Blogs from El Kelaa des Sraghna, Tadla-Azilal, Morocco, Africa


Africa » Morocco » Tadla-Azilal » El Kelaa des Sraghna June 15th 2008

I suppose I’m still at the starting line. I’ve spent the past few days lazing around Maryam’s house, my old home, playing with her daughter Salma, catching up on the events of the past year, talking with the neighbors who stop by and reading a travel memoir about kayaking in the Arctic. I’m not headed that far north, but in a week or so I do need to start heading north. For now I’m content to relax, to feel like the school year is over and I really am on summer vacation, and to enjoy being back in Morocco. I joked with Maryam that I enjoyed my ten month vacation in America and now I’m back home in time for the summer heat of the Sahara. Morocco has welcomed me back with arms wide open since ... read more
Girls Out on the Town
Rfisa: Step 1

Africa » Morocco » Tadla-Azilal » El Kelaa des Sraghna July 15th 2007

Hello Everybody, Salamu alakyum, Travelblog crashed last week and lost my last ten blogs. While I am very disappointed I hope that you all had a chance to see my last ones before they disappeared into cyberspace. I am now back home, having finished with Peace Corps and accepted a job teaching in Boise. This is my last blog and I am now retired from blogging. Yay! Knowing my days were limited in Morocco I tried to fit in as many adventures as I could in the first half of summer. Gnawa, June 21-24: The Gnawa music festival in Essouira is infamous and every year a group of volunteers manages to go. Gnawa is a Sufi brotherhood and the music is designed to inspire and put people in a trance. The rhythms are repetitive, energetic and ... read more
Traditional Dancing
Main Stage
Windy City

Africa » Morocco » Tadla-Azilal » El Kelaa des Sraghna May 20th 2007

Looking at my blog it seems like I am always on vacation. Peace Corps can be a lot of fun and I am so lucky to live in such an amazing country that has so many tourist attractions. But I am most often in Kelaa and usually doing something productive. This was a big weekend for me. On the 19th the women’s association I’ve been working with, El Ghad Al Bassim, organized a “cultural competition”. I’ve never seen anything like it in the US but it seems to be a fairly normal event here. There was a performance by Kelaa’s star lute player, Abderrhmane. I’ve seen him at events around town before and always noticed him for playing and singing beautifully. What I didn’t know until Saturday was that he speaks English perfectly. He’s never noticed ... read more
Press Conference

Africa » Morocco » Tadla-Azilal » El Kelaa des Sraghna March 21st 2007

I recently was lucky to recieve a phone call from a classroom I have been corresponding with in Wisconsin. Peace Corps' World Wise Schools program matched me with Mrs. Burge's 2nd grade class in Holmen and we have been corresponding for several months. Last month in celebration of Peace Corps Week and the 46th anniversay of Kennedy's creation, Peace Corps paid for an hour long call between me, some of my English speaking students, and the students at Viking Elementary in Holmen. I promised during the call that I would put my friend Maryam's recipe for couscous on my blog since nobody managed to write it down as fast as she explained it over the phone. Bs-hha u rahha! Maryam’s Couscous serves 7 1 kilo of dry couscous (not instant stuff, real couscous) water olive ... read more
Maryam's Couscous with buttermilk

Africa » Morocco » Tadla-Azilal » El Kelaa des Sraghna December 1st 2006

Hello Ms. Burge’s class and all of Holden, Wisconsin! Salamu alaykum! I have recently begun corresponding with a second grade classroom at Viking Elementary School in Holden. It’s a lot of fun for me and I like having a new audience to tell all my stories to. Writing is fun for me and a good way for me to reflect on the experiences I am having here. Peace Corps organizes a correspondence exchange through their Coverdell World Wise Schools Program. I put my name in to be matched with a teacher in the States and after a long wait (all last year!) I finally got Ms. Burge’s class. I want to thank all of them for writing to me on Thanksgiving. Some volunteers got to get together and have an American dinner, but I had too ... read more

Africa » Morocco » Tadla-Azilal » El Kelaa des Sraghna November 4th 2006

When my parents announced to me that they had bought plane tickets for Morocco and really would be visiting me here I asked them what they wanted to see while they were here. I had grand ideas about trips up to Fez and Sefrou or across the Atlas to the Sahara so they could see Ait Ben Haddou or ride camels across the dunes to spend the night in nomadic Berber tents. When pressed as to whether they would prefer camping in the dunes or hiking in the Atlas my parents replied they really just wanted to see me. Given how my parents have spoiled and doted on me for the past 25 years that answer shouldn’t have surprised me as much as it did. I decided I wanted them to see my town, then I ... read more
Henna for Mom
The Riad
Kozy Bar

Africa » Morocco » Tadla-Azilal » El Kelaa des Sraghna October 18th 2006

Those of you who aren’t Muslim, or who don’t live in an Islamic community, may have forgotten that it’s Ramadan. There’s no forgetting in Morocco. Ramadan is the most holy month of the Islamic calendar. This year it began on October 24th and it’s not over yet. Since the Islamic calendar is about ten days shorter than the Gregorian one, Ramadan comes about ten days earlier every year and moves through the seasons accordingly. I am lucky to be living in Morocco when Ramadan is in the fall, though it is still hot enough that I haven’t brought out the blankets yet and am sleeping with just a sheet. The basic idea of Ramadan is to focus on Allah and prayer while fasting. The mosques are packed, more so than during the rest of the year. ... read more
Traditional Koran School Tablet
Rose Water
Ramadan Crowds at the Mosque

Africa » Morocco » Tadla-Azilal » El Kelaa des Sraghna September 13th 2006

365 days ago I arrived on the plane from New York in Casablanca. I didn't speak a word of Arabic and had no idea where I would be posted for the coming two years. Everybody says that the Peace Corps experience is a series of highs and lows. Incredible sights and once-in-a-lifetime experiences, followed by boredom and despair. Training was hard, and homestay was so full of new experiences and cultural learning I didn’t have much time to be homesick. Moving into my own house was exhilarating, and I soon started to feel I belonged in my community. I had a bad case of the blues after about six months of service after swearing in. Most people have some sort of low point around that time, but it hit me pretty hard. But I survived until ... read more

Africa » Morocco » Tadla-Azilal » El Kelaa des Sraghna September 10th 2006

Today was the second day of the VSN training, which I hosted at my house. I was dreading the end of camp and having to return to the molten interior of the Shergie (the wind from the south that is painfully hot and carries sand from the Sahara into your eyes and makes food gritty and everything constantly covered with dust). I knew I had gotten spoiled going to the beach every day and living with other volunteers. The close quarters got on my nerves at times, but after the loneliness I had experiences in June and July, I knew I had it good at camp. So I was excited when the Volunteer Support Network coordinator contacted me about hosting a training at my house the weekend after I got back from camp. I have wanted ... read more

Africa » Morocco » Tadla-Azilal » El Kelaa des Sraghna August 1st 2006

This weekend I took my cat back to his mother. She promptly attacked him and he beat her up. It wasn’t a good beginning, but I didn’t have much of a choice. I will be working at the Moroccan Ministry of Youth & Sports summer camps all of August and into the first week of September. There was nobody in my town who would agree to take care of him, no matter how hard I pleaded. Cats are street creatures and even my downstairs neighbors were afraid of the kitten I brought home in April. So, back to the volunteer in Tazert he went. My cat started out life in my home as a kitten named Binti. Bint means girl or daughter in Arabic, and adding an i on the end makes the possessive. Essentially I ... read more
Cream Cheese
Before Leaving Home

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