Monday, October 23, 2006
(entered by Debbie for Sharon - originally written September 23 - received a couple of days ago...and we thought US mail was slow!)
Some observations about TimHdit:
It's a village of 12,000 people, about 30 km southeast of Azrou. There's pretty much nothing in between - what appears to be deforested mountains (but it could be that the forest is just far from the road) with semi-arid shrub and the occasional flock of sheep. It's hilly - or mountainous, I guess, at over 5000 feet, but the mountains are rounded, not pointy. Older than the Rockies. Around here some of the rocks look volcanic; there was shale when we went for our hike about Azrou. Barbary Apes live in the forest - haven't seen any yet. I made up a haiku during the journey:
Seven people in one cab
Next, host family
It's along the main road - some of the other CBT (Community-Based Training) sites have higher populations but are more remote (and one site is much higher in altitude and has five times as many sheep as people).
The main feature of the town when you first arrive is a huge patch of rocky, trash-strewn dirt, with foundations of what used to be there, grazing donkeys and stray cats and dogs. We have to cross this patch of dirt (which I fear will turn to mud) to get from home to the LCF house - in honor of my Boston trip this year I've dubbed it The Public Garden. Just calling it that beautifies it. An army of American high school students with big Hefty bags and the gloves from the medical kit would be most welcome - but probably not sustainable. The homes are clean but, sadly, the public space is anything but. We'd been told that Morocco has elements of first, second and third world. When we got out of the cab I thought, "We're in third world now."
There's the main road - along one side of it are a lot of hanuts, little stores - post office, teleboutique, pharmacie, pneu (?), kiosks, cafes and restaurants - a couple of each; we're not talking Magnificent Mile here (although I hereby dub it that). As we walked along it to meet with the local authorites, I sidestepped a dead chicken. Why did it cross the road? It never made it to the other side. (I managed to make one of my teammates laugh with that one! And myself, of course).
On the other side of the Public Garden there's a little street with a few hanuts, one street over from the LCF house (a.k.a. school). We've gone there during breaks for a snack or a bottle of water. I hereby dub this street Oak Street, though I don't recall it being paved. And I don't recall donkeys walking down Chicago's Oak Street.
Azrou, a city of 50,000, now looks like the Big Apple in comparison, and Azrou is where the big souk in the area is - and the cyber cafe! I find myself looking forward to going back, with its medina (not that I want to buy anything - I can't fit anything else in my bag! Although I keep thinking about a computer - or sooner rather than later, a Moroccan cell phone). I'm sure I'll look forward to return trips to TimHdit - I'm glad we go back and forth from seminar site to CBT. A good balance. By the way, I keep meaning to mention this - Azrou means rock - there's a big rock in the town where nomadic tribes used to gather to trade.