Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A no sabi Arabic.

Hello ALL!
I’m BACK!  I just got back from Morocco yesterday and had a great time.  My main purpose for travelling there (as I said in my last post) was to get some dental work done.  The dentist performed a root canal and placed a permanent crown on my tooth.  Yes, I got a root canal in Africa!! – that’s one to tell the grandkids, right?
(The Hassan Tower)

Rabat was a great city to visit.  Coincidentally, my one Peace Corps friend, Jared, was also being medically evacuated to Rabat at the exact same time, so it was nice to have a buddy to explore the city with.  We indulged on the traditional dishes, like tajines, pastillas, and harira.  We also might have snuck in a couple of trips to the gelato stands.  It was wonderful to eat so many meats, cheeses, and veggies, yum!  Beeeesides the food, we walked around to most of the popular sites, like the Hassan Tour, the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, the Chellah, the Royal Palace, the Kasbah and my favorite, the Medina.  No, not my town, Madina, but the Medina of Rabat.  I can’t wait to tell my Sierra Leonean friends I went to another (a BIT more touristy) Madina.  It’s a walled off area with a bunch of shops, traders, and food stands.   You can find all of your Moroccan tapestries, pottery, and Argan oil to take back to your love ones… or hoard them all for yourself.

(Cous cous on Fridays!)

In fact, I got into a little bit of trouble at a beauty shop.  Wellll, we had a bit of a communication problem while in Morocco.  Everyone knew Arabic and most people knew French… and, well, very few people spoke English.  For Jared and myself, we don’t know Arabic, we don’t know French, and we can get by with our English. ; )  I was trying to buy something small for my girlfriends back in Salone.  In this particular beauty shop, there was a large dish filled with what looked like dirt.  The saleswoman didn’t speak a word of English and when I pointed to the dirt she kept on touching her hair.  In my twisted interpretation of her gesture, I concluded the dirt was some natural, organic hair strengthening powder.  Sooo I bought ten packages.  I told her to write the name of the product, so I could go back and confirm my great find.  Turns out “hana cheveux” is henna for your hair.  You know henna?  You know the plant that dyes your skin, hair, and nails orange?  Yep, well that’s what I ended up buying.  I thought it would be great fun to give the gift to my girlfriends and tell them the dirt was indeed a natural, organic hair strengthening powder.  Lucky for them I’m not THAT mean.  Fortunately for me, I met a volunteer from Benin who knew French and could go back to the beauty shop with me to exchange the henna for something a little more practical.

I wish I could have gotten a nickel for every time I embarrassed myself in Rabat.  Most of the incidents had to deal with miscommunication or rather just a lack of communication.  It was such a strange experience to be a foreign country and not knowing the language.  I’m used to be surrounded by Sierra Leoneans who speak Krio and unfortunately “aw di bodi?” wasn’t going to get me too far in Morocco.  Embarrassingly enough I broke out in Krio a couple times.  We were at McDonald’s (they have a McDonald’s!) and I was trying to ask for ketchup.  I MIGHT have said, “Yu de ketchup?”  And if the employee was Sierra Leonean he would have understood me, but sadly, he was Moroccan and just gave me a quizzical expression.


Oh, life is funny!  After two weeks, I was anxious to come back to Sweet Salone.  As soon as I stepped off the airplane, I was comforted by the warmth and familiar smells of West Africa.  The first person I interacted with was the man checking my passport and of course, he hit on me.  Then, I go to the next person who checked my WHO card and he reeked of palm wine.  Perfect, I was back home!!  Oddly enough, both encounters made me feel like I was in the right place.
It’s amazing how somewhere that seems so different and foreign at first can be molded into a place of comfort and familiarity.  For me, America seems like the strangest place in the world now.  But soon I’ll be back in Lady Liberty’s arms as my service is quickly coming to an end.  Only six more months here!  It’s really hard to believe and it doesn’t seem like enough time.  I still have some things I want to accomplish in Sierra Leone and hope time permits.  I’m looking forward to what Salone still has to offer me.  BRING. IT. ON.
Byes for meow!
“A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.” - Steve Martin 
P.S.  You can "lef" Salone, but Salone can't "lef" you.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Rabat for dental work... Okay!

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I thought I should throw you all some love via blog post.  Not the typical Valentine, but I’m sure you understand.
School’s been about the same.  Although Mathematics has proven to be the most difficult subject to teach!  For example, I had a student come up to the board to do a problem wherein he had to solve 25-23… and he pulled out his calculator.  Ay carumba!  Naturally being the tough teacher that I am (NOT, but sometimes I pretend to be), I told my Math classes they can’t use a calculator on my exam.  I thought a mini-riot was about to take place, but maybe they’ll just burn my exams.  We’ll see!  Mid-term exams are right around the corner, which means time is flying by as always.
Exciting news at my school is that our library is finished and full of books!  Thank you all again for contributing to the project.  We’re still working on getting more books, but we’re pretty happy with what we have so far. : )

Nothing too new in the ‘hood.  There’s a mosque right beside my house, so the call for prayer every morning is my alarm clock.  Anyways, I’ve been promising my neighbors that I would come to mosque for Friday prayers, so a couple of weeks ago I followed through with my promise.  I think all of my neighbors appreciated my attendance and they had a good time showing me how to do the ablution and the different prayers.  The sermon was in Krio, so I was able to follow most of it.  There were a great deal of similarities between what I heard in the mosque and what I hear in church on Sundays.  So, now that I went to mosque ONE time, everyone in my town thinks I’m Muslim and expects me to do the five daily prayers with them.  When in Rome, as they say… ; )
A man from my church passed away last month.  He was a really nice guy and I was sad to hear the news.  Unfortunately, the passing of this man turned into major witch drama in my town.  I don’t want to go into all the details because they can become quite exhausting and frankly, I don’t fully understand all the particulars.  Long story short, most of my town speculated that the man was killed with what is called a witch gun, which began a series of witch hunts theeen some witch trials.  It was HUGE town drama and all anyone would talk about for about a week and half.  Like any small town drama, everyone moved on from the hoopla and moved onto the next thing to talk about… the Africa Cup of Nations.  Football (or what I like to call soccer because I’m American) is a nice distraction for Sierra Leoneans.
I’m currently in Freetown, because I’m heading to Morocco on Tuesday for some dental work.  I might have to get a crown or a root canal.  Not too excited about the dental work part, but it will be nice to see what Rabat has to offer.  My friend Jared is also following me there.  What a weird-o.
In other news, my parents have officially booked their tickets to come to here.  Sweet Salone better watch out, because they have no idea what they’re getting into with Subby and Mike!
Sorry there’s not too much to update on.  Hope all is well Stateside and you’re all keeping warm. : )
‘Til next time… or the time after that.
One of my students, “Isn’t Pennsylvania next to West Vagina?” – This is why teaching is the funniest job ever.