Currently listening to: Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op. 21 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Just returned from about three weeks in Rabat for medical care. Actually came back for a few hours in between, a huge inconvenience since I live two days away. The circumstances were beyond control. I’m fine, if you were wondering, but I’m here to talk about where I am now- home.
Since January 1st, with the exception of the three weeks in the capital, I have been living in my own apartment. I didn’t even have to look for one. The director of the dar chebab (youth center) showed me a house, and that was the one. It’s in the center of town and has beautiful tile throughout featuring hamsas. It’s not too big, though spacious for one. Small communities often don’t have smaller housing options because living alone is not common in traditional Moroccan culture, so most homes are made for families. I have a large salon, two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom. There’s also a lit rooftop, an ideal slumber venue for the 120 degree summer nights.
Before Rabat, I was living my full life in my bed— binge-watching, eating, drawing, writing, sleeping. I had gone all around town for a week with my host mom asking for prices until finally purchasing a few appliances. But I’m still missing key pieces and am eager to continue setting up now that I’m back. I’m currently looking for a desk so I can create a dedicated productive space. I also need some drawers to end the almost five months of living out of suitcases.
Not only is this my first home, but it’s in Morocco. I can barely believe it’s true. I consider my home a pillar of sustainability, a necessity while navigating the unknown. As I’ve mentioned, every little thing here takes more effort than usual. For example, I’m writing at the cafe right now and asked for water a few minutes ago. The waitress, who is always the only other woman here, came back over to my table and, I think, asked me if I wanted my usual hot milk if it would be free. I agreed and thanked her. Yes, I drink hot milk- decaf coffee doesn’t exist in small towns, and caffeine drives me crazy. Anyway, I have no idea if I understood correctly. So now I don’t know if I should pay her or just leave. Either way I run the risk of being weird or a thief. It’s obviously not a serious issue. But everyday situations do become more taxing, and it’s a priority for me to have a place to be sure of myself while surrounded by a world that isn’t native to me.
It’ll never be like an apartment in the US, complete with a Western toilet. But that’s not what I need. I need a clean, organized, functional space to learn, work, relax, and create. Somewhere I can exist, not as a foreigner in Morocco, just as Christabel. And a place to welcome my friends and family- please visit!
Aside from comfort, I’m seeking structure within the ambiguous life I live in Morocco. After training, I basically just got sent to a town with a few contacts and my own initiative, a unique challenge that drew me to Peace Corps. I thrive when I have something to accomplish. But here, I don’t know what to accomplish. Ideally, this is when I figure out how to do things without knowing what I have to do. Stability within my home will hopefully inspire the like outside it. I know I can work hard— I can be insightful, committed, and decisive. I’ve just never had to do it without an end in mind. It gets more complicated to be productive without a clear context and goal. I don’t know where this is going, but I’m going to do it anyways.
By the way, the milk was free.