Well, we're back in Ain Leuh for the next 3 weeks. Good news-not only no snow as reported, in fact today hit mid-70's w/sunny skies, so 5 of the 6 of us trainees went for a terrific 3 hr hike up above town in the forest. Nice. Welcome back!
It was an easy return trip. First, I successfully negotiated for our Grand Taxi (That's a 70's model Mercedes that takes up to 6 passengers to a destination. They wait until the taxi is full to depart) trip from Azrou to Ain Leuh for the 4 of us who decided to split the full 6 person fare (this meant 30DH, or about $3.75 for a 30 minute ride). The drivers hang around one guy who coordinates who is going where, and clearly they saw 2 female Westerners coming and tried to get 200DH. I was able to negotiate in Arabic and we held our ground until our price was met. Yeah! Small successes feel great!
The other good news about the return to Ain Leuh was how easy it was to settle back into my host family's home. This is despite the fact that the storms that preceded our return had knocked out the water lines and there was no water, and we were told it could take 3 days to get water running again. My first-ok, maybe second-thought was, ok, I can go 3 days w/o water-I'll just learn by observing how my family and LCF do it. I'm tough, right? Yeah! I came home from afternoon class and helped my host mom fill bottles and buckets w/water at our favorite hanut (see previous postings-he's the guy w/diet Coke and gouda cheese) where they have well water. So dare I confess to my delight when I heard the l-ma (water) gushing into the sttl (bucket) in the bit l-ma (bathroom) at about tseud nishan (9 o'clock) last night? Yes, we're back on water.
I had another small success before departing Azrou, in preparation for Ain Leuh CBT II. I found out that the Regional Artisana Director in Azrou is also the Regional Delegate who oversees the business of the weaving coops, including that of Ain Leuh. I negotiated for another guy and I to miss some Azrou class time to sit down with him to learn more about the coop here. We had to develop our questions, get them translated, and conduct the conversation in Arabic, of course all thru our LCF Amina. We found out some very important information that will really impact how we approach our projects w/the weavers in CBT II, so I was glad that worked out.
Upon my return yesterday, I gave my host mom the gift I put together for the family in thanks for all their kindness to me. I had about 30 photos developed for them and blew 2 of them up and got them framed. The photos were of Khadija's female family members the night that the girls who completed their first Ramadan fasting got their makeup done and dressed up (see previous posting and photo). Khadija's sister came in and saw the photos, so I've now found a photo hanut here in Ain Leuh to not only make copies from my thumb drive, but they have even nicer frames than the ones in Azrou! Could have done it all here in little Ain Leuh! Good learning-don't make assumptions.
I really have to leave one more message for this posting. It's to all of you who are reading the blog and emailing and/or responding. Thanks. Thanks. Shukran! We are incredibly busy here-very highly scheduled, 6 days/week, tons to learn and lots of self imposed pressure to get the language asap. No time to be homesick, honestly. That's until I get a message from someone that's so sweet, it reminds me of loved ones at home and how much I do miss them, despite how busy and fine I'm doing here. So, thank you.