Earlier this month I moved to my permanent site in Morocco, where I’ll be living for the next two years. It’s a beautiful small city in one of the southernmost provinces of the country, nestled into the Anti-Atlas Mountains and surrounded by a desert oasis.
Alongside all of this excitement came a lot of changes. After three months in my training site, I had formed significant bonds with my host family, students, and community. I was greeted frequently by name from people on the street, knew which hanut owner would always have a cold bottle of Coke waiting for me, and looked forward to laughing with my fellow trainees each day. Now I had to start over in a new community, this time by myself.
It would have been easy to become overwhelmed by all of the changes that April brought. My daily routine of eat-too-much-food-and-study-Arabic that I had gotten comfortable with transformed into no daily schedule at all and a To Do list that reached the floor, including everything from finding a house to live in, applying for Moroccan residency, memorizing new roads, and continuing to study language because I can’t yet tell the difference between Arabic and Tashlheet (a Berber dialect spoken here).
My mantra of this month has been embrace.
Instead of getting overwhelmed by the changes, I chose to embrace them instead.
Here are some of the things that I’ve been embracing this month:
Embracing the 16-hour, 2-day trek to my permanent site from the capital
Embracing the fact that we were given plastic bags to throw up in on a bus ride because the route was so treacherous (and choosing to laugh about it)
Embracing my fellow volunteers of the Deep South of Morocco, my new family
Embracing the local cuisine of my site… by eating an endangered variety of lizard… twice
Embracing the local temperature, which has already soared to 100F (and it’s not even “summer” yet)
Embracing my new host family, who have again showed me the depths of Moroccan hospitality
Embracing sunscreen, a new addition to my daily morning routine
Embracing a month-long Internet sabbatical (sorry Mom)
Embracing falling asleep to the sound of the bleating goats who live on my host family’s roof
Embracing the natural beauty of my site, and basking in its glory
Embracing failed plans and the need for plan b, and plan c, and plan d…
Embracing the ridiculous hoops I have to jump through to apply for Moroccan residency because it’s helping me learn the important people and places of my community
Embracing the need to start learning a second new language
Embracing the amazing current volunteers here who have been more helpful and welcoming than I ever imagined
Embracing the very strange tan lines that are already forming
Embracing sleeping with frozen water bottles at night to stay cool
Embracing waking up early to attend the aerobics classes my sitemate organizes for women in our community
Embracing getting wondrously lost on long walks through the oasis
For security purposes I will not be disclosing the precise location of my permanent site or its name. Thanks for understanding and respecting my privacy xx