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“Morocco is a cool country with a hot sun,” someone said to me a couple of weeks ago. I’m sure your reaction to this statement is similar to mine–WHA??

A few weeks later, I’m starting to understand. When clouds cover the sun, it is cool; I need a sweater, inside the house we shiver. But as soon as the sun comes out, it becomes instantly hot. I grope for my sunglasses.
I’m not used to living at this latitude. I can handle the Pacific NW where it‘s cool by now, the sunlight getting thinner and thinner each day. I can handle Mauritania, where it’s basically just hot all the time, and sometimes even hotter.

Morocco combines the two. At night we shiver under the thin blankets provided in this furnished apartment, even though it’s still October, still a hot month in that country just south of here. If a day is sunny, the kids can head off to school in shorts and t-shirts and know they’ll be comfortable. The hibiscus and bougainvillea shout their colours against a brilliant blue sky. But I make oatmeal in the mornings to help the kids warm up, and for lunch the other day I made this soup. They’d been caught in a downpour on the way and arrived home drenched and shivering, Elliot‘s wild curls wilder than ever. It’s a weird mix but one I’m enjoying.

Saturday the kids were invited to a Fall party at an American family’s home. The mom described to me the lengths to which she’d gone to find whole pumpkins, since here they are sold in bits, a hunk that weighs a kilo for example, wrapped and sitting next to a hunk that weighs ½ a kilo. She doesn’t speak French or Arabic, so described entire pumpkins with sign language and lots of expressive pointing. The fruit seller turned up next day with a 45-pound pumpkin for her, which necessitated lots more gesturing as she tried to communicate that she wanted small, round, pumpkins.

She found some, let the kids divide themselves (they were all junior high age, so the divide was strictly along gender lines), and go at it.

Ilsa and her 2 girl friends made a happy pumpkin.

Abel and his friends tried to make Anakin. Abel had to add several scars.

The kids played games and ate apple cakes and baked apples and tiny American candy bars. Ilsa even shared hers with me.

Halloween is coming but it’s not celebrated here; on Friday the boys are going to a birthday party and Ilsa has plans to make papier-mache masks with me. In the evening the sky fills with storks, wings pink-tipped in the fading light, graceful in flight but unwieldy as they crowd into large trees. The blend here between a northern and southern location shows up in unlikely places, but it’s always beautiful.

October 2008

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