Wow there is a lot to catch you all up on! I’m so behind. So exactly a month ago I left for IST in Agadir. IST (In Service Training) takes place 6 months into your actual service (9 months after arriving in country). It’s kind of a little update for you and staff, a mark that the “real work” is supposed to begin, and, possibly most important of all, it’s the first time you meet back up with your whole staj and see how crazy you’ve become in comparison. A nearby PCV and I began the trip in our horribly ragged attire and dirty bodies and already felt far away as we reached the closest large city to board the long train ride to Marrakech. I’ll admit I experienced a fair amount of culture shock as we arrived in Kech, all the skin to be seen, all the harassment, and all the being taken advantage of! I’m sure there is much to love about the famous city, but I quickly hated it. We met up with another friend and a couple very frustrating hours later finally found a little promised land- Pizza Hut. Yes, a guilty pleasure. We were also shocked to see our first ice cubes since arriving in country in our waters, very exciting. Very full and still in our grunge wear we made it to the huge square met up with the last of our little group and went to the hotel. It was a good time; some of us went to a casino (very odd), we made mimosas, explored the square a bit, tried to turn back into real people again, etc. etc. And when the time came we headed off in a hot taxi to the beloved beach town for a week of sun and inshallah, refreshing our many disheveled feelings about our work and life here.
Peace Corps has set us up in decent places before, and since coming to my site and travelling on my own tiny dime, my expectations for where I rest my head at night are, well, I don’t really have any. Nothing could have prepared me for how incredible our hotel was. WOW. Each room had its own bathroom-including a bathtub, hot water and western toilet, two huge beds, even a TV! Not that we had any time to watch it. Best of all, we were only two streets up from the beach and our room faced it with an astonishing view. Oh and there was also three pools, but I hardly cared with the ocean so close! My roommate, Linsey of course, hadn’t yet arrived, and most of the other early people were resting. I however, had one mission, to be back with my beloved, the ocean. I nearly ran to the beach like I hadn’t seen it in years. Oh the sand beneath my feet! I briskly walked down the shoreline before spotting two other PCVs, I ran up to them, hardly said hello, uttered an apology, and, shaking, ran directly into the water. Oy vey! I cannot begin to explain the joy I felt the moment my entire body was back there-home. For those few moments all of my worry washed away and I felt strong again. Ya I had stepped foot in the water at the dirty beach in Rabat a couple months before, but that hadn’t been nearly enough. Oh it was wonderful. I swam around a bit, then got out, knowing I’d be returning very soon and explained myself to the two PCVs I’d so rudely threw my stuff down at. Ha, but they didn’t seem to mind.
The rest of IST was a blur of confusing but alright presentations and discussions, far too much drinking, then soon being burned out of drinking, never tiring of daily showers, and lots of good food. All I really remember or cared about was going into the ocean and seeing the people I began with and how far we’ve come. I ran on the beach every morning I could, and swam every other chance I got. It was interesting to see the changes in our little groups, those I was closest to in the beginning, and who I’m closest to now that I’m at my site. It was over all too quickly, but a couple friends and I headed to Essaouira for a night before the long trek home. It was lovely. I wouldn’t call myself a mallrat by any means, but I am still a girl, and after months of digging through used clothes ssuq for big, ugly, wool sweaters and long, butt-covering t-shirts, Essa was a shopping paradise. I don’t know why it’s different there than other places, it just is. Or maybe we all just needed to go and act like real girls shopping for once. And despite all the weight I’ve gained and general feeling that I’ve been falling apart all over, I managed to find some clothes I felt good in, lhamdullah! We also had some amazing French food, even ham! Then headed off to Kech for another night so that I could make the rest of the trip home in one day, hopefully. And I did, exhausted. Refreshed in some ways, but felt beaten with a stick in just as many other ways. After the trip I made some new agreements with myself and don’t plan on drinking much anytime soon, I can’t afford it anyhow. I returned home, to my humble little home, to my kitty who I missed dearly and slept as if dead a little while before beginning yet another trek away. . .