Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Sun Is Setting On My Peace Corps Service

I'm getting so close to the end of my Peace Corps service that when I do a lot of things now, it's the last time that I'm going to do them here in Morocco.  Today I went to the city that's near my town, making the last round-trip journey during my Peace Corps service to that city.

Very early this morning, here in Morocco, we shifted our clocks one hour back, so that we're once again on "old time," as folks here sometimes put it, or in the time zone of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).  However, not everyone alters their schedule to conform to the time change.  So, just to be safe, I showed up at the bus station as if the time change hadn't occurred.  Sure enough, the bus was there at the bus station as if the time change hadn't happened.  I was glad that I got up an hour early to catch the bus!

When I got to the city, I made my way to a cafe I've frequented there in that city.  I was enjoying the glorious day, the brilliant blue sky and the temperate weather as I savored a "nuss-nuss," (Darija, or Moroccan Arabic, for "half-half"), which, in the context of going to a cafe, is a cup filled half with coffee and half with milk.  Moroccan coffee tends to be pretty strong, so usually I order a nuss-nuss, rather than follow my practice in the US of ordering a cup filled mostly with coffee and a little milk.  Even so, a nuss-nuss often still gives me a minor case of the jitters!

As I was sitting outside, basking in the sunshine and enjoying my hot beverage, I saw a girl, perhaps in her late teens, ride a bicycle around the roundabout, her head covered in a hijab, that is, a headscarf.  Upon seeing her exercise her freedom of movement, I was reminded of the words of a young friend of mine, another Moroccan teenage girl.  While traveling outside Morocco, she had recently met Muslim girls from other nations and realized that she and other Moroccan girls enjoy freedoms which Muslim girls in certain other countries don't have.  I was glad to hear my friend's thoughts, her realizations about her life and the world.  I was happy that her realm of experience had been widened such that she had altered her perceptions of herself, her life, other girls, and the world around her.  Observing the Moroccan girl on the bicycle this morning, I once again began to wonder how I'm going to process my cultural observations from Morocco once I'm back in the US and have the changed perspective of being back in the states.

After my visit to the cafe, there in the city I attended Bible study with some of my Christian expat friends who live here in Morocco.  I've been so thankful to God for the fellowship and spiritual community I've shared with them, getting to worship God and celebrate His blessings with them.  I certainly didn't expect to live in a location here in Morocco where I would be able to commune regularly with other Christians, so I've been very grateful for their presence, care, warmth and support of me in my Christian faith.  After Bible study, we had a lovely outdoor barbeque, with grilled chicken and sausages, potato casserole, cake and cookies, among other delicious food.  I felt better after getting to say goodbye to my Christian brothers and sisters there, as well as to some fellow PCVs (Peace Corps Volunteers) who were there in the city today.  I feel like I get more of a proper sense of closure, putting me more at ease, when, in person and with sufficient time, I get to properly say goodbye to people. And, in this particular context of completing my Peace Corps service, when I get to say proper goodbyes, I feel like I'm appropriately preparing to leave this country where I have lived for two years.

On the bus ride back here to the town where I live here in the Sahara, I consciously looked at this town as we approached it, realizing that surely it was the last time I would view it from that location and angle during my Peace Corps service, and, quite probably, for the last time at all.  Returning here to town so late in the day, admiring the sun setting on the mountains near this town, I considered an analogy of the scope of the sun today to my Peace Corps service.  As the sun set today, so the sun is setting on my Peace Corps service.

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