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



Friday, January 16, 2009

The Economics Of Apples

For those in the dark about the agricultural output of Morocco let me put worry out of your minds, this country is a breadbasket and while prices have risen due to the global Food Crisis no one is in danger of starvation. That said, it is about time I said something specific about the crop that graces the fields that surround my village; namely apples.

The apple while common to my area is not well adapted to the nvironment, as the raising of apples is a water intensive activity - more so then other fruits such as peaches or cherries - but it is exceptionally profitable. A kilo of apples in a Rabat or Tangier routinely sells for 25 dirhams a kilo - or roughly 5 dollars a pound - not a bad price when one considers the cost of living in rural Morocco. For example my weekly groceries, purchased at my weekly market, are only rarely more then 25 dirhams total with vegtables normally going for around 3 - 5 dirhams a kilo. In short raising apples a family can make a comfortable living.

One of the major apple related problems though is that most families can't make a living from them - as most apple orchards in my area aren't owned by the local inhabitants of the rural villages - but rather by absentee landlords living in the urban centers of modern Morocco, whose first priority is not reinvesting their profits in the local community. Another issue is water - while this year has been wet and filled with snow - most years arent. This is an issue as apples are one of the most irrigation intensive fruit crops - especially when drip irrigation is not used. It is an even more serious concern where I live as most springs are used for irrigation, while private wells are used for drinking water. Alarming when weells run dry as they did last summer. But a useful starting point in discussing projects with people in my village.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Only Thing That Stays the Same is Change...

I was gone for some 20 days from my village, and when I arrived home on Tuesday afternoon after racing a blizzard through the Middle Atlas I had a few surprises:

1. My host brother, Smail, has moved to Oujda on the border with Algeria to string power lines. This after nearly a year at home and no prospect of work when I left for Italy - I know, we had a very specific conversation on the subject. He didn't really want to leave home - but the problem with rural Morocco - especially if you don't own a farm, is that if their are no jobs their really is no money.

2. A 20 year old man who lives in the mountains above my village died last week from exposure after being trapped on my volcano in a storm. Yes, I do live in Africa - but yes it is also cold. Also, I do not understand how the shepherds and their flocks of sheep do it - living at or below zero exposed to the elements wearing little clothing and carrying even less gear.

3. The new Imam, Ali, left the village. My village has now had six Imams since June. This might tell you something about my village and my villagers. Sometimes they argue - a lot. The old Imam, Hassan, the first one I met, has moved back to Zeida - a way of rubbing it in the face of my village that he was a good Imam. Or at least I think that might be part of his motivation...

4. Nora, my 23 year old host sister accompanied her husband and his family to Casablanca to see some of the family off on the Haj to Mecca. Afterwards she decided to stay - just because. Possibly just because she had never been in a place with weather as nice as that of Rabat's. Anyway - no one is sure when she is coming back, though they are pretty sure she is...

5. In personal news I finally got my Carte De Sejour today, right after I got back from the reason I needed it - travelling outside Morocco! Thanks red tape! How I love efficiency!

So that's the news from the foot of La Rais. Their might be more - after all when I first asked my host dad what was new in the village he said "Kif Waloo" - nothing.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Florence and Rome - Or a Return to the West

Well, it has come off. Or at least it has been pulled off, my great holiday season escape to the western world went off without a hitch. Granted their were a few small discomforts along the way - especially on either end during my independent travel sections. But all and all - a fantastic trip. For 15 days I travelled with my friend Emelia and her family - and for 15 days I forgot all about the worries, nuisances and stresses of everyday life in my developing world village. Now for the hardest part: going back.

As soon as I process THAT, i'll update. Suffice it to say that - after two weeks of hot showers, cheese, wine, mushrooms, functional public transportation, uncovered women, friendship, holiday festivities, good espresso, warmth, good conversation and an overall constant feeling of ease and relaxation - the transition may be rough. But if for no other reason then to recharge my batteries and remind me that i'm loved and have good friends and people in my life, who believe i'm doing something important and couragous - it was worth it.

I also learned the importance of treating myself well, that I don't always need to be testing myself - or taking the difficult path. That sometimes it's alright to treat yourself and just be yourself. So I return - recharged, recommitted and ready to not burn out. To instead do what it takes to keep myself going strong. Because before this trip - I was about ready to call it quits, throw in the towel and give up (both on Morocco, and on my self - my ability to create change and hence my reason and value in this world).

And so I must say thanks to Emelia and her entire family: Ken, Mary-Beth, Halie and Christine. You helped me more then you know, and I appriciate your generosity and kind hearts more then you can fathom.

Now back to work!