Wednesday, October 7, 2009

So it's been awhile since our last update and things are quite a bit different since June. Ben and I came back to the states in July and are now living in Texas. Ben is a research tech and PhD student at Texas State and I am working as a SLP in a local school system. We are living in San Marcos (between San Antonio and Austin.) We just bought our first house and are working hard to get it just perfect. Our new address is 123 E Sierra Cir, San Marcos, TX 78666.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

hiking pics



Here are before and after pictures of school toilets.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Summer is here. We have lots of fresh fruits to eat and the sun is pounding. Really it’s not too hot yet, pretty pleasant. Although, we can tell summer is here by how dead things get in the middle of the day. School is finishing up now too. Ben and I both finished our English classes for the year. The market is full of watermelons, cantaloupes, honey dew, apricots, plums, grapes and bananas along with the year around oranges. We have been taking lots of walks/hikes the past few weeks around our site to enjoy the weather. So we have lots of new lizard/frog/turtle pictures. We are also keeping two cats for a few months that belonged to a volunteer that recently went home. They’ve been fun, but like to wake up way too early! The bathroom project at the school is wrapping up. We still have to teach the students how to properly use them and paint the walls. Well it’s not actually paint. They use white rocks and crush them, then mix them with water and not sure what else to make a white paste that is brushed onto the walls. We are heading to Rabat next week for medical checkups. We are looking forward to seeing other volunteers in our group and checking out the capitol city. We hear there’s ice skating, bowling and a TJI Fridays! So we should be completely broke by the time we get back but it should be fun.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Well it’s been a while since our last update. April flew by with work and travel. We went to a southern Moroccan town called Tata from April 20-23. Another volunteer lives there and set up a health day at his middle school with four teachers and six PC volunteers. We each taught a ten minute station (mine on water treatment and Ben’s on health and the environment) then the students rotated and we retaught our lessons. We did about 14 groups equaling about 150 students each. Tata was a neat experience for us, it’s about the farthest site south and very different from our site. Mostly sand with a few rocks and very few trees or plants except for the sporadic oasis.
After Tata we returned to our site and got packed for our trip to Madrid. We left on April 28 and met our Moms on the 29th. We explored Madrid, including Retiro Park, Plaza Mayor and Palacio Real. We also spent a fair amount of time eating lots of pork and ice cream. After Madrid we traveled by bus to Granada. Granada was beautiful with a very relaxed atmosphere after hectic Madrid. We spent our time walking around the winding streets and hanging out at street cafes. We also toured the Cathedral there. We tried to see the Alhambra but tickets sold out just as we were approaching the head of the line. A reason to go back, right? After Granada we took a beautifully scenic train ride through southern Spain to the port city of Algeciras. We had a few hang ups with the ferry but finally crossed the Straights of Gibraltar at about midnight. Our first few hours in Morocco were a bit stressful. We had planned to catch a train immediately out of Tangier but because of the ferry mishap ended up having to stay the night in a less than ideal place. By the next morning things were back on track and we hopped on the train to Marrakesh, an all day ride from Tangier. It was tiring and hot but we got to see a lot of Northern Morocco out the train windows. Once in Marrakesh we grabbed a taxi straight to Essaouira where we would spend the next three nights exploring and shopping. We also spent one day at our site where our host family fixed lunch. Overall, this was our Mom’s favorite day in Morocco, because of the slow pace and quietness of rural Morocco. For our last night we returned to Marrakesh and toured the souks, the Marrakesh museum, the Almoravid Koubba and the Ben Youssef Medersa. The next morning we put our Moms back on the plane and headed back to site for a long nights sleep.
This week we are back in site and hopefully beginning our toilet project in the primary school, refurbishing ten toilets. We are hoping to finish this part of the project by early June at which time harvest will be over and we can begin building toilets in homes. Fingers crossed the workers will be at the school tomorrow morning!
For more pictures check out our flicker site

Monday, March 23, 2009

From Thursday through Sunday, our village hosted a festival known as a mussim in honor of a local saint (a mirabout). The first two days were strictly market days where vegetables, meat, trinkets, a few rugs, and especially candy were sold. There was also a homemade Ferris wheel, a monkey or two, and some magicians. Saturday was a day of rest except for a couple of soccer games where our team played against one from a nearby village. Sunday was the biggest day by far. The vendors where in full force, several troubadour bands were present, and several thousand men, women, and children. Most had come to see what is known as fantasia. A group of men in white robes, traditional wear and carrying rifles rode into town on ornate horses. They marched through the center of town with the throng of people closely following and chanting. Behind souk, a young cow was slaughtered in the midst of a huge crowd and the eerie, high pitched wail of women (like that scene in Lawrence of Arabia) who were crowding the rooftops that commanded a good view. No one was hurt. After a few words by a local holy man, the horse riders moved to a different location where they could get their horses into a full run. For about half an hour, the horsemen would ride from one end of the clearing to the other occasionally firing their rifles.
We used the mussim as an opportunity to do some educational activities. The previous week, students from the middle school painting club and environmental club designed environmentally themed mural ideas on large pieces of construction paper. The teachers and a few volunteers then voted on their favorite paintings. The winning two ideas will soon be painted next to the door of the local market area. All of the classes in the middle school had a chance to view all of the drawings, affording an opportunity for the headmaster and myself to do a few short, environmental lessons. During the mussim, all of these designs were displayed on a prominent wall for several hours, offering more opportunity for environmental lessons. In addition, 5 other volunteers came to the festival to help with health education booths. On Thursday, we talked for several hours in front of approximately 500 people about how to treat water for drinking as well as the importance of drinking enough water. Free samples of water helped draw in a crowd. We also tried to get some hula-hoop competitions started amongst the kids, but most were too shy to give it a try. On Sunday, a booth was set up to educate about SIDA (French AIDS). The PC librarian created an audio CD which included educational talks about AIDS as well as songs and rhetorical questions to help education about AIDS prevention. This CD was played on repeat for several hours. Simultaneously, we handed out about 400 informational pamphlets as well as red ribbons. A bean bag toss in the shape of an AIDS ribbon was made, and kids had a lot of fun trying to get the bean bag in for a ribbon. Posters were also displayed throughout the mussim.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Gardening at Middle School