So I’ve finally slept in my house. The most colorfully painted/tiled/decorated house you could imagine. I will try to take pictures and post them because I can hardly describe the tackiness that is this house. The hallway, living room and dining room have brownish-red and cream tiles from the floor to partway up the wall. (This part isn’t so bad, although there are two different patterns going on. It’s when you add in what they’ve done to the rest of the place.) In the living room the wall above it is teal with an odd pattern that looks like something you might see under a microscope. The ceiling is another color (black and grayish) with another pattern. The wall above the til in the hallway and dining room is gray with the scientific pattern Then in each of those rooms (that are open to each other) there is a lovely floral border across the top. Each one has been painted in a different color scheme: hot pink, yellow, brown, orange, blue, etc. On the ceiling there are decorative elements that have also been hideously ruined with bizarre, totally nonmatching colors, including gold. In the hallway on the ceiling there are several wood beams that are alternately painted blue and pink. There are a couple of archways, under which is brown (with gold accents of course). The floors are all tiled, mostly in semi-coordinating colors with the tiles on the wall, except in the living room there are 2 patches of grey. The kitchen is fully tiled in a couple shades of pink and of yellow/orange. On a couple of tiles there are Greek-related items (columns, vase) and then one has a basket of flowers. My bedroom has been painted gold, but the best part is that Moroccans seem to have a real affection for glitter (you see it fairly often on the outside of houses) – I got lucky and they painted my bedroom wall with it. My spare room has all pink walls. The walls of the shower and the toilet rooms (I did get lucky and they’re separate – nice not to have to clean yourself over the hole where you relieve yourself…) are tiled in the living/dining room tiles, with a few blue ones thrown in for good measure I guess. I got fortunate with windows. There are 3 in the living room plus the door has glass on the top half – and it opens – and there is 1 in the kitchen and 1 in the spare room. I decided to use the room that’s my bedroom because it doesn’t have an outside window (it does have one that opens to the dining area though) since I like to sleep/wake up with it nice and dark. The house is pretty open and the rooms are good size and the ceilings are high. It just could not be any gaudier. Oh and the furniture. I got couch cushions, called ponges (they rarely buy actual couches), from my sitemate (thanks Juan!) and they’re TU blue and yellow. There’s also a plastic floor mat in coordinating blue and yellow, and then a rug that goes on top of that in blue, brown and cream that doesn’t exactly match, but god bless Juan for finding something that at least was blue! I also got from him another plastic mat that’s brown and a rug that’s darker red with a nice pattern in a few colors that are in my bedroom. It’s definitely a site to see. I’ve still got to buy quite a few things, but with what I have and my sleeping bag (and a borrowed pillow from Juan), I can at least start staying there. I also got a fridge, small table and a few plates, silverware and glasses from the girl I replaced so that’s super helpful.
My language skills have taken a nosedive since we stopped going to class. I didn’t speak enough with my host family and community members and practice like I should. But it really gets old having people just laugh and rarely understand you whenever you talk. It was definitely a lot more comfortable (a lot being a relative term) talking with my first host family and community in my training site. I’m sure it helped that my first host father spoke pretty good English so we could use that when we needed to (which was really often). They also made a lot of effort with me in simple ways – like taking me to the kitchen and saying the names of items. My second host mom will just go on and on and on even when I ask her to slow down and repeat a little at a time. Super frustrating. In the last few days I was getting more and more tempted to just start rattling on in English just so she could maybe understand how I was feeling. I didn’t, I just kept nodding, laughing sometimes just because (usually when she did) and then making a confused face when it seemed she was actually asking me something or wanted some sort of response. It was painful. It is nice to be out of the situation. The family is nice, don’t get me wrong, just overwhelming, especially when you haven’t spent a single night by yourself in over 4 months. Just needed some space. Moroccans don’t really have a concept of privacy or why anyone would want it. Families often all sleep in the living area together. And there are always at least two of them together, talking away. It’s sort of funny (irritating) when you try to explain that you have lived alone. ‘In America, I lived by myself before I came here.’ ‘Oh, so just you and your parents?’ ‘No, alone, by myself, just me.’ ‘So your mom and dad lived with you, no one else?’ ‘Sure.’
I’m also happy to be able to start cooking what I want to eat. We ate the same meal for lunch and dinner every day and I was definitely over it. A long time ago. A lot of the food is way over spiced and overcooked (they also serve rice and pasta still sitting in the water – it’s just mushy and not pleasant!).
The weather in my town has been unusually warm. We were expecting tons of rain like they got last year and haven’t seen any of it. It was also cooler last year and this year it’s pretty hot in the sun during the day. Nights are chilly but not bad. Often it’s cooler in the house than outside – there’s that disbelieve in central air shining through. Summers are already miserable (120 degrees) so I’m really scared to see what this summer is going to bring. I plan to travel a lot, even if it’s just to other people’s sites that are not too far away, but at high elevation and therefore much cooler.
At the end of next month we have training/meetings for a week. I’m really looking forward to our whole group (all 63 of the people I came in with – called our staj) being together again. It will be fun to see everyone and catch up. One of the girls is having a Chinese New Year Celebration the weekend before and cooking a bunch of Chinese food (she’s even having ingredients sent from the US). Pretty sure I’m going to have to make my way there. No way am I passing up a Chinese feast.
I have to quickly mention that I cannot believe how many people are engaged or pregnant right now (only one is both, love you Mols!). And several close friends at that. With all the happenings, including the death I mentioned in the last post, and a BFF with a cancer scare, it makes me wonder if this is really the time I should be away from home. Not thinking of doing anything irrational like leaving, but it definitely has me thinking (and hoping I can get home for at least one of the occasions).
I should also probably mention the 20/20 program. In hindsight I should never had told you to watch it. I see that it scared a lot of you and I’m sorry. I just had no idea what it was going to be and our Country Director (head of the Peace Corps Morocco) texted us that morning saying it was going to be on. I feel safe here and take all precautions I can. I’m already pretty paranoid and therefore very aware, I think. Things can always happen, but they can also happen in the US just as easily. I’m never alone outside at night (which is weird and sometimes frustrating because it’s totally different from the US and I feel like I’ve given up a freedom I’m quite accustomed to). I keep my door and windows locked and watch out for weird things and people. Everyone in town knows about the Americans so there are many eyes and ears watching us (which is good and bad I suppose). Anyways, bottom line – don’t worry. Morocco was one of the first PC countries and we have a strong relationship here. It’s a stable country despite the weirdness and drama that seems to be occurring in other North African countries. And the PC is always monitoring things going on in the country and world and they take our Safety & Security very seriously.
I’m looking forward to the travel that’s coming up (maybe even every weekend until March – whoa). I like getting things on the calendar to look forward to. I plan to eat sparingly when in site so that I can save as much money to put towards travel. Seeing people reenergizes me and reminds me that I can do this!