Lauren in Morocco

This Blog has no direct association with the Peace Corps.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Riding a donkey, making bread, and other such things.

Yesterday I returned from about 8 days of CBT training and I will be training with the entire group for a few days before we return to our CBT sites. My host family is amazing and I am so luckly to have two host sisters that are around my age, because it gives me the opportunity to have not only family, but also close friends in my host country. Five of us arrived at our CBT site on Thursday and met our families for the first time. My CBT site is the smallest site out of the five potential sites, but I think the landscape is beautiful. There are green mountains all around my house and my host family lives right on a lake, that is directly beside the largest dam in North Africa. One of my host sisters is 25, the other is 18, and there are two that are younger. From my roof (because roofs are essential in Morocco) I can see the homes of the 4 other volunteers in my CBT group. There are three other girls that also just graduated in May and one male who is alittle older. The first night with the family was alittle strange, only because my language classes were still in the beginning stages, but I helped my sisters cook tajine and we watched hours of Moroccan Music Videos (well not solely Moroccan, but videos that are popular in most of the middle east.) A normal CBT day for me consists of waking up around 6 for a walk/run with another PCT, breakfast that consists of bread and tea with the family around 7, then off to school at 8, one tea time at 10, another tea time at 4, tea again with my family at 6, reading and homework with my host family, helping to prepare dinner, and bed around 10. On Thursday I had the grand idea to tell my sisters that I wanted to learn how to cook, as this would be a cross-cultural learning experience. Little did I know this would enclude me killing the meat we were going to cook, since my family owns sheep and chicken. The first night I cooked with my family they brought me a large container of fish and showed me the process of picking the eye out with my finger, then snapping the head off with my hands. Now, this wouldn't bother most people, but after about the 20th fish I was done. My family also decided that Lauren is far to difficult of a name, so I was called Lala, Lora, Nora, or silence. Sunday is the day we have no class and spend the entire day with our family and naturally I had no idea what to expect during this first CBT experience. I was awaken around 6 am by tribal drums (I still have no idea where they came from) and I met with my family to learn to make bread. Bread and Mint tea are essential to life and culture in Morocco and I had more than I could handle during my first CBT visit. We made homebread bread for a few hours, then my host sister insisted that I ride the donkey around town, which I'm sure was quite a spectical, an American riding a donkey up and down the street for an hour. This experience was only topped when she made me pick up B.E, the male volunteer in my group, and made him ride the donkey up and down the street for a few hours. During my CBT I also attended two dance/tea parties hosted by the women in my community and they were absolutley amazing experiences. All of the women gather and at the party with my host family I was dress up in silk and amazing outfits. They showed me traditional dance moves and wedding dances. There is a common misconception that most women in Morocco are oppressed or that gender roles are not equal and I would have to dispute this stereotype because all of the women in my community break this stereotype. Yes, gender roles are different than those in the US, but these women, in my opinion do most of the work to hold the community and family together. They are all, also amazing women who have taught me more than I could imagine in this short time. Having Language class everyday and living with the family every night really transformed my language skills. I went from knowing almost nothing to being able to buy anything that I want, have very basic conversation, describe my family, time, money, and ask basic questions. This all seems so simple but actually having the knowledge to implement these everyday actions was amazing. I would say the only problem I had with language was that when I found out the word for egg, I said it everytime we ate eggs. Yes this seems like it would be fine, but everytime I said it my host family would laugh and just tell me to call it an omelet. I went along saying the Tamazite word for egg then entire week and everyone continued to laugh and at the end of our first CBT I brought this to the attention of my teacher. I was then informed that the word for egg is the slang in that region for a certain part of a man's body that I will not mention at this time. All in all the week was great, I've learned to cook Moroccan food, dance a few Moroccan dances, and I've had some wild wild tea and bread parties.

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