So I'm back from a weekend in Boujdour, a bus ride three hours south of Laayoune where I am staying. An aller-retour costs just over £8 which is pretty good for 6 hours through the desert. The view through the window goes a bit like this; sand, grit, sand, rocks, dirt, litter, sand, low-growing shrubs hanging on for dear life, sand, rocks, dirt, dunes, sea, rocks, half-built building, police check, sand, petrol station, sand....you get the picture. In fact, it was a quite weird sensation last weekend when travelling north and I found myself shouting; 'Look! A tree!'
So anyway, back to Boujdour...I have a family that live there who I've stayed with before and it was so good to see them again. There were lots of hugs and tears when I arrived and being on the conservative side of emotional (!), I was really touched with how pleased they were to see me. The weekend was mostly eating vast amounts of bad-for-you food, followed by long siestas. My friend and I had an afternoon at the beach, Morocco style. That's to say, we walked on the sand and took some photos. Long sleeves and high necklines cause plenty looks and comments. I think swimwear would cause major meltdown! We shopped in the souk, sat around in the square and went to a book fair where I managed to get a copy of 'The Tenant of Wildfell Hall' for the equivalent of £1.80. The mother made us couscous even though it wasn't Friday (!) and I was spared any glimmer of cow's ears.
One evening she made peanut butter from scratch which was really fun to watch. She has a large, stone, conical type of pestle and mortar with a well in the middle where you ladle in peanuts that have been in boiling oil. The whole thing is then turned so that the nuts are crushed, boiling oil and sugar is added and slowly the paste comes out of the bottom and drips down from the base into a plastic tub. It took her all evening and I was staggered at how she kept going. My arms would have been cramped up hours before she stopped!
I learnt more words to add to my Hassaniya vocabulary and helped a neighbours daughter with some English homework. I got to visit the neighbours roof and check out their baby goat and sheep. They had woken me in the middle of the night and it sounded as if they were in the same room as me!
I'm working a lot on Arabic letters and how they change depending on where they are in a word and realising how difficult it must be to learn English actually. We have so many silent letters and sounds that change depending on what letters they follow and sounds that change when combined with other letters. In class it's easy to think that I am doing really well because the teacher is, naturally, getting me to practice the things he has taught me. However, take that smug feeling out of the classroom and listen to people talking and you recognise a word every few minutes. I'm still feeling the excitement of learning though and I'm making the most of it because I'm sure there will be times in the future when I want to throw my exercise book across the room!
Highs of the week: Putting together Arabic letters in a word to make the right sounds, the Boujdour trip, having my English student describe me as a 'full battery' when I teach!
Low of the week: Seeing on FB that my niece has learnt to ride a bike and I wasn't there to see it and cheer her on.