Sunday we all went to the city of Ifran, about an hour away from us. It's a pretty big city, and a lot more westernized than where we are staying. I believe one of the royal palaces is there, so there's a lot of security around the place. But, we successfully negotiated a grand taxi there and back, as well as a coffee break and meal. Walked around in a massive park with meandering streams, and were accosted by men on horseback who were surprisingly offended when we told them no, we didn't want to ride on their horse. Shocker. There is one area though, that is so bizarrely out of place, where all the buildings are built looking like they are straight out of a small Swiss village, and restaurants with names like Chamonix. It's Swiss Disneyland in Morocco. But the whole city was very green, lots of trees and pretty flowers - again a bit out of place for the other towns in Morocco we've seen (we've only seen 3 others so it's not a lot to go on!)
This week we're doing visits to each CBT member's houses so that our teacher can communicate anything needed to our families, so we go after school and all have the 6.30pm snack called Kaskrut together, and see each other's bedrooms, which is sort of fun.
Yesterday we went and met with the president of the Nadi - women's center - of the town, which was interesting. The center has only been open for a little over a year, but is for women between 16 and 24 who are not in school to go and do sewing and other crafts. The center is also hoping to start doing literacy training soon. There will be one PC volunteer placed here when CBT is over - we're not sure if that's going to end up being one of us, or another PCT, but I'm sure they would be involved with the Nadi somehow. We then went over to the house of one of the weavers of the co-op in the town, who showed us the amazing rugs they weave. They are incredibly beautiful, with intricate patterns - it takes 2 women, weaving 8am-12pm and 2pm-5pm, 20 days to complete one rug! They're fantastic. We've not yet learnt all the technical terms that we need in darija for working with artisans, but we'll be getting to that in the coming weeks. Pretty sure I'm going to bring back a rug or two with me at the end of my two years.
It's definitely getting colder here - you can feel it as soon as the sun goes down it starts getting chilly. The wool socks are out, and I'll be picking up the thermal underwear when we next go to the hub site at the end of next week and I can get to my suitcase. I'm still hearing differing stories on when the snow will start - sounds like anywhere from October to January it can start. Still slightly under the weather with a cold, but most of you reading this know how my colds go! Joy! I managed to escape to bed around 9pm last night (unheard of in a culture that doesn't eat dinner until 10.30 or 11!) for some much needed sleep. Hoping for a shower tonight - it's been a while - no details needed there, but fingers crossed for me.
Until then, it's back to school - more language and more cross-cultural! More pictures when I have a chance.
R. / N.