Working the Moroccan Way
Yassas from Greece!
On May 10th, we left Portugal making our way to Malaga, Spain to meet my parents: Bill and Barb Dietz. On the way, we made a stop in Seville taking in a dramatic Flamenco show (which an exhausted Emmett slept through). We spent a week relaxing with G-ma and G-pa at a condo on the beach; playing mini-golf, eating in, learning how to make sangria and catching up with the folks - (thanks mom & dad!).
From there we flew to Melilla, Spain (an ancient enclave still owned by the Spanish on the northern tip of Africa) where we were met by an old teaching friend of mine, Melodie, before travelleing into Morocco. The border crossing was colorful and one of our more memorable: smugglers with everything from sneakers to cereal, families returning home and a guy with a fridge on his back (!) all sharing the dusty road into Morocco.
From the border we travelled to the city of Fes where we spent the day wandering the Medina (old walled city) taking in the exotic sights, sounds and smells. The Tannery, where they soften and color animal hides, was fascinating. We were all given branches of mint to hold under our noses while we toured around to block out the smell. Donkeys carried loads and people through narrow streets as men answered the Muslim call to prayer and headed towards the mosques.
Next we made our way to Izemouren where the non-profit group "Friends of the Rif" is based. This small group of workers is helping rebuild several mountain villages after a devestating earthquake in 2004. Our friend Melodie has been there for 7 years and welcomed us into their home to live and work for 10 days. While there, sharing the 2 bathrooms with 20 people, we white-washed houses, carried rocks, mixed and poured a concrete floor, picked and shoveled a foundation, all by hand, Moroccan style. We enjoyed interacting with the Rifi people (the local kids loved drawing, playing dice games and building Legos with the boys) and picking up a few Arabic words along the way.
After a few hours of work in the morning, the family on whose house we were working would bring out sweet mint tea, flat bread and olive oil as thanks. Lunch time was shared with the Moroccan workers in the new building soon to be a Community Center, scooping up Chicken Tagine with our hands. One lucky day they prepared for us goat organs and testicles - yum!
During our stay we were all refueled in different ways. Oliver loved the volunteer group visiting from Arizona and the full-time guys from England and the U.S. (always someone to play a game with). Keith and I enjoyed working outside and interacting with and meeting new people - including rekindling a friendship with Melodie (keep up the great work Mel and keep practicing your ping-pong!). Emmett was happy to unpack his backpack and stay put in one place for 10 days. Both Oliver and I celebrated birthdays this week that neither of us will ever forget. We were all blessed by Melodie, Tom, Nate, Joey, Danni, Danni, Musa, Big Mo, Smalls, Brian, Siham, Selawa and the villagers.
Today we are relaxing on the Galissa Beach on the island of Syros, Greece after traveling through 4 countries in 4 days to get here. Soon we will be off for Italy - there's still time to book that flight to meet us! Missing you all...