Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Peace Corps Morocco 1985-1987

The Koutoubia Tower and Mosque - Marrakech's Major Landmark
Tomorrow is the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps!

In honor of the event, for the next couple of weeks I am going to be posting on this blog every passion I have about the Moroccan people: their music, art, folklore, food, and unique hospitality.

I would also like to invite my former Moroccan hosts, my fellow Peace Corps volunteers and anybody who is passionate about Morocco to share or post anything that can show the world the beauty of the country and its culture, whether it be a photo of a kasbah or your favorite rug, a video of a wedding party or a Moroccan song or poem, or a recipe for harira or couscous, a posting of its past or current affairs, or simply memories about your service or a recent trip.

Bismillah! Let our journey begin!

1 comment:

  1. I shared a house with Johnny at Bab Al-Ksour, which was only a short walk away from this mosque. Next to the mosque was the Foyer Koutoubia where Johnny worked with the orphans.

    I was teaching English at Lycee Yacoub El Mansour, which was a lovely twenty minute bicycle ride through the palace walls. On the way to the school was my friend Ahmed's house. On Fridays he would invite me for couscous on my way home.

    Twice a week I used to counsel students seeking scholarships in the USA at Dar America in the Gueliz. Mohammed used to work there and he became my close friend. On Thursdays, Johnny, Mohammed, Ahmed and I would go to the local hammam. In the winter we would wear our djellabas and go for a hot harira soup on Djemma El Fna.

    Since Marrakech was centrally located, we had many Peace Corps volunteers from the Bled staying overnight in our house. We had a great reputation in our local community for our meals. Our housekeeper, Khadija, was a very talented cook and our tagines were probably some of the best in Marrakech!

    Johnny and I also got involved with the French community there. We performed the opera Dido and Aeneas at the French cultural center there.

    The bicycle was our main form of transportation. We went everywhere on our bikes and by the second year we were experts at winding our way through the traffic of trucks and donkeys, Walking was a bit hazardous in the medina with the winding streets and blind corners and Johnny and I nearly got mowed down everyday by motorcycles racing through the narrow streets.

    In the quarter of Daoudiate, Johnny was helping a young Moroccan man with a yoghurt business. We were his regular customers and the yoghurt was unforgettable. I wonder where our friend is now.

    There are many funny stories about our life in Bab Al-Ksour. There were a lot of funny characters who used to come in and out of our house. The Ukranian doctor, an eccentric French tourist, a young blind landlord and his teenage brother, who lived in an old palace next door.

    Our neighborhood was full of music and interesting sounds both day and night. Beside the melodious call to prayer, there was a sufi cult who used to meet next door and chant hypnotically for hours on end. There was a mysterious old woman with the voice of a child passing under our window every day begging for alms. Once in a while Khadija would get on top of a metal bucket and stamp her feet in a Moroccan version of a zapateo.She and I used to clown around a lot... I admit that with my opera singing, I contributed to the local sound as well!

    Our favorite spot was on top of the roof of our house. On warm nights, we used to bring our carpets and pillows. The stars were clear even in the middle of Marrakech and we had stunning views of the Koutoubia mosque and the snow-covered Atlas mountains.

    There are so many memories and I will continue to post them on this page as they come up.