Wednesday, February 27, 2008

gimme some wool, i've got a wheel!

26 February 2008

(just putting out the vibe in my big lonely kitchen)

It’s been a fine day, and that’s all I’m gonna write about for now. I woke up and made Swedish pancakes (a great reassurance that I can survive morocco), did a couple loads of laundry (meaning two sink loads, amounting to a quarter of a load in a real washing machine, scrubbed by hand on a wooden washboard, rinsed in buckets in the bathroom, and saving the frigid water for toilet flushing, and hung to dry on the power line outside, it’s quite a process), and then made my way to the cooperative. I’ve been way too busy lately and worried that I haven’t been building much of a relationship with the co-op, or my community as a whole because I’m gone so much. I’ve decided to cut back my tutoring to once a week beginning in March, because I’m tired, broke and just want to spend some time in my site! Anyhow, so remember how I said in morocco things just happen and they just don’t? Well, things happened today! I went to the co-op with no real big plans, just the usual sitting there, absorbing Tam and trying to communicate and thinking a lot about what I’ll be doing. Then the president asked me if I could try and fix the broken loom, yippee! I had to go to another woman’s house for some parts, and like my host moms shed, she’s got an entire room of weaving supplies. It makes me drool. I then worked up the courage to finally ask to borrow a spinning wheel, and of course they said yes. So back at the co-op I couldn’t fix the loom, I need to look up the model, it’s the only one like it at the co-op, and I can’t get the treddling to harness tension right. Then I had lunch at my counterparts house, I love her family. And she seemed to be more approving and encouraging of my Tam today than other days. I told them I’d come back to fix the loom Saturday. I went home to bring my clothes in before the rain began to pour again, went for tea, and brought a lovely spinning wheel home! I’m working on getting carders and wool, and inshallah, by Sunday I should be spinning up a storm! I’m still dying to weave, but spinning’s my second choice. I came home, rested, made mac n cheese, and pretty much spent the last few hours cleaning, admiring and making my house my home. Today was small and manageable, and I needed the simple encounters I had with people to reassure my place.

Big thanks- once again the mail didn’t come for a few weeks, so when it did I had three packages to embarrassingly walk home with. I should stop listing off every single delight they were packed with, but I’ll say two were from my dad and stepmom, with enough valentines to give my whole staj, and enough powdered cheese packets to avoid Moroccan food for a month. And my mom sent me enough books for me to avoid studying and read happily for the same month (some she’s been trying to get me to read for years and I know she threw them in cuz when im desperate I will! Ooo, sneaky)

Im really sorry to anyone who hung around skype waiting for me last Friday, as I obviously never showed. Dang me for trying to make plans again! Shh, don’t tell, but maybe next Friday.

Friday, February 15, 2008

no particular valentine

14 February 2008

I often seem to end my blog posts like “next time” bits at the end of Arrested Development (the most hilarious show for those that don’t know) They sound interesting, but never actually show up in the next episode, so here’s a tid bit of catch up before I go on with the now;

lEid-I wrote a ton and recorded the whole affair in my journal but couldn’t find a way to type it all up right. Though I didn’t have to eat balls (that’s not an innuendo, that’s literal) like many other volunteers, I did eat plenty of intestine, stomach, belly fat, etc., and as that carcass never seemed to diminish, I started outright refusing after the head was served. Due to family drama over all it was not a good experience for me, so if you want to hear what Eid is really like, plenty of other PC Morocco blogs wrote about their experiences in late December.

My last battle in the war on cold during homestay-the fridge broke. Now why the fridge even needed to be on is the bigger confusion. Not everyone has a fridge, and this time of year it’s certainly not necessary, but nonetheless, my family set up an inferno in the kitchen to heat up the fridge enough to get it working again.

The reason why they shovel snow off the roof-when it melts it will leak through.

Transport fun- that day I went to see Linsey while my region was over a foot deep in snow. I road the school bus to the nearest town with a taxi stand, an hour later they decided the ice was melted enough to drive on, but we later hit a broke down truck road block anyhow. The taxi driver asked me if I had any bread and lauged when I said no, because we could be there for a long time. It was a neat experience though to see people just come together and get to work, literally shoveling out a new path, and laying down tree branches because no one has chains. And I still made it to my destination before dark and had a great visit with Linsey.

The now-Happy Valentines Day! I’m not one with any particular feelings one way or the other on this holiday, but it was certainly nice to not have to see a bunch of schmoozy couples around, as PDA is illegal in Morocco. I’m already taken aback in slightly bigger cities when a couple dare hold hands; I have no idea how I’ll react when I go to the states or Europe or anyplace else and see people, whoa, like kissing, eek. The most romantic sight has been the great big white stork couples that have begun staking claim and hanging out their huge nests, and that really is a beautiful thing.

It’s been a swell day overall. Also, I keep forgetting to mention it, but Liz’s blog, Adventures of a Young Twentysomething, is awesome and she’s the closest volunteer to me (that being a twenty minute taxi ride). Though we’re all having very different experiences, it’s a good read; particularly for those of you irritated with my infrequent blog posting. So this morning I went to her town for suqq and to visit. We had an awful suqq trip; between the cold, the rain and some horrendous encounters with men, I also lost my little money bag. The men redeemed themselves in my view as I retraced my steps to a hanut and the owner had my coin purse there for me, untouched-now that’s amazing. After some more errands we made pancakes, pretty dang good for our first try in Morocco, and topped them with the best sounding thing around- Jif peanut butter from the states, and they made a very fine Valentine’s Day lunch. Oh and she also treated me to Starbucks coffee, in a real mug, which is about three times the Moroccan single serving, and is probably why I’m wide awake and happy and typing so late at night.

And now I’ve got the hiccups after polishing off my fourth cup of pistachio yogurt as I am unwilling to move from this wonderfully warm spot to cook. There are many roles we volunteers play besides helping the people of the country in which we’re serving; we also help each other and develop excellent mooching skills. Yesterday I nearly flipped out cuz I was so sick of being cold. My host family’s house was a freezer but with a warm ferno escape room; my house is only fridge temperature, but with no warm escape. I have to admit that no matter how easy Moroccans make it look, I cannot get my ferno going to save my life! I bought two donkeys of wood, yes it’s measured by the donkey, and can get a little going, but then it dies. It’s such a sad thing, and metaphoric, to fail at making fire, oh woe is me. So until I have the courage and words to ask for help, I’ve decided to buy a small electric heater to keep my blood flowing. However, I have to travel to a much bigger town to buy an electric heater, so I borrowed one today from a volunteer whose out of town, and oh my is it lovely (typing without gloves on is so much easier!) and that’s why I’m refusing to get up and cook.

I’ve been joking lately that if nothing else, Peace Corps will make me a great housewife. Haha, but don’t worry, there will be much else made of me here, and I have no plans on being a housewife! But I do keep tidy, primarily because I have to, not because I want to. Cleaning is a great way to keep warm, as it is so much work. Washing dishes means lighting the butagaz to heat up water, opening a window so you don’t get butagaz poisoning, hoping the water is in fact running, scrubbing with freezing faucet water till you’re numb, then blessing your dishes and hands with a hot water rinse, and as the feeling in your fingers returns, finding something clean and dry to dry the dishes with (as most of my cookware is certainly not stainless steel I have to dry it or it will rust). The mud abode is definitely a haven for bugs and lots of, duh, dirt, so I have to clean up any and all food items and even sweeping daily produces quite a mound of dust and dirt. Ya, so by this point I’ve warmed up a bit.

I don’t have a fun Tam fact for ya tonight, but I do have a Moroccan joke, or rather, something funny I actually understood. Any moment when I am laughing with rather than being laughed at is fabulous. At ssuq a couple weeks ago with my host sister and a little girl that was with us had a dirham and bought herself cotton candy, which I don’t think she’d ever had before because she ate it so awkwardly, and exclaimed, tadoht! Which means wool, hahaha, because cotton candy looks like wool, it was a nice moment.

BIG THANKS-mail only seems to come to my site about every three weeks, so last week I got three packages in one day. Dunno if you all care, but its of great excitement to me so I’m going to tell you the contents anyhow. A laptop case from my Uncle Gary and Aunt Kris, along with enough Reeses to give treats to my whole duar if they celebrated Halloween, powdered parmesan cheese, a block of parmesan cheese that was thoroughly covered in mold, but since it’s a hard cheese and I’m desperate I fully intend on scraping off the outer layer and eating it still, some manatee pictures to hang in my house, and then being the people my family are, they sent me a bunch of powdered cheese packets without the pasta cuz its lighter, and numbered them, a kind of blind test, so I can tell them which one I like best and they’ll send more. My grandma and grandpa sent me some clothes, knitting needles, TJ’s Mac n Cheese, TJs cheese crunchies and TJs peanut butter pretzels, I forgot how amazing those are! (note to grandma-I know I said those pants were too big, but I’ve worn them every day since over two other pairs of pants and love them so much!) My dear mom sent some random clothes, liquid garlic pills in case I lose hearing again (note: I’m no doctor, but I do know garlic is a natural antibiotic. I get a fair amount of ear infections, and since they stopped prescribing the yummy pink medicine years ago and my mom started taking us to see natural remedy doctors, it’s now my first choice. Poke a liquid garlic pill with a pin and squirt some directly into your ear, and stuff some cotton in there for an hour or so. You’ll stink like a beast, sorry Ashley, who had to live with me for so long, but honestly the infection goes away in under three days. Taking any garlic pill orally works too, but takes a bit longer. So there’s my two cents of experience) and then, opla! I was cracking up and nearly in tears as Hughy popped out! Most of you know that I have been head over heels for manatees since about the third grade, and around that time my Uncle Gary and Aunt Kris gave me a perfect hugging sized manatee stuffed animal, I still remember the box. Anyhow it’s Hughy, for hugh-manatee, like hu-manity, ahaha, for my ever earth loving side. So I left him at home of course and never expected him to travel to Morocco, but as this past month has been thoroughly stressful and I’ve been in deep need of hugs, it was a very welcome and much appreciated surprise. I can’t express to you all just how thankful I am for everything, for the stuff of course, but also your letters, your emails, and calls that I know cost a lot but always come at just the right time. Shukran bzaf!

That’s all for now, glad to hear so many of you enjoyed the new pictures and I love and miss you all as much as ever. I’ll check my email Tuesday or Thursday real quick, but if any of you wanna chat on Skype I’m hoping to be online all afternoon next Friday, but of course it’s always too soon to be sure or promise plans.

And next time on Bri Weaves . . . how much I wish I was weaving, falling into a whorl again, the amazing natural dyeing workshop last week, my brief stint with a kitten, the emu that has replaced me back home in California, the art of mooching a shower, not entirely related to my week without running water, and other things I’ve learned its possible but not comfortable to live without, more crazy dreams, my awkward demeanor, and dancing again. That sounds like a lot, maybe I should take votes on what actually sounds interesting. . .

Sunday, February 10, 2008

a few

i'll write soon, but here's a link to some pics, the picasa site just takes way too long to upload things. love you all!