Ok, so I realize that 75 is kind of a random number (other than it being a multiple of 25). I had intended to write a blog post entitled “100 Days and Counting” because 100 seems like such a more momentous number than 75, but ya know, life happens (and coincidentally, so does laziness) so I never got to write that blog post. But instead, I bring you Significant 75! 75 DAYS!!!!!
You’ll notice by my excessive use of exclamation points that I am excited about this fact. That’s the question that everyone keeps asking me lately, “Are you excited to be almost finished?” and “Will you be sad to leave Morocco?” My answers: yes and kind of. I think that having only 75 days left means that I am officially allowed to start thinking about what comes next (even if, in reality, I started thinking about what comes next a long time ago). What’s difficult about this end period is that you can’t stop your brain from imagining the possibilities of your next life, but at the same time, you want so badly to live in the here and now and cherish your last moments while you still can. It’s a weird sort of limbo to be in—finding the balance between the present and the oh-so-near future. I think a lot of volunteers are officially clocked out by now and are just counting down the days until we’re finished. I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t in that group (I think my blog title gives me away a bit. . . ). But at the same time I’m diving into my work more now than I possibly ever have before. Maybe it’s because I’m suddenly realizing that the big, looming “0 Days” means that I’ve got to finish up my projects quickly, tie up loose odds and ends, and make sure that everything I created doesn’t crash immediately after I let go. But I think I’m also plunging in because I know that this is the last time I’ll be in these circumstances—the last time that I’ll be surrounded by my wonderful students, be eating with Moroccan friends, be speaking Darija, be hearing the call to prayer five times a day. Living in Morocco hasn’t always been easy, and there have been moments when I’ve wanted to get out as fast as I could, but once you have an actual measure on how much time you have left, a date to count down to, suddenly that sense of urgency doesn’t seem as important anymore. Before it was,” how many days do I have to go? How much longer do I have to keep doing this?” And now, it’s, “75 days is tangible. I can do 75 more days. Let’s do this!”
For those of you wondering what will be keeping me so busy over the next 75 days it’s this: 3 weeks of spring camp, 1 women’s festival, 7 more weeks of my last INJAZ program, 1 week of Closing of Service Conference in Rabat, welcoming a new volunteer into my town, giving that person my house, packing, saying my goodbyes, and eating, eating, and eating. If I look about 20 kilos heavier by the time I return to America, blame the couscous.
So getting back to the questions that I keep getting asked: yes, I’m very excited to be almost finished. Two years is a long time to be doing anything, especially living in a foreign country, and I’m excited to return home. Will I be sad to leave Morocco? Kind of. I’m not so sure I’ll be sad to leave the country itself. As much as it’s hard to admit, there are a lot of things about Morocco that I could just never get used to; things that I didn’t quite want to get used to either. No matter how hard I tried, there seemed to be something inside of me that resisted some changes. For example, unlike a lot of other volunteers I never took a Moroccan name. Instead, I insisted that people call me “Marta” even though it was confusing and hard to pronounce (much easier to pronounce than “Martha” though). I don’t think it was so much that I didn’t want to blend in as much as it was really important to me to keep my identity throughout all of this. I know a lot of volunteers that would argue the other way and say that having a Moroccan name helped them to fit in. But I don’t think it’s the name that helps you fit in as much as just being who you are and finding people who can accept you for that. After all, the point of a program like the Peace Corps isn’t to fit in; it’s to learn to accept people for their differences and to hope that they will do the same for us. When Moroccans tried to give me a Moroccan name I would always tell them that if they came to America I would call them Mohammed or Bouchra or Fatima or Youness, that I wouldn’t try to change who they were just because they were in a new place.
But what I am going to be sad to leave are the people who’ve been there for me throughout all of this—my friends, my tutor, my aerobics ladies, my students, my counterpart, my director, my hanut lady, and my host families. And of course, I’ll be sad to leave all of the amazing volunteers who have completed this journey with me. As a person who has traveled a fair amount in her 24 years, I can tell you that even though I’ve seen some of the most beautiful and stunning places in the world, it’s not the monuments that you remember, it’s the people. And so when I get to that “0 Day” if I shed tears it will be for the people I’ll be saying “see ya later” to and the people that I’ll be missing the second that I step onto the plane.