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June 17, 2008 Chitter chatter

For the first time in the month (almost) that I’ve been here, the luxuriously appointed rooms near my bedroom are getting used. There are two, one that’s smaller with really gorgeous couches, and a big one lined with matching red carpets.

Right now, I’m in the huge red-carpeted room, along with about a dozen members of my extended family. Three of them I met for the first time last night, and I still don’t know how they’re related to us. But my cousin N** – who may well become my best Moroccan friend – gave the two young women huge hugs. These were the first hugs I’ve seen between Moroccans, so I figure they must be awfully close.

My working theory is that their dad – who’s not in the room with us right now – is my host dad’s brother M**. See, I know that my host dad has two brothers and a sister, and I’ve met one brother and the sister, but I haven’t met M** yet. Unless I met him last night. That would make these two women my cousins, and the two munchins running around, my … first cousins once removed? Yeah, I’m going to use “niece and nephew”. Removed cousins sound … weird. The “niece” is probably napping right now, but the nephew is wreaking havoc in this big room, along with my little sis and little cousin. The three kids, ranging in age from 3 to 8 (at a guess), are chasing each other, playing keepaway, playing on the plastic recorder that somebody found stashed in a corner, and generally having a fabulous time. Everyone else in the room is a female, ranging from 16 to 30-something. They’ve split into a couple of groups, and are chattering at a high pitch and a very high pace. It reminds me of the bird calls I heard yesterday morning; rapid, shrill syllables fluttering incomprehensibly around me. :)

When I concentrate, I can usually pick out 1/3 – ½ of the words in a paragraph, but that’s at a normal conversational pace. Berberville is known for its rapid speaking – my tutor, H**, reminds me of this whenever I despair of being able to follow a conversation – but I’ve never heard people talk this fast. And they’re all talking over each other. And the three kids are laughing and chattering with each other.

The result is a noisy, happy throng that is entirely opaque to me. But I’m still happy to be here. :)

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