The rest of the festival went well. There was much more competition this year with other associations and community members often selling the same items. Association Tamyourt didn’t gain as much as in the previous festival, but we came out positive in profits thanks to some faithful customers. There were a few great bands in the concert roster, including the nationally famous groups Udaden and Rouicha. I was particularly excited to see Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara perform on Saturday night.
A few days after Moonfest, my parents came to visit! We spent a fantastic two weeks hanging around my site, hiking in the High Atlas, visiting Marrakech, Essaouira, and the Imouzzer Falls down by Agadir. I was happy to finally show them where I’ve been living and working the last 18 months and introduce them to my local friends and counterparts. Several people showed such immense kindness and hospitality in helping me welcome them that we scratched our original plans to travel up to Fes and Ifrane so we could spend more time in my village. Their visit gave me a renewed sense of appreciation for Lalla Takerkoust, and Morocco in general.
Once the parents went home, I returned to normal life in village. I busied myself with English and French tutoring and elaborating a new project proposal with the local sports association. I’ve applied for another USAID small project grant to purchase exercise machines (treadmill, spinning bikes, step machines) for a new youth and sports center being built by the soccer field. The grant has been approved, but we’re waiting on USAID to release the funds for the fiscal year. The recent budget cuts are causing some delays, and I hope it comes through.
The Women’s Association building is coming along nicely. We were lucky enough to get a visit from the Canadian Ambassador himself on Halloween. He and a small delegation came to check up on the construction site before the Embassy sends the next allotment of funds. They were happy with the work accumulated thus far, and the women can be proud of their accomplishments. The Kaid (equivalent of town mayor) and Communal Council helped us set up a welcoming tent and we of course prepared an impressive spread of Moroccan pastries and breads for the Ambassador to taste. In return, he presented Naima with a fancy wooden box of Canadian smoked salmon. After the delegation left, the women came to me inquiring what in the world was in that box. I wonder how they will divide up this gift. I can just picture them divvying out single pieces of smoked salmon to each member. It’s definitely not a type of food they’re used to. But, the gesture was nice and the whole visit was quite positive.
Today is the eve of the Eid Al Ahda. Tomorrow, many rams go under the knife. I look forward to participating in this week’s festivities. Things have evolved a great deal for the better since last year at this time.