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the things i am happy i brought to Morocco

28 June, 2011
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As Fulbrighters here start talking about their exit plans and packing up, and our replacements are having their Pre-Departure Orientation, my mind again turns to packing.  Not packing to leave, but rather the packing I did to come here.  There have been a number of things I brought that I found to be useful and worth having.  Here, in no particular order, are the top ten things I am glad to have had with my during  time in Morocco:

1 – The Husband – Having him around made life easier, safer and more fun too.  He is not having as good of a time in Morocco as I am, and he has had to change his work schedule around in a crazy-big way, but I think being here together is much better than being apart for ten months.  Plus this way, folks here can see that my husband is not fake.

2 – Our cats – These furry little things bring us so much joy.  People think I am insane for bringing my cats halfway around the world with me, especially when there are so many adorable stray cats I could love on while in Morocco.  And initially, having to go 6 hours each way just to get cat food and litter was ridiculous, but then we learned how much we needed to buy each trip to last for several months.  Our cats travel well, they are part of the family, and they seem to like being along for the adventure, even if that just means sleeping on the ponj in the sun or chasing bugs around our apartment.  If I had to do it again, I would absolutely still take them with.

3 – Sleeping bag – I think it’s a good idea to travel with a sleeping bag, period.  You never know when you are going to need it, and it’s better to have it, even when I regularly travel with my magical blue blanket and pillow that is practically as old as me.  Bottom line, I have used it a lot, especially when it was cold here, and it has been nice to have to use when I go visit folks.

4 – Deodorant – I’m not even all that particular about deodorant, but if I’m going to bother wearing it, I’d like it to work.  From what I have experienced with the deodorant available here (mostly just aerosols and the wet roller kind, for women anyway), I am happy I packed more than just my travel-size deodorant.

5 – Box of books – I opted to pack one of my Embassy Pouch boxes full of books to read for fun.  I’ve had lots of time to read, and ended up donating these books to my University’s library when I was done with them.  I am not the only ETA who did this, and I think we all agreed at Beach Weekend that we highly encourage future ETAs to do the same thing.

6 – Camera – I would be lost and sad without this.

7 – Burt’s bees lip balm – I am an addict, no joke.  This is especially true here where the sun, the wind, and the dry air make it all the more important to use lots and lots of Chapstick-like product.  And I have learned to be mindful of when and where I put it on after being shamed back in September for putting it on in public.

8 – Dental floss – I have seen dental floss for sale at Marjane in Rabat, but nowhere else.  And because I am particular about the type and brand I use (Glide Pro-Health Deep Clean, FTW!), I made sure to stock up on this before leaving ‘Merica.  I actually went a little overboard and brought six containers, and I’ve completely used up one, have gifted two others.  Happy flossing, friends!

9 – OTC meds/Cepacol/saline nasal spray – I get sick here.. a lot.  I’m happy that I have a decent stock of my favorite store brand Nyquil-like product.  I have not been able to find anything comparable at the pharmacy here, and because this is my go-to for symptoms like stuffy nose, sore throat, etc., I made sure to leave some room in my suitcase for a few boxes.  Doubly so for my Cepacol (sore throat lozenges) because they do an awesome job of actually numbing my throat and helping me to not lose my voice.  This has been especially important in a classroom where I am constantly breathing in chalk dust.  And the saline nasal spray seems to be the only thing enabling me to breathe through my nose.  It’s much drier here than in Chicago, to the point where I have weekly, if not daily nose bleeds.  I can’t imagine how bad it would be without the nasal spray.

10 – Book o’ DVDs – Heavy?  Schwiya.  I opted to bring my book of DVDs because I had a feeling I’d have lots of time on my hand to watch movies.  I started with about 85 DVDs tucked into a little book, and thanks to the ubiquitous DVD tables/blankets in just about every medina, I have added about 20 more to my collection.  And my book of DVDs has gotten a lot more use than I originally anticipated.  My Errachidian family knows they are welcome to borrow movies, and I have become like a local Blockbuster that only has zombie flicks, non-Disney animated movies, films about a Holocaust-related topic or extra violent movies.  At any rate, they proved to be useful, especially when my internet is too slow to download something, which is often.

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