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November 22, 2008 Geo-luck-y

This morning I met a French man who lives in Berberville. He’s a professor of geology at a university in one of Morocco’s biggest cities, but he lives during the off-season in Berberville. He has traversed most of the local terrain searching for fossils and minerals. I don’t know how it is that I haven’t met him before.

We rode the tranzit into SouqVille this morning. We spent most of the four-hour ride discussing the geology we were driving through. It was fantastic, on so many levels: I’ve *missed* having these kind of technical conversations; I’ve had tons of questions about the local geology, many of which are now answered; I got to practice my French with a native speaker, and I understood something like 90% of what he said; I made a new friend and got invited to his house.

I also reflected that, even though I studied French for seven years and geology for about the same (counting undergrad and grad school), I’ve never studied geology in French. Many of the words come pretty directly from Latin or Greek, and many more were borrowed between the languages (mélange and roche moutonée are both in every Intro Geo textbook), so for the most part it wasn’t too bad. I also learned the words for “sandstone” and “limestone” by the simple expedient of driving past them and saying “What’s that called?” (Marne and calcar, respectively, though I’m guessing at the spellings.) He told me about an outcropping of what sounded like gavreaux (might have been graveaux) that is world-renowned. It was the better part of half an hour, during which he talked about the relative properties of intrusive and extrusive volcanic rocks, before I figured out that he was talking about gabbro.

But linguistic fumblings aside, it was a wonderful conversation, and I look forward to pursuing a friendship with him and his wife, a Berberville native. :)

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