Morocco

Living Conditions

Communications

Mail

It usually takes 10–12 days for an airmail letter to arrive from the United States. After training, packages should be sent directly to your site, not through the Peace Corps office. During pre-service training, you will receive mail at the Peace Corps/Morocco office, which will forward mail to the training site at least once a week. Your mailing address during training only will be as follows: 

“Your Name,” Trainee
s/c Corps de la Paix
2, rue Abou Marouane Essaadi
Agdal, Rabat 10100, MOROCCO 

Mail that goes through the Moroccan post office is subject to customs control. Advise your friends and relatives that mail delivery is sporadic and that they should not worry if they do not receive your letters regularly. Also, they should never send cash through the mail, as it will seldom reach you.

Telephones

The Peace Corps will provide you with a cellphone upon your arrival for use during your service with unlimited calls to fellow Volunteers and staff. A portion of your living allowance can be used for additional communication expenses. It is possible to call the States from Morocco, although the rates for calls are very high. International phone cards can be purchased in large cities that have somewhat cheaper rates. Internet cafes usually have Skype, which is also available to PCVs with laptops and Internet subscriptions. If you would like to bring an iPhone or other smartphone, consult with your carrier to determine your options.

Internet

Morocco is very advanced in Internet technology and access. Most towns have cyber cafes (Internet cafes) and the major phone companies offer ADSL and wireless subscriptions. Staff and Volunteers communicate fairly regularly via email, although some Volunteers do have to travel at least an hour, once per week, to access the Internet and check emails.

Housing and Site Location

You will be assigned to your permanent site toward the end of pre-service training. Once you move to the site, you will spend your first several weeks living with a host family chosen by the Peace Corps. This family has prepared for your arrival and will provide you with a safe and secure place to live while you continue to learn the language, adapt to the culture, and integrate yourself into the community. After the mandatory stay with a Moroccan family, you are free to change your housing, in accordance with the Peace Corps’ safety and security criteria. The Peace Corps will give you a modest settling-in allowance to purchase household necessities. The Peace Corps also provides additional items, such as a carbon monoxide detector and mosquito nets. Volunteers in areas that experience cold winters can be reimbursed for the purchase of a heater. Depending on the site, Volunteer housing generally consists of two or more rooms and private bath and latrine facilities. While many Volunteers in Morocco have running water and electricity, you may not have these amenities and may collect your water from an outside faucet or well and spend your evenings reading by candle or lantern. Electric current in Morocco run 127,220, and 380 volts, 50 cycles. Moroccan outlets accept round two-pronged plugs.

Living Allowance and Money Management

Volunteers receive a monthly allowance in local currency that is sufficient to live at the level of the local people. The allowance covers food, housing, household supplies, clothing, transportation to and from work, utilities, recreation and entertainment, and incidental expenses. Peace Corps Volunteers are expected to live at a level that is comparable with that of their host country counterparts. The Peace Corps discourages Volunteers from supplementing their living allowance with funds from home. However, Volunteers often wish to bring additional money for vacation travel to other countries. For this, credit cards and traveler’s checks are preferable to cash. If you choose to bring extra money, bring the amount that will suit your own travel plans and needs. 

Food and Diet

A wide variety of fruits and vegetables are available year-round, and all meats except pork are readily available. Dairy products such as yogurt and milk can usually be obtained. Although maintaining a vegetarian diet should not be difficult, you will be confronted with cultural issues when visiting Moroccan families, as they will offer you, and expect you to accept, traditional foods, which include meat. Thus, vegetarians need to be flexible about sharing the Moroccan diet when visiting friends and neighbors. Fresh bread is widely available and is an important part of the Moroccan diet. Pastries are available in larger towns, and pasta is available in almost any small shop. Mint tea is Moroccans’ favorite drink. It is traditionally very sweet and is served throughout the day. The numerous cafes in Morocco, which are mostly frequented by men, also serve coffee and fresh orange juice. Because Morocco is a Muslim country, beer and wine are not usually available in rural areas.

Transportation

Most Volunteers travel within the country in commercial buses or long-distance taxis (grand taxis). Local taxis (petit taxis) are available in all medium and large cities. If required for their work, Volunteers are issued bicycles with bicycle helmets. To reduce safety risks, Peace Corps/Morocco prohibits Volunteers from driving or riding on any two- or three-wheeled motorized vehicle (such as a motorcycle) for any reason. Nor are Volunteers allowed to own or drive private cars. Violation of these policies may result in termination of your Volunteer service.

Social Activities

Morocco is more tolerant than many other Muslim nations toward Western cultural norms. Most Volunteers live in small towns or rural settings and need to conform to local customs. Men have more external freedom than women do and can circulate freely outside the home. Women tend to spend more time in the home, taking care of domestic affairs and socializing with other women. Cultural norms do not allow men and women to mix freely outside the home. Moroccans are known for their hospitality, and you should expect invitations to dinner, weddings, and other social functions.

Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior

People in large cities tend to dress in Western clothing; however those in rural communities dress more traditionally. The people of Morocco take pride in their personal appearance. To gain their acceptance, respect, and confidence, it is essential that you dress and conduct yourself professionally. Dress standards for Volunteers are generally conservative. For normal work-related activity, women may wear pants with long-sleeved shirts that extend well below the hips and do not expose the abdomen. Pants (not jeans) and long skirts are acceptable for meetings and/or workshops with ministry representatives. Men are expected to wear long trousers for work-related activities. Clean jeans without tears are acceptable for both men and women for everyday work activities other than participation in important work-related meetings or workshops. Adhering to the conservative dress codes in Morocco is a test of your motivation and commitment to adapt to your new environment. The Peace Corps expects Volunteers to behave in a way that fosters respect within their communities and reflect well on the Peace Corps and on the United States. As a Volunteer, you are an invited guest, and you need to be sensitive to and respectful of the habits, tastes, and taboos of your hosts.