Staying Warm in Morocco

So many people will mistakenly think North Africa because its a part of Africa – can’t possibly be cold!  Oh how wrong they would be.

I remember hearing the saying that Morocco “is a cold land with a hot sun.”

Since the weather turned in October/November its cold in Morocco.  Some PCV’s like Ryan S. are placed in THE coldest site in Morocco – just last week he posted that his olive oil froze.  That means it had to be 10 degrees F or under over night for his olive oil to freeze.

My site is now surrounded by snow covered mountains and in my house yes I can see my breath because my body temperature is higher than my house.  No house in Morocco has central heat – this is something I wish would catch on but the construction methods for housing here don’t allow space for the heating ducts the way American and many newer European housing does.

If a Moroccan house has heat its because they have a space heater – which is common – either a propane gas one or an electric one.  If a family is more fortunate they will have a A/C & Heater combo wall unit that either heats or cools one room or it heats/cools multiple rooms.

Most PCV’s don’t have a A/C & Heater combo unit.  Most PCV’s buy in the colder sites space heaters and PCHQ reimburses for up to 700 – 800 DH.

So how do you stay warm in Morocco as a visitor or a PCV?

I would recommend following the Moroccans and wear many layers of clothing.  I can tell exactly how cold it is by asking my father in law to be how many pairs of pants he is wearing.  One – its mostly likely Spring or Summer in Morocco.  Two – Its chilly but nots freezing.  Three – Its freaking cold and I am probably thinking about just staying in bed all day buried under covers to stay warm.

Moroccans layer everything.. shirts, pants, socks and even hijabs well the exception is probably their underwear but there ARE limits to what I will ask my father in law.

Bring a winter jacket and I mean a WINTER jacket not that cutesy jacket that a stiff wind cuts through and you keep thinking – well at least I look good as you freeze your butt off kind of jacket… I highly recommend my Columbia Interchange Jacket.. yes its expensive but boy is that sucker keeping me warm.   Its also pretty cool that the fleece liner zips out and I can wear just that on warmer days or on a warm day with rain I can wear just the shell.  I grew up in Chicago -where public schools don’t close until its -20F.  So when I say a winter jacket I know what I am talking about.

Columbia Interchange Jacket

Feel free to bring hiking boots but what is going to keep your toes warm isn’t a winter boots but some serious wool socks with sock liners.  I wear Keens – the close toe leather kind- during winter with wool socks and sock liners and my feet stay nice and toasty.  Smart wool or Wigwam are great sock brands – check your local Costco or Sam’s Club to see if they have them in stock as at REI a single pair will cost between $15 – $20.  Sock liners let you not have to wash socks as often which sounds gross but the reality is they don’t dry quickly being wool in cold weather with just a laundry line to hang them on.  Sock liners dry quickly so you don’t have to get even colder washing laundry in cold water in cold weather.  You can wait till its a sunny day to wash your socks but wash your sock liners more frequently.

Liner-sock-and-outer-sock

Fleece PJs – I know your thinking flannel could cut it.  Flannel is for people with indoor heating- polartec fleece is for people without indoor heat.  LLBean makes a great set I am considering asking my mom to gift me with.

Slippers are a life saver on cold concrete floors.  The cold cuts right through socks and slippers provide that extra protection from the cold.  I would recommend a pair of Crocs or Flipflops to wear in the bathroom as you can wash them and they will last your whole service as your bathroom/shower shoes.  You can also wait till your here and purchase a pair of Moroccan plastic slippers like mine –

My Plastic Moroccan Slippers

But male PCV’s don’t worry you don’t get as many Fab slipper options as the ladies do – so try not to be jealous of the awesomeness of my slippers.

Thermal Underwear – bring two pairs.  One to wash and one to wear.  Trust me you will be thanking your lucky stars you packed these.  Thermal underwear come in a lot of styles – thick cotton weave to silk.  Keep in mind you have to wash these by hand and cotton takes a long time to dry – so pick something that drys quickly but will keep you warm.

A fleece hat and gloves-  I sleep all winter in my fleece hat in my house as the body loses 90% of heat through the head.  I have two pairs of gloves a fleece pair and a fingerless pair.  The fingerless pair allow me to work either in the classroom or type on my laptop without my fingers turning blue.  The regular pair I keep in my coat pockets to beat back the bitter cold winds of my site as I go to work.

A polar tec fleece zip up robe – these you can get made or buy in Morocco – I had my mom send mine from home because its so awesome at keeping me warm.  I wear this thing outside as a jalabyia – and no one knows the difference.

My Robe from Home
The Moroccan Fleece Jalibya for Winter

So MAYBE there is a difference – but I have given up caring 🙂

A sleeping bag – rated to at least 40 F or lower.  I am allergic to down and I hate mummy shaped bags so I went with North face Allegheny its rated to 40F.

Last but not least – a hot water bottle.  My mom sent me one in a care package and its my new BFF.  Keep my toes warm all night long!

If you want to know what else I packed to come to Morocco – read more here – http://tinyurl.com/cvgw4nd

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