Winter has arrived in Morocco. In Azrou, this means constant rain, freezing rain, and some snow here and there. Winter in Morocco also means that it is just as cold (or colder) in your house as outside. Moroccan buildings have no insulation whatsoever. Brenna and I decided to get a wood burning stove to fight the brrd (cold.) We have used it a few times since installing it and buying the wood, but I anticipate more frequent usage now that it is really freezing. Luckily, Peace Corps reimburses us for enough wood to last the entire winter. For basically the first time in my adult life, I don’t have to be frugal with heat in the winter. I’m used to freezing my butt off, but now I can actually be warm!
In other news, I finally have a pretty consistent schedule, Alhamdulilah. After a good 8 schedule changes with our Mudira (director) of the Dar Chebab (youth center) we all finally came to an arrangement. Brenna is teaching Beginner English and Girls Fitness classes, and I am teaching the advanced English students, helping prepare them for their big SAT-style test in early summer. The way I am lesson planning involves grammar lessons on Fridays, and practice activities on Saturdays by means of a Life Skills Curriculum that Peace Corps designed. I will also be having my students write weekly journal entries based on prompts and complete weekly homework worksheets. I am determined to help my students pass this test with flying colors! (The PASS rate here in Morocco for the BAC Exam is usually between 50-60%.)
We plan to start other classes/clubs/activities as time goes on. Brenna is interested in arts projects, I want to organize a SIDA (HIV) education caravan that will go out to the small villages surrounding Azrou, and we both want to give the entire Dar Chebab a makeover. We have very little resources and the building itself is falling apart. We will be writing a grant these next couple of weeks asking for funds to redo the building; paint, supplies, computer accessories, books for our library, etc. We want to make this Dar Chebab and warm, fun, and inviting place for kids to come.
I’m still working on getting involved with the Womens Rights organization in El Hajeb– everything takes a lot of time here in Morocco. I’d like to start going to the womens center here in Azrou to see whats going on there. Womens centers here are called Nedi Neswis and activities stem from cooking to sewing, english classes to health discussions, and whatever else. There is also Daycare services provided. I think it would be fun to get involved in all of this…
Last week was Thanksgiving and I spent it with a bunch of friend a little farther East in a city called Errachidia. It was a lot of fun– cooking and eating and singing Christmas carols and watching movies. It was an English-speaking mini-vacation and it was glorious. On our bus ride home we made friends with 3 travelers who were heading to Azrou. They asked about a hotel and we invited them to stay at our house. We had a great couple of days sharing meals and stories with new German and Spanish friends.
I’ll be in Azrou until the end of December when my sister and her husband come to visit. They get in on the 26th and we all go to Portugal on the 29th for a few nights. I’m SO excited to see 2 members of my family since I haven’t seen any of them in 9 months! I don’t think I will be able to go back to the States at all while I’m here (unless my mama wants me home for Christmas next year…hint hint) so I will be very excited when any friends or family come to visit.
Finally, Brenna and I my 2-person family has grown. Brenna rescued a poor little kitten from the rain a couple of weeks ago and I rescued a poor tiny puppy from the freezing cold a few days ago. Her kitten is a boy and is named Moosh (Berber for cat) and my puppy is a girl and her name is Kika (Arabic for cake.) So there you have it, Cat and Cake. Our house has been a lot more youthful since these two have arrived. Both of them are so needy that they often wake us up in the middle of the night for playtime, or cry until we snuggle them. Pets are a lot of work, but I have been so much happier with them frolicking around all of the time! That being said, I’ll leave you with a photo….
Have a great weekend!