Help! ANY info on Morocco?

Dec 15th, 1999, 12:20 PM
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Help! ANY info on Morocco?

My daughter is being place by the Peace Corps in Morocco...Any comments are welcome!
Dec 16th, 1999, 07:33 AM
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Your daughter is fortunate to be placed in such an interesting country!

It is a 2nd World country, not dirt poor but not as well off as it could be. Education is very important (we saw small children walking 5 miles on mountain roads to go to school); women seem to have a solid place in the society (we saw businesswomen in suits as well as women in head-to-toe veilings); the old king was fairly tolerant and modern; his son, the new king, is supposed to be even more forward-thinking than his father; most of the population is Berber (something like 90%) with a smattering of Tuareg, Arab, black and other tribes. Everyone seems to get along ok; they are fond of Americans and are pleased when we come to visit.
I'm a desert dweller, so the country was like home. If you are NOT a desert dweller, you don't know the drill, so here it is (I'm sure your daughter will get pamphlets and brochures, but she'll probably not really take it to heart - make sure she takes THIS to heart): Drink more water than you think you'll need; by the time you are thirsty, it is too late. The sun will burn you in a matter of minutes; wear hats, long sleeves and sunscreen with a 25+ reading. This is not a joke. I have seen people turn lobster red in less than 15 minutes while lounging by the pool. Do all your outside stuff early in the morning or late in the afternoon, preferably after dark (for example, don't wash your car at noon, wash it at 5pm).
Drink bottled water, although we did drink the tap water in Casablanca with no ill effects. In the mountains, we drank from well water, and had no ill effects. We ate raw veggies and fruit, but made sure our meat was cooked thoroughly. Couscous is the mainstay of their diet (it's to Moroccans what pasta is to Italians) and tagine is served at almost every meal (couscous, turnips, potatoes, onions, meat and Moroccan spice cooked in a stewpot with a pointy top).
The Berbers are very pretty people, with a wicked sense of humor. The Tuaregs are magnificent - regal in their bearing and demeanor.
Out of respect for their religion (they are Moslems, but not the hardcore believers found in other Arab countries) we dressed conservatively (knee length or longer skirts; knee length baggy shorts (safari shorts is what I called them), khaki pants, short sleeved or long sleeved blouses, all in fairly neutral colors (that's the wardrobe color when we travel, so it wasn't a stretch).
Where is your daughter going to be? In the Atlas Mountains? In the south?
Dec 16th, 1999, 01:53 PM
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Thank you for your response and info...I just printed it and will forward it to my daughter...
Dec 31st, 1999, 12:51 AM
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I just couldn't resist to reply to some comments made in the message from elvira.
I am a journalist and I just came back from Morocco myself after doing some research for a newspaper.
Yes, education is very important, unfortunately approx. 55% of the population still can't read or write. So the children going to school have been only the tip of the iceberg.
"Women seem to have a solid place in society"? Dream on!
Further, to call the old king Hassan II "fairly tolerant and modern" is somewhat scandalous. His Minister for Internal Affairs, Driss Basri, was the most vicious guy.
If your daughter goes to Morocco for the Peace Corps then she will probably go to the Western Sahara, the Saharaoui Republic seeking independance from Morocco. I was there myself now talking extensively with the Chief of the U.N. Mission there. I am sure if your daughter is an open-minded person she will enjoy herself a lot, by being able to get to know a country in depth.
It is a great country and they hopefully are on the brink of change, the new king Mohammed VI certainly made some important first steps (like sacking Driss Basri).
Sorry, but I really couldn't resist. I like and know the North of Africa a great deal, and believe me, your daughter will be fine.
Dec 31st, 1999, 09:35 AM
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Tom, I guess I didn't see what I thought I saw...I could have sworn I saw women working in banks, offices, and stores, freely walking on the streets in jeans and leather jackets. We were told by the woman who claimed to own the travel agency we used in Ourzazate that our hotel was owned by a woman. Whew, drinking the water must have had an adverse effect!
To me, fairly tolerant and modern means that people aren't flogged in the street for smoking, and liquor is served quite openly. Compared to Iran or Algeria, Morocco's government is fairly tolerant; obviously, I would never think to compare their government with that of the U.S. or other western hemisphere government.

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