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September 23, 2008 Stars, in their multitudes…

Today was my “Site Visit”, which means that I got an Official Visit from my program staff. It was wonderful to see my Program Assistant again; she’s not only a highly qualified Peace Corps staff member, she’s also a great person who I genuinely enjoy spending time with, and consider one of my closest Moroccan friends.

After taking care of all of our official business, ie talking about my projects, visiting my house (freshly cleaned this morning!), etc, we paid a visit to my host family’s house for tea. My PA and Ama hit it off immediately, and spent an hour chatting in Darija, which meant that I didn’t understand pretty much anything they said. (Yes, Ama is bilingual in Darija – Moroccan Arabic – and Tamazight. She grew up in a Darija-speaking region but belongs to one of the nearby tribes, Ait Brahim.)

When I walked my PA back to her hotel, we paused in a particularly dark section of town to turn off the flashlight and admire the stars. She lives in a big city, full of lights and pollution, plus she almost never goes out after dark (like most Moroccan women), so seeing the Berberville night sky was a real treat for her.

…and for me, too. I still haven’t gotten blasé about how gorgeous the stars are here. With our naked eyes, we could see the Milky Way as a broad swath painted from one horizon to the other. Cassiopaeia looked like she was doing the backstroke through a river of stars. The planets looked as bright as a full moon, though they didn’t cast a shadow like the full moon would on a night this clear.

Clear, cold mountain skies...the observing doesn't get any better than this. Hey, space-minded friends, would you do me a favor and give me a week or two heads' up on the next big meteor shower? I can't imagine anything more fun than spending a night up on my roof, snugged up in my down sleeping bag, watching the stars shoot across the Berberville sky.

(OK, yes, I can think of *some* things that would be more fun. But not many.)

PS: Yes, the title is a quote from Les Mis. So I’m cheesy. I admit it, I like musicals. Sue me. ;)

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