Hello family and friends... it has been a very long time and I have been incredibly lazy with my posting! Having just lost my journal of 4 months on a train I am wishing I had been more diligent in posting so here I am.
Morocco has been incredible and at the same time a bit challenging... Getting here and finding myself with GREAT food, constant electricity and reliable transport was definitely a sigh of relief. At the same time being here and hearing about the violent protests just across the border/near by and seeing protests complete with riot police in the capital Rabat has been interesting. Overall I have really enjoyed Moroccan culture but at time find myself really challenged and frustrated by the aggressiveness of the men here. When I am with others I am very much left alone but when I am by myself I seem to offer myself up as a target no matter how hard I try not to. While I have found unwanted attentions from men in all the countries I have been it feels to me like men here take things to a whole different level of aggressiveness, to the point where I have been followed and cringe when I have to walk by a group of young men. For a western woman accustomed to walking tall this has been a very new experience... ever did I think I would wish to disappear become invisible or remain inside while sights that are truly magical await me outside... Some new insights into why women here cover their heads!
Aside from the man challenge Morocco is a really fascinating country. At a different level of development than any of the others I have visited. I think the protests that have been going on here offer a really interesting insight into the position this country is in. While on the surface people are protesting for "democracy" there is definitely more to the picture. To get some idea about why people are protesting I have been asking people what they think of the king, what has he done so wrong so as to spark such dissatisfaction? Interestingly enough everyone and I mean EVERYONE speaks highly of him. If he is so loved the logical next question is then well why the protesting?
Most people say "dissatisfied youth." This response and perhaps even the protesting itself epitomizes one of the unforeseen consequences of development. With the countries growth and primarily the new opportunities for education the number of well educated in the country is growing. As has been the case in so many historical examples, this educated next generation is moving away from the family farm in hopes of better jobs in the city. All good and well aside from the fact that along with tourism, which has taken a hit with unrest in the Middle East, agriculture is Morocco's primary economy.
So these kids leave in hopes of finding opportunity in the city only to find there are no jobs. I see this unemployment daily most obviously in the extraordinary number of men sitting in cafes during the work day. Skilled and learned individuals who cannot find work are unsurprisingly dissatisfied, while of course only one facet of the issue this frustration breeds political unrest. In Morocco's development of education it has seemingly shot itself in the foot! The king has a tough road ahead of him but seems to be the one thing standing between Morocco and the unrest seen in Egypt or Tunisia. More than one person has said to me that if the last king had been in power things would have blown up.
This week I head to a Peace Corps site near Fes to talk with a girl that organized a Small Business Development event in Fes... REALLY interested to learn more about small businesses here, primarily womens artisan groups. And then to the Thai Embassy to sort out a visa for THAILAND! Much more to think about with Morocco and have really seen a lot of the country... another post to come