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8/12/09 Site Visit Ventures

Yesterday was my site visit from my Program Assistant.

In non-Peace-Corps-Speak, that translates to "Yesterday, the second-in-command of Team Environment paid a visit to my little Berberville in order to meet folks, chat up the Powers That Be, and give me ideas as to next steps on my work."

We paid the requisite visits to the gendarmes, the caid, and the host family, plus popped out to my beautiful lake, my mdrasa, and my college.

Everywhere we went, something unexpected happened. The college is the best story, which is why I'm saving it for tomorrow. :)

But here are some of the others.

At the gendarmes, I discovered that the itinerary I'd given to them for the month of August, spelling out my travels in a hastily sketched-out note on a ripped-out-sheet of notebook paper, had been typed up and faxed to ... somebody further up the food chain. Since I sort of imagined that these itineraries I give them whenever I leave Berberville just get ignored and then lost, this came as a bit of a shock.

At the caid, my well-intentioned and well-spoken governor-type reiterated, in a blend of French and Arabic that I mostly followed, just how much he supports the work that PCVs do. My PA and I left the meeting in smiles, and she spent the next few hours coming up with ways that he could be helpful in my future work. 'Cause he's just that cool.

At the host family, we drank tea and ate bread and jam. I made the tea, since Ama was having a rough time with the baby, and was reminded once again just how useless I feel in a Moroccan kitchen. (I put in too much tea for the small pot, so it came out bitter. Sigh.) Ama felt the need to point out to my PA and to my 3tti (who dropped by) that I'd made the tea, which might have been her attempt to say Look, she makes tea! but felt more like Don't blame me for this nasty stuff. Double sigh. But Ama and my PA had a great conversation about energy usage (read: burning fuelwood) and capacity building (read: creating a grassroots organization to help) that left me wondering about future plans here in my village. My mental teapot is now bubbling away...let's hope more successfully than the physical one I poured from this evening.

At the lake, my PA gazed rapturously at the Carribean-green waters...while I winced inwardly. Maybe Carribean seas flourish when green, but my little lake is showing the effects of Tide in the rivers, contributing to algal blooms and ultimately eutrophication - a five-syllable word for death by choking, at least when it comes to lakes. We also observed that the water, which was over the road back on the 4th of July, is now even higher. It's over a meter higher than the usual shoreline. Lake-margin trees are now submerged up to their middles. How long can trees survive this before their trunks decay and roots rot?? We couldn't even see the road leading deeper into the park; the trees that line it waved their upper branches at us, while the road itself hid under a meter or more of standing water.

At the mdrasa, I discovered that about a third of the trees we planted there in March have been uprooted by construction (grr), but that the construction guys lavish water and care on the other 2/3, at the direct request of the caid. So as sad as I felt to see the waste of two dozen saplings, I had to be grateful for the caid's ongoing commitment to our project.

At the college... As promised, this story takes the cake. So you'll get to hear it ... next time I visit blogspot. Tomorrow, inshallah. :)

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