Back Dated to Nov 17th – 2011-
Although I was glad this day arrived it was proceeded by tearful goodbyes with my host family. Indeed it was sad and scary to think of and know now I am heading to A. becoming a fully sworn in volunteer and B. I am stepping into the unknown with a new site – which means a new city, host family and a whole new world.
Packing up all my stuff and shuffling things around so that two bags could be shipped to my final site and one could be taken with me to Rabat and then on to my final site was stressful in addition to trying to deal with leaving my CBT site which had become a safe haven after almost 3 months of living there.
Getting on the bus to Rabat was exciting because it led to the unknown.
I had hoped that we would have had more time in Rabat since it’s the capitol city and it would have been nice to explore especially since I learned of the German and American clubs and I was dying to have a real pizza or burger and a Root beer if they had it.
Along the way to Rabat from Fez we stopped at a gas station and the most interesting thing happened – when I paid for my purchases I was given a lower price than the rest of our group. I had to think the only reason that happened was because the cashier thought I was Moroccan. It made up for being cut in line by some French tourists.
When we finally made it to Rabat what a spectacle we made getting our luggage and getting into the hotel – not that the Rabat natives driving cars were impressed or patient for that matter. One driver and car kept revving his engine and inching forward trying to mow us down as we pulled luggage from under the tour bus.
Once we got to our rooms – I chose not to use the elevator that had seen better days we then changed and got back on the bus to head to Peace Corps office in Rabat.
The office is a converted villa that now houses the offices and a massive library.
Did I mention the library?
Yep definitely the best part besides the PCV lounge.
We then ate lunch at the fishing ministries canteen across the street. It was interesting getting stared at and whispered about in French and Darija.
After we ate our lunch we then were herded back to the Peace Corps office and had a group photo taken only to hustled over to another building and its auditorium where we were told to sit and look pretty while we waited for the Moroccan officials and the American Ambassador to Morocco, his wife and staff to show up.
While we waited we enjoyed the fuss made over the size of the portrait of the King of Morocco – apparently the first one used on stage wasn’t big enough – so they went and got another one – even bigger from somewhere else in the building.
This seemed odd and funny to us at the same time – as American’s its difficult to understand such importance being placed on one individual given we rejected a monarchy and in general reject such things in general. Even our president’s are not immune from being made fun of or insulted although such things for a Moroccan to consider would seem blasphemous.
I had also come up with a new game to amuse myself while in Morocco and its spotting pictures of the King. King Mohammad the Sixth has more portraits of any world figure that I have seen.. in random public spaces than even the royal family of England – I am willing to bet.
The other thing about the portraits is that they usually don’t match the space they reside in – such as a formal portrait in the middle of a butcher shop or the King drinking tea – in the cyber café – which doesn’t serve any beverages or food.
So if and when you come to Morocco – try spotting and counting the different portraits of the King you come across.
But I digress, so finally the “important” people show up and the show gets started – one of our group with the best Arabic gets interviewed by the local national news channel for the nightly news. The ambassoder and his wife greet each volunteer and are especially interested in the volunteers from Minnastoa – since they are also from that state.
The current director of Peace Corps Morocco gets up and gives a speech in English and Darija, the Ambassdor gives his remarks, then the minister of youth and sports gets up and speaks in English to all of us about what an interesting and unique time it is to be in Morocco.
All the while the press snapped photos and took video of us while we did our best to listen attentively and clap politely when the occasion called for it.
Then what we all had been waiting for had arrived – swearing in.
So we repeated after the Ambassador the following statement – which we had signed the day before –
I,____________(name) do solemly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, domestic or foreign, that I take this obligation freely. And without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. And that I will well and faithfully discharge my duties in the Peace Corps, so help me God.
Ok.. I am going to admit it. I totally teared up and was happy I hadn’t worn mascara because FINALLY I was a Peace Corps Volunteer and all of my effort and bullshit that I put up with to get to the realization of a goal I have had since I was in high school had happened.
After that one by one we shook hands with the Ambassador, the Minister of Sports and Youth and then Peggy the director of Peace Corps Morocco and got a totally cool pin. Yes. Its the small things that make me happy.
Then we walked into the foyer and had a mini cocktail hour with snacks and everything. Best part..? It was all halal.
Hung out for a while talking and taking photos – occasionally feeling socially awkward and then got the heck out of there as soon as I could to try to get some real food.
That however is a whole different blog post about the Chinese food nightmare in Rabat.