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6/6/9 Peace Corps Housing

A few people have asked about my "mud hut".


I have a pretty zween house, compared to what I was expecting. Almost no mud. (Honestly, I'd prefer a mud house. My sitemate "Fatima" has a mud house, and it's a good 10-20 degrees warmer indoors throughout the winter. She never has to crack ice before using a bucket of water.)

If I lived in New York, I'd call it a "walk-up". It's actually fairly comparable to the layout I had when I was a grad student. (Except that those apartments had wood everywhere - building material, hardwood floors, woodframed windows, etc - and here it's only the internal doors...most of which are mis-hung, so many of my doors don't close well.)

You open the steel door, climb the mud-brick steps, and go into the apartment itself. You enter into a giant foyer/hallway/entry space that's nearly empty, because the skylight leaks like a sieve. (If the entry space isn't empty, it's because it's full of buckets/basins/pails to catch the water.) All the other rooms lead off from this space, and all (except the bathroom) are roughly the same size.

The smallest room is my bedroom. There's also a salon, which has ponges and a small table, as well as the kitchen. The whole place has enormously high ceilings - at least 10 feet - which is pretty common here in Morocco. (All Moroccan architecture is designed for the desert: high ceilings, flat roofs, maximum shade and minimum - which is to say nonexistent - insulation. Unfortunately, this doesn't work as well in the mountains... The lack of pitched roofs means that we have to shovel them off after every big snow. And the heat-minimizing features mean that they're comfy in the summers but iceboxes in winter.) My kitchen and bathroom both have a tap for running water, which is on 2-4 hours a day, so I fill up bottles and buckets to use for the other 20-22 hours per day.

Peace Corps Morocco just updated the housing guidelines, so here they are, for your information. I have no idea how this compares to housing in any other Peace Corps country, but it should give you an idea how we live...

PCV Housing Criteria

Typical housing contains one bedroom, one salon, and a small kitchen.

Housing must meet basic security and living standards for volunteer service. Basic security standards include such things as secure locks on doors and windows, clean latrine facilities, and an enclosed roof on living quarters. Ideally, your landlord is responsible for providing these things and this should be negotiated before you move in. However, if your landlord is unable or unwilling to provide basic security, please contact your PM to discuss with you how best to secure your house. This could include his/her negotiating with your landlord and/or Peace Corps providing you with resources to make necessary upgrades.

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