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:

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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.

Go Bucks!

This photo made it into the Ohio State Alumni Magazine a little bit ago:

OHIO

The caption reads:

Casablanca’s Hassan II Mosque makes a stunning “i” in this photo submitted by Ron Erb ’82, ’85 MS. From left to right are Ohio State student Rachel Erb, Matthew MacFarland ’10, ’12 MS and Cori Erb MacFarland ’10. Cori and Matthew, who met as members of Ohio State’s Marching Band, are serving in the Peace Corps in Morocco.

We took it back in December when my family visited at the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca. The mosque is a seriously amazing place to visit. It’s the biggest mosque in Morocco, the seventh-biggest in the world, and has the tallest minaret in the world. The mosque and its grounds can hold nearly as many people as Ohio Stadium, approximately 105,000 (Wikipedia).  It’s also the only mosque in Morocco that I know of that welcomes non-Muslims inside, although unfortunately we didn’t have time to take the tour. It’s great to see this picture in the Alumni magazine combining our love of Morocco and of Ohio State!

In other Buckeye-related happenings, we’ve been enjoying the football season so far and have been able to stream a lot of the games live, which has been lots of fun. One Saturday I got all excited because I thought it’d be fun to make buckeyes to add to the gameday atmosphere.

This is the extent of our game-day atmosphere. Well, this and me trying to figure out OSU songs on the recorder we have.

This is the extent of our gameday atmosphere. Well, this and me trying to figure out OSU songs on the recorder we have.

I was really proud of myself for creating a double boiler out of a big pot and a loaf pan to melt the chocolate, but that’s where my successes ended. I’m not sure if it was because the only chocolate I could find to melt was a bar with almonds, or because I deviated a bit from the recipe, but the buckeyes turned out more like chocolate-peanut butter swirl balls than buckeyes, which was disappointing. I’d had plans to photograph them and put a picture up here along with a blurb about us watching the games… but I guess my blurb was destined to be accompanied by a story about how I failed to make buckeyes instead. Such is Peace Corps, and such is life. And as Matt pointed out, those buckeyes still tasted damn good.

— Cori

I (won’t) be home for Christmas…

A couple months ago, I started making plans with friends to spend a small Thanksgiving together – I figured it wouldn’t be much, but it’d be better sitting at home on a holiday. As you can maybe tell by that attitude, I’ve had a pretty pessimistic view of what our holidays would be like this year. The prospect of not being home for Christmas for maybe the first time in my life (and Matt not being with his family for Thanksgiving for the first time in his life) was really getting us down. But I underestimated the wonderfulness of the PCV community – maybe it’s just because I was dreading it, but we’ve already had a holiday season that way exceeded my expectations!

For Thanksgiving, Peace Corps staff brought all the volunteers to Rabat to have a huge dinner, complete with deliciously cooked Butterball turkeys (also lots of couscous, lentils and dates… it was a multicultural holiday). We sat out under big tents, eating (mostly) American food and speaking English, and even got to go out that night to party with a LOT of PCVs. Unconventional, yes, but it also made for a fantastic day spent in good company, and I’ll take that for a holiday any day.

Thanksgiving in Rabat

Thanksgiving in Rabat

The Saturday after Thanksgiving we got to celebrate the second big holiday in November – The Game. We had some other Ohio and Michigan people over, made a big pot of chili, and (despite the nerve-wracking game) had a great time watching OSU pull off the victory. We even rounded off the evening with a Euchre tournament to complete the Midwestern experience.

Our stream ended up being in Russian... but at least we had a good picture!

Our stream ended up being in Russian… but at least we had a good picture!

This past weekend I got to celebrate Christmas with a bunch of my friends in the area (OK I know it’s a little early for that, but we’re all traveling over the actual holiday). We had a girls’ night cookie exchange party, complete with Christmas-themed photo booth, Christmas music playing non-stop, mulled wine, and I think about 6 Christmas movies. We had a great time overdosing on all things Christmas together before we split up for the holidays.

cookies!!!!

Cookies!!!! and us in our PJs in the background.

Matt hosted a Man night in Azilal during our Cookie Exchange... not really holiday related, but they apparently had a good time.

Matt hosted a Man night in Azilal during our Cookie Exchange… not really holiday related, but as you can see, they had a good time.

I was even lucky enough to find a little plastic Christmas tree on sale this weekend, which Matt and I promptly set up when I got home. We wanted to bring a little Christmas cheer to our house for the most exciting event of the season – my family’s visit! They decided only a few months ago to come visit this winter, which of course did wonders to brighten my holiday attitude. I feel like a little kid again, excitedly counting down the days until Christmas and all the presents under the tree – except this year the present is my family :). No, we won’t be home for Christmas, but with the help of Peace Corps staff, friends, and family, we’ve been able to bring home to Morocco for the holidays, and I wish you all a happy holiday season!

Our little Christmas corner :)

Our little Christmas corner 🙂

 

Missing football, missing home

College football started last weekend. It still feels like the middle of summer here – it’s certainly hot enough and school hasn’t started yet – so the season kind of snuck up on me. Last Saturday, we were lucky enough to be able to stream the first Ohio State game of the season and watch most of it live (who thought we’d be able to do that in Peace Corps!) and it was a great way to feel like we were back home for a couple hours.

But this morning, before the sun was too high, there was a cool breeze coming in the window and it felt so much like a fall tailgate outside Ohio Stadium that I was stuck daydreaming all morning about hot dogs, beer, scarlet and grey as far as the eye can see, beer, the roar of the crowd in the ‘Shoe, beer, and Carmen Ohio. This week’s game is a little bit harder to miss than last week’s, because it’s the Alumni game, which means if we were home we’d be marching along with 600 other alumni “just one more time” in Ohio Stadium… and I wish I could be there with my friends.

Being out of Ohio for the football season is hitting me a little bit harder than I expected it to. Maybe this sounds a little silly to you if you’re not a sports fan, but I’m starting to realize how much Ohio State football means to me. It’s not about winning (well… it’s not all about winning), but also about how it makes me feel like I belong; like I’m at home. I wasn’t a big football fan until I joined the OSU marching band, but I definitely grew up with a deep-seated hatred of maize and blue. Football Saturdays bring back memories of my whole family decked out in scarlet and grey, my dad and my brother glued to the TV, my grandparents bringing us recorded videotapes of the close games so we could re-watch them, me playing really terrible middle-school versions of “Hang on Sloopy” on my trumpet, cookouts at neighbors’ and friends’ houses, and afterwards hearing the games endlessly analyzed by my extended family.

OSU wasn’t my original choice for college, but once I enrolled and joined the band it was all over – I’m a fan for life now. I have so many great memories from my time there, not to mention it’s where I met my husband and tons of good friends. OSU, and especially the football season, is one of the biggest things that consistently reminds me of home. Perhaps the hardest thing about being gone for this season is knowing that I’ll also be out of the country for next season, and who knows if I’ll ever be back in Ohio for a full season again. All I can say is, HAMDULILAH for wifi which means that even though we can’t actually be home, Matt and I can get a taste of it for a couple hours each weekend.

To all our alumni band friends: have an extra great time today for us!

To everyone else: O-H!

– Cori

O-H!

So to cap off all the fun we were having at our In-Service Training, a couple PCVs organized a Prom to take place last Friday night. It was tons of fun, and thank you to everyone from our group that made it such a good time! The theme for the night was “cheesy American/rep your (U.S.) region”… but leave it to the Ohio State grads to interpret “rep your region” as “rep your university”, which we all did with pride (and without coordinating with each other!). We’ve been in country for 5 months and M*ch*g@n still sucks!

Prom