Surprise surprise, I’m back!
Yes, a week earlier than planned I am back on Dutch grounds! I’ll elaborate, but let me start from the beginning…
My first week at the SOS village d’enfants was great. We were looking after a group of really great, really fun kids. The first day was very hard on me, not being used to being around kids at all. And don’t forget, these were orphans, used to seeing the same people all-year round, so we were like shiny new toys to them . But after one day of acclimatizing and getting reacquainted with some basic French, everything was good. We went with them, and some of the ‘mothers’ (female caretakers) and their teachers to the pool, the beach, played soccer games with them, etc. When after a few days the 2 oldest, and thus loudest and most annoying , boys left, I actually got very very sad. I was surprised to find myself feeling so attached so soon.
We also had excellent weather, I am talking temps of 39C/105F most days with not a cloud in sight, and we had a few days off where we could relax and visit Al Hoceima, a bigger town nearby. I’ve come to the definite conclusion I really love heat. Some people are born in the wrong body, I’m born in the wrong country….
You must all be curious about the food, as was I! Let me just say I realized how spoiled we are in Holland with our abundance of fresh produce! Really, I had expected Maroc to outdo us in terms of fresh fruits and veggies, but no such thing (although, admittedly, theirs is probably all local!). Day one I already realized I was going to have to make-do and mend for myself as far as food goes. The kids were served hamburger with fries & soda for lunch most days, and if lunch was eaten at one of the mothers’ houses, meat was always at the centre stage. So from day 2 I was always prepared for whatever situation I’d find myself in food-wise by dragging with me a shitload of fruit. Worked out pretty well. Due to our schedules and the heat, after some days I was eating mainly fruits during the day. I couldn’t believe how much energy I had and how clear my skin was!
I also did well over an hour of Bikram yoga by myself all but two days. I loved this routine of waking up at the crack of dawn and spend this time on myself and my health, before the chaos would break loose again . It also taught me doing Bikram at home is very doable, if you have plenty experience and know how to correct your own posture. Besides, the heat almost ranked up there with the torture chamber .
All in all, the massive amount of sunshine, consistent Yoga and very light, clean foods really did me well. As I’d mentioned just before I left, I had had a very tough week and my trip really rebooted me. I’ll reveal more on this tomorrow!
So you might wonder, then, why it is I am back a full week earlier than anticipated. Well, after spending exactly one great week in the SOS village d’enfants, something bad happened. Something that spurred on a chain of events that led me want to get the hell out of there, and be back in my familair surroundings, and with my mom and good friends close by.
Last Wednesday I needed to go to the market in Imzouren, the small town (village?) in which the SOS kids village is situated, to get my fruit & veg supply. Ramadan had just started the day before and as I walked back from the market, which is a 10 minute walk, I was just thinking to myself that Ramadan really made a difference in how the men behaved. Everyone was super polite and friendly to me, all smiles and, OK, maybe a bit of laughter about my French/Arabic or lack thereof. My bag was super heavy, loaded with fruit and veg as I walked back. About halfway, all of a sudden a guy came running towards me and pushed me down some stairs into an alley. He looked around him and when he saw no one was around, he started touching me. Fortunately I was so shocked all I could do was scream. Within seconds a few guys and men appeared and the guy ran off, but not before grabbing my bag and fishing out my wallet, which also held my phone.
Of what happened after that I’ll only give a brief summary as the story is long, complicated and awful. I was left unharmed and a friendly older man put me on his scooter and drove me to the village, where I proceeded to throw up because of the shock. Later down at the police station (where I got my wallet back by the way, sans phone and money ) we heard the guy had been carrying a big knife with which he threatened one of the guys that ran after him. At that point I broke down and decided I wanted to go home.
My friend with whom I was there was nothing but supportive of this decision and was very firm in letting me know she was coming as well, and that she didn’t care about leaving after what had happened. Until, just a few hours later, she proceeded to inform me she was very annoyed with me. Apparently I hadn’t dressed properly when I went into town, and she had been pointing this out all week. Aka, it was my own fault I got assaulted. FYI, I was wearing long pants, a tanktop and a longsleeve tshirt (jn 35C weather…). I had my hair pulled back, my glasses on and no make-up to boot. However, apparently my bra strap was showing, and somehow this was reason for her to be very annoyed with me. As you can imagine I was totally taken aback by her words. WTH? I couldn’t, and still can’t, imagine for the life of me what kind of person would say something like that. Not to mention it was totally irrelevant as Mohammed, our host and the manager of the village, had told me what I was wearing was perfectly fine that morning (I checked). And on top of that, the police told us the guy that assaulted and robbed me was a notoire thief and had just gotten out of jail. He was after my stuff, not my body.
I was simultaneously so hurt and so over the top angry with my ‘friend’ that I didn’t say a word to her after that. I booked my ticket home and minded my own business, ignored her when she yelled and cursed at me several times (for, get this, not talking to her). The next morning when I still wouldn’t talk to her, she slapped me in the face. You can’t make this stuff up… At that point I realized she’s insane, and that’s the only thing I said to her before leaving the next morning (Friday).
And that’s why I am back, here, now. I know the story on why I left seems a bit shocking but really, I am ok now. I just had to get the hell out of there. I didn’t sleep the last two days and my heart was constantly beating out of my chest from the tension, anger and anxiety. Buy my last day and my last two evenings there were actually a lot of fun! All the people and the kids there went out of their way to make me comfortable. I got invited both nights to have a Ramadan dinner with the families, which was great. I also spend a lot of time the last day and evening with the guys and girls there my age, chatting and laughing and just hanging out. They were all very persistent in trying to getting me to stay but I already booked my (very expensive might I add) ticket (but my sweet mom has offered to pay this for me!). But it made for some really good last memories of my stay.
To end this post on a happy note I’ll share with you the pictures that didn’t got lost (a total of 1700, by the way) when my phone was stolen (I uploaded these to facebook while there). Also, I now only see the positive: I didn’t get injured and I’m still alive, I ended a friendship with someone I can’t trust, I learned I love doing volunteer work and want to do this every year & I learned I actually like being around kids!
I got my greens on every morning: a blend of maca, spirulina & powdered greens mixed with water! I was soooo happy I made this mix and brought it, seeing as how little greens there were there. I really missed being able to juice & make smoothies, above all it’s a great morning ritual to fill your cells with tons of easily absorpable nutrients first thing!
My space in the fridge:
That’s all folks! Good to be back, and I look forward to blogging again!