you may ask yourself, “well, how did I get here?”

I’m freezing and dirty. It has been awhile since we have had heat, as we are out of good wood and need to go buy more. We are still without a hot water heater, and bucket bathing in the dead of winter is just not an option. There are easy solutions to these two issues: go buy more wood and go buy a water heater. I guess I should stop whining and start doing……..

In the meantime, I’ll just go to Rabat for my next shower and 24 hours of heat. Tomorrow I am heading to Rabat to meet the 97 new Americans who just arrived in Morocco on Wednesday. They are in Rabat for the next week-ish for trainings and such, just as I was last March. Our “Youth Development” program director asked me to come do a session for the new trainees. I have been implementing a new Life Skills curriculum with my high school students, and since it has been successful so far, I will be training the new group how to use the curriculum once they get to their final sites in a couple of months. Instead of lecturing and pretending like I know it all (because I certainly do not,) I am going to go through a lesson with them– they will be the participants and I will be the group leader. I decided to focus on an emotionally themed lesson, as I found it to be appropriate for such a life-changing time in their lives. I hope my lesson will be useful for them, and I also hope to answer any other questions/concerns about life as a Peace Corps Volunteer here in Morocco. I’m looking forward to meeting all of them! (…. I’m also looking forward to a hotel bed, a hot shower, and free food!) 

On another note, when my sister and brother-in-law came to visit a few weeks ago they brought so many fun things with them. So thanks to them and my mom, I was able to introduce my neighborhood kids (who I am crazy about) to baseball and American football. There are about 8-10 kids that I hang with on a regular basis, and a ton more who come around to play with my dog and participate in whatever game we’re playing. We got a football game going with about 6 boys and 3 girls a few days ago. It was a little challenging to explain it all in Arabic, but I was pretty successful and we all had a blast. I am hoping to play with them regularly and participate in a Peace Corps sponsored American Football camp in the summer. Last year, thanks for other volunteers, was the first year of the camp. Volunteers throughout the country created teams in their sites and everybody came together in Azrou to compete against each other. Hopefully my kids will be able to participate (and kick butt) this summer! My neighborhood kids are really great– they come by usually everyday to take Kika for long walks and then we oftentimes will play some games or go on adventures looking for puppies or examining dead birds. All of their parents are lovely, too. They invite me over for tea and meals, invite me to go to the Hmmam with them, and just to sit outside together and chat.

The women’s fitness class I was asked to host is going… well. The holiday made us miss a couple of weeks, so we started to get back into the groove yesterday. My housemate expressed interest in participating so I offered her to lead the class one day a week and I will lead it the other day. On Thursdays she will focus on strength training with the women and on Saturdays I will be focusing on cardio. The women are so wonderful and I really enjoy spending time with them. Three of them have little boys about 3 years old, and I have really enjoyed hanging out with them as well. Yesterday I brought Kika to the Dar Chebab with me for the first time and it was wonderful! I was apprehensive at first because of how most Moroccans react to dogs, but I figured it was worth a shot. When we first showed up all 20 kids started screaming and ran away. After a few minutes of me showing them how sweet the puppy is, they all warmed up. For the following hour and a half Kika was being passed around between all the kids– she had a great time running around, playing, and respectfully declining the grass one child was trying to feed her. I think Kika will come with me to work everyday now. If I am teaching, she can just hang out in class with us, and if I have the fitness class, the younger kids can play with her. What a great setup, huh?

My parents are about to book their tickets here for a week in May. The plan is to hang mostly around Azrou with day trips to Fes and Ifrane to hang with my host family, as well as an overnight camel trek in the Sahara desert. I am looking forward to their visit (I think.)

Another volunteer and I are currently planning our next big trip– in July (during Ramadan) we are going to West Africa for 2 weeks. The plan so far is: a 24 hour layover in Istanbul on our way to Accra, Ghana. From there we will spend time in Ghana, Togo, and Benin. The goal is to see 4 countries in 2 weeks.. and hang with other Peace Corps Volunteers in those West African countries. We are looking very forward to this trip and as soon as prices drop (I found really cheap round trip tickets a few weeks ago) we will book. 

That is all that’s going on with my these days. I am hoping to start a few more clubs/activities soon. I REALLY want to get an HIV caravan set up to get out to the smaller villages around my town. Other health-related projects interest me as well. It’s very challenging to get things done around here.

Be well. 

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