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May 24, 2008 Settled into Berberville

Wednesday evening, all of Thursday, all of Friday, and now most of Saturday. That’s how long I’ve been a resident of this lovely Berber village. Sunday morning, I’ll be heading back to SouqTown for tutoring and paperwork.

Yesterday – Friday – the departing Volunteer, “Zahra”, and I walked up to a nearby lake. It’s about 5 K each way, and makes for a really nice walk. The lake itself is very beautiful; the water is crystal clear, which bodes well (no muddy water = no nearby erosion = no overgrazing). There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and the lake itself shifted from Caribbean green to sapphire blue as the water got deeper. I’ve heard that some of the regional Volunteers have gone swimming here, but the water is still waaay too cold for that to sound appealing.

Like in my first village, the only large green areas here are the irrigated fields, the igran. Everything outside of the igran is mostly brown, with a few bramble-bushes. This area has some wildflowers, though, which my previous site lacked. I shot a few pictures yesterday, and will be taking more; one of my projects, according to my ~meeting on Wednesday morning, will be a comprehensive plant survey of the region.

By the way, while I sit here typing up notes from the past two weeks, my little sister (five years old and overflowing with the beauty, strength, and joy of Soul) is bouncing up and down on a ponj (big cushion thing) outside the open door to my room. She’s obviously doing it for my benefit, but that doesn’t stop me from laughing at her antics. She’s a gem – plus the only person in the house I get to cuddle with. (No babies here.) She talks very rarely, and I have no idea if she understands anything I say beyond the numbers. We play a lot of number games. She’ll start school next year, and I’m sure she’ll know her numbers up to 50 or so. We do a lot of count-the-fingers (which always segues into tickling), count the flowers, etc. :)

Update: She came over and sat next to me for a while, and I handed her my stuffed hippo to give her something more interesting to look at than letters magically appearing on a screen. Now she’s tossing him up and down and bouncing around the room. Have I mentioned that I love kids? (And don’t worry, my stuffed animal has been through harsher treatment than this before, without a mark to show for it. He’s a hardy little hippo.)

Oh, and I forgot to mention: there is virtually no shade anywhere along the walk from downtown to the lake, and I’d forgotten sunscreen before we headed out. I’ve been really conscientious about it thus far, but I was running late, and didn’t think about it until I was meeting Zahra. So…today, my nickname is “Matisha”. Which sounds pretty, but means “tomato”. Sigh. Live and learn, live and learn… :)

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Think local. Act global. Learn more about the Peace Corps