Some Random Notes

With all these top ten lists floating about, I feel a little like I’ve neglected updating everyone on what all’s been taking place around here lately.  Really, I had a few very random thoughts that I wanted to share, too.  I’ll bold the highlights —

We used to joke a lot that it would be fun to try to cross the Algerian border.  Peace Corps bans travel there, and it’s on a no-go list of sorts for the Embassy, as well, I believe.  From Saidia, a town on the Mediterranean in the northeast, you can see the Algerian mountains and even a nearby city from the beach.  The only thing separating the two countries is some bushy overgrowth in a small ravine along with a few border guards.  Tempting, right?  Except that I recently heard (can’t remember if it was from a volunteer or a Moroccan) that the Algerian guards shot a Moroccan donkey when it lingered too close to the border.  So, maybe it’s best to keep a distance.

If you don’t like reading about poop, this next one may not interest you.  Last week, I was in Rabat for my “Completion-of-Service” Conference.  Most of that time was spent in meetings, at the doctor, or carrying poop across the capital.  That’s right, we had to poop three times in these little cups for a stool sample and then carry it in a brown bag across town to the lab.  Someone asked, “But what if I can’t perform that many times in one week?!”  Peace Corps’ response: “Do whatever you have to do.  Figs will help.”  One of those mornings, I left the hotel to walk across Rabat with my stool sample, and I walked upon a street sweeper sweeping leaves.  Instead of using a broom or a leaf-blower, though, he was using a giant palm branch.  It was one of those rare moments here where I just smiled and was reminded that, even after two-years, I can still be surprised by something; I can still appreciate those simple things where even the big city with its fancy restaurants and American food… it’s still not America.

Finally, I recently went back to Oulad Ali to help Jonathan with a camp there for primary-age kids.  At one point during the camp, we were supposed to put on a skit show of sorts, but there was a lack of communication between some of the Moroccan leadership, leaving about fifty 7-year olds free to overtake a small schoolyard.  This turned into utter chaos with children climbing chairs and walls and fighting.  It was total child anarchy.  And it was awesome.  Earlier in the day, we had played a simple game of duck-duck-goose, or as we called it, “chicken-chicken-turkey,” largely because we didn’t know the Arabic words for duck or goose.  Jonathan was demonstrating the game and picked one of the girl’s as the “turkey,” but when she got up to chase him, she was carrying a large knife.  We’d used about thirteen knives for “soap carving,” and some of them had gone missing.  So, fast forward to the great skit show anarchy, and you had missing knives and fifty kids running around screaming and laughing and climbing things you didn’t know could be climbed.  Honestly.  It was fantastic.  Other than those few flukes (that were awesome: I can’t reiterate that point enough), the camp went really well, and I came back to Outat yesterday just in time to play foosball with Mohammed in my garage.  In the meantime, Peace Corps has dispatched me to Melilla, or “Fake Spain” later this week on work leave to “renew my passport stamp,” since my residence card will expire  before I leave the country.  I can’t say I’m complaining about being forced to go to Spain.

On a last note, I’ve been doing some thinking about my return to America, and I wanted to put the word out that I’m probably going to be looking for a job and a car.  Both are likely temporary.  Because, yes, I am applying to graduate school, but there’s no guarantee that will work out, and even if it does, it won’t start for nearly nine months.  In the meantime, I have loans I have to start paying off as soon as I’m stateside.  The car thing is a little more complicated.  If I end up moving again two or three months after I get back to America, especially if I move to a city, I won’t need a car.  So, I don’t need to buy a car.  I need to borrow one.  I don’t think that actually ever happens, but I’m putting the word out anyway, just in case you know someone who has a job offer or a car they aren’t using and don’t need.  Lemme know.

So, there you go – some random things, right?


1 Comment

  1. Philip,
    I successfully borrowed a car this summer. So it can be done. (From an academic who was away for the summer—she was pleased it wasn’t just sitting on the street for 2 months.) Your best ticket might be to find an academic near where you’ll be who is away on a sabbatical or semester-long leave. Good luck!


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