Today marks the end of our first week in our new town, and much has happened since we arrived last Friday. As I may have mentioned in previous posts, we are staying with a host family for the month of April while we look for our own apartment. We had the opportunity to see several apartments this week and there is one we both like a great deal—it has a wonderful private roof terrace that overlooks the town. In the summer many people sleep outside due to the heat, so we are excited we will have a private place to sleep. Now that we know where we want to live, someone from Peace Corps has to inspect the apartment to ensure it meets safety standards. Hopefully that will happen soon so that we can start setting up our home. Renting an apartment in Morocco is quite different from renting a place in the US or Canada. The most interesting difference to me is that apartments here generally do not have any appliances installed, so tenants need to purchase their own refrigerator, hot water heater, stove/oven, and other such things. And of course there’s also a need to get a bed, a couch, table/chairs, and other things to live comfortably. Peace Corps provides a ‘settling in allowance’ to get these items, and I am eager to begin furnishing our place.
Other than house hunting, we (meaning Thomas, Noa and I) have spent much of the week visiting local associations and meeting people who would like our help with various work projects. The director of the Dar Chebab, Omar, was very welcoming and set up a meeting for us with several associations that use the Dar Chebab for activities. It was great to learn about some of the activities that are currently being held at the Dar Chebab, and to share what we hope to assist with (i.e., English classes, women’s exercise groups, a cooking/nutrition club, etc…). We also met the director of the Dar Takafa (House of Culture), Aicha, and she offered to promote any activity we wanted to host at her organization. She seems like a very organized and determined woman, and also someone who really wants us to feel part of the community. She also offered to find us Darija tutors so that we can all continue to learn Darija. Next week Aicha will host a ‘meet and greet’ event for us to get to know the associations that work with the Dar Takafa (sort of like what Omar did at the Dar Chebab).
In addition to getting familiar with what happens at the Dar Chebab and Dar Takafa, Noa, Thomas and I spent a great deal of time wandering around the community, meeting local people and building connections. We went to a wonderful women’s arts and crafts exhibition earlier this week, and Noa and I will work with several local women’s associations (both to teach English and hold health trainings). And on Wednesday Thomas and I went for a wonderful lunch with some new friends we met at a café in town.
So, all in all, we have had a wonderful first week! And once we have our own apartment set up I am certain we will feel even more ‘at home’ in Morocco.