Monday, October 3, 2011

A Day in the Life...

It’s been just a little over a week in our home through November, but it feels like months!! Since I last wrote, we left our full Peace Corps training group of 40 to move into what the Peace Corps calls “Community-Based Training,” in a town about 20 minutes outside of Fes.

Our full training group in Fes
We are in a beautiful town built on the side of the mountain, with only 1 road for cars to pass through, and the rest of stairs – lots and lots and lots of stairs. It’s a town of about 4,000 people, small enough that we run into someone we know every single time we leave our house!

Sunset over our mountain!

Our training group in Fes before leaving for our town
Our typical day involves waking up around 7 or 7:15 for breakfast from our host mom Fatiha (that’s meal #1, keep track because there are MANY). Breakfast typically consists of Moroccan bread with some combination of olives, olive oil, honey, butter, cheese, eggs, a kind of pink round processed meat that Justin and I can’t quite figure out, and sllu (a sweet ground-up mixture of sugar, peanuts, sesame, and almonds). To drink I have hot milk (they seem to only have whole milk here, which has taken some getting used to but is a nice treat!). Justin has coffee, which is more like 1/6 coffee and 5/6 milk (he’s tried to ask for more coffee but it hasn’t worked too well). Then we leave to walk to our LCF Malika’s house where we meet our fellow 3 other trainees.
Our usual sighting in the mornings - lots of donkeys here
Morning training consists usually of language (right now we’re learning how to conjugate past tense verbs). We take a break around 10:30 for a second breakfast (that’s meal #2, keep counting!), which is usually more Moroccan bread (we buy it fresh baked and still hot from a store next door, so good!), some olive oil (which by the way is FAR better than in the U.S.), cheese, yogurt, and mint tea. After the break it’s more language study until lunch around 12:30 (#3). Lunch is an AMAZING spread of vegetables, fruits, meats, all with Moroccan breads and olives.

Our couscous lunch on Friday- so good!
The afternoon activities depend on the day, but it has been a combination of meetings with local government officials and youth-focused organizations, discussions and lessons on cross-cultural experiences (more on this in a future blog post), tours of the community, and lessons on Arabic script – a long and difficult process but I’m thanking my mom for the artistic genes that has made writing these unusual characters much easier!
View down from near the top of the town and the youth center we work at
We take a break in the middle of our afternoon for more mint tea and a snack (that’s #4!), usually cake, more bread and oil, or fruit and yogurt. Moroccans call this meal kaskrot, a “snack” between lunch and dinner. We end classes at 5:30 and then usually go to the market to buy groceries for our next day (more on food in another post too).

shopping at our local market
Then we go back to our host family for the evening. We get home just around 7, when our host family is having their kaskrot and Moroccan culture doesn’t acknowledge “we’re full” very well, so that’s meal #5. Then we spend 3 or so hours studying and spending time with the family. Then comes meal #6, dinner. Yes, you did the math right, that is 10 in the evening! Sometimes dinner is even later – I think we once ate at midnight. It’s a bit hard to get used to but we’re trying. Then off to bed for another whirlwind day.

So that’s a quick idea of what our days are like. I have SO much more to write about, like some of the many cultural lessons that I have picked up on, the food, what it’s like to be back in a learning environment again, and an initial idea of what we’ll be spending our next 2 years doing… but I’d say I’ve given you enough for the day, and besides, I have to get going for my next meal! :)

Rooftops of our town and the mountain at a distance
 * Thanks to my fellow trainee Sarah for a few of these photos – she’s been better at taking photos than me!

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