Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
You saw the pictures...but here it the video! While we were in Marrakech walking around I pulled out my video camera to record the market. Suddenly some guy with a monkey comes up and says, "Hello!" and throws a monkey into Adam's arms! Adam tried to resist, but the guy won. Then we all took turns holding the monkey. It was all fine and dandy until the guy wanted 100 dirhams each! Erin said, no way! That was more than we paid to ride a camel for an hour! Erin knew he was just trying to pull one over on us because we look like tourists. She told me she would give him 20 dirhams for all of us (which she explained was MORE than enough). He got mad. She said that was fine, we wouldn't give him any money, and then he accepted the 20 dirhams! It bothered me...but she said, "Welcome to Morrocco!" We learned throughout our trip just to accept the haggling!
Friday, April 24, 2009
As you know, my sister is currently serving in the Peace Corps in Morocco. She has been there since March 2008 and will be serving in Morocco until June 2010 (it is a 27 month commitment). I was lucky enough to be able to visit her in March over my spring break and I saw first hand the needs of her village (check out the wonderful pictures in earlier posts!).
Below you will see an email regarding her current project. She has been working with the women of her village to discover their needs and also with many men in government and national agencies (in an area where woman are second class citizens) to get the resources necessary for this.
It is truly amazing that she has received the commitment that she has from the Moroccan government and agencies. Now she just needs our help! Please read her description below (it is much more informative than the one included on the website!) and consider making a personal donation and/or also passing this along to friends, family and co-workers. This is also a great opportunity for businesses to make corporate donations. Fundraisers at schools and churches are another opportunity to raise funds for this much needed project that is going to be made possible by our very own Erin Atwell!
It is easy for individuals to donate online. You can also get a group together and have one person make the donation for the group.
Above is the direct link to the website for donation
In addition, her blog address is included at the bottom of the email.
If you have any questions, I would be happy to try to assist in answering them!
-----The Email Message from Erin-----
Dear Friends and Family,
I hope this email finds everyone in good health and enjoying Spring as I am
here in Morocco.
Last June, when I first arrived to my site as a Health Peace Corps
Volunteer, I did a "needs assessment" with the women of my community,
Talbrjte, to see where I could fit in as a new volunteer.
The 30 women I interviewed overwhelmingly expressed a desire to have a
women's community center. After six months of discussing the idea with
various community members, I came to the conclusion that building a women's
center is a worthwhile, sustainable project. Since then, I have met weekly
with 14 girls from the community who are assisting in the design and
implementation of this project.
Fortunately, the women immediately received support from local associations
and the local government. After much discussion as to how to best meet the
community's needs, the objectives of the women's center were identified.
None of the women, and few of the girls in this community were allowed to
attend school. Consequently, the Talbrjte Women's Center will include a
literacy classroom, staffed by the local schoolteacher, where the women can
learn to read and write in a safe environment.
In addition, the women expressed a strong desire to learn a handicraft that
will one day enable them to bring in an income. The local government is
donating the necessary materials and expertise to teach these women skills
such as embroidery and weaving.
As a health volunteer, I am acutely aware of the health situation in the
community. Because there is no transportation available to the local health
clinic, many women in the community are unable to take their children to the
doctor for vaccinations and illnesses. The same applies for the women
themselves. For this reason, the Ministry of Health has agreed to donate
the time and equipment necessary to have a functioning health room in the
Talbrjte Women's Center.
Finally, this women's center will go beyond helping these women to read,
write, and be more healthy. The women's center will empower them to take
control of their lives and their socioeconomic situations.
The local association and local government are contributing both financially
and in-kind. Their contributions make up 43% of the total project cost.
However, this project still needs $16,902.06 in order to be built.
I hope you will consider making a contribution; even the smallest
contribution will help make the Talbrjte Women's Center a reality.
In order to donate you can click on this link:
Or go to:
www.peacecorps.gov -> Donate Now -> Donate to a Volunteer Project -> search
by my last name, Atwell, or by country, Morocco.
On the project page, you will be able to see how much has been donated and
how much is still necessary to fully fund this project.
If you know any individuals or group who may be interested in seeing this
project completed, please forward him/her the link.
I cannot express into words the impact the successful completion of this
project will have on the lives of the women in my community.
Thank you, in advance, for your generosity.
Ps I've posted 2 photos of the girls who are involved in the women's center
preparation on my blog www.almaghrebalaqsa.blogspot.com
Saturday, April 18, 2009
We had the rehearsal and dinner on Thursday night and then woke up bright and early on Friday to go get our hair done. We had fun watching each other get pretty hair at the place I have been getting my hair done for a long time. Kelly is the best! She did Bridget's hair and mine. After that we went back to the hotel for a yummy lunch mom put together for us. We got all dolled up ourselves and then helped Bridget get into her beautiful wedding dress. After the photographer took lots of pictures, we took a limo to the church (they got married at my church) and enjoyed a beautiful ceremony. After MANY more pictures at the church and a nearby lake, we headed to the reception. We had a WONDERFUL time at the reception...yummy food, plenty of drinks, fun music and lots of dancing! Congratulations to Bridget and Tony! It was a beautiful wedding!
Check out the slideshow below:
You can check out all of my pictures with captions on Facebook:
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
When we were little, Uncle Denny brought Kimonos back from Japan for Erin and I and we LOVED them. We thought it was so neat to have robes from a different country and thought our Uncle Denny was pretty cool for being able to travel all over the world. Well, Dad traveled too....but he is Dad. Uncle Denny was cool for a lot of reasons! One time he brought me to Toys R Us and let me pick out whatever I wanted. I picked out a cute little baby doll....I'm sure she is still at Mom and Dad's house somewhere! He also rode (rides) a motorcycle and that was pretty cool too! Mia and Nicholas may never know how cool their dad was! To them, he will always be dad!
Anyway...here are some pictures of our visit with Katie and Josh and Kristin and Ryan a couple weeks ago. Of course...the pictures of Layla are the cutest!
Enjoying her dinner while we enjoyed ours
Layla and her Djellaba
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
There are pictures of Erin's kitchen. She doesn't have a refrigerator and although we bought eggs in Tiznit...and I would think they need to be refrigerated....she insists that they don't need to be! That first night she made us a DELICIOUS pasta with Alfredo sauce dinner.
There are also pictures of Erin doing household chores such as washing dishes and doing her laundry. Things that just take a few minutes here are very time consuming for her. It is not easy to wash dishes without running water in the sink! Laundry takes a long time to rinse and scrub and rinse again!
We bought leather sandals ($7.50 each) and rings in Tiznit and we are showing them off here.
We visited Erin's host family's house and they made us lunch with grilled vegetables, mush rice, delicious donuts and scary meat. Luckily...I got out of the scary meat! Erin had already explained the whole crazy vegetarian thing to them. Adam said it was....spicy.
After a rousing session of what we called "Berber Dress up", where they dressed us in traditional Berber wedding attire, we headed out back to see the family's animals. The basket on my head is the way the women carry the grass back from the fields. On their heads!
We also enjoyed walking around Erin's douar and checking out the old houses that people have mostly moved away from. They are now mostly living in cement houses. Oh yes...and I rode a donkey. Much easier than a horse!
The last day our plan was to drive in Erin's host dad's car down the mountain. But....even after all of our pushing....the car wouldn't start! So we started the 3 mile hike...with all of our luggage. I was a wee bit crabby. But then an open back pick up truck with 10 Moroccan men standing inside pulled up and we hopped inside! That made me much happier! We walked around souk for a bit and then started the journey back to Marrakech.
For lunch we stopped at the yummy Lebanese restaurant that Erin likes in Agadir. Erin and I had delicious hummus and I had yummy falafal. We finished out our Morocco travels with a 4 hour car ride back up to Marrakech (where we bought out the 4th seat!) to spend the night before leaving the next day.
Adam and I headed back to Spain for one more evening...where we were VERY lame. We went to dinner, but then it was raining and didn't want to walk around, so we went back to our hotel room, watched a movie and went to bed! We were very tired because they had daylight savings and we lost an hour so although we needed to wake up at 5:00 am, it was really 4:00 our time! We headed to the airport, flew to Frankfurt, hung out there and then flew home. I really enjoyed the signs in the Frankfurt airport. They look like a bunch of letters were dropped on the floor and then picked up and throw together to make words! We also enjoyed the "running man" signs that we saw in Madrid and Frankfurt...we finally figured out they mean exit. Green means....leave?
It was a wonderful trip and we have so many memories that we will NEVER forget. Enjoy the last slideshow below!
We took a bus from Marrakech to Essaouira. It was a very fancy and comfortable bus ride...and Erin never took us on transportation like that again!
We stayed in a nice hotel in Essa with a freezing cold shower, but a pink room and how can you go wrong with a pink room??
We walked along the beach and found....camels! We had hoped to have the opportunity to ride camels on the beach and our wish came true. We had to play "cool" like, "We don't care if we ride a camel" and Erin talked the guy down 30 dirhams (a whopping $3!). We were supposed to ride for an hour, but the guide took the long way back and it ended up being about an hour and 20 minutes. After about 3 minutes Adam decided that boys shouldn't ride camels. After about 45 Erin and I were ready to be done because they are VERY wide.....but it was still very fun and a once in a lifetime experience!
We walked around Essa, visited an old fortress, found Wi-Fi and ate some yummy lunch.
The afternoon we took a grand taxi to Agadir and then to Tiznit. Well, let me tell you, there is nothing GRAND about a grand taxi. A grand taxi is an itty bitty 4 door car that fits 7...yes SEVEN people inside! 4 in the back, the driver, and two on the passenger seat. This is a car that 3 in the back is a little tight....and there were 4 of us. Adam really liked sitting RIGHT next to the Moroccan man next to him. =)
We stopped in Agadir for icecream and then continued on to Tiznit. Tiznit is the town that Erin goes to for Internet and big shopping. It is also where her office is (The Rural Health Department). There is a picture of her standing in front of it.
While we were in Tiznit, we went shopping and saw the spice, bread and vegetables shops. Spices just sitting out in bags on the sidewalk and vegetables hanging out 5 feet away from goat heads. Appetizing! =)
We also took a little 15 minute trip to Aglou beach and ate yummy tagine on the beach with her friend Meredith.
After that we headed off to Ida Ousmlal to visit Erin's site!
Check out the slideshow below:
Sunday, April 05, 2009
-Lunch at the Bouganvillea Cafe
-We saw an old mosque like building circa 1070
-We experienced the market...Jamaa Ifna...straight out of Aladdin
-We saw lots of little shops where the shopkeepers said things like "OHH! Spice Girls" and "Lucky Man! Two Wives"...in English!
-We held a monkey!
-We visited the Saadian Tombs, circa 1554. They were lost until a French Aerial survey.
-We saw the Koutoubbia Mosque, circa 1184, established Moroccan mosque designs
-We ate at a Couscous restuarant with Berber singers to entertain us
-We went to Kosy Bar (even though Moroccans cannot drink because it is forbidden to drink in Islam and all Moroccans must be Muslim).
-Our hotel had a lot of character for $45 a night!
-We had m'ssemen at a yummy cafe where the waiter asked us, "Obama, is he happy?" in Tashelheet.
-The new part of Marrakech is very different than the old. It is like Aladdin versus Miami!
-We visited the Jardin Majorelle-created by some guy in the early 1900s and then cared for by Yves Saint Laurent until his death.
-I tried falafel at a sidewalk cafe-it was delicious!
-We took a fancy bus to Essa!
Check out the slideshow below:
Adam and I spent my spring break (his week he took off work!) overseas visiting Erin! We took a very roundabout way to get to Morocco, but we had some adventures along the way (as you read in the suitcase post!).
We arrived Madrid, Spain on Saturday morning at 8:00 (even though it felt like 2:00 am our time) and set out to explore Madrid! We tried to be good, but we couldn't help but take a 3 hour nap in the middle of the afternoon. We still slept well that night...maybe the Sangria helped....
Our adventure in Spain:
-We stayed at the Hotel Emperador
-We visited the Plaza Espana (one of the many pretty parks in Madrid)
-We had breakfast at a corner cafe (Adam had a yummy dulce)
-We visited the Royal Palace and took some neat pictures until the guard tried to take me down
-We visited a cathedral near the palace
-We went to the Plaza Mayor
-We came back to the Plaza Mayor at night for yummy Paella and Sangria for dinner!
-We were very brave and took the Metro to the airport!
Check out the slideshow:
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
On the plane ready for our long journey!