Tuesday, October 2, 2012

My Peace Corps Service As An Investment That Has Been Paying Off

With less than two weeks of my Peace Corps service left, I've given away most of the things which had been in the apartment I've been renting. Yesterday a couple of my fellow PCVs (Peace Corps Volunteers), who are much earlier in their service than I am, came here to town and took away some of the last few remaining items. One of them got a grand taxi to drive her to my residence, where the refrigerator I've been using got loaded on top of the taxi and tied down with rope. Another PCV got a grand taxi to come to my place. She took away the ponj, the lightweight foam rectangular cube-like sofa on which I'd been sleeping for the last three months while I've been here in town.

Later in the day yesterday, I emptied the bedroom and swept it. Then I set up a sleeping space in the bedroom, composed of a heavy winter blanket as padding on the floor, covered by a fitted sheet, with a heavy winter blanket to cover me in the slight overnight chill which has started to descend upon us here in the Sahara. In light of how I've been recently enjoying giving away more and more possessions, I viewed this new, simple sleeping arrangement in a satisfying manner, and thought, "All right, now we're really starting to get somewhere!"

Having given away the fridge, now I need to drink all of the milk I buy in one sitting. Thus, I stopped buying one-liter boxes of milk, since I normally wouldn't drink that much milk all at once. Although a one-liter box of milk only costs 9 dirhams, which is equivalent to a little more than one US dollar, since I got rid of my fridge, I've started buying small cold bags of milk which cost 3 dirhams each. Thus, yesterday after my friend and fellow PCV took away the fridge, I went and bought a small bag of cold milk. I was bringing it back to the apartment to eat with an amlou and strawberry jam sandwich. I recently blogged about amlou, which is essentially Moroccan peanut butter. However, I don't think that that amlou I'd previously bought contained argan oil. The amlou I'm currently using contains argan oil, almonds, sugar, salt, fennel, and vegetable oil. So I suppose that it's really like almond butter rather than peanut butter.

In any case, I was arriving back at the apartment to enjoy an amlou and strawberry jam sandwich with some cold milk when I noticed that my neighbor, a Moroccan fellow who teaches French here in town, was also arriving at the apartment building with some of his friends, who are also teachers here in town. My neighbor invited me into his apartment to have tea with them. It was in the late afternoon, or perhaps already the early evening, at that hour of day when Moroccans have kaskroute, which is like an afternoon snack.

I joined them for kaskroute. We sat on the floor around a low, round table in my neighbor's living room, drinking tea and eating dates and peanuts. When I finished my tea, my host filled my tea glass. When I finished the second glass of tea, I kept my tea glass by my side. I didn't want him to fill it again. The teapot was rather small and no one else had yet enjoyed a second glass. Despite keeping my glass at my side, nevertheless my host noted that I had again drained it. He asked me if I wanted more tea. I politely declined.

After we had finished having kaskroute, we were standing in the hallway of his apartment. Two of his friends started wrestling with each other. Moroccan males sometimes wrestle standing up, seeing which of them can best the other in the friendly contest. Soon after the brief wrestling match, I took my leave of them, glad that I had snacked with them.

Today I made sure to visit a family here in town whom I've visited from time to time while I've lived here. I wanted to be sure to see them again before I leave town. First we had tea and peanuts. A little while later, we had lunch, sitting on the floor around a low, square table. For lunch we had lentils and beef, each of us ripping apart pieces of bread to grab lentils and beef from the part of the communal dish which was closest to each of us. For dessert, we enjoyed grapes and apples.

After we had had dessert, I bid adieu to most of them. As I was walking back to my apartment, their son was walking with me for part of the way. At one point he asked me if I go to church. I told him that whenever I can go to church, I do indeed go to church, since it's important to me to do so. Then I added that at times, it's been hard living here in Morocco, because I haven't always been able to go to church here; there's no church here in town, and I'm not otherwise always near a church. However, I shared with him that we learn more when we're having a difficult time than we learn when we're comfortable. I suggested to him that I believe that God allows us to face trials and tribulations because in such trying circumstances, we learn and grow and develop. I've been grateful for such opportunities to learn and grow while I've been a PCV. Indeed, I became a PCV so that I would learn through facing difficulties. I'm glad to say that I feel like I have benefited from living in certain trying circumstances here. For that reason and for others, I feel like my decision to enter the Peace Corps has been an investment which has been paying off.

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