Arriving into Azrou was our group’s first experience with Morocco time! We arrived into our host community at 5 p.m. and didn’t eat until 9 p.m. The next day we showed up at the worksite at 8 a.m. and didn’t have tools until 11 a.m.! We’re slowly working out a daily rhythm but the biggest challenge has been meal times. Our host families’ schedules are based on temperature more than anything else. They think we are nuts for being out during the day, even though we take a rest break during the hottest afternoon hours. Then the city erupts at at 7 p.m. and that’s when the real action (like cooking meals) starts! By then, we are often hungry and tired.
On the flip side, the food continues to be great and is usually worth the wait. We are eating a lot of different types of breads with olives and olive oil or fruit jam. Wherever you drive, you pass through olive fields and more olive fields and fields of fruit as well. We just missed cherry season but we are eating many kinds of melon, apples, peaches, grapes, figs, and almonds…all grown in the area. We’re still drinking tons of mint tea, Morocco style. Lentils have been a host family favorite and all the students are eating from a communal dish, either with their hands or with spoons.
The group is hard at work on creating a courtyard space for the local school. We are mixing tons of gravel and cement to make concrete and have already poured concrete on half of the space. Now we are uses shovels to level the other half of the dirt so that we can pour concrete there as well. It’s good hard work! We work 30 minutes and rest 10 minutes and so on since it’s so hot. We try to keep our energy level up with some of the good mixed CDs students brought for the big red boom box! The students are starting to take on more responsibility, and each day two students are in charge of leading the morning routine and getting the snacks and water ready for the rest of the group.
The homestays are going well! When Jules and I make the rounds, it’s not uncommon to see students playing outside with their host brothers or sisters and kids from the community. In order to shower and use the restroom, the students have learned how to either shower or take bucket baths and, of course, use the pit toilet. Jules did a mock demo when we first arrived and now they are becoming pros!
On Sunday, we took an excursion from the host community to go on a hike outside of Azrou. The areas surrounding Azrou are hilly and covered in green pine and cedar trees. We followed a stream through beautiful meadows where Berber goat herders watched their flocks out to pasture. When we arrived to the top of the hill there as a great view of the valley and all of Azrou. It even rained a bit which was a nice surprise.
Tonight we were challenged by members of the parents association to a basketball game so our students will take on some folks from the community which promises to be hot and entertaining!