How to Contact Me

Life on the central plains can get awfully lonely at times, so feel free to drop me a line! Here's how:

D'Abravanel, Jed
B.P. 6



Saturday, April 5, 2008

Peace Corps Crazy

I started my last post by talking about how two years in Morocco could drive one a little over the edge, so I thought in this post i'd relate just one of the crazy volunteer stories i've heard.

This particular Peace Corps story involves a volunteer who served in Morocco two or three volunteer generations in the past - or in laymens terms - roughly four to six years ago. This volunteer had requested to be posted to a very remote site, deep in the High Atlas Mountains, far from other volunteers or other americans or forigners of any type. Throughout training he had always been a little stand-offish, not anti-social per say, but far from the most gregarious member of his stage. With this background it was not unusual for him to dissapear into his remote mountain site for weeks at a time with no contact with the outside world. About a year into his service though volunteers around him began to grow concerned, as even those with whome he shared a souk town realized they hadn't seen him in more then two months. This alone wouldn't have caused too much concern if not for the rumours about the strange american that started to make their way from Moroccans into the Peace Corps grapevine. From the volunteer community the rumours then made their way to the Peace Corps Office in Rabat and a staff member was dispatched to investigate the Kurtz like rumours eminating from the Atlas.

Upon encountering the long lost volunteer nothing seemed amis, he seemed well integrated into his community and was seemingly healthy in appearence. In fact the staff members concerns were quickly disarmed by the volunteers pleasent demenor and warm greeting. The volunteer quickly invited the staff member in for hamburgers, which the staff member gladly accepted. As he entered the volunteers mudbrick home the staff member was quickly struck by a pungent odor, but the volunteers home seemed clean and in order. That is until the volunteer opened a closet and pulled a hunk of rotting, maggot infested meat from a pile that reached to the volunteers thighs, and began to mold it into a hamburger patty. The volunteer was medically seperated the next day - and was back in the states by the next week.

Hence the term Peace Corps Crazy. Now how true is this story? I have no idea - likely it is just a Peace Corps urban legend. But still, it makes you think.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


After two years in Morocco you'd be a little crazy too. This is my conclusion after three days in the Dades river gorge north-east of Ouarzazate visiting a current Health Volunteer. Once again I can't tell you exactly where her site is but suffice it to say that it is one of the most breath taking places I have ever been. The austere beauty of this remote site, nestled deep in the High Atlas, is testified to by the hundreds of French tourists that I saw practicing for the qualifying round of the Paris-Dakaer rally in their spacious and luxiouriously appointed RV's. These RV's which contained anywhere between 2 to 5 european individuals would - if used by Moroccans - have contained around 15 seated passengers, 10 standing, 5 on the roof and 6 clutching for dear life to the rear of the vehicle. I know this because my transit up the Dades valley managed to hold this many people - with room to spare for the occasional goat. All without the benefit of closable doors, air conditioning or windows that could open - I was in Peace Corps experience heaven.

The transit up the valley floor was not the only astounding point of this journey up the gorge. The next days brought surprises aplenty. The most jarrring to me was when we went to tea at the home of a local family who were close with the female volunteer we were visiting. For those who aren't familiar with Moroccan gender roles, women and men do don't interact once they come of age, unless they are members of the same nuclear or semi-extended family unit. Imagine my surprise then when upon my entering this Moroccan home and removing my shoes, a sign of respect, and waiting for my turn to be greeted by the women of the house I was greeted by a big 'ol , wet peck on the cheek by one of the family matriarchs! Now this may not sound like a lot to those of you back in the PDA heavy states - but let me put it in perspective: the volunteer we were staying with had never seen or heard of any male forigner, and only a very few non nuclear family member males, being greeted with a kiss in her village or in those surronding it. Why this greeting? I can only chalk it up to a "crazy" rumour circulating in the village that I, the strange man from America, had been seen making dough two days previously. A rumour that I can only shamefully confirm to be true, proving once again that the ability to make a killer pizza opens doors the world over, or at least in rural Morocco as well as in America.

Ice Cream In Oz

There is a cloud in the sky, and therefore my little Moroccan world is being rocked. Why? Because after one month in country I am shocked if the temperature in Ouarzazate in the middle of the day is not approaching unbearable. But that said, in Morocco there is an ice cream season – and it doesn’t start until lack of ice cream leads to cerebral hemorrhaging. It’s bad to generalize, and I know this – but that said, of all the Moroccans I have spoken with about Ice Cream season the universal response is one of consternation in regards for my desire for Ice Cream when the distant High Atlas Mountains are still snow capped – never mind that on the plains birds avoid laying their eggs in direct sun for fear of their eggs being hard boiled and turning bad before even touching their nests. Thus without Ice Cream and with heat like that, a fieldtrip up the lush and cool Dades Valley Gorge to visit and experience the life of a current volunteer couldnt come at a better time.