Morocco Week 2

This week’s work was off to a very slow start as Monday was the beginning of Eid alKbir in Morocco. I spent the holiday with a friend in Mhaya, a small village outside of Meknes. One thing I did not realize is that the entire week slows down as people use this time to visit their family and friends. I returned to Meknes on Wednesday to resume my research and noticed such a drastic change in the city. Even in the old medina, where the streets are usually filled with people, most stores were closed down and few people were walking through the streets.

Luckily, yesterday (Thursday) was very exciting as I made a big advance in my research. I was able to ride on a garbage truck through Meknes and observe sanitation workers doing their jobs. I wasn’t able to bring a translator, so we did our best to communicate in a mix of dialect, standard Arabic, French, and hand gestures, and somehow were able to understand each other. I got their phone numbers and am setting up interviews over the weekend so we can talk more in-depth about their work in the presence of my friend who will help translate.

I plan to hit the ground running this weekend to get out and talk to more people in Bab al-Jdid and the old medina about selling used materials. I have been told that people will resume their work on Saturday so I will be heading out to observe and speak with sellers on the street. I’m also working on scheduling a second meeting with the sanitation worker from Hamria who I interviewed last week and making an official visit to the landfill to see the recycling process there. My goal is to have at least one in-depth interview or experience per day until I fly home next Thursday.

I have a lot to accomplish in the very brief time I have left here in Morocco, but I am still optimistic that I will leave with some important stories to include in my Honors Thesis. I am always astounded by the generosity and good will of Moroccans, from the people here helping me to coordinate research appointments, to the individuals I have interviewed who have been so honest and welcoming. This project would not be the same without them.

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