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Monday, 9 May 2011

How time flies!

I cannot believe that my 10 weeks at Dar Asni are nearly over, just 1 week left.

The weather improved eventually and the house was so much warmer and then it changed! It became quite chilly and wet, winter woollies again!! Today it has changed for the better-blue skies and sunshine. I hope that my last week here will be a warm one, both inside and out!

A lot has happened since I wrote before. A big event was the EFA Open Day and the opening of the new house at Ouirgane on Sunday 1st May. This was a lovely day. The girls from Dar Tinmel stayed at Dar Ouirgane on Saturday night and helped with last minute cleaning and tidying on the Sunday morning. Samira, the cook at Dar Ouirgane had made heaps of biscuits and msimen, tea, coffee and fresh orange juice for a delicious mid-morning feast. Mike and some of the girls gave speeches and then the house was officially opened by Nigel and Angela Parker. At lunch time everyone headed for The Kasbah Du Toubkal to meet the Asni girls and for another feast-salad, tajine, couscous and fruit. After lunch the girls entertained us all with singing and dancing. An amazing day of food and fun! It was so lovely to see all the girls enjoying such a special occasion.

In March the girls from Asni were joined by the girls from Dar Ouirgane for a day trip to Oukaimeden. This is Morocco's largest ski resort. We all had fun playing in the snow and some of us ventured to the top of the mountain on the ski lift- I was encouraged to go by some of the girls but was terrified, I'm not good with heights!! We had a yummy picnic and ended the day with mint tea at a cafe.

I spent a weekend at Dar Tinmel with the other volunteers. We went on a trip to Tizi'n test, a beautiful region in the mountains. The drive there was a little hair-raising though-really narrow winding road with steep drops!! Just before returning to the house we visited Tinmel mosque, such a beautiful place but unfortunately it was late so a little too dark to fully appreciate its magnificence. This weekend I am going to a girls house, she lives at Talet N'Yacoub so I am hoping for a daylight visit.

It's exam time at the moment, many of the girls are spending a lot of time revising so have less time for activities. Emma and I have started to spend time in the garden doing some weeding- we hope to get all the invasive weeds out so that it is easier to maintain. Future volunteers this would be a great job for you to continue!

The girls here are so lovely. It has been great fun getting to know them and doing activities with them. I can see that their English language skills are developing, sadly my Arabic is not doing as well! I have loved being in Asni. I think the locals are getting used to us visiting the post office, wandering in the crowded souks on Saturday and buying goodies-chocolate, biscuits and yogurt- in the shops. I will so miss these experiences; the local people are so friendly and welcoming. Taxi rides are another thing I will miss, 6 people squashed in a car driving at high speed on mountain roads! Emma, Angela and I caused a stir when we caught a taxi to meet Kitty in Ouirgane, it was raining, we had lots of bags and were carrying pick-axes and rakes, the workers at the garage watched and laughed, I wonder if we made their day!

My friends and family have been very kind and sent craft kits and games. I think the girls were as excited as I was when the parcels arrived and enjoyed helping me open them. My nephew and one of my nieces and her class at school have written letters to the girls with pictures of their school. I hope to get all the girls to write a short letter back. My niece and her classmates cannot wait for me to deliver the letters and to show them pictures of the girls and of Morocco.

Emma and I have arranged for the girls at Dar Asni to have tea at Kasbah Tamadot (Richard Branson's Moroccan Retreat), sadly I will not be here when they go on 17th and 18th May but Emma will take pictures for me. We were invited to tea and for a tour which was lovely and it enabled me to see the place. It is beautiful but very expensive. We hope the Kasbah will maintain links with the charity via their website and guests who wish to donate to local people. Emma will tell you more once the girls have visited.

I think I had better stop my rambling now. I hope this will inspire you to visit Morocco, volunteer for EFA or to donate to such a worthwhile charity.

Jenny Hitchcock