Yesterday we went to a place that I can't pronounce the name of, and that I can't find on the map, still. But it was amazing! We hired two transit vans for the day, which picked us up at 7am (yes, on a Sunday) and off we went - drove for about an hour and a half, stopped for breakfast at a small cafe, and then kept going for about another half an hour or so. Not sure if we ended up at a higher elevation than we are now - but we ended up in the mountains, in a small town whose backdrop was a cliff with amazing waterfalls. We started hiking about 9.30, and off we went up through the town, and came out on this huge plateau, across which all the streams that formed the waterfalls were scattered. We found unicorns (aka white horses), and had lunch of goats cheese, tomatoes and baguettes perched on rocks (not the most comfortable - but the view was absolutely worth it!) Then we crossed the plateau and started up on the next mountain, which unfortunately we didn't make it to the top of, as it was a bit like sheer rock climbing towards the top. And on the way back down it started raining (thank god for North Face clothing) and so it turned in to a bit of a slip and slide through mud and rocks, which was… messy! Then we got a bit lost, ended up cutting through the back of someone's house (the woman was very nice to the crazy Americans) and scrambling up a mud path back in to town. My trousers and running shoes have never seen so much mud, but it was lots of fun!
It's turned absolutely freezing here, which is apparently a sign of things to come - we were talking to Saida this evening, who is the sister of our next door neighbor, who was telling us that this town can get snowed in for up to 20 days at a time - the road between here and the next big town (where all the food comes from) gets shut, and everyone just stays in their houses, buried under blankets. Last night everyone was sitting in the living room with massive wool blankets piled on top of them - and today when I got home, the stove top had been removed from the kitchen and in it's place was a furno - a small fire place, which gets attached to a vent in the ceiling, and warms the whole room. So the kitchen is lovely and warm, and the rest of the house is like a refrigerator! Tile floors and concrete walls really don't hold heat (shocker), and they also soak up damp when it rains (as it's going to all week - yay!) Our classroom is the coldest thing here though - we have one small electric heater that we all take turns huddling around. We discovered today that one of us was actually wearing three jackets, it's that cold. I'm thanking my lucky stars for thermal underwear, and am formulating a grand plan for wearing as many layers as I can when it gets even colder. My only consolation is that this town is one of the coldest places in Morocco - so anywhere I'm placed for final site HAS to be warmer than this. I have no idea what the actual temperature is - I would guess somewhere in the low 50's, but it feels like it's below zero, with the rain and the wind and the coldness... Can't wait for when it actually is below zero… um…
We had meetings at our hub site over the weekend, which was all the SBD volunteers back together again - great to see everyone (and have wifi to skype with home!), and catch up on everyone's stories. We're back there again in three weeks time, which is when we will find out where our final sites are - eep! Then we go directly from there to our site to spend four days with our new host families. So basically that means I have three weeks to master darija, and to complete the multitude of new assignments we were just given at hub. Big eep!
So, off I go to study. I can now say in Darija, tomorrow I am going to go get up, go to school, come home and eat Kaskrut. At least that's what I think I'm saying. It's anybody's guess really. Going to huddle under my blanket and get warm before trying to work what I'm actually saying.
R. / N.