A day in the life of a PCV…
One Day – Two Takes
The Pain – What am I doing here!?:
It’s 8:15 and those damn kids are already yelling… it’s too early, I’m going back to sleep….
It’s 9:15 and I have to be at the Dar Chebab…. despite my best efforts, it’s time to get up. The stupid water is sooooo cold that I skip the facewash and just throw on the same dirty clothes I wore yesterday… Man the damn coffee is taking forever… Why can’t they just have coffee machines in this country!?
I’m late because I can’t walk down the street without 5 people stopping me to have the same meaningless conversation everyday! And all this to go play stupid games with these kids (how is this youth development?). After counting down the minutes till I’m free, I go and sit in the cafe by myself and hopefully get a chance to just read…. but of course, someone makes their way over to my table (just as I was starting to relax) and wants to talk about god knows what… I can hardly understand this language and I’ve been here for 5 months, what the hell is wrong with me!?
I think to myself that I just have wait it out and he’ll go back to reading his paper and I’ll get some peace and quiet. I’m about to head home when he invites me to lunch….. oye, today of all days… but it’s my job to integrate so I grudgingly go with him. At least I’ll get a chance to relax tonight…
It’s the evening and that means I’m seconds away from starting dinner and watching a movie….. Then a BOOOM comes from my doorway. Moroccans don’t knock, they shake the foundations of your house, via the door. I want to ignore them but I know they saw my light on… and so it goes that I’m in for an hour and a half of chatting. They’ll have to leave for evening prayer I think to myself…..
It’s been another long day and I’m tired of all this integration crap… I just want to watch a movie and take a hot shower….
The Joy – Wow, I live in Morocco!:
It’s 8:15am when my cell phone starts to chime. My eyes open to a astoundingly blue sky and the sounds of children playing competing with the birds for the right to welcome me to a new day. A fresh cup of coffee and This American Life get me going enough to make some fresh potatoes and eggs for a delightful breakfast on the roof. As I dine my body warms itself in the sun of a new day.
At 10:00am it’s off to the Dar Chebab. Each day a couple new people greet me in the street, I’m getting the hang of this! They know my name (Elias) and they know I’m headed to the Dar Chebab. They will ask about Samir (my sitemate) and my family and tell me that I will be getting a cold if I continue to wear my shirt with my sleeves rolled up. I thank them for their wisdom and continue on my way. At the Dar Chebab I play some ping pong or chess and hopefully break through the barrier of another kid that hasn’t quite warmed to me…. hopefully they’ll come to the next English class but at the very least I’ve shown them good sportsmanship today…..they need a role model….
A trip to the cafe after the Dar Chebab means time to lesson plan for evening classes and organize my life. I read with the sun in the sky and enjoy the occasional interruption from the local shoe shine boys or a friend just shouting to say hi. It’s a beautiful day and if you turn your head just right you can catch a glimpse of the gardens that were built here during French colonization.
A friend stops by and we talk about racism and corruption in Morocco vs. America. I learn that corruption in Morocco is better today than it was 10 years ago and I hear the hope in his voice as he talks about the next generation of leaders having honor. It’s a good talk and afterwards we sit together as he reads the paper and I read my book. So often in the US we don’t take the time to sit with each other….. When it’s time for lunch he insists I join him and his family. I’ve eaten there before but this is the first time that all the women of the house have chosen to eat at the same table… I laugh to myself as I think of a scene from What About Bob?…. Baby steps to gender equality….
That evening a knock at the door brings my tudor, Charrouf, and a couple of his teacher friends. I invite them in for some tea and as I’ve been reading the Q’uran a bit, I have some questions. We talk about Islam for an hour or so sipping our tea during which I have convinced Charrouf to read the book I have just quoted, Half the Sky, a book about the oppression of women around the world (Thanks to Kristin for the book!)…. Baby steps Bob, Baby Steps……
We look at the time my friends have missed the evening prayer at Mosque so they ask if they can pray in my home. I sit quietly in my salon as I watch the 3 men do a ritual that they do 5 times a day, but to me is still an amazing cultural experience. After prayer, Anis (the science teacher) sings a couple of verses from the Q’uran and we all say good night…..
It’s an amazing day and one that I could have nowhere else in world.
The truth is that most days are somewhere in the middle. A little joy and a little pain, the bitter with the sweet. I’ve had some of the most rewarding days of my life in Morocco. I’ve also had some of the worst. On the good days, I’ll do my best to thrive. On the bad, I’ll do my best to survive. Through it all, I’m determined to learn and come out the other side of Peace Corps a better person.
Some Pictures of a hike, a trip to the Sahara, my house, my town, and some other stuff….