K. Mennem 8:48 a.m., May 20
Up before the alarm, and my phone was now charged, so I plugged in the back up battery for my camera. Off to breakfast, bread, crepes, orange juice, coffee, jam and a little triangle of soft Swiss. I do love this. And then we were off.
Again the hour ride to Akka, today we go to the college- which is 12 and 13 year olds- like jr high I think at home. We are greeted again by the director- who oversees both schools, and the parents association president. I brought my own water today so I wouldn't panic. We filed into a big room that appeared to be a library, and took seats around a table. Students and teachers filled the room. We were served water and tea and cookies. It was around 10am. They welcomed us, and then led us out into a covered courtyard area where we were assigned rooms for today's workshops.
I went to the history workshop led by nancye and christelle with contributions by henryan and the session was recorded by Joan. The room was packed, boys and girls and teachers, and parents. Our group was seated at the edge of the platform at the front at eye level with the students. the teacher was a tall handsome young man who stood at left on the platform near the desk.
Although the conversations were conducted in french for the most part, which side notes in arabic by the teacher i was able to understand the general topics they discussed. Nancye took the stage with chalk and introduced herself and her relationship to Morocco in her youth through the present. she then introduced Henryane (age 86, was exiled in France during prior King's reign). And gave the kids an overview of her remarkable history and connection to the revolution. third was Christelle who has made the study of the country her life's work. she wrote dates of birth and key historic dates on the blackboard to give a sense of the generations speaking to the class this day. The adults went out of their way to accommodate our group. A teacher went around with water and a cup for the kids, since the room was very packed and their was little air movement. At one point the parents association president seemed to disagree with something said, but it was beyond my level of literacy. Later in the day I mentioned this to Henryane who said I didn't pay any attention to what he said, and she chuckled. This man was the least friendly of all of the people and students I met. I assumed that my being American and much taller had something to do with it, but I really don't know. It could also have been my informal iPhone workshops yesterday and today :). after a brief question and answer period (I think the kids would have spoken up more if there hadn't been so many teachers and adults from the village in the room) we milled about chatting in the room and spilling out onto the second floor corridor.
I stood outside and watched kids crossing the open area, I talked to some of the girls and took some videos of many students and then showed them the videos and we had a great time. One girl explained that an American had stayed with her family once for six weeks or months and I think her name was Sonia. She said she was very nice and kept smiling at me. I took videos of us. Eventually we were told to go downstairs towards the covered patio where we again waited for our group to gather, so we chatted with the kids.
I think it was around 1 or two when we left the school and headed for the village of Akka . We parked the mini bus and walked between the grey buildings to our first stop at a women's coop where they sold baskets and light bulb covers and other things. We stepped over he threshold into a sort of front yard, then through a doorway into a hall with another door into the main courtyard. Palm fronds were drying in the sun. It was very hot and many of our group collapsed into the white plastic chairs in the inner courtyard after a brief tip inside to check out the items for sale. Again the people were dressed very colorfully. I watched Lisz and Zachariah try to sit/squat on the low plastic stools but it didnt look very comfortable.
I decided to walk back outside to take some wall and window shots and passed the Moroccan girls traveling with us, as one of the ladies herded the goats into a door at one end. When we arrived in the village I had seen women with donkeys and women carrying palm fronds on their heads but they were pretty far away for my point and shoot camera.
A group of 4 or 5 women walked by the street entry and I rushed out to try to get a photo. They saw me smiled and stopped and I decided to see if they would let me try to lift the heavy bales on my head. I managed to communicate this, and moved underneath the bale, standing next to the woman who was carrying the entire load. I yelled to Hafida and Aasma a to take a picture and I think they did but I'll have to wait and see if they get it to me. The woman released her load and it almost knocked me down- she didn't even do it completely but the heat and the weight completely overwhelmed me. I know that upper body strength is not my finest quality, and I work in an office, so my physical condition is far from that of an athlete, (more to come, lots more to this day)