Wednesday, January 20, 2010

new beginnings/what comes next

Well, travel, computer troubles and an assortment of unforeseen circumstances brought my entries to a halt, unfortunately. I'd hoped to do a more reflective and ceremonial ending to my time in Morocco...but instead I've just started up a new blog, here, that will be in part about my readjustment process to the States and my attempts to import what I learned and the ways I changed into my American life. It's mostly recipes and photos, but also some thoughts and reflections and, in large part, a sort of love song to my Moroccan way of life (wherein spending five hours on a meal is an everyday thing and time is nothing if not elastic).

Thanks so much for reading these two-plus years! Hope you continue to visit me at

Llah Yarham Lwalidayn!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

home stretch

N.B. My computer has lapsed into a deep, deep sleep (probably due to two years of heavy use in a dusty village), so blog entries will present a challenge from here on out. My official close of service date is a week from tomorrow; my last day in my village is Monday. The volunteer who's coming to take my place arrives Sunday. The past week has been a whirlwind of packing, shipping, cleaning, crying, tea, couscous, biking, talking, and planning. Leaving a place is never fun, but here, the idea of leaving a place "for good" just isn't something people are used to. "When will you return?" and "But how long will you BE in America?" are the most frequently asked questions of me these days, and it's hard to respond because I don't have the answers yet.

I feel like I'm moving too fast right now to really ponder and reflect on what these two years have meant, and it might be a while before I really realize their full impact. At this point the most I can do is try to get as much done and see as many people as possible before leaving...and then deal with next steps, with reflections, with processing it all later.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Nearing the end

Three weeks to COS!

I'm in the process of uploading a last album of photos - highlights from the past 10 months or so - if anyone wants to browse (my picasa albums are on the right hand side of the blog). It should cover all kinds of exciting stuff, from trainings and exchanges between my association and at least three others, my parents' visit last spring, camps (though be warned, there are just a few...for lots of camp photos check out the YouTube videos I linked to here), hiking Lake Ifni, several photos of my house, photos from the ceremony in which the weavers were presented their very first profits, a business training I helped out with in a friend's site, our epic bike trip over the Tiz n Test pass, a trip to the magical Portuguese cistern at Al Jadida, a moussem in Taroudant at which hundreds of camels were slaughtered (yeah I know), Easter eggs decorated with henna, my ladies' first trips out of their region, to Fes and the Taznakht area, and a bunch of random photos of my site on those days that made everything look particularly gorgeous. I'll do my best to caption them...enjoy!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

into the great laugh of mankind

...title from the title of a Sufjan Stevens song that sort of captures my mood at the moment. My life looks like the routine of the past two years, if you can call it a routine, but recently the patterns have been subtly shifting and everything is louder and more complicated and better in a lot of ways. Time is just flying!

Today I finalized the host family for the volunteer who will replace me - a really lovely, welcoming family with a beautiful home! I'm so excited for my replacement. I should find out who she is on Monday - when, coincidentally, I'll be in Rabat for the last time for a GAD (gender and development) meeting. By the time I get back from the meeting I will have TWO WEEKS left in this place where I have been living now for nearly two years. Sometimes I feel like I know it so well - and sometimes I feel like I've just begun to learn my way around.

The weather is finally turning, and it instantly brings me back to last fall - a time when I felt I was FINALLY finding my footing here and understanding how on earth I could find a way to fit in to the development efforts already happening in this wonderful community I now call home. I recently picked the last fruits off of my pomegranate tree, and already its leaves are turning golden and falling to the floor of my peaceful little courtyard.

On a less sober note, on the list of Things to Do Before I Finish Service is "make pomegranate chutney" - which I finally did!!!! And it is delish. Especially good with chicken salad on a sandwich, or to spice up an otherwise ordinary grilled cheese sandwich. So here are the recipes for THOSE, if you can get your hands on some pomegranates, which you should if you are at all able...

Chicken salad, adapted from my Great Aunt Marguerite's recipe

2-3 cups of cooked chicken pieces (I usually use 1/2 to 1 kilo of chicken, and my preferred method is to cook in oil, broth, and some herbs and spices and maybe some plain yogurt in a tagine for about an hour)
Pomegranate seeds (1-2 pomegranates)
Grapes, seeded and halved
Walnuts or nuts of your choice
Cilantro and parsely, chopped

Mix with about a cup of plain yogurt, juice of one lemon, salt and pepper, and spices of your choice (I usually use turmeric, curry, and ras al hanout). Chill till ready to serve, and if you wish, serve on a bed of fresh lettuce.

Pomegranate chutney (ever so slightly adapted from my godmother Tona's amazing incredible Peach Chutney recipe)

Remove seeds of two medium to large pomegranates
Place in large saucepan

Add: 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/8 cup lemon juice, 1/2 cup raisins, 1/6 cup chopped onion, about an inch of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped, and dried/ground ginger, allspice, cloves, and cinnamon to taste (I usually do half to a whole small spoonful of each), and a spoonful of salt.

Measure about 2 cups of sugar (or about 2 cups worth of honey and sugar if you want to use less sugar) and set aside.

Mix about an ounce of powdered fruit pectin (half a standard size packet) into the saucepan (which now has everything but the sugars), stir well, and place over high heat.

When a boil is reached, immediately add all the sugar and stir. Keep at a rolling boil and stir constantly for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and skim off any foam that may have formed on top.

Continue stirring for 5-10 more minutes.

Let cool and store.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

for breakfast lunch and dessert

...lately I have been eating pomegranate seeds and plain yogurt and just a drizzle of honey all mixed up together, and I can't believe I ever ate anything else for breakfast, lunch, or dessert.

That's all.