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Thursday 29 January 2009

Two tradeswomen update the house!

Latifa Aliza. Chef. Dishwasher. Gardener. Painter. Carpenter. Gift wrapper. Bargain hunter. Secretary. Treasurer. An ideas woman with the right connections.

Linda Anderson. Wannabe Moroccan Chef. Dishwasher. Gardener – especially good at hacking up the ground. Sander. Painter. The second opinion.

What we thought would be a quiet week without the girls turned out to be full of the extraordinary happenings of the house. We set off on Saturday – a little late due to bad weather – but we hit the ground running in Marrakech. After a five hour stint in the medina (fun as a tourist, but when you have serious business to attend to…) we had stocked up on most supplies for the house. We had a quick lunch stop, followed by a dual assault on Marjane to buy the last of our requirements.

Exhausted, we headed home at 9pm, dumped everything (as in a full ute load) inside the front door and then headed to bed.

The next day it was time for business. Latifa set up the kitchen with all of our new plastic ware to house the dry grocery items. Besides that, we had been promised that a number of tradesmen would drop by to assess the work, but when this hadn’t happened by 2pm we did what all women would do – we spent two hours in the hammam instead.

On Monday morning, the hard work began. We have been stripping back walls and cupboards, then repainting them. We have had two men helping us with all of this (one is Latifa's cousin), as well as installing light fittings and bathroom fittings. We have finally started our garden and we have installed a new washing line on the roof to fit all of our clothes and sheets. A mammoth effort, but the house is getting in shape for our first parent’s open day since the big opening.

PS - you might notice that I feature heavily in this edition. I am great, but it's not just that. Latifa now has a camera! So, she is happily snapping away and is sure to keep an excellent record of ALL happenings in the house!

Friday 23 January 2009

Snow Angels and Scoliosis

After an awesome time away for Christmas and the New Year, made special because I got to catch up with some great people as well as be a part of society again, I am back in the house. The first week was a little difficult as we had a fairly crazy week, with lots of cooking and visits.

My favourite visit Text Colorduring the week was from Khadija’s mother. She waddled into the home, utterly exhausted after her trek down from the mountains with her new baby strapped to her back! She was very sweet – her name is Hind. I think that is the Arabic equivalent of calling your child India. Very progressive! Little Hind was passed around many times, breastfed very publicly (no activist groups required here for this issue!) and then she was swaddled back up, placed on the mother’s back and then tightly contorted to match her mother’s contours. This is why Moroccan women like to be a little large – more back space = less contortions = less spinal scoliosis in their future brood. Anyway, despite the twisted spine she smiled and laughed at me. Even at this age they can recognise the ludicrous foreigner.

To end the week, from this visit on the girls started disappearing, having apparently finished their exams and being told they could go home for two weeks – the first an extra break to allow the older students to complete national testing in the few classrooms at the school and the other a real, bona fide holiday. After a visit from the governor the donkeys were sent far and wide to try and tell the students they would have to come back to school. Consequently, today we have had a couple of girls drop in to say, yes, we heard school was back on, we went to class and they have sent us home again. Do not be surprised when you next see me and there are tufts of my hair missing. All of this messing with the non-existent program is sending me slightly psychotic.

But, in the interests of sanity, I had an awesome weekend to break up the craziness. It all began on Sunday when I woke up and reheated the haricot beans from during the week. These are identical to Baked Beans, so I flung on some eggs and a tomato and I had a real English breakfast. This was followed by a coffee, consumed whilst reading The Australian online. Latifa and I went to Imlil to visit four of the girls at home. This involved slushing around in knee deep snow!!! The snow was so soft and lovely that in an enthusiastic moment I flung myself to the ground and made my first ever snow angel. This was met with surprised looks, and then incredibly confused looks when I got up and tried to point out the features of the angel in the imprint. My biblical knowledge came to the fore, I compared my silhouette to Gabriel, but alas they obviously don’t make snow angels in Morocco.
After freezing, and sliding down the mountains, clutching onto the girls, Latifa and I got to stay at the Kasbah with the Education For All team. It was brilliant. Beautiful food, heated floors, a sit down toilet and a bath. Life does not get much better!