Road Trip to the Atlas Mountains
On our first Sunday off, we took a day trip through the Atlas Mountains and saw Khenifra, Ifrane, Azrou, and El Hajeb. Mama Fadila, Baba Hassan, Robert, Ahlam, Imane, and I all piled into the car and drove out of town. Our first stop was Khenifra, a dusty red city surrounded by craggy Atlas peaks. There, Mama and Baba bought us both pairs of gorgeous slippers as birthday presents. We bought some kfta (ground meat) at a butcher, mixed with onions and spices, and took it to the restaurant next door where they cooked it for us. After lunch, we went on our merry way—singing, making fun of each other, and eating oranges we picked up in Khenifra. As we ascended up into Azrou, Ahlam and Imane started screaming with delight at the sight of snow. They demanded that Baba stop the car, which he happily obliged to, and we all had an epic time romping in the white fluff!
Training in Meknés
Training has been quite interesting… Mostly boring technical sessions that I doodle through. But the most wonderful part is connecting with new friends who are going through the same challenges and amazing new experiences as I am.
I LOVE THE HAMMAM. And everyone in town knows it too, ahahaha. The lady who works at the front desk of the hammam (the town’s public baths) heard from Mama Fadila, and told her friend who told another friend who told someone in my training group. But seriously, scalding hot water and a magical qis loofah and like five layers of soap (including sabun bldi, a traditional natural soap that works like wonders). Luxury beyond belief.
Usually when Robert and I tell people that we have the same birthday, people react in one of two ways: “Wow, what a cool coincidence!” or “Whoa, that’s weird!” Mama Fadila and Baba Hassan didn’t react in either of those ways… because it turns out they have the same birthday too! On January 28, our Moroccan Mama and Baba, along with our training group and language teacher Khalid, threw us a surprise kaskrut birthday party! (Kaskrut is the 3rd meal of the day in Morocco, in between lunch and dinner). Loads of cake, pizza d l-Maghrib, sheba tea, meloui, toffees, and other sweet delights. L-eid milad dyalna ZWIN BZAF!
Day Camp at the Dar Chebab
Our introduction to the Youth House was a week-long day camp run by our “brother” Gabe (Fadila and Hassan are his Mama and Baba too, so we’re family!) It was so exhausting, but so much fun. We ran a “map of the town” event, which was hilarious because the kids got so competitive. Actually, they got competitive in EVERYTHING. The camp also did Environmental Day, Life Skills Day, and Sports Day. Surprisingly for such a lazy person, sports day was my favorite. We volleyed around soccer balls and sang and played games until the sun set. I’ve never seen a more inclusive yet competitive youth environment! It was a great way to get to know the students, as we’ve continued to run activities and lessons.
Other Small Moments
Attending a new baby party with Mama on Valentine’s Day. Goofing around on the roof with our sisters while doing laundry. Borrowing the Dar Chebab’ projector screen to watch the Seahawks heartbreakingly lose the Superbowl at the last moment. Taking a walk with some teenage girls through town and teaching each other new words. Learning how to make tagine and Moroccan dance at the same time (news flash, I suck at both, but will keep practicing, ehehehe). Taking walks through the man-made forest at the edge of town. Finally finding l’3asir d-lavoka (avocado juice/milkshake) in Meknes after searching in every cafe. Laughing endlessly at everything.