Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lesson #1: Don't be overconfident

The third day I was in my new site I started to feel over confident. I arrived home from travel and night was just setting upon me. I had walked to the taxi stand one time with my host family and wrote down the directions, so I was confident I could get back to my house on my own. But as I know very well I was not blessed with a good sense of direction and the dusk sky didn’t help the situation what so ever. So here was the situation: I needed to get back to my house, it was getting darker by the second, and even though I had the phone number of my family I knew I couldn’t communicate with them over the phone. I didn’t want to keep walking around and get even more lost so I figured my best option was to stay put. Ok so you must be thinking that I was totally freaking out. I’m not sure why- but I wasn’t. For some reason I stayed calm and I knew I would eventually get home. Don’t get my wrong I did envision spending hours standing there waiting for a solution but fortunately that’s not what happened. The first option I thought of was to call the Peace Corps volunteer that I had just been with who’s Arabic is much better than mine. He had met my family previously so I called asking him to call my family and tell them where I was. Great thought in theory, however my description of my whereabouts wasn’t good enough and that solution didn’t work. At this point a family standing on their step was loudly trying to flag me down and get me to come to them. It is really difficult putting trust in so many strangers but it’s has become a norm since I have arrived in Morocco. At this point I had no other option. My family had just called me back so I gave the phone to the family so they could explain where I was. Then they made me sit down on their step with them while them made a wall around me. The women kept making punching motions and I took this as them trying to tell me that someone could be out there wanting to hurt me so they wanted to protect me. One of them women of the house held my hand while I waited to be picked up. So far in my site everyone has been so kind and generous and I am confident that this will not be the first time that the citizens of my city will want to protect me. I have heard that it is very common for locals of a city to really take care of their volunteer because you are “their American”.
I hope I haven’t horrified too many of you by telling that story. The whole time this was happening I was so angry at myself for doing something so stupid and being so overly confident. Please know that I have learned my lesson and I will learn to ask for help when I need it and that my own safety is my number one priority. Since my own personal independence has grown by leaps and bounds over the past 3 years it’s hard to break the desire to want to do everything on my own. I mean it’s the American way. But I understand just by being here I am independent and I shouldn’t feel ashamed if I need lots of help in this difficult situation.