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3/17/09 Worktastic Monday

6:00am Alarm goes off.

6:10am Alarm goes off again. Get up and dressed.

6:30am Meet CD for sunrise tour of Berberville, featuring a walk to the lake (10 km roundtrip). Discuss parenting strategies, puppies, gender relations in Morocco, Peace Corps policies and the enforcement thereof, the peach juice incident, homosexuality in Morocco, Volunteer attitudes towards Peace Corps staff, Morocco's differing types of natural beauty, Berberville's geological wonders, and Crazy Dancing Man.

8:45am Share breakfast with CD, Fatima, and her host parents.

9:15am Run up the mountain to my host family's house, to make sure Ama is prepared to host lunch with CD.

9:20am Promise to acquire half kilo of chicken for said lunch.

9:30am Discover that there is no chicken for sale anywhere in Berberville. The butcher truck hasn't arrived yet from the nearest larg-ish town.

9:34am Try to call Ama to ask for her second-choice meat. Call doesn't go through.

9:40am Buy half kilo of the leg hanging from the butcher's hook. Might be sheep. Might be goat. Rbi daysin.

9:50am Deliver meat to Ama, with apologies for its obvious non-chicken-ness.

10:00am Rejoin Fatima and CD. Continue discussion of Peace Corps programs, policies, etc.

11:00am Walk down to college campus (2 km) to (1) show the CD our murals, and (2) talk to the mudir abour our plan to plant a couple hundred trees on his campus.

12:00pm Walk to my host family's house (2 km) for lunch.

12:15pm Stop in at the weaving cooperative, so Fatima can show the CD what she does.

12:25pm Run into two French teachers from the school. I explain our tree-planting plans and ask them for various kinds of support - all in French. CD looks on while Fatima explains why Morocco PCVs need to know either French or Darija.

12:30pm Stop at the hanut, where CD buys host presents for the folks feeding and housing him.

12:35pm Say hi to the moqaddim, my uncle.

12:45pm Finally make it to my host family's house. Eat a fabulous lunch prepared by the bestest host mother ever.

1:45pm Walk to a cafe to wait for the tranzit which will take the CD to his next PCVs.

1:50pm CD takes a phone call; Fatima goes to the post office to check on our mail.

2:10pm Arrive at the cafe. Drink cocoa.

2:30pm Say goodbye to CD. Promise to keep him updated on thoughts about PC and how our tree-planting works out.

2:35pm Walk to Caid's office. He's still at lunch/siesta, so sit and wait. Text friends about tree-planting. Discover that virtually all of them have decided to do tree plantings, too, so they can't come help with ours. Curse you, Arbor Day! (Kidding. Of course it's a *fantastic* thing that so many trees will be planted across the province. But it's also, y'know, inconvenient.)

3:30pm Meet with Caid. Explain tree-planting, source of trees, plan for planting, sites for planting, community partners, goals, long-term maintenance, logistics, and about 75 other things. The Caid speaks Arabic and French, so this entire conversation is in high-speed French. Then he remembers that a few weeks ago, we came to meet with him, didn't find him, and left a plan of action for February and March. (I'd written it in English and French, then sent it to Peace Corps, where smart people who took all of their college courses in French fixed up my phrasings, idioms, and word choices. This revamped document was the one we'd left for the Caid.) So he takes out this document, reads through it, and asks us about the status of each action item. In French. Then he explains that, given the king's imminent trip to Berberville (rescheduled from December to, inshallah, April), and the king's commitment to environmental protection, this tree-planting is a key piece of the Berberville Improvement Plan. To underscore the importance of the king's visit, he shares with us the budget that he hopes the king will approve and fund, for Berberville's Capital-I-Improvement. The dollar (OK, dirham) figures make my eyes bulge out and my head spin. At this point, I start translating everything for Fatima. I'd been leaving her out of the conversation, since everything the Caid and I were discussing was stuff that she and I had talked about beforehand, and at length. But this stuff was (1) news to both of us and (2) requiring some serious processing, and translating bought me some time. We wrap up the conversation with him reiterating his support for our tree-planting and saying that we should let him know if we need anything. My head whirling from the highspeed French and higher-speed translations (for the final 10 minutes), I follow Fatima out of the Caidat. Somewhere in the course of the conversation, he decided to call my counterpart and request an extra 500 trees for government properties. Of which he's added a few to our planting-sites-list.

4:15pm Head to meet Fatima's host dad (FHD), who has asked us to visit his preschool and decide where to place his share of the trees.

4:20pm Apologize profusely for being late. (We were supposed to meet him at 4.) FHD, Fatima, and I start to walk to the preschool.

4:23pm My phone flashes CAID OF BERBERVILLE. I blink, then answer it. He's saying that he's contacted the head of the Berberville PTA, who he promised would help us with digging the holes and planting the trees. (This was the "community partners" part of the conversation.) Mr. PTA is waiting for us across town. I explain this to Fatima in English, then try to explain it to FHD in Tam, but it comes out in French. Fortunately, he speaks French - better than I do - so he understands, and accompanies us to meet with Mr. PTA.

4:25pm Meet with Mr. PTA. He says that his group will only help out at the mdrasa, one of the now-four? five? sites where we'll plant over a hundred trees. We thank him for this much help, but continue to hope that some of the parents will choose to help us at the nearby Caidat or Commune building (the latest addition to our list of worksites). Mr. PTA also mentions that the Commune owns a large number of shovels and pickaxes, and offers a few more useful suggestions and pointers. This meeting takes place in a blend of Tam, French, and English - all languages that Mr. PTA speaks fluently, and all of which are crowding each other in my head.

4:35pm Return to the preschool for our 4:00 meeting. FHD knows exactly where he wants the trees, insists he will dig all the holes himself, on his day off, and is generally just fantastic.

4:45pm I make Fatima promise that I don't have to speak anything but English for the rest of the day.

4:46pm We decide to stop at the gendarmarie, in hopes of meeting with the police chief (who we've been missing for the past couple of days). He's not there, we discover through a mix of Tam, French, and Arabic.

4:50pm Walking home, we pass some Tam-speaking Berberville colleagues. Walking up to them, I mutter to Fatima, "You have to do all the talking." She agrees, but of course, I run through all the (Arabic) greeting phrases, and then we all chat for a minute, in Tam. We turn down repeated invitations for tea, coffee, or beer. (BEER?!? Yes. He was trying to be funny. Or else to imply that we're prostitutes. With this guy, you never can tell.)

4:55pm We run into my cousin and Fatima's colleague. (Both female.) We hug, kiss, chat (in Tam, of course). My baby cousin Layla is there, too, so I pick her up and get a baby kiss - the perfect antidote to linguistic meltdown.

5:00pm Only 11 hours later, I'm back home. Fatima gives me a few minutes to decompress (I make cocoa and eat chocolate chip cookies), then we sit down and plan out our To-Do list for the next couple of days. It's long. Actually, our list for tomorrow morning is about as long as our list for today.

6:00pm Fatima goes home. I go online and start writing this. I also check emails, translate some French engineer-ese for a friend, identify potential funding sources for this and future projects, chat about plans for a science club at the upcoming English Language Immersion Camp, write a few emails, console an overwrought friend, and read today's comics. Three and a half hours later, I'm done. (So done.)

Just another Day in the Life of a Peace Corps Volunteer. A *good* day. :)

1 comment:

  1. Wow! What a fantastic day! I'm glad that you had the patience to write all of this out for us! You definitely have a strong case (which I was previously convinced of) that ALL Moroccan PCVs need to speak French or Darija. That's complicated when PC wants to teach you the Berber languages (also important). It sounds to me like you really need to have French-speaking (even if it's just HS French) folks become Morocco PCVs, to the extent possible.


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