My day with the two Latifas

or juj Latifat (two Latifas) if you will.

My upcoming program for International Women’s Day has been a bit like a rollar coaster… meeting and planning the budget, grant stuff, emotions, denial etc. etc.

Anyway, last Friday was a high point. The escalation of nervousness and feelings that grows until you are right at the top of a hill on a coaster before you fall… I used to LOVE* that feeling… the ‘EEK’ that would come out, the nervously looking over the side. The ascension is the best part on a physical rollar coaster and in the rollar coaster of life.

I met my counterpart Latifa at the preschool she runs before we went out for the day. She had told me the day before we were going to talk to high schools about getting girls involved with the event. On the way out of the preschool, we met another Latifa who is the president of another women’s association that I have worked with… and out the door I went with the two Latifas. I was surprised that we were walking but I told myself it would be good exercise since the high schools are pretty spread out. We didn’t go far though… next thing I know we are at a local pharmacy telling the pharmacist and another lady about the event. They seemed to be talking about the details so Latifa (we will call her Latifa one) and I went outside to look at the roundabout in front of the pharmacy.

This roundabout has the ability to be breathtaking, unfortunately at its current state it is more than a bit lacking. Garbage bins are overflowing, the ‘fountain’ is broken and filled with trash and the landscaping is non-existent. Latifa (one) started chatting about the things we would do for this wonderful little roundabout on International Women’s Day. Latifa (two) walked out of the Pharmacy and told Latifa (one) and I that she had received two large donations from the pharmacist and the woman, who turned out to be a dermatologist. We took that as  good sign and started walking to the doctors, butches, and stores around the roundabout to ask them for donations for the day. It was a very* successful day and with the bumps that we had had in the last couple of months, it left me feeling like we were still riding to the top of the coaster!

These couple of hours reminded me of how generous and supportive Moroccans can be, most of the donors within seconds were willing to help out in some way. It surprised me that we were able to just walk out with cash-in-hand donations. Those few hours also reminded me of why I wanted to join Peace Corps in the first place, the feeling of working with other people successfully towards a mutual goal was absolutely amazing.

The afternoon continued with Latifa (one) inviting Tyler, my tutor and myself to a cous cous lunch (the typical cuisine on Fridays). It was wonderful… by far the best cous cous I have ever had in Morocco. It was one of those ‘I’m really full but will continue to eat type of meals’.

While we were eating, some of her little preschoolers were returning from their at-home lunches. Usually when I come to the preschool,we are in the confines of her office and I don’t get the opportunity to interact with the little ones. This was a different kind of day and one little boy caught my eye. His name is Reda and the fact that his pants were a little* too short made him more endearing. Most of the little ones were shy in disposition at first, but after we were there for awhile,  the kids were dancing around us trying to get our attention. Within the hustle and bustle, one little boy ended up hitting Reda. Latifa stood up and went to talk to the boy about how wrong his behavior was. The little boy immediately started crying and yelling at Latifa. Because his tears were streaming, his words were a bit muffled for me but my tutor started laughing almost immediately.

Apparently, the little boy, whenever he is upset, he starts yelling that he will buy a sheep and he will eat it all himself and not share it. This time, he yelled it over and over, including little bits about telling his father that Latifa had hit him. The little boy took his experience with his family buying a sheep for l’eid kbir and thought that the most hurtful thing he could say was to not share his sheep. This would be akin to a little boy yelling that he would buy a Christmas turkey or ham and not sharing it with his teacher. In that moment of almost spitting out my cous cous because I was laughing so hard, I was reminded again of why I joined Peace Corps. The moments that you share with people in more than one language that creates wonderful relationships.

The day ended with a wonderful surprise Valentine’s Day dinner of turkey burgers and french fries and delicious homemade chocolate covered strawberries.

And that was my day with the two Latifas.

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A post about nothing…

Some days, I wake up absolutely bursting with creativity. These are the days that I write a to-do list, get excited about the day and look forward to everything that can be accomplished. Usually around 2pm, I feel a creativity-crash. Over the last 22 months, this crash has had to do with a lot of things, the realization that some things I just can’t do here in Morocco, that in order to do some things- it requires going outside, and mostly that although I should treasure the days I can read for endless hours… at this point, I have had enough of those kind of days.
At the beginning, I was so excited to keep this blog. I wanted it to be rich with stories about people, culture, and descriptions of places! I wanted it to be an intimate way to record our memories  for family and friends, but mostly for myself. However, as time went on, I didn’t find myself wanting to share the things that happened, mostly I found myself counting the days/months/minutes until we would safely be back on US soil. As we prepare, somewhat, for our return- interviews, job applications, etc… I find myself in a very obscure place. Yes, there will definitely be things that I miss about Morocco. Yes, I am very excited about the idea of going home. But the in between things… those are the things that I am frustrated with- the thought that I may have become a more negative person, really bothers me. The knowing that I have changed, but not being able to identify how… and if it is good or bad. The ambiguity of where my work ethic is and if it will ever be the same? My laziness has taken on a new shape and it cuddles with me 95% of the time. I am not comfortable with how acquainted I have become with my laziness, I would like some space but so far it has not moved an inch. It makes me impatient, frustrated and discouraged, to have such an experience with inactivity. During the phone interviews that I have had this week, I can see a glimpse of the aspects that I love about myself…. direct communication, enthusiasm, prompt response to structure, organization and  positivity. Most of those characteristics, I am sad to say, are aspects I don’t see of myself every day here.

One of the biggest realizations that I have had most recently is the concept that I am not sure how to bring back those characteristics I appreciate in this environment. It is such a short time until we return, but now that I have become conscious of everything, will the day-to-day be tolerable?

I recently have read some posts written by members of the group that arrived in mid-January. Most of them are so excited and practically bursting off of the screen. This is wonderful to see and it does remind me that being able to experience something like Peace Corps is a privilege. The recipes I have made, the knitting I have learned, the books I have read, the shows and movies I have watched, the language I have absorbed, the places I have seen, the people whom I have met, the time that Tyler and I have had together– all of that is irreplaceable and unique and special. I will treasure all of those memories forever and they will keep me in a place far from regret, but does all of that mean as much if a person feels lost during all of it?