Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Waffles, Beer & Chocolate

Last month (nearly all of August) was Ramadan.  No eating or drinking during the day - I didn't get involved (except for one day when I didn't eat or drink out of pure laziness, too much heat and lack of hunger or motivation until around 5:30).  Some days I didn't eat if I knew I was going to eat lftur (breakfast served when the sun goes down around 7:20ish) with a family, but I always drank water because I felt too awful if I didn't.  I ate with about 5 or so different families (I didn't get a lot of invitations!).  Ramadan didn't really affect me that much, except that nobody was working or doing much.  My sleep schedule was off, staying up all night some nights, but I think that was really just due to the heat.

I moved at the end of August - it was amazing (after the number of times I've moved) to basically load a car in 20 minutes, drive to the new town about 2 hours away, then drop it off in about 20 minutes.  There was a bit of a hitch when my landlord couldn't be tracked down to give me the key.  Her father or husband or something stood there watching us move everything up the 2 floors and then stand around, waiting to get a key so we could actually move the items into the house.  After asking several times if there was some way to get a hold of the landlord and/or find out if she had left my key at her place, he randomly emerged with my key.  I appreciate him finally checking for it (and coming up with it) but could you have checked earlier?!  Oh well, we got it done, and then were on our way to Rabat (a PC staff member and driver along with my now-former sitemate helped with the move - many thanks to them!), and made it back in time so that the driver (a Moroccan who was fasting) could get home in time to break fast with his family.

I spent a few days in Rabat with my Marine-family friends.  I had my monthly cough again so I talked to the PCMO (PC Medical Officer) about doing something about it. They had me come back on Monday and then sent me to get a face/neck x-ray.  That showed nothing. They sent me to a pulmonologist on Tuesday and he did a PFT (pulmonary function test).  And he determined...I have asthma.  Whew - big news - had it all my life (but glad we confirmed it I guess?!).  I wanted me to start a new steroid inhaler twice a day, steroids, antibiotics, a couple other things.  The PCMO decided to go ahead with the antibiotics, but nix the non-inhaler steroids and just do the inhaler.  They wanted to do a TB test, but I didn't have time to stay in Rabat for them to check the results two days later so they decided they would just do it when I get back from the States next month since I have to go see the pulmonologist anyways for follow-up.  Unlikely I have TB, so don't worry people, especially if you will be, or have been, around me!  But you never know...

At the beginning of September I went to Belgium for about a week with a fellow PCV, Annie to celebrate her 30th birthday.  We spent a couple of days in Brussels (where we attended the Beer Fest), a couple in Antwerp and a couple in Ghent.  The architecture was beautiful, the people were friendly, the food was delicious and the weather was cool.  Saying it was tough to leave is a total understatement.  I ate a waffle a day.  Annie ate about 10+ chocolates a day (I ate 5 total, plus a few samples here and there).  We drank a lot of delicious beer.  We ate (all-you-can-eat) spareribs one night and oh man were they good (I thought of Uncle Ronnie the whole time and took a picture for him!).  We ate the local specialty, beef pieces in a beer/brown sauce with fries and salad, a couple of times.  We ate a few sandwiches and bowls of soup.  We walked for hours and I think I bought no souvenirs.  Ahh.

Now I'm in a town about 45 minutes from Marrakech staying at the home(s) of a couple of volunteers.  Another PCV and I are leading a VSN (Volunteer Support Network) training for a couple of days.  We'll talk about active listening, coping skills, emotions, etc. so they can be sources of support for other PCVs.  I got trained in this in February.  You know how good I am at talking about feelings so I'm the perfect trainer ;)