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October 19, 2008 Berberville Beautification

Rumors have been flying for months now, but people really believe it this time… The king is coming to Berberville!

And in preparation for his arrival, the town is getting all dressed up.

* I’m seeing REGULAR TRASH COLLECTION for the first time since my arrival. That is, not only are there otherwise-unemployed old men going along the main streets with buckets, gathering the ubiquitous litter (inevitable when people tend to drop their trash wherever they are), but there are even people putting out bags of trash on the curb and having them collected, carted off, and burned outside of town. This is fairly revolutionary.

* The BOSTA (post office) is getting a major face-lift, complete with decorative architectural elements, a new stone wall around the building, a fresh coat of paint, and a whole new foyer.

* The ROADS – yes, that’s right, Berberville has not one but two roads – have been freshly macadamized**. This first entailed stripping off the six inches or so of dirt that had been dropped on them by the recent flooding (that had made the paved roads, of which we’re so proud, look like dirt roads). Then they were given a fresh coat of tar and a nice, even layer of gravel, so they’re all smooth and pretty.

* The SCHOOL building, which has been under construction for months, is being rapidly completed, much to the delight of my teacher friends, who have been sharing classrooms since the beginning of the school year.

* The new DORMITORY for the nearby collège (junior high school) and lycée (high school) is almost finished, which means that many more students will be able to attend secondary education. There are no school buses in this part of Morocco, and besides, students come from villages two and three hours away, so dorms are the only way that students in the region can attend school beyond 6th grade, which is the limit of the mdrasa (elementary school).

So everything’s coming up roses in Berberville. :)

[Update 10/25: It's not just Berberville. SouqTown is getting on the beautification ritual too, doing everything from widening roads to planting trees, patching cracks in cement curbs and streets, painting buildings, etc.]

**No, I didn’t make up this word. Apparently, some dude named Mr. MacAdams figured out that tar and gravel make a cheap and effective replacement for pavement. Yes, it needs to be replaced annually, but it’s enough cheaper than blacktop that many communities – including my parents’ village back in the USA – macadamize their roads every year.

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