Tuesday, April 26, 2011

get me a seat on that party bus

I bought my bus ticket for my site placement visit.  I packed up my little book bag and got on the bus one morning at 8:00am ready for the 10 hour bus ride.  We were off!

At about 10:00am a woman got on the bus with her two year old small child.  She sat down next to me, said "por favor" and threw her small child onto my lap.  Then she got a plastic bag out and proceeded to vomit for the rest of the bus ride.  She couldn't hold onto her child and her plastic bag, so I became the bus babysitter.  Luckily he was exhausted, so he just snuggled in and fell asleep. Every hour or so the mom would talk to me for a couple of minutes before disappearing back into the plastic bag.  At one point she produced a bottle and handed it to me and so I fed the kid some lunch.  At about noon the baby wakes up, cries, and vomits alllllll over me.  This of course caused the mom to vomit even more and the baby just sobbed. Bless that nice man across the isle who handed me some tissues and the grandmother who finally took the baby off my lap.  But for the rest of the bus ride, about six hours, I had to sit in my smelly baby vomit covered clothes.

Welcome to my life in maternal and child health!

My week at my final site was a great introduction to my future two years.  My town is a lot smaller than I was anticipating.  It is about 400 people, most families are farmers and grow apples, apricots, almonds, olives, figs and pomegranates.  It is a beautiful town which is right at the base of a mountain and next to the desert.  If you turn in a circle you see everything from fields, to mountains, to desert.  It is an interesting combination.

My town has a health clinic, two small stores and a mini-post.  My counterpart is the health clinic nurse.  He speaks arabic and french and I speak, well, I speak english, but am working on arabic.  He and I cannot communicate much yet, but all in good time I suppose.  I also met some teachers (one of whom speaks some okay english!) and other towns people.  We don't have running water, so every day my host mom and I would walk to the spring to collect water.  That is going to take some getting used to.

My host family at final site is just my host mom.  Her husband passed away last year and her three daughters live in Midelt.  The oldest daughter is married and the other two are going to high school.  So my days were pretty quite, just hanging out with my host mom.  I helped her feed the chickens and the turkey and watched her cook.   her and her friend are already trying to marry me off.  I may not know much in arabic, but I do know my name, the word for marriage, and the name of this fella in my community.  Finally I told my host mom that the only way I could get married was if I was given 538 camels, 25 chickens and an olive tree for everyday of the year!

Speaking of marriage, I did go to day two of a five day wedding.  My host mom dressed me up, as in went into my room and picked out my outfit and then put three scarves around my shoulders, and then we went to a neighbors house.  There, we sat in a room with 54 other women.  Now, the room we were in was about 6ft by 12ft, so really not that big!  We made it work!  For about four hours we sat, sang, clapped, drank sugar with a little tea and ate wedding cookies.  Since this was the first time I had ever met or seen any of these women, they were just as curious as I was.  I consider myself lucky...I made it though two hours before I was dragged up and forced to dance while everyone stared at me.  For twenty minutes I was the wedding entertainment and everyone was whispering "look at the white girl dance!  is she french?"  Luckily, Tim's taught me how to dance without caring, so that is just what I did!  Then after the dancing we were taken into different rooms and fed roasted chicken(literally about half a chicken per person) couscous with chickpeas and raisins and lots of bread.  Then we were given oranges.  It was a strange six hours, but it was a great way to be introduced to my new community!

 It was really very cold and windy in my town.  One morning I woke up and the mountains had a lot more snow on the caps than they had the day before.  I'm dreading the winter time....luckily that is not for a while.

My town is about 25 miles from a bigger town.  That is where my bank, big post office, weekly market and supermarket (which sells nutella and cheese) are located.  I have grand visions of biking there for the market every sunday.  I told another volunteer that and he told me when I was exhausted and unable to petal my way back home, I could crash on his floor.  So at least there is a backup plan!

During my week I also got to meet a lot of current PCV's in the area.  It was nice to meet some current volunteers and get to know the area a bit.  The Midelt Provence is beautiful.  When you all come to visit we can have a photo shoot in front of the apple fountain.  It is pretty awesome.   And by awesome, I mean it gets painted so sometimes its a red apple, sometimes green, and occasionally yellow.  You can plan your visits accordingly.

So I officially swear in as a PCV on May 25th and on the 26th I travel to my site for good!



p.s.  I have a post office address now!!!  Only, I'm not supposed to post it on the blog, so I will e-mail it to my mom.  If you would like it, just let her know and she will give it to you!  Cindy Currell:  cindycurrell@hotmail.com

:) I love letters and will write to you too!


  1. I can see you telling this to us... Oh. My. Word. GraceFinn - only you. Love you!

  2. Oh Grace I love you and miss you so much! I definitely can picture you holding a small child and them throwing up on you. What great practice when you're a mommy. (insert sarcastic laugh here)

    I love hearing about your fun adventures!