Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Falllllinnnggg for Hermoumou

Could it be true? Is this weather change a tease or have we moved into Fall? Last night I slept with a blanket for the first time since about April, and woke to make hot coffee, also absent for months. Too hard to think of consuming anything hot when you wake up sweating. Last night was the first night I’ve not needed to take a shower to clean off the day’s sweat since I can remember. My fan? Not necessary on me or my computer. It is gloriously clear outside-the view of the valley and mountains beyond is terrific. Nice breeze coming thru the apartment. I could live in this year-round.

Got home on Monday in time to meet w/Meriem and give her several updates for the ATPF Association women...

First, they needed to decide on which of the 2 final logo options they wanted to go with. Done-it's the pink hamza. Thanks to Jess and Emily for the help with the design. Also got the Arabic for their business cards from her, so those are done and delivered.

Next I updated her on the visit to Eva and her Meknes cheese operation. Shared Eva and Fouzia’s willingness to come to REK and share their expertise and experiences. Meriem’s going to check if the 25th works for the Assn women. She now seems very lukewarm about the idea of making cheese. Hmmm. What about the Zouia Milk Coop women? She’ll check with them as well. Then she wants to know about the trip to Ouarzazate. Huh? No need to make that long trip, these women will come from Meknes instead-much easier and cheaper. Please don’t tell me she just wanted a trip to Ouarzazate. I don’t believe that’s the case, but disappointed in her sudden lack of interest in cheesemaking. Nevertheless, if some of the women and the Zouia group are still interested, I’ll still bring Eva and Fouzia out-at least get them more facts to base their decision on whether to pursue it or not.

Third and final update was on the Creamery Grant status-that it’s been fully funded and I’m just waiting to hear that the money is in my account to transfer to them. Also that they need to be prepared to purchase everything and provide me receipts by November 1st so I can get the final report completed before I leave.

She thanked me again for the girls’ gifts from last Saturday. They had 50 girls get all ‘dolled up’, hennaed and photographed for their first Ramadan fast. A lot more girls than they expected and it went very well. Hamdullah.

The night (Monday) was filled with the sounds of chanting, singing, and reading. It was the night before the 27th day of Ramadan-the holiest day of Ramadan. It is signified by reading of the entire Koran at the mosque, and it goes all night long. Needless to say, people were dragging yesterday-no sleep, nearing the end of Ramadan, the heat-they’re so ready for it to be over. This is why the Couscous Coop women weren’t keen on doing a couscous-making workshop yesterday. They made an exception-for me and the prospect of more tourists coming to do the same in the future. God bless their parents.

Dudana-the tourist who was staying in Fes, came by private driver in the morning to REK and we headed down to Rebha’s son’s house where the Coop does their couscous making, twice a week. Dudana is from LA (yes, it’s a small world), is a private chef, and dug right into hand rolling the couscous, cleaning the veggies for the meal and cooking/fluffing the couscous that we ended up eating for lunch. That was just a bit awkward since the Coop women were fasting, but they knew we’d be eating when we set it all up. The women were wonderful-they did a terrific job for their first tourist workshop. Dudana was also terrific-flexible, and gave me good feedback to pass along to the women to make it even better for the next group. Gail’s message to me after she spoke w/Dudana was “Dudana was thrilled. It was a raging success.” Tbarkalikum Couscous Coop women!

I then called Fatima to open the Adwal workroom to show Dudana, and despite the fact that she was sleeping when I called, she still came over to open it up and show it off. Shukran bzzaf. Got Dudana back to her driver to head back to Fes. I look forward to connecting with her when I get back to LA-what a delightful new friend.

Got home just in time for Sam to arrive (former PCV here in REK who is visiting the area). He’s been staying w/Mustafa and Jamila, but they’re out of town, so he’s staying here. Pete joined us for dinner-fajitas/guacamole and yes, shredded cheddar cheese (I kid you not-of course, sent from the US). Brownies (also from a mix sent from the US). Rummicube and Bananagrams.

Now I’m in the process of changing my Barcelona reservations for November, since I’ll now be travelling with Miek and Jess-need a larger space and have found several apartments that would be great.

Marian coming tonight, dinner at Pete’s, it’s been quite the social week here in REK.

Bit of a sad note. I sent a message to the woman who heads the US e-commerce business that imported the Adwal Coop’s table runners, just to check in and see how they were doing. They’ve had a real rough go of it, starting the business at the time of the economic downturn, and they’re now in the process of shutting down the business and liquidating their inventory. Sorry to hear this.

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