Monday, August 17, 2015

A Peace Corps Volunteer Again w/Jamie

Jamie and I met in April 2014 at a Peace Corps event. She had recently received word that she was going to be placed in Morocco for her upcoming Peace Corps service so we exchanged email addresses. Over the next several months we struck up a true and deep friendship. We were phone friends, pen pals, and eventually spent New Years Eve 2014 together until she left for Morocco in January of this year. I did my best to prepare her for what she would face and have tried to talk her through issues that have arose for her as she has been  getting used to life in Morocco. We were both so excited to be able to be together on the same continent once again when I visited Morocco. 

I knew I wanted to visit Fes on my vacation and Jamie lives just one hour outside of it in a mountain called El Menzel. Rababe and I detoured and spend a day and a half with Jamie there. I quickly felt right at home with Jamie and fell into a pattern that I hadn't realized I was missing so much. I missed Morocco, but what I realized I was truly missing was living like a Peace Corps volunteer. My day and a half with Jamie let me live like that once again. 

The three of us ladies cooked dinner together in her small kitchen. We cooked meat over a small, bare, butane gas tank. We put together something we called Moroccan, Mexican, American food. We made some homemade tortilla and browned some meat with the taco seasonings her dad had just sent her. 
On our second morning we journeyed to a nearby river that many of the locals go to for swimming and camping. Jamie had been wanting to go and now that she had us, it felt like a good time. We waiting in the area where the transport van would take us there for seven dirhams each. As we looked at the bench seats available in the van we started making guesses at how many would ultimately be joining us. Counting spaces for butts wasn't enough. Because our 10, 15, and 20 figure guesses weren't enough. 25 people got packed in  and a few boys fought for the special spots of hanging off the back with the doors open.  
Gendarmes are  royal Moroccan police. They are posted in small towns and when a foreigner lives there, like a Peace Corps volunteer, they have a duty to protect and look after them. The gendarmes in Jamie's town were quite possibly the most protective and through ones I had ever come across. We let them know that we would be going to the river and quickly we realized they were following us. It sounds creepy, but they were actually just trying to ensure our safety. Most of the other transport riders got a kick out of the gendarms coming along on our journey. We explored the beautiful nature spot of the river, went in the freezing cold water in our clothes, and sat and watched plenty of young boys hurl themselves off a high spot into the water. Eventually we noticed the gendarms were now walking around the river area. We had been there about four hours and it appeared they were checking up on us. The entire time us girls were getting a kick out of this. 

Turns out it was good that they showed up. Getting transportation home from the river wasn't going to be simple and the gendarms offered to drive us home. It was a tight ride, four in back, but was a much nicer ride then we would have had in the transport. Never had I been this well taken care of by gendarms.  

When we got home we hung out for a while, making some dinner and relaxing. We then planned to meet a friend of hers for coffee, but didn't have his number. We hovered around what she thought was his house, but no luck. We went to the cafe ourselves. 

Upon arriving back home again we heard one long pluck of an electric violin string. We all knew what that meant. There was going to be a wedding tonight and it was right out Jamie's back window.  This meant no sleep for us! We went up to the top of her roof to check the situation out and for at least an hour watched and listened to the start of the wedding quietly from above. Once we were tired enough to head down Jamie realized the ladder that we had used to get up to the roof was gone! While we were up there someone else was there and moved it. We were all laughing and freaking out, like girls do. We called down to the adjacent roof, where her neighbor Muhammad lives. Like a knight in shining armor Muhammad climbed up his own roof, dropped down into ours, and replaced the ladder for us to climb down. One by one he ensured our safe decent.  

A Peace Corps life is full of odd experience and laughable moments. Spending time with Jamie didn't disappoint.