Married 39 years, parents of two grown boys and finally retired — that might sound to many like the perfect time to kick back, take up golf or go on a long vacation.
Instead, local 60-somethings Mary and Gerald “Gerry” Murphy spent two years in the Peace Corps stationed in Morocco. Located on the northwestern tip of Africa, Morocco has Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines, and both desert and mountains inland.
For two years, the Murphys put their own spin on defining retirement. Apparently, a growing number of retirees are doing just that by enrolling in national service programs - most notably the Peace Corps, according to its website. The programs may have been designed primarily for young people originally, but now some of those ‘60s-era youth are looking for another chance to give back or to have an adventure.
“The Peace Corps was always something I wanted to do. I wanted to join at 20, I even filled out the paperwork,” Mary Murphy said, “but I was too timid.”
When their son, Joshua Patrick Murphy, served in the Peace Corps after his college graduation, Mary found herself rethinking about what she had put off some 40 years earlier. Gerry thought it was a good idea to join the Peace Corps, too. They joined on March 1, 2010 and were stationed in Morocco from March 3, 2010 to May 1, 2012.
They lived in a village called Ait Diba. In Arabic, it means “place of the she wolf,” Gerry said. There was lots of mud, donkeys, wandering goats, camels, a homemade-bread-based diet and the Quran in the Murphy’s new home.
Morocco is 99 percent Muslim and the language is Arabic. A few educated village friends spoke English but overall, communication was tough because the Murphys do not speak Arabic.
But, a commitment is a commitment and the Murphys never gave up. They faithfully attended the language classes, politely sat on the floor for dinner and ate with their hands alongside their host family. They enjoyed being the much-respected older couple in the village. Eventually, they got their own house on a hill in the village, with running water and electricity.