Tonight is the last night of Ramadan—we think! We can’t know, though, until the imans see with their very own eyes that tiny sliver of new moon and the announcement comes out on the radio, and through the loudspeakers mounted on every neighbourhood mosque. Regardless, the kids have the day off school tomorrow.

Elliot just got back from a Boy Scout camping trip to Atar. Their leader this year is a Marine colonel. The advantage of this is that he has a sat phone with him, which gives me peace of mind. However his car breaks down just like everybody else’s, we learn when they are 3 hours late getting back.

The purpose of this trip was educational—they toured a gold mine and got to see (from a distance) a blast. They are tremendously excited about this, and describe it to me repeatedly in great detail. They also did a 6-mile hike—complete with backpacks. Sounds a bit military to me but I suppose some discipline won’t hurt the boy—he certainly won’t get it from me. From me, he has learned to always have a second cup of coffee, that homemade cookies are best, and the art of saying, “Ok, just let me finish this chapter first.”

Ilsa gave me quite the shock the other day when she came home begging to be able to go on a village trip. This is the child who has hated village trips ever since our 3-week trip up north one July, when there were nonstop sandstorms and we thought it was cool when it got down to 95 degrees and the whole family had giardia. I don’t know why this affected her so much!

I suspect the attraction this time was Matthew, of CTA fame. His family had been invited for the feast (end of Ramadan) and he invited Ilsa to join them. For some reason, this sounded wonderfully exotic to her. I’m not taking it personally. She thinks her life is boring and longs for adventure. I’ve tried to explain that many people would think locust plagues, drinking fresh camel’s milk out of a wooden bowl, or sleeping under the desert stars were adventures, but she is not convinced. I personally blame Hollywood, although I must admit our special effects are not that impressive. Also the soundtrack to our lives isn’t very good. Maybe we need a better agent.

I told her it might be a poor village and she would have to eat whatever was put in front of her, no matter WHAT part of the animal it once had been. I brought up the sensitive subject of dates.

“Actually I don’t hate dates,” she said. “I never have. I just don’t like how they feel in my mouth.”

I choked. My mind flashed back to all those times we had made her eat just ONE date, amid protestations and dramatic choking and gagging effects.

Maybe if they ate dates in Spy Kids, she would have liked them all along.

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