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La Vita Grassa

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Location: Aarhus, Denmark

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Coming home...

Every time I leave Agdz, whether it be for a day, a weekend or an extended period, I always have a surge of warm sentimental coziness fill my belly when we round the moonscape bend of the mountains and see the Draa Valley open far below us. The grand valley base filled with greenery from the palm trees, Mt. Kisane the grand backdrop behind scattered villages, and the River Draa winding about the base of the mountain ranges surrounding us on all sides.

I feel like I'm coming home. I am coming home. Agdz is my home. I have family and friends, work and a home. A dog and site mate; plants that need to be watered, errands to run, a bamboo chair to lean back in and pick up my favorite book. The mountains, the cool palmery breezes, the dusty streets and familiar faces. The hot air, the little crazy man who wanders around singing and pestering us with his silly antics, the doctor who calls out and demands me to drink tea with him at the cafe, the bizarre owners who have me come in for a chat and to check out all the latest carpets or watch them bargain with a Tashelheight woman. My favorite part of the day is when little children who run up to me in the streets, silently kissing me, giggling and running off. This is Agdz, this is where I live.

(These photos were taken by Antoine ... my photos being currently unavailable as my computer is in the States to be fixed.)

Friday, August 25, 2006

Moroccan workout

6:30AM: Jump out of bed, run down three flights of stairs with dog. Let her out. Run up the stairs. Run about the house closing windows and curtains. Run back down the stairs, let the dog back in, go back to bed.

8:30AM: Get up. Repeat the bit with the dog. Wash dishes by hand and other kitchen chores.

8:45: Walk to local souq, 1 kilometer. Purchase 15 kilos of vegetables and carry about on your back or by hand. For extra points, do it in 110 degree F.

10:30AM: Walk back home, 15 kilos of vegetables in hand. For extra points, take the rocky path with the steep hill. Carry everything up three flights of stairs. Take a nap.

10:50. Doorbell rings, run down three flights, answer. Run back up, fetch water for pack of boys. Run back down. Give it to them. Run back up. Wait five minutes for them to ring again. Run back down and fetch water glass.

12:00 Sweep floors with a broken off broom, bend at the knees to get the full effect of the workout.

12:30: Make bread by hand. Repeat the dash up and down three flights of stairs to let dog out. When dog is not to be found, do it all over again, fifteen minutes later.

12:45: Run down the street for missing lunch items.

2:30PM: Walk a couple kilometers about town visiting people.

4:30PM: Do 83 pieces of laundry by hand. Let them soak while you clean the kitchen again.

5:30: Repeat the dash up and down three flights of stairs to let dog out. When dog is not to be found, do it all over again, fifteen minutes later.

6:30: Complete scrubbing/rinsing process and hang laundry on the line upstairs.

6:50: Tote 30lb jugs of water upstairs to water plants. Repeat four times.

7:00: Take a walk through the palmery with dog.

8:00: Have a private dance party in the kitchen while you're making dinner. Double points for rear-rotations: works abs and gluts.

8:30: Repeat the dash up and down three flights of stairs to let dog out. When dog is not to be found, do it all over again, fifteen minutes later.

10:30PM Pace on the roof while you talk to parents.

You can call it a night.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

An Evening at Raja's...

Monday, August 21, 2006

Translations in progress...

Finally some progress!! Jessica returned from Egypt two weeks ago and had all my surveys translated within an hour's time. I felt ridiculous having waited over a month for something she could do in an hour, but believe you me, I tried to find someone.

French copies in hand, I scheduled a meeting with the tourism committee to review them and get a Moroccan perspective; nail out details. I had computer packed up, copies and pens for marking in tow. Miriam arrived at the door: Monday was a holiday. Okay, another time. I was going to a wedding on Tuesday and Wednesday, and mentioned Thursday. On Thursday, however, it was souk day, and I had had six hours of sleep in the past three days due to weddings and caffeine, so I slept in, assuming everyone would be at the market. The doorbell rang at 11am, I was still in my underwear. By the time I had every limb appropriately covered, I ran down and no one was there. Attempt two failed. I visited them that afternoon and we planned a meeting for Friday morning.

Friday morning, we actually made it to the Baladia (local government office, kinda like a town hall), but none of the "boys" were there. We walked over to Abdullahim's house and asked him where everyone was at. Traveling, at weddings, etc. We scheduled a Saturday morning meeting with him, hoping he could get the key for the Baladia.

10AM, Saturday morning, attempt number four. Miriam and I were to meet Abdullahim (?) at another local. He had come straight from an all-night wedding (most weddings here last a week and go all night). No one else was there. I thought three persons was perfect for such a meeting, so we could actually make some headway. We discussed some finer points, nailed out a few problematic questions and added a few to give us a better picture of where a shipping service might be most helpful in the region. It felt wonderful to be talking on these levels with Moroccans (though sometimes they had to repeat themselves three times). We finished, divied up tasks. I am taking the brunt of it, in committing to conducting most of the surveys, but I was just happy enough that Miriam was going to translate them into Arabic, and Abdella to search for a source of funds for making copies (otherwise I'm paying for all transportation and copy fees out of my pocket, which is quite empty currently), as well as take copies to a few associations he is familiar with.

Since then, I have distributed final surveys to other volunteers for translations into Spanish and German, and checked the progress daily with Miriam on Arabic. We're hopefully going to type them out together in Arabic this afternoon or tomorrow. Then I hit the road!

I felt like I actually put in a days work or so. :)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

April's condolences on getting a dog...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Touria's Wedding

Touria and I

I have been avoiding weddings whenever possible, after my last experience of being made to dance almost solo in front of three hundred women this past winter. However, my tutor, Touria, is getting married this week (notice I say "getting", as it is a week-long event). I put on a brave face and hopped in a taxi to Ouarzazate, arriving around 7pm last night.

Weddings here consist of 3-7 nights of partying, with everyone resuming most normal activities during the day. I really couldn't imagine people in the United States taking off a whole week of work to go to a wedding. In some ways, I like it... it extends the celebration... in America, we spend 6-12 months planning for one day.


Last night was day 2: younger girls/women partying inside the four-story home; men sitting outside in utter boredom on carpets under great tents. You can always tell who is having a wedding: spanning from the front door are walled-in tents covering an acre or so. I was immediately ushered into a stuffy room, ruffled with brightly-clothed wedding girls, either dancing in the center of the room, or seated around the edges/on the floor, trying not to get stepped on. Touria and her sister, (two brides is quite common here) were being decorated with henna hand and foot treatments, sitting utterly still with stiff smiles against a backdrop of gaudy gold and green... wearing matching bedecked kaftans, massive gold-plate jewelry about their necks, crowns on their heads.

Brides & Grooms before a dinner together

The Henna of a bride

I always feel sorry for the brides, because they have to sit on these thrones for a week straight and smile at everyone dancing in front of them, singing to them, doing things to them; helpless in their adornment. I slipped up beside them, assured them of their beauty, and was pulled into the gears of the shuffling, hand-waving dancers. Someone rushed me off to don a coffee-colored Kaftan.

(This lady was the ringleader... shouting and grabbing us, pulling us into the gyrating circle)

I'm not sure when the gathering began, but probably a good several hours earlier. It was seven PM. The next six hours were the same. Dancing, sitting, drinking mint tea, dancing sitting, drinking mint tea. Thankfully there were present 1) a well-to-do Moroccan from Boston, so I could chat freely in English when Arabic overwhelmed me and 2) Habiba, the mother of an Agdzian family whom I cherish.

Henna feet, slippered feet, nylon-covered feet.. covering every square inch.

I spent much of my time making new girlfriends, trading cell phone numbers, chatting away with them until a new one walked up and gasped upon discovering I was speaking Arabic. Every new conversation started with questions regarding to the facts that 1) I live in Morocco, 2) Agdz is very hot 3) I took an Arabic name, Raja 4) My American name is Rachel, (which comes out "watchel"), 5) I changed my name b/c it is hard to say, it is hard to say, isn't it? 6) I work with traditional handicrafts 7) Touria is my tutor 8) I've lived in Morocco 11 months, and yes, I've learned this much Arabic in that amount of time, etc. Again and again. I enjoy the enthusiasm, warm hospitality and friendliness of everyone I meet, but that itself, whenever put in a new situation, grows tiring quickly. After a while, a few of the girls started giving the whole introduction in rapid-fire Arabic before a girl could interrogate me. Then we could just laugh and have fun together.

Peeking out the windows

Whenever the hustle in the room drew volumes of sweat to my brow, I would wander out to the stairwells and stare out. The men in the tents below were suffering from an entirely different dynamic. Contrasting to the crowded, hyper, brightly-decorated women above, then men sat on carpets, spread far out across the gravel lawn, drinking mint tea, praying when the mosque rung out the call-to-prayer, and staring into space. They all wore white, and looked as if they were hardly even conversing. My first reaction to seeing girls staring out the windows at the men: ah, see, we women are trapped inside. Second reaction: girls have more fun. I felt quite sorry for the men, and guessed they all must be wondering what insanity was going on behind closed doors, the volume of screeches and chanting emanating from the windows.

(The men, below, all praying toward Mecca)

I compared this "bachelorette party" if you will, to one in the states, and an little smile grew on my face. Trying to imagine American girls dressed up in layer upon layer of shiny fabrics, the largest-buttoxed women flaunting all their glory (fat = beautiful here) with a dizzying rotation of their rears in a way, I'm still not quite sure is physically possible, if you weren't born into it. For maybe ten hours straight they do nothing but sit or dance on top of each other, a few cookies here or there, singing and shouting chants at the top of their lungs at the brides, while the brides smiled back... 10-hour old smiles. Compared to a quick mind-picture from a recent bachelorette party: fifteen girls sitting at the cheesecake factory, eating scrumptious dinners, making the bride-to-be open scandalous lingerie all tied up in ribbons; and then exiting to the streets, our thirty spiked-heels clacking against the cobblestone streets of Boulder, CO. Yes, this is not America.

At 10:30, I meekly requested a bit of food... and the ladies kindly scolded me for not having eaten before I came, rushing me off the the kitchen... the females' wedding dinners are served after the their male counterparts below... and ours wasn't served until 2:30AM. By that time, all the women were either engaging in some sort of rear-rotating marathon dance party or fallen all over the wall couches, sleeping whenever possible.. jerking awake as each new song started...at high decibles. I slept on Habiba's knee... feeling very emotionally attached to her at the moment and appreciating a mother's lap to rest in, in such a foreign, exhiliarating but exhausting environment.

At 2:30 small round tables were sqeezed between us. Out came massive plates of whole chickens, followed by piles of lamb stewed with figs, accompanied by Coca Cola and heaps of bread. When that was all cleared way, slices of melons and watermelon (fruit being the typical desert here) were distributed. I forced myself to eat, the tender meats and refreshing fruits to good to pass up, and the commands to partake, to overbearing to ignore.

Finally, at 3AM, the tables were cleared away and women disappeared in a shuffle. The remaining guests, all of us from out-of-town, changed from Kaftans to pyjamas, returned to the salons, lay down on the carpets in rows, rock-hard decor pillows under our heads. One of my new-found friends bid me to sleep next to her. She covered my arms with a corner of her soft shawl and I sighed in bliss... we could sleep! I thought.

The woman against the wall began chattering as if they were walking down a busy New York street and had to shout to make themselves heard. They kept chatting and laughing. I, though not finding it unusual here, am still always surprised at the utter lack of concern for sleeping individuals, or the expectation that they would sleep through the communication storm. But sleep they did ... I realized. I started counting the snores about me... got up to about seven, while they were still talking. Raja!? One of the chatterboxes called out. "Nam?" You speak Arabic? My girlfriend hurredly answered the list of imminent questions for me, and I leaned over to Habiba.. "you see, this is my life! :)" She laughed. The lady proceeded to interrogate me about work, and then turned to politics. Do you have some thoughts about Israel and Lebanon? I sighed softly, this time in misery. "Um... I'm sorry, but I'm really tired right now..." She got the hint. Somehow, eventually, we all drifted off to sleep.

Monday, August 14, 2006

breaking in...

April and I went for a walk this evening. I was ancy to get out of the house. I had been begging her to go camping under some a beautiful pine tree grove, but she is not feeling well, so we decided on a little stroll instead. It turned into a bit of a nightmare.

Before we left, I had my dog sam sam on her leash, keys in one hand and cell in the other. April stopped and said maybe it would be better to leave the cell in the house since it would die on the way anyways ... low battery. Sure, I said, and handed her the keys. We walked for maybe an hour or so, and returned as darkness was setting in. I patted my pockets to find and retrive the keys... except that both pockets were flat. No keys. I looked at April. Where are my keys? Do you still have them? She looked at me, astonished, and gasped. "No! I left them in the house." We stared at the house for a good long while, walking around it, trying to figure out how to break into a three (really four, if you count the roof)-story-house. Each level of windows was covered by iron grates, so there was no entering them. I seriously considered rock climbing from window set to window... but it was straight concrete ... a little stupid.

We set off for the landlord's house ... who happened to be out of town traveling. We sat with his wife and children while a daughter ran off to a telephone booth to call him and ask if he left the keys anywhere, by any chance. I devoured cookies and mint tea, famished. April was reacting very slow to everything, feeling rather ill, a sharp pain in her shoulder and no food since breakfast. The daughter returned. No keys anywhere in Agdz.

We raided their drawers for plyers, wire, flat-head screw drivers, anything that might remotely help and departed with the landlady demanding, "Do you hear me? If you don't get in, don't go anywhere else, come directly back here and sleep with us. Do you hear me???"

We walked past the local key shop, all lit up and locked.. now around 9pm. Banged on the door persistently. Rang the doorbell rythmically. All the windows in the house above were dark. No answer. We gave up and headed back to the apartment, I at this point almost wanting to not find any help... feeling the need to prove that I could break into my own house.

I revisted the rock-climbing idea... but 3 tall stories of concrete, with a few metal grates and ledges in between to help... seemed workable, until I got up to the first level above the doors, realized how the easiest parts seemed rather difficult, reconsidered the most sketchy parts, which were on level three... no holds, even standing straight up would hardly be able to reach the top windows... of course with no ropes, no holds, etc. I decided dying wasn't worth getting into the house. I decided to return again to the key shop, to pester every neighbor until someone found him. April was going to revisit the chain-looping-on-the-hook-inside-the-door-idea. I plodded off... and felt how weak my knees were, and my body tired and hungry. I felt a sudden urge to turn around and assist April with the chain hooking scheme. I turned immediately around, and quite frightened her when she heard footsteps tromping towards her in the darkness. I reassured her it was me.

Sam Sam didn't help, as she was lazing around, chewing on a bone, and every other minute bounding away yelping at some passing stranger in the dark. I kept running after her (she is the most disobedient, dense dog i've ever encountered, never comes, heeds my call, does what she pleases and takes immense pleasure in terrifying moroccans). We were using her chain, so I couldn't tie her up.

We tied a wire loop onto to the end of the cloth loop handle, and fed it through the three-inch grate at the top of the metal door. The latch had a hook that had to be pulled to the right to release. The door had to be pulled tight so that it would pull smoothly, and even then it required a good bit of force when I opened the door with my hands, the normal way.

For thirty or forty minutes we took turns holding the door tight and dropping the chain through the grate, listening, ear-pressed to the door to hear where the little wire was at on the other side, dropping, pulling up, dropping, pulling up... it seemed a fool's business. I sat on the ledge for a while pondering what I would do if we were stuck outside... both of us intending to travel the next day, her sick, no phone numbers, landlord, Antoine and Jess all not in Agdz, no money on me... I wasn't crazy about it all. But I was beggining to feel quite hopeless except for the sheer will with which the two of us kept trying. We're both resourceful people and neither of us could believe that it would be impossible for us to get in somehow... but our bodies were grown a bit weak and sore.

Finally I softly called to her - she at this point kicking around rocks in the vicinity, trying to come up with another plan. "April... come here. April... I think something is caught. Can you help me?"

"What!?" She cried, and bounded to my side... indeed something was caught. We alternated the pulling the handle and pulling on the chain... trying to pull sideways from straight above the loop, reaching through tight grates that were cutting our fingers. I bent my head down and prayed... Jesus, I really want in my house. Please help us. I pulled on the chain with all my might. April screached, staring wide-eyed into my face. I suddenly started with sheer terror, my heart pounding... at a darkness... a chasm of darkness slowly widening before my eyes. I cannot explain the terror, but it took quite a few moments for both of us to grasp that the door was silently, slowly swinging open. I screamed. She screamed. "April..no! The door, it's open!" We really could not grasp it... our emotions quite spent on this strange occasion, and stood in shock just staring at it as indeed the stairwell came into purview before us. We grabbed each other and screamed and jumped up and down, and screamed at the top of our lungs, literally dancing and hopping all about the stairwell. Sam Sam was quite startled at our antics and drew back, barking cautiously at us, a bit frightened and unsure what was going on. We just laughed and grabbed eachother's faces and hugged and jumped more.

We were in the apartment. We broke in.

Friday, August 11, 2006


I just found this photo on my friends, Allison & Marc's blogsite... from their wedding. I was babysitting little Maya, Angela's baby, during the rehearsal. I must say it is quite strange to see myself with a baby in my arms, but she was a little treasure... after her crying fit, that is. I was constantly terrified I would do something wrong, pacing the floor, patting her, rushing up to Ang and trading violin for baby between songs, to let her nurse ... to soothe the little chicken (if you've read The Brother's Karamazov, you'll appreciate that saying more.)

I'm just quite happy I got to see little Maya while she was still so young (8 weeks) ... as the next time she probably be at least a year-and-a-half.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Screaming at ... oops

The other evening I was standing on a stool, on top of a table, precariously leaning against the wall, trying to string up some bamboo to hang things from on my concrete walls. It was 9PMish. The doorbell rang. And didn't stop. Now, you must understand that this is no pleasant-"ding-dong"-someone's-at-the-door-type-of-ring ... nooo, it is a screech (ah! just went off right now! I'll go see who that is... 2 hours later, my host sister leaves... counseled her on a relationship with a German guy and went for a walk in the palmery)

... so yes, a screech between a crow and a fire alarm. Most maddening sound, I must say. Well little boys had been ringing it all day long: "Xrji Sam Sam?" (Interpret: Will you let Sam Sam come out and play with us?), "Nshrbu lma?" (Interpret: can we have some water to drink?) "Shdd Ldoh! Kayne ldoh brra!" (Turn off the light, the light's on.) Okay, thanks. No, go away. Okay, I'll bring Sam Sam out to play. Ok, I'll run back up the three flights of stairs to get you a glass to go with that bottle of ice cold water I just sacrified to you from my freezer. I want nothing more than to do that for you. And so it went, all day.

So here it was 9PM. I was enjoying my quiet evening, decorating and chilling. And the doorbell rings. The impudence! I think. It's late, don't they ever know when to leave alone, leave me in peace! I ignore it. It rings again. This time it doesn't stop ringing. The sound fills three floors of apartments and stuffs my ears with agony. I'm still precariously standing on tip-toe atop a stool, atop a table, trying not to kill myself and reach a hook. I shout "Siru!! (go away!)" Still ringing. How freaking irritating! "Wqfu, Eafak!" (Stop, please!) I start screaming and shouting at them in anger, but to no avail, the ringing doesn't stop. I step down from the stool and storm to the window, peer down ... and there sits my host sister, quietly shocked at my screaming, staring up at me embarrassed. My anger dissipates in an explosion of laughter and I charge down the stairs. The door bell is still ringing. I open the door still chuckling, and notice that the doorbell is stuck. She shows me how she frantically tried to unstop it with a rock, with no luck. Together we work it and eventually it pops out. I hug and kiss her, both of us laughing as I explain I thought she was another pack of boys returned to annoy me.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Technical issues...

Hey folks, I haven't died, as my dear friend Erica fretted in a comment posted to my last blog entry ... entry date July 20th. I have had a disillusioning array of computer/tech issues.

#1: Wherein the Internet/Phone company shuts off our internet connection, claiming my sitemate did not pay a bill from February. (He has the documentation to prove he paid it). The internet connection displays a red arrow in the corner of my screen (disabled).

Day 2: Antoine goes to the Maroc Telecom office in Casablanca to inquire as to the problem. Informed of circumstance above. He pays the bill (a second time) and requests that they turn the internet service back on. Red arrow shows its ugly face.

Day 3: No internet service. Antoine must wait until the following week to return to their office (thankfully he was in Casablanca area for a children's camp for two weeks and could make these enjoyable visits. They were convinced he was crazy at one point, in his desire to convince them to help us.) Red arrow in corner of screen begins to annoy me.

Day 4: No internet service. Antoine returns to Casablanca office. They assure us it will be turned on that very day. Red arrow really starts to grate on my nerves. I try to make myself stop compulsively trying to reconnect it, hoping for a green arrow.

Day 5: No internet service. Antoine returns to Casablanca office. They inform us they will send out a technician from the desertous region of Zagora to Agdz to flip a switch and restore service, the following day. Red arrow becomes bane of my existence.

Day 6: No internet service. No technician arrives. Antoine makes another visit. The Zagora office was not responding to the Casablanca phone calls. Red arrow glares at me.

Day 7: No internet service. They inform us they came to the house at 3:30 on the previous day. Never saw him. They say there are technicians in the area and we should be helped shortly. Red arrow grows horns and holds pitchfork.

Day 8: I return from an afternoon at a local office, teaching a friend how to use Excel. I turn on my computer to type a document, not really considering even checking the connection, convinced Internet was a thing of the past. Something strange shocks my senses. I stare at the righthand corner of my screen. Arrow is green. A miracle has happened.

#2: Wherein my celebration of returned Internet is cut short after 1.5 days... while watching a (DVD) movie with friends in the evening, my computer battery dies. No matter. We plug it in, press the power button. No success. Computer is dead.

Day 2: Computer power button pressing continues

Day 3: Computer power button pressing continues, rhythms and patterns of pushing developed. No luck.

Day 4: Computer power button pressing continues, new recruits added while we carry on with other tasks such as breakfast, lunch, dinner.. (i.e. other activities that might distract from power button pushing).

Day 5: Reality sets in. Rhythms and patterns, freezer sessions, fan dustings, memory card unseatings, power draining ... none met with any success. Antoine out of town for three weeks straight, so no computers, no music, no movies, no work-related writing, etc.

#3: Wherein Antoine tries to repair his damaged DVD drive while still in Casablanca (we have depended on my computer for DVD/movies all this time).

Day (I don't know what): He is called and informed that his computer is ready for pick up. He visist the Compaq office and waits several hours. Finally helped, a girl departs to the back office to retrieve his computer. She reappears, computer in hand. She trips. Computer goes flying. She cries in agony. Computer parachute apparently disabled... computer crashes to the floor. Antoine tries to conceal a look of ... concern. They hand an apparently undamaged, but supposively fixed computer to him. He examines it. Determines that his DVD drive (and SD drive) have not been repaired. He inquires as to what they did do. Office personnel scramble about, trying to determine the true status of his case.
They return, inquiring as to whether he purchased the computer in Morocco. No. "Oh, well then, I'm sorry, we cannot fix your computer," was the reply. (Please note: despite the fact that he had been informed that they had fixed it, and to return to the office to get it.) Disenchanted, he departs, still broken computer in arm. He returns to camp, and a fellow volunteer decides to test out the DVD player anyways. It works. For no reason, but it works.

Day (The next one..) He tries to watch a movie. DVD player does not work.

Day (eventually) He returns to the Draa Valley (Agdz) ... computer in tow. April and I rejoice that we once again have internet and music, if not movies.

Another Day: Antoine runs a diagnostic: DVD starts working again.

#4: Wherein brand new computer at local office, where I am teaching my host sister Excel, does not recognize CD's. She had been excited to print photos I had taken of the family. My other host sister ran to the house to fetch the CD containing all the photos. We inserted it in the drive. The DVD drive did not recognize it, nor any other CD's. The computer is a few months old.

Same Day: I determine that my touch must be one of dangerous consequence upon computers and swear to refrain from any contact with such in the future.

Status on my computer: I determined that my extended Circuit City warranty (in the U.S.) expires in three weeks. I spent a day flurrying about, calling FedEx, UPS, Play Mart (my family's company) technician, Circuit City, HP, etc... and finally determine a plan to ship the computer to Play Mart, have their technician repackage and send off to Circuit City. Case opened before time ran out. Thank our dear Lord.

#5: Wherein I cannot find any local or volunteer to translate surveys from English to French.

Day 1: I return to Agdz from America (July 10th, I believe). I immediately set about typing surveys for tourists, artisans and bizarres. Each document simply needs to be translated into French to present to tourist committee here in Agdz so we can develop a plan for distributing them. I determine that all the local teachers have left in a mass exodus for summer vacation. (Teachers = only local French/English near-fluent types)

Day 2: I contact a local volunteer and request her help. She's near fluent in French. Determine that she is leaving town and will be traveling on a number of work-related and vacationing trips across Morocco and Egypt for the next month. I consider other volunteers

Day 3&4: I contact another friend. Wait for response. Similary story. No go.

Day 5: I contact another volunteer from our volunteer skills database. She doesn't speak enough French.

Day 6: I contact a friend who already has her hands full. She has her hands full but promises me that her French friends are coming over for the evening and could take a look at them.

Day 7: I check results of evenings work. The French friends never came. She is overloaded and might get to them eventually. Never hear back from her about them. (She only had a whole brand new festival to plan and coordinate, and dozens of volunteers and artisans, as well as ex-pats converging on her city within weeks. Thats all.)

Day 8: I contact another volunteer. She is between meetings, only has that evening to look at them before taking off on a vacation. She looks at them. They are too extensive and vocabulary too technical for her abilities.

Day 15: Contact another volunteer that previously was traveling, but had returned. She promised to take a look at them.

Day 18: She responds that they are very extensive and will require cooperation with her tutor, and several days worth of work. I heartily agree and thank her. She gives me an estimated date for completion.

Day 22?: I contact her as to the status, hoping they will be completed. She is very busy and has had numerous trips. Still in the works.

Day today... maybe day 28: That's the latest I heard. Still waiting. Emailed them to Play Mart in hopes my parents can contact French friends in the states who can translate the documents.

Never even considered this stage would be a holdup. Ahh patience.