Christmas in Morocco: Celebration of the Prophets

I took a week off of work to visit my host family and other volunteers the week of Christmas. It wasn’t until right before I left that I was told that Thursday (Dec. 24th) was the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday. I think it’s a beautiful coincidence that two of the most popular religions celebrated their leaders during the same time in 2015.

Here I want to share some moments with my host family during the Prophet’s birthday:

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Later that day (Dec. 24th) I traveled to other volunteer’s site to celebrate Christmas:

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Tr3mendous Love,
Renee

Eid Kabir (Al-Adha) 2015

WARNING: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS VIDEO OF SLAUGHTERED AND GUTTED SHEEP.

I observed this Muslim Holiday with my host family in Morocco. I filmed the part that most Americans are interested to see. There is also a lot of socializing and eating with family and friends.

This holiday commemorates Ibrahim’s (Abraham) willingness to sacrifice his son to God. This festival also marks the end of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Eid al-Adha is a time for wishing one another well. Many Muslims in the United States celebrate Eid al-Adha with prayers and social gatherings.

Tr3mendous Love,

Renee

What Had Happened Was… | April & May

April:

Honestly, there isn’t much to report for April. I had somewhat consistent attendance for my classes until the end of the month of which I had near to no students. By this point, I had been in site for about 2 1/2 months without going more than 2 hours away. I needed a break.

May:

The reason I didn’t post any in May was because of all the traveling I was doing. I did have some internet access but it wasn’t consistent. I’ve meant to figure out ways to add small content posts to this blog to have more regular postings.

I’m lucky because I can go to big cities like Rabat on one 10 hour bus (as compared to other volunteers who travel over 20 hours and much split the trip because the way the buses are scheduled). Even so, 10 hours is tiring. Therefore, if I cross the mountains, I try to stay on that side unless I have more than 5 days before my next destination. This is not only because the traveling cost and time but also because my site is so small that we only have a weekly market day. If I can’t make it home by Monday or will only be home for a few days that it doesn’t make sense to buy food, then I don’t go home.

As such, I will plan my work and travel so that time is not wasted. Hence, May was a full month of traveling!

Here are the links to posts about the work and sites I visited in May:

Buying carpets in Nia’s site, Tazankht

Taking blood pressure at the Rose Festival in Kelaa M’Gouna

My parents came to Morocco!

Tr3mendous Love,

Renee

My Parents Came to Morocco!

May 29-June 3rd: My parents decided to visit Morocco and I. It’s been over a year since I’ve seen them in person. Sometimes Skype just isn’t enough.

We stayed a night in Casablanca before heading down to my site.

Once in my site we ate soooo much food! My parents cannot handle a lot of carbs but they enjoyed themselves anyway. Mom was fascinated by everything. I was happy they were able to see my suq. It’s nothing super special but there’s a lot of variety for a small town.

On Tuesday, we went to Merzouga. We were supposed to going camel trekking by we went during the low peak time and the camels were only going in the evening. We climbed the dunes, gathered some sand to take home, and had tea. We went to Rissani for lunch and Mom did some shopping and bought a pink kiftan. Later on their last day in at Casablanca, Mom also bought a jebador and some other outfits and souvenirs.

Their last night in, we ate Hirrara, washed off the sand from the desert, and hopped on a night bus back to Casablanca.

I enjoyed having them here. I miss them so much.

Tr3mendous Love,

Renee

Taking Blood Pressure in Kelaa M’Gouna

This was a new experience. I’ve never taken blood pressure before. Of course, I’ve had my own taken by a nurse or doctor for check ups and I never understood what the numbers meant. As long as the doctor said it was good, then that’s all I needed to know.

DSCN2315I was the first volunteer to arrive the Wednesday before the Rose Festival for the TOT, Training of Trainers. The training was simple enough, thank goodness. There were other volunteers who did this last year or at some other festival. We had electronic as well as manual machines. The electronic ones were so simple: wrap it around the wrist or upper arm, turn it on and let it do its magic. The wrist machine was awesome to have for taking women’s blood pressure since it didn’t force them to push their sleeves up too much or need to remove clothing.

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I actually enjoyed using the manual devices once I had some practice with them. I felt so official; like I was a real nurse or something. We, the volunteers, were asked other medical questions since the Moroccans thought we were real doctors. We had to recommend to them to go to the hospital or clinic for their questions.DSCN2329

Besides the Rose Festival, Kelaa M’Gouna is known for its Dagger Co-operatives. They make the traditional curved daggers and swords, that were used by the Amazigh people. I bought several for myself, family and friends.

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Tr3mendous Love,

Renee

Buying Amazigh Carpets

Since my parents are coming at the end of May, I convinced them to take a suitcase full of souvenirs home with them. First stop is Taznakht for carpets and rugs. My staj mate, Nia lives here and helped me find the co-operatives that sold the carpets and had good prices. I went to Taznakht thinking I would get 3-4 carpets…I bought 9. However, I did end up reselling two to other volunteers. I knew I wanted relatively small carpets meaning no more than 2 meters maximum and that’s pushing it.

All of the carpets pictured below are ones that I bought:

*MAD: Moroccan Dirham- about 9.6 to $1 and 10 to 1 Euro

*Double Face: meaning it looks the same of both sides so it doesn’t matter which side is up.

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400MAD: Mosaic Style
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200MAD: 2m, sold to another PCV
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300MAD: 2 meters
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300MAD: 1.5meter, Double Face, Sold to another PCV
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150MAD: less than a meter
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200MAD: Map Style, Double Face, 1m
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200MAD: 1m

Bonus Pictures of awesome murals:

Tr3mendous Love,

Renee

What Had Happened Was… | February & March

February and March have been easy and consistent work months. Nothing too crazy has happened. What Had Happened Was…

February…

~Since I was sick in January I lost my mixed Adult English Class, but that’s okay because I started a new class for women!

~We got IYF started! IYF (International Youth Foundation) has a ‘Passport to Success’ program which teaches youth various life skills such as teamwork, problem-solving, health issues, etc.

~ I learned how to make homemade bread. This picture is a fail but with practice, I will get better.

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~Valentine’s weekend, my boyfriend came to visit me and we made Valentine’s Day cards with my high school students.

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~ We got so much snow we didn’t have electricity for about 40 hours.

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Snow play

~ I decorated my house! House tour video TBA!

 

 

March…

~I finished the entire show of “The Flash”, “Arrow”, and “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”

~I hennaed my hair. It’s barely noticeable so sorry no pictures :(

~I met the new volunteer that will be replacing Anna, my closest volunteer. Nina loved her host family and is enthused to work in her new home for 2 years.

~I absolutely love the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ soundtrack and in looking up more music from some of the artists, I stumbled upon the artist, Gorgon City. IN LOVE!!!!

~Traveled up north to help DJ get some items from a COS-ing volunteer. I got some goodies myself. I got a blender, coffee maker, spices, coconut oil, etc.

~I went to see the waterfalls and picnicked with my students.

~Created my vision/inspiration boards:

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~Apparently, my allergies act up even in the desert. I’m glad I have these:

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~We re-opened the Nedi Neswi. Hopefully, I can work there again soon.

TR3mendous Love,

Renee

Destination Imagination Prepares Alum for the Peace Corps – Blog – Destination Imagination

I was honored by Destination Imagination (DI) to write a blog post on how DI prepared me for the Peace Corps. Here is the published articled on the DI website. Take a look:

Destination Imagination Prepares Alum for the Peace Corps – Blog – Destination Imagination.

 

Tr3mendous Love,

Renee