Fall has Fallen!

Sorry for the incredibly lame title to this entry, but it’s true! People are saying it’s the beginning of winter at my site,  and some of my friend’s sites have already received snow! Of course, down the mountain in my souq town it was still hot enough to sweat while standing a few days ago – but climb the mountain up here, and I’ve broken out my long underwear, hat, and amazingly wonderful wool blanket from the Imilchil Wedding Fest! Brr!

That being said, I’m loving the weather. I never can decide between fall and spring as my favorite.. in spring, true, I get ecstatic over 55 degree days, heralding them as heat waves and have the opportunity to celebrate all the green shoots and leaves and beautiful flowers that come with the heat and the rain. Now, I’m happy about cool days, which here means less sweating and  therefore more time between bucket baths (which, as it happens, are a little chillier right now… I might start using the hammam [bath house] in my souqtown soon), watching the walilis go to their incredibly large seeds, eating pomegranates of increasing deliciousness (not ripe yet!), spending afternoons shucking corn with my host family, and starting to help with olive harvesting… and warm foods! I think I may start making soup (chili!) soon.

The weekend after the Imilchil Wedding Festival, I went to the Erfoud Date Festival.  These two festivals had very little to nothing in common. The date festival was more of a date exhibition: there were some tents with information about agriculture and climate followed by an exceptionally large tent filled with dates and date products. I ate more than my fair share of free date samples – dark, light, hard, soft, moist, dry, fresh, baked, patte, jam, etc. – then bought a few presents and headed out.  Seemingly unrelated but secretly related was a craft fair a kilometer or two down the road, where again health volunteers had set up an exceedingly popular table. It was fun to see friends, but other than that there was nothing exceptional about the date festival, so thus ends my recap.

In my town, I’ve finally started to get some work going. Kind of. I set up a meeting with a local association, but it was cancelled the day before – I’m trying to get it rescheduled now. I’ve met with the muhdir, or president/administrator/boss, of all the local schools (of which I though there were four, but it turns out there are five! One is a half an hour walk away from town, in a neighborhood I shamefacedly didn’t know existed). The muhdir of the elementary schools had a PCV teach him english in the town where he grew up! He’s happy to be working with a PCV, and when I offered my help for Earth Day, glasses, hearing aids, or whatever else he thinks I might be able to help with, he seemed to be more than willing to accept that offer – he even said he knows of a few environment-related projects that people are wanting to start in the spring (March/April) that he wanted to talk to me about later – I’m meeting with him to tour the elementary schools tomorrow at noon, so maybe I’ll hear a little more then. I’m talking to the volunteers in my area about glasses/hearing aids for the kids that need them. Unfortunately, I’d been relatively confident (because it had worked for other volunteers before) that we could get free glasses from the department of education – today we were told that we couldn’t. I’m looking for sources of free glasses, particularly if they can be customized to the prescriptions of the kids, and sources of free hearing aids – let me know if you have any ideas!

I’ll leave you with a quick and easy recipe for tortillas. I’m playing with the consistency a bit – I think I get better results if they’re a bit on the dry side.. but they’re always delicious.

Tortillas:

  • 2 cups flours
  • 2 tsp baking powder (optional)
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 3/4 cup water

Mix the solid ingredients, add the oil, and then slowly knead in the water – you know the dough is good when it’s a little elastic and bounces back when you make a finger imprint. The dough should be smooth rather than sticky. Seperate it into egg-sized balls, cover with a cloth, and wait for 20-30 minutes (I like to make the dough, then make whatever I plan to put in my tortillas, then move on to the next step. I do not time this). Lightly flour a flat clean dry surface – I use my cutting board – put one of the egg sized balls of dough on it, and roll out with some sort of smooth rolling device (I use my Klean Kanteen).  It doesn’t need to be super thin; I roll mine out until they’re about the size of the bottom of my frying pan. I have a teflon pan and don’t use any butter or oil on it – once each tortilla is  rolled out, it goes straight onto the frying pan. It should bubble up a bit, you can bust the bubbles to make it lie a bit more flat if you want. Once they’ve got a few brown spots on each side, they’re done!

Happy tortilla cooking!

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