So I totally skipped posting in December. Fail. Oh well, no point in worrying about it now. Time to catch you up. And thanks to those that have been posting comments - they're fun to read!
So I've now been in my site for about a month. Last time I left off it was just before Marche Maroc Marrakech, our Peace Corps artisan craft fair, that was the first weekend of December. Basically any artisan working with a PCV can come to the fair. It's a good opportunity for them to sell things and meet other artisans. We have workshops for them to learn various business-related things and time for them to see to tourists. There was a lot of walking involved for some of us as we were putting up posters and handing out flyers all over town. A good way to see the city but exhausting! It was also fun to meet some other PCVs from various places and of course see the PCVs that I already know. This is an event that I will probably take on some planning role in this year because I'm pretty close to Kech. We also have these fairs in Fez and Rabat so those will be fun to go to this year.
After the fair I went back to site to settle in with my new host family. Things have been fairly uneventful at site. My language has taken a nosedive since not being in class all day and not feeling super comfortable speaking that much. It's much different living in a house with no other English speaker around and trying to gesture and fumble around for basic conversation. I'm sure they think I'm this quiet, timid person who doesn't say much. Which is true in Darija. If only they knew me ;) I haven't been able to find a tutor so I've been trying to do a little studying on my own, although that doesn't happen as often as it should.
December was honestly a tough month. On Friday, Dec. 17th Sammy Hesselberg had a brain aneurysm and never returned to us. For those of you who don't know him he was 17 and I've known him that whole time. He and his brothers went to Ruth Washburn (our preschool). His brother Matt is a year behind me, his brother Brad is a year behind Jackson and Sammy is a year behind Anna. Our moms worked together at Ruth Washburn and I have memories of Matty and I babysitting him (with his big head and blond hair!), Anna and all the kids of the teachers during work days. More recently my mom and his dad were working in the same school and for several years his family has lived 2 doors down from my best friend Lilly's family. My fondest memory is every time I went to Lilly's, he would see me coming and take off, often to the confusion of whichever friend he was with. Running, biking, whatever transportation he had at hand, he would use to escape while screaming and laughing. I don't know why this ever started in the first place (probably because when he was little enough I liked grabbing him and tickling him) but it went until literally the last 2 or so years (the first time he didn't take off was quite sad for me, I'll admit - I guess since he was finally taller than me and quite the athlete, he had to start looking cooler ;) or maybe just face his fear). Anyways, he was one of the best kids you could ever meet, with a smile that could get him in trouble, and his funeral was attended by around 1,500 people, including many rival hockey players from schools around town - a true testament to him and his family. His funeral was on my birthday (the 22nd) and it was tough not being there. It still doesn't feel real and I know I'll expect to see him when I get back to town. We'll always love you, Sammy.
My birthday also sucked for a couple of other reasons. a. It was the same day as the Debutante Ball, and my sister was a Deb and I missed out on going. b. They don't celebrate birthdays here so I didn't bother even telling my host family. It was just weird walking around and the day being no different than any other day here aside from the multiple facebook postings and emails telling me happy birthday (thanks by the way!).
Moving on from being Debbie Downer... Christmas was weird but good. I went to a site about 4-5 hours away where there are 2 PCVs. It's a bigger town so it was nice to be in more of a city setting for a few days. There were about 20 of us and we cooked amazing food (Zena, my CBT mate and our host for the weekend, owned a catering company before coming here so the food was one of the best parts of the weekend!) and had a white elephant gift exchange (although all the gifts were basically things we all need for our houses). It was great to see other Americans, although it still doesn't really feel like Christmas ever happened having not been in the hustle and bustle or seeing decorations and hearing xmas music.
It's still quite hot around here during the day. The nights are cool, but we haven't gotten rain aside for a couple of days. The plants seem to think it's spring and are flowering. If it's this hot now, I'm pretty sure the summer will be unbearable. Will definitely be traveling as much as possible then.
It's dinnertime (fried sardines - ick) and my computer is going to die so I will post this and try to add some more later tonight!