Saturday, October 07, 2006

So, I have a lot of explaining to do I suppose. Having been rather absent my duty to explain my life during training and such I will do my best now to catch you up as I also drop in some updates about Morocco and my ongoing life.

One thing you may note in reading this blog. We have been told (several times) that PCVs in other countries have gotten in major trouble for being excessively criticial of parts of their host country. While its natural that some aspect might either truely be wrong, or at least seem that way to a visitor or someone living there, it seems these PCVs crossed some vauge line in their analysis. You might note a general positive spin to most of my posts. This is because Im a postive kinda guy, and because we do not want any one to find this blog and say "damn, Scott is a pretty inconsiderate guy, and does not appriciate this culture, etc etc". But really, I'm still a pretty upbeat fellow.

When you first leave for Peace Corps life, its a pretty nice experience. My group met at a good hotel in Phildolphia (University Sheridan, I think), and spent the first few days in very pliminary lectures and such. Not a bad way to start it, and very nice beds. I say "we", and I mean the appromiately 25 Environmental sector people and the 25 Health sector together in one room. Both groups tend to serve in more or less the same types of areas and our work compliments eachother more closely than either the Small Business Development or Youth Development.

An interesting point to make is that Enviroment is mostly men, and Health (partially due to many Maternial Health volenteers) is mostly women. So you can guess our groups have a certain level of interest in each other which is not entirely professional in nature. Some things, change very very little.

From the City of Brotherly love, we flew out of JFK (a fitting airport to leave from) right to Casablanca. It was a direct flight, and while the food was good, the movies were not. Such is life. Casa is home to the major international airport here, and about an hour and a half bus ride from Rabat where we went directly. I say an hour and a half, but honestly I slept most the way. Morocco is on GMT, with no changing for daylight saving. I think the time change was about 5 hours from the East Coast at the time, so when we landed and cleared customs by around 8am, I was still in relatively good shape. But, that didnt last long, and it took a few more days to catch up. Fortentially there were many more lengthy lectures in the next few days.

Rabat is not exactly a tourist Mecca, but I now know it has some great things that larger towns have here, and I wish I had taken closer note of. Namely, the video store. These lectures where pretty basic and helped us to get a better idea of what we were getting into, they also served as a good time to give us a lot of vacinations. The hotel we stayed at in Rabat was...nice. Really a quality hotel by any standards, even if the beds were a bit hard, as were the pillows.

Waking up one night around 5am, my roomate Brandon and I talked quietly as people do when they wake up in a new country unsure of the future.
"Scott, are you thinking of what Im thinking of?"
"No, what are you thinking of?"
"Now Im thinking of what your thinking of."

Sadly, after to few days, we had to move on to our final training areas. Environment is is Ozarrazate, and the Heath is in Azilal. These areas were picked because they are close to towns where the different languages that we would learn are spoke. Im sure there are some other reasons they are picked as well, like decent hotels. Sadly they are around 8 hours away from eachother, so it was impossible to see our Healthy friends.

Ouarzazate. Called by tourism promoters "The Hollywood of Morrocco". Its where Gladiator and City of God were both shot. Its a medium sized town and generally a nice place for us to slowly get our feet under us in this new culture. This is where our "real training" took place. Stage (thats French for training), consistes basicly of two main parts. Community Based Training (CBT) and Ouarzazate. Both involve about 4 hours of language a day, but CBT is more hands on and technical, where is the time we spent in Oz was more lecture style. Also CBT is, in a community with a small group of people, where as Oz is with all 25 of our fellow trainies (PCTs). My CBT village was Ait Ridi, and I think Ill post about that later and in more detail.

Stage lasted until May 22nd, where we had a very nice swearing in ceremony at the nicest hotel in town followed by everyone relaxing. Many peope decided to relax in a way that is common (but not exlusively so) to the younger generation. This can be an excellent way to share time with friends, but does leave one a bit bleary eyed the next morning when we had to ship off to our final sites. My bus left at 8am, and I had a ticket with both destiny and M'ssici.

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