I spent the last week at my site:
A view from the hill above my town – if you click on this picture to make it larger, I think you should be able to get some idea of the geology of the area. I would love a roadside geology book of errachidia province; the rocks are on display everywhere and look very well molded (they twist and turn and slant every which way, the sandstone looks like pancakes stacked on each other, and there’s a lot of color variation in the road cuts).
A small sample of the igran, or fields. This particular plot is being watered and allowed to run wild; therefore it is covered in beautiful poppies. In the very near future, a woman or two will come out here with a little scythe called tamgurt and gather all of the plants from this plot (collectively called ‘hashish’) to feed cows/sheep/chickens/mules that are kept in a separate enclosure, generally but not always in old buildings with no roofs. Beyond the poppies you can see wheat, one of the primary things grown in the fields here.
Wheat, by the way, tastes a lot like corn when you pick it green from the field and eat it raw.
As for my work at my site, it’s going to be interesting to see what I do. My host uncle is the president of the association (think community nonprofit), and today they’re hosting a trash pick up at my site. I was told one of my tasks was going to be education about sustainably harvesting a rosemary-esque plant here, and my host family, without prompting, pointed out piles of the plant here picked by the roots and told me it was hshuma (shameful, essentially) – so someone has talked to at least some of the community about how to pick the plant. There’s also a lmadrasa (elementary school) and college (middle school) that I may be able to work with. The main reason I’m at my site is because a dam is going in at the base of the foothills, so the Ministry of Water and Forests would very much like to see projects which reduce erosion so that the dam doesn’t fill up with sediment. It sounds like tree planting may be in order, so I’ll need to figure out what trees are appropriate for the area – there are no trees on the hills, so I don’t know if there is a native tree answer to this problem. Luckily for me, I still have a few months of language learning left to do before I’m expected to tackle anything, so I have plenty of time to learn.
Time for breakfast. Bslama!