say Goodbye

We’re just about a month away from leaving Morocco, and the goodbyes have started. In the past week we’ve said goodbye to all our students at the Dar Chebab (youth center) and all my students at the Nedi Neswi (women’s center). We won’t have much time to work in the next couple weeks so we figured now was a good time to have our last visits to each of these places.

And because our students are awesome, they threw us a party at each place (although Matt had to console himself with some leftover cookies from my party at the women’s center, since he doesn’t go there). We definitely felt the love from all these people who we’ve worked with for the past few years, and I hope we were able to communicate to them that we’ve enjoyed it and will miss them.

At our party at the Dar Chebab we got serenaded and there were lots of short speeches from everyone who wanted to say something:

IMG_20150320_191511 IMG_20150320_193017_2

My party at the Nedi was heavier on the dancing and the cookies, but no less meaningful for that:

???????????????????????????????

It feels both triumphant and sad knowing that we’ve completed our service in these two places, but also knowing we probably won’t see many of these people again. In the next couple weeks we’ll have to continue our goodbyes with Moroccan friends, host families, and our Peace Corps friends – wish us luck!

– Cori

The Brrd

“Brrd” in Darija means cold, and this week has been pretty cold. I think it may actually be the coldest week we’ve had in Morocco so far. The high today was about 44 F, both inside and outside. Luckily, the rest of the winter has been relatively warm and it’s supposed to warm up again in a couple days. But I wanted to share with you some of my favorite and least favorite things about the cold.

My least favorite things:

  • Washing my hands. We do have a water heater, but it takes long enough to turn on that it seem silly to turn it on for something that takes so little time. So I wash my hands in cold water, and it’s awful.
  • Sitting on the toilet seat. The shock of the cold seat is just terrible, especially since I do a pretty good job of keeping myself warm while I’m at home. It’s times like these when I wish we had a squat toilet instead of a Western (and that’s something I pretty much never wish).
  • Getting out of bed and changing clothes is really, really hard. Additionally, I think I could sleep like 15 hrs per night if I let myself. I do not like feeling so lazy.
  • Doing anything with my hands, like typing, writing, crocheting, cooking, or playing guitar. It’s hard to get your fingers to move right, and after a while they just hurt. My solution is to just not do them. Matt’s solution is more admirable:

Matt sitting in the one patch of sun in the room

Matt sitting in the one patch of sun in the room

My favorite things:

  • “It’s too cold” becomes a legitimate excuse for everything. I’m pretty sure I could skip work and tell my supervisors this and they’d be fine with it (no, I have not tried it, give me some credit).
  • The old men wear these big hooded cape-like things to keep warm outside, and younger men start wearing jellabas (traditional robe-type garments). In warmer weather traditional Moroccan clothing isn’t as popular, so I love seeing that people still wear it in everyday life in the winter.
  • Getting all bundled up inside. Today I’m wearing thermal underwear top and bottom, pants, two sweaters, gloves, a hat, and a blanket on top of all that. It’s very cozy! Plus it’s fun to count the layers and feel absolutely ridiculous.
  • The snow on the mountains in the distance is gorgeous. When it snows in town it’s even prettier, but I don’t have any good pictures of that.

IMG_3607

– Cori

Ringing in the New Year… 2965?

While I and my fellow Ohio State fans anxiously watch the National Championship tonight (go Bucks!!!!!), the rest of Azilal will be celebrating a different holiday. I forgot to mention this holiday last year but nonetheless it’s something I find fascinating – the Amazigh New Year, which takes place on January 12.

The Amazigh New Year is celebrated among the Amazigh populations of North Africa, which are concentrated in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya but also reach into the other countries in the region. The celebration itself is nothing too special – it mostly revolves around eating food and spending time with friends and family – but the history and the conflict surrounding the holiday are what I find most interesting.

This year the Amazigh people celebrate the year 2965. According to some, this commemorates a victory of an Amazigh leader over the Egyptian Pharaoh that led to a unification of the Amazigh community (in our calendar that first year was 950 BCE). It’s also sometimes recognized as the beginning of the agricultural year.

Although there is a fairly large Amazigh population in Morocco, the Amazigh New Year is not recognized as a national holiday, which leads to conflict every year. Amazigh activists across the country use the holiday as an opportunity to protest that while the Amazigh language was recently recognized as an official language in Morocco, the government has a long way to go with actually recognizing and embracing the country’s Amazigh heritage. I saw a couple different protests in Azilal last year; even the high school students staged a walk-out in protest of the government’s lack of recognition of the Amazigh people and culture.

This year, I’ll just focus on the celebrating. Happy 2965! Asggas Amaggaz 2965!

– Cori

You can check out my source articles here and here.

Fall in Azilal

We’ve been having some really nice fall days recently – the kind that are sunny and just a little chilly and remind me of football games in the ‘Shoe early in the season. But of course it’s a little different here, because these days happen in November instead of September, and we use them to pick olives instead of apples or pumpkins:

IMG_20141114_143830

IMG_20141114_143844

Fresh olive oil vs. fresh pie is a tough call. But I guess either way it’s fun to do the picking!

– Cori

p.s. Happy Thanksgiving!

p.p.s. M*ch*g@n sucks.

Happy Holiday!

Today is 3id al-Adha, also called the Feast of the Sacrifice. It’s one of the biggest Islamic holidays and is widely celebrated in Morocco (you can read and see more about it from last year’s post if you’re interested). You might notice that last year we posted about it later in October – that’s because 3id al-Adha takes place on the 10th day of the last month in the Islamic calendar, which means on the Gregorian calendar it moves up every year.

We’ll be spending the day with our host family to share the festivities and family time that accompany the holiday. Despite the one big difference, the rest of the day feels surprisingly like Christmas or Thanksgiving – we’ll spend lots of time visiting family and friends today and in the coming days, we’ll eat lots of food, and we’ll enjoy the atmosphere of school and work being closed. And even though most of you aren’t celebrating today, Matt and I wanted to take the chance to wish you all a happy holiday anyway! As you cook your meals today just imagine us watching a sheep get butchered, skinned, and then helping to prepare its organs. 🙂

Mbrouk l-3id! !مبروك عواشر Happy holiday!

– Cori and Matt