WARNING: VERY LONG UPDATE ON OUR LIVES- yes, longer than usual…..
To say that these past couple of weeks has been an adventure would be a MAJOR understatement…
We started on a ten hour train ride to Oujda at the end of January… although the train is one of the better ways to travel in Morocco, passing ten hours is still quite a bit of time! Fortunately, Tyler and I were able to travel with some amazing fellow PCV’s!! The ten hours flew by with eating*, chatting and debates on whether to use the bathroom or not (I decided to brave it- not the worst bathroom I have been in but definitely not the best!)
Oujda… a magical city of five star hotels and McDonalds. Although we didn’t visit either, we did have some DELICIOUS sandwiches to top it off with the BEST homemade brownies I have had in country… (and even with all of the craziness- I have tried to make them myself and they were FAB!) My taste buds were also delighted with a delicacy of pickled red peppers!!! AMAZING! I am going to try my hand at pickling soon….
After a cold night in Oujda, we were off on a souk bus (by far the cheapest and sometimes slowest way to travel in Morocco) for another 8 hour portion of the trip! This started off REALLY WELL with a friend getting spit up on and it continued with a little boy kicking the back of the seat the whole time- don’t you just love* kids?! Other than that… we had a smoooootthhhhhhhhhh ride to our final destination…..
And these are just SOME of the words that apply to this AMAZING city in one of the furthest corners of Morocco. Located on the edge of the Algerian border, this city built in an oasis is wonderful because of its beauty but also because of its charms i.e. mud houses, palm trees full of dates, irrigation ponds and aquaducts (not to mention the FABULOUS* PCV’s that live there). Figuig is also one of the few places in Morocco that harassment is on the lower end of the spectrum… which makes it even more charming and wonderful. Although a few days is not nearly enough- Tyler and I were so glad that we were able to see such an amazing place, truly a Moroccan vacation! In Figuig, we celebrated a friend’s birthday, ate delicious* food, AND learned how to knit! (The one year I don’t put it on my new years resolutions, is the year I finally learn how!) AMAZING! I should definitely try that plan more often….
So, our plan was to leave on Tuesday to go to Erfoud and then camp and camel trek it on Wednesday night… unfortunately, we were Morocco’d.
Part of Figuig’s beauty is that because it is so far away, it is sort of difficult to get to… and get out of. If you are not able to leave by bus at 530, 630 or 730am (unless you want to pay a lot of dirhams) then you do not get out of Figuig that day. On Tuesday when we went to leave, we fell victim to the buses being full. And being PCV’s (meaning having to live off very little moolah) we just opted to move our trip back a day!
Fast forward to the next night: We had had a long but successful travel day, 430 am bus ride (two hours) from Figuig to Bouarfa with a wonderful 2 hour nap at the volunteer’s house. Then we hopped a five hour bus ride from Bouarfa to Errachidia with a short one hour taxi ride to arrive at our final destination for the day, Erfoud! However, late at night Tyler and I received a phone call from our mul dar (landlord) telling us that there was water in our apartment!
First thoughts (think first 2 seconds): AGH! THE ENTIRE APARTMENT HAS FLOODED! LAYLA AND HENRY HAVE DROWNED! HOW WILL WE CLEAN EVERYTHING UP!!!!!
Second (much more rational) thoughts: How long has it been running? Is it coming out of the bottom of our door? Where is coming from? All of our stuff has been ruined! We are going to be charged so much by ruining the two apartments below us!!!
Third (most rational) thoughts: The cats probably had an adventure in the kitchen sink and bumped the faucet to turn the water on.
Anyway, attempting to speak Darija over the phone to the mul dar (who is always so helpful with language in the first place) with all of these thoughts running through your head, I have to say is quite easy (*please note that the previous statement is dripping with sarcasm). But thankfully we were able to call a friend to get in touch the the mul dar and he just shut the water off to avoid any problems.
Then, not quite stress-free, we took off on the adventure to the desert. Now some people might ask, why didn’t we just head home? Well, seeing as home would mean a 12 hour bus-ride plus a multitude of other reasons, we figured that it would be okay! The camel-trek was WORTH it! We had cous cous to start off… then went in a SUV on a short off-roading adventure! WAHOOOO* Stopped to say hello to some nomads….
Then we were off on our camels…
this is me, attempting to pet Duane (Tyler’s camel) while I sit atop my camel, Queen Elizabeth. We were told that the camels were all boys- but I decided that my camel would be in the midst of thinking about his gender identity on our trek. My friend and fellow volunteer, Jess, is sitting on “the General” and our caboose was Jeeves! It was amazing, we spent the night in these camel-haired Berber tents….
Obviously, in this picture… we hadn’t done the desert jump yet… but I think this shows how excited we were TO JUMP!
Anywho…..we ate a DELICIOUS tajine (traditional Moroccan meal) and told jokes by the fire! It was a pretty cold night… but it was amazing. It also helped that we had AMAZING company!! 🙂 Definitely a once in a lifetime adventure!
That next day we headed back up north on a 12-hour bus ride and arrived home to find things a little messy, but overall dry. It turns out that the cats had just knocked the kitchen faucet on. WAHOO!!!
The day after we arrived home, we continued with our regular schedule and went to an event put on by our local ACCESS program (more about that in another post because this one is crazy long already- SORRY to those who are still with me!) And we helped the students paint a human rights mural- which turned out to be SUPER-AMAZING-FANTASTIC!
Then this past weekend we traveled to a fellow volunteer’s site outside Tangier called Hakamaa. We went to visit her and to start to plan some WONDERFUL events that I will chat about soon.
Over the past couple of months with all of the traveling and being in such wonderful company of amazing PCV’s, Morocco has felt more comfortable. It has felt not so much like an oversized pair of pants with too many pockets,like in previous months, but more like your third or fourth pair of favorite jeans- not quite the FAVORITE pair yet, but we are working on that.
Again, sorry for the long post and I will try to update a little more often!!!!
First picture- All Figuig visitors pretending to be on a rollar coaster- please notice how calm Tyler looks.
Second picture- knitting/rolling yarn balls on the roof
Third picture- Tyler and I in Merzouga in front of some majestic sand dunes