Life has been quiet and uneventful. Hang on, no, that was someone else.
Life has been crazy, full of busyness and adventure. A lengthy gap between blog posts means that you're only going to get the highlights, apologies.
So I got a dog.
Jo and I were in the flat and heard this awful whining sound that could only be a dog. Jo thought it might be trapped somewhere so I went down with something out of the fridge to see if I could help it. At the far end of our street, a tiny puppy was sitting and crying. Seriously, what would you do? Of course she came back home with me and spent a week totally disrupting our lives with her need to be fed every two hours, day and night, complete lack of house training and the need to keep her presence a secret from the neighbours. I named her Elle and despite the exhaustion and effort it took to keep her, we both found her utterly delightful to have around.
As we are due to travel in a few days, it was essential that we found her somewhere permanent to live and it was, I truly believe, a miracle that we found out, via a chain of unusual links, of a guy that wanted a puppy. She is now happily in her new home being doted on by other dog-crazy individuals.
I had my friend from Boujdour up with us for several days and we got to do some fun stuff together. Meals out, visits to various places in Laayoune and visits to friends houses.
Language learning continues to be a lot of fun for me. I was beginning to get a little frustrated that I had a lot of vocabulary and could fairly confidently negotiate the alphabet and read most things, I still wasn't able to start conversations. Try as I might, saying 'turban', 'courgette' or 'table' was not proving to be great openers.
Things have improved since then and I've had the chance to spend time with some native speakers who have welcomed me into their home, given me the obligatory three glasses of overly sugared tea and helped me learn new vocabulary. Today I put some words together that I was sure didn't constitute a sentence but I was understood and corrected. It's like being a small child learning to talk. Now if i could just get the hang of drinking without spilling it down me...
Earlier this week, I spent an afternoon in a primary school learning some classical arabic. The words weren't important as I was trying to get a grip on some of the different accents, of which I know nine. After 2 hours I was shattered and had to leave but the kids just kept going. They were coming up to the teacher and reading some pretty advanced French while I was working. At one point this little girl came up to show the teacher what she had been writing and it was the same work as me. She just read it out without batting an eyelid, leaving me feeling very envious!
We took a trip out during the week to an oasis about half an hour out of town. I'd been here on a previous visit but it was lovely to go back and spend some time relaxing there. That's the climbing up palm trees kind relaxing as you can see.
There are lots of bird around and it is a fun place with a tiny, not very clean, outdoor pool, areas to sit and eat and even tents that you can stay in overnight.
Jo spent a lot of time last weekend with a very poor family who have not been able to afford one of the children's medicine for epilepsy. He had a fit, fell, banged his head and was vomiting for hours afterwards. Thankfully all is well again now. The medication is about £10 a month. The mother is on her own and has to leave the two younger kids with the 7 year old to look after when she goes to work. There are a lot of comfortably well off people here but where there is poverty, it is pretty shocking because there is no NHS or social security. This family is being financially supported by various people but they continue to live in a garage that has been converted into a place to live. (I don't know why this month was particularly tight for her)
I have run some lessons while I have been here. One in Dakhla and two at the centre where Jo works. The last one was a fun session with about 10-12 of the mothers where we made paper boats and floated them, had a dressing up game, team games and picture identification games - all with a message about communication and interaction.
The significance of this week has not gone uncelebrated.
Well it's half past midnight and it's time for me to put out the surprise chocolate I bought for Jo for tomorrow morning (Sunday) before turning in for the night!