Settled in Tucson

I arrived last night and settled in fairly quickly.  A staff member picked me up from the airport and we laughed the entire way back to campus. Is that what it’s called, campus? I don’t know.  Here’s a picture of me in my yurt:

Yurt living!

Yurt living!

You may not know this, but living in a yurt is on my list of things to do before I die. YEEESS!

It’s day one and and I’m just entering the Honeymoon phase, but I’m in love. The heat. The creatures. The yurts. The people. Everything.

I fell asleep at 9:30 last evening and awoke at 6:00 this morning and went for a run.  If you’ve been reading my previous entries you’ll know I hate to run. Tucson’s elevation is at 2,643 above sea level, whereas Pennsylvania is at 446′. My lungs felt the difference. I probably jogged for 1.5 miles and was like “Alright, that’s enough for today, folks!” and went back home. Ate gluten-free oatmeal sweetened with molasses and some shared watermelon and now I’m here sitting on my bed in front of two fans.  It’s 79 degrees, but it feels like a gajillion.

I’m happy though.

The one thing missing is my dog. There are 4 dogs on campus and though the weather would torture Garvey, and his hair would quickly become home to sharp objects, he would love it.  I miss him.  My next move has to include him. Wherever that maybe, he’s got to be alongside me.

My favorite pic of us.

My favorite pic of us.

Am I really in Morocco right now?

More from the journal I kept while in Morocco

June 27, 2013

First, I’m having a bizarre experience.  I am actually in Morocco!  What? What?!? We’re leaving Rabat tomorrow.  that makes me sad.  I’m learning so much.  The tv is currently on in the background and set to a channel speaking Darija and I’m able to understand words here and there.  More importantly, I’m able to hear Arabic as more than just one long word.  There is such beauty in this language.  I love Darija.  I would love to be fluent.  Not literate, but fluent.  Learning to write Arabic may be too much.  I think it’s a valuable language and I would benefit from learning it.  If Jamaica isn’t possible for me to visit consistently, may be Rabat should be my adopted country.


In this post I’ve used “Arabic” and “Darija” interchangeably. They are not. They are two separate languages.

Prior to leaving for Morocco

It’s time to write about my journey. In the last 30+ days, I’ve traveled from Atlanta to Chicago, Chicago to Seattle, Seattle to Paris, Paris to Rabat, Rabat to Paris, Paris to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Seattle, Seattle to Portland, and now I’m here on the coast of Oregon sleeping and writing, and preparing for Georgia. I’ve had some time to reflect and I’d like to share some of my journal entries from the trip. Some, like my mind, are disjointed so be ready for that.


6-22-13 Panera Bread- Broadway Seattle

I’m curious to know why everyone wants to know if I’m excited yet.  That’s the overarching theme of inquiry from loved ones.  Excitement.  I’m not excited. I’m 1/2 way between nervous and suspended in the jello of disbelief.  A well-known organization is paying me to care for their children THOUSANDS of miles from home.  That’s more bizarre than anything.  I’m bizarroed out more than excited.  This trip isn’t about me.  It’s not even a trip, it’s my job.  I feel more concerned with doing it well than anything else.  I just want to do a good job.  This might be the only thing that’s quantitative about my life right now.  I want to feel successful more than anything.  Life has felt tumultuous, painful, exhausting, dry, teary, and sad as of late and I think excitement is more than I can handle.  I want black and white, squares and rectangles not grey…not dodecahedrons…nothing in the empty spaces. I want to step away from the scolds of my grandfather the disappointed and codependency trigger glare of my aunt.  Her scowl makes me feel like a child…when my actions as of late are everything but childish.  My actions were courageous.  Going back into the snake pit that is my bloodline takes courage.  This trip to Morocco is simple.  All I have to do is follow directions parent youth, and work alongside coworkers.  That is easy.  Working alongside a team is easy.  In my “normal life” I don’t feel like I”m apart of a team.

*dance break*

There’s a girl who sat next to my space and walked into it without invitation.  She’s drifting.  SHe leaned over my lemonade and put her chest on my straw.  Her apologies were genuine, but I’m done with my drink now.  Her clothing is ill-fitting and gear borrowed or stolen not bought.  She’s homeless.  Has been living on the streets for a bit and is talking to her mom on the phone.  I know this because we’re sitting close enough to be sisters…lovers…friends….Not strangers who haven’t even been introduced by a smile.  We’re so close and I may be annoyed…soon.  *Ellen called and so I couldn’t finish this entry*


I just pooped, wiped, looked at the toilet paper in my hand and didn’t know what to do with it.

I spent the last 30 days pooping and peeing in Turkish Toilets — for the most part. In my hotel rooms there were western toilets with Turkish expectations.  This is a Turkish toilet.

Turkish Toilet

Thanks shwiya b shwiya blog!

I’ve used them before when I traveled in Eastern Asia.  The difference now, however, is that in Morocco (and probably Turkey, but I wouldn’t know because I’ve never been) you don’t put the toilet paper in the hole. You fold it in on itself and put it in a wastepaper basket where it sits until someone takes out the garbage.  In my small village, when the garbage was taken out, it went to a larger container that sat in the bushes near cherry trees and the water source.  Just because it’s out of the house doesn’t mean it’s out of your life.

I enjoy using Turkish Toilets. The squatting position is better for your system and just feels great. I love pooping in the woods because it combines the prime squat position with a beautiful view. That’s the life right there, y’all.  I didn’t love pooping in Turkish toilets because the smell from the wastepaper basket, or merely the knowledge that it’s there, is distracting. I just wanted to poop in a smell free poop free environment.

My pooping in Morocco was disjointed.  When Moroccans found out that I was a vegetarian they’d laugh — because they thought it was a joke– and then they’d ask if that meant I ate lamb…or chicken… or fish. Seriously.  If you say in Darija, “I don’t eat meat.” You also have to explain that you don’t eat fish, chicken, turkey, or lamb. It’s quite a process. Even then, me not eating meat meant I ate a crap ton of potatoes with a few carrots.  At one point I sat back and recollected on my food consumption for the day. “You know what?” I said to my co instructors. “I had a hard-boiled egg and bread for breakfast. Now I’m having a hard-boiled egg and bread for dinner. The hell is going on?”  That was pretty much the extent of my food options. Bezzaf (a lot) of Khobs (bread). Granted, we convinced Mama Fatima to make us lentil soup and frites (french fries) for lunch and it was so good we asked for it every day.  We didn’t always get it, but we asked.  I think she felt bad preparing us the same lunch so she tried to vary it.  If only she knew that I could have eaten that for 3 meals a day and been absolutely fine. The lack of vegetables in my diet led to me feeling clogged up or uncomfortable for most of my days.  We often had to request watermelon (dluh-h) and cherries for the sake of taste and fiber.  There were also honey dew and cantelope melon hybrids that I grew to enjoy. I hate them in the States, but hey, when 98% of the food options aren’t on your menu you’re not going to get too picky with the 2%.

My last few meals in the city were splendid. Well, one was falafel and hummus at a Syrian restaurant — that was splendid and the other was pizza — that was okay. I think my bowels valued familiarity.  The food on the Air France flight was similar to Morocco, which shouldn’t surprise you because France colonized Morocco in the 17th and 18th centuries.  The quality of bread and cheese on the flight was more my style than in the village. I mean come on, who doesn’t love fancy cheese and croissants? 😉 I ate the inside of a Spinach burrito from Gorditos upon my return and I’m pretty sure my stomach brain just had an aneurysm. I haven’t had veggies aside from slivers of zucchini and carrots (and potatoes) in a month. It has no idea what to do with itself.

I’m struggling a bit as my stomach struggles to right itself, but that’s okay. I’m happy to be back in Seattle and pooping in a toilet that I don’t have to share with a gajillion other people… even if it has a toilet seat.

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I left Rabat less than 24hrs ago and already my heart is aching. Not for people, but for a situation. An environment in which I was constantly forced to learn– quickly–is one I craved for years.  Yes, at times the speed of Arabic, French, and Darija were whelming.  Yet, I feel that if I were to travel alone I would not be as emotionally split I was.  It’s one thing to care for yourself while traveling in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language. It’s another more intense thing to do so while responsible for 13 students and 2 co instructors.  I couldn’t be the traveler I wanted to be because we stuck out so much.  But, that’s what I signed up for…this time.

I’m, as hard as it is :), simultaneously writing a cover letter and updating my resume to apply for a job teaching in Rabat. I don’t know when this would occur, but I would LOVE to move there with my dog and learn to speak Darija and French (the latter by default, not because I want to). I can see myself doing well.  I’d live in Rabat or Salé in a little apartment with Garvey and teach during the week. I would love to learn more about the theatre scene there as well.  I’m not interested in politics, and while dressing conservatively in the small village in which I spent my time was difficult.  That difficulty was mostly along the lines of having brought a limited wardrobe.  I was there to build a bridge, not to socialize.  The clothing I brought reflected that.  Granted, I also hated not being able to sit on the roof in shorts and a tank top. That was very difficult. Let me not glamorize that. , I could definitely see myself in the city though, especially if I was able to wear some of my cute jeans and tops.

This desire to return to Rabat feels solid.  It feels like the timing is right. I could still spend time with my grandfather in the States and relocate to Rabat in the near future. It feels right for now and that feels good.

Sala Kakuhle!

It’s 6:56am PST. I’m sitting in the home of a dear friend in Seattle.  There are quite a few of items on my yet to be created to do list and I’m feeling fine.  I mean, I was feeling totally fine until I typed that sentence.  For the most part, however, I’m neutral.  Yes, I’m about to travel with a group of students to a country I’ve never been and where I barely speak the languages.  That will be stressful at times, but right now, it’s not happening, so why be stressed?

Leaving my students on Friday was sad because I’ve grown to care for them already.  There are a few that I hope change drastically, and the rest I know will change drastically.  At their core, they’re sweet and caring young people and I’m proud to be on this journey with them.  I just hope I can take care of myself in the midst of taking care of them.

Well, this is it. Le Maroc here I come!