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August 23, 2008 On my own…

I stayed in “homestay” for 3 full months. We’re only expected to do two. Only supposed to do two, two and a half, really. But a couple days before I’d planned to leave, Ama and Xalti asked me to stay until the baby was born. Apparently, you’re more likely to get good medical care if you show up at the sbitar with a tarumit – or so they believe, anyway.

But the baby is here, and everyone is doing well, so it’s time for the little birdie to fly the nest. :) I would have left a few days ago, but I was planning a trip into SouqTown for some work meetings, and Ama said that I should stay until I went to town. Or until next week. Or until the new year. (“Really, it’s no problem, you don’t eat very much, and you don’t even eat meat, so it’s cheap to feed you! Stay longer.”) I did stay up through my trip into town, but I got back from SouqTown this morning and am officially Moved In to my new apartment.

No longer the inshallah apartment, my new house is spacious and airy and smells like the Imilchil mud (even though it’s made of cement – the stairs are mudbrick, as is the house next door) and is now cotton-candy pink. Only on the outside, lhumdullah. The inside is still in yellows and earth tones.

Yes, pink. Of all the shades of red now filling the village, my house is the one most likely to show up on a color swatch as “pink”. When I walk up to my front door, I keep thinking things like, “Congratulations! It’s a girl!” But I’m sure I’ll get used to it…

Anyway, I’d moved my stuff in over the past week, so today all I had to do was unpack and settle in. The well-stocked but oddly organized kitchen is still a bit of a mystery to me – did Zahra really leave me 10 tupperwares and no silverware?? – but I’ll sort that out later.

Unpacking was a blast. About 80% of what was in my big hiking pack hadn’t seen the light of day since it was packed 6 months ago. Opening the compression sacks felt like tearing into Christmas presents. Also, I packed a little oddly… Part of it was to use every bit of space (that’s why the knives – the only kitchenwares I brought with me – were tucked into my tennis shoes) but I can’t for the life of me remember why I thought it was a good idea to package food in the middle of clothes. Did I really think ants or mice would eat their way through the backpack? But when I unrolled my bedsheet-turned-sleepsack and discovered the chai I’d made from scratch, I was far too happy to care. So I’m a little nuts. I have chai. :)

I haven’t unpacked my last bag yet. That one is mostly books, but also has a few maps and other wall decorations. For now, the walls are pretty naked…

But it’s enough that I’m in my chai-scented sleepsack, on my bed, under my blankets, in my room, in my apartment, in my village in Morocco. I love my hostfamily, and am so grateful to them for all that they’ve done for me over the past three months…but it’s good to be here. :)

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Think local. Act global. Learn more about the Peace Corps