Three boys lie on the floor, popping and shoving and ollying and all sorts of other things with their fingers, playing Tech Decks, which are mini skateboards. Ilsa lies on the couch, reading as always. Although Erik is Abel’s best friend, the 4 of them are more like cousins than mere friends, and relate very well together even though it’s 2 years since we’ve seen Erik.

techdecks3 boys


How many pics of Ilsa reading will I post on this blog? On va voir.

Since Donn arrived last Saturday, we worked non-stop to get our house in order. We’re nearly finished too. Our only delay is a lack of furniture to unload things into, if that makes sense. We still haven’t gotten things like dressers, a TV stand, a buffet for dishes, kitchen drawers. Yes, kitchens in North Africa don’t come with drawers, only cabinets. I hate not having drawers for silverware, big knives, spatulas, tea towels, etc.

It was quite the endeavour. In one fell swoop, we tripled the amount of stuff in our apartment. But our good friends Tim and Debbie, and their son Erik, were due to arrive in Casa at 7:20 on Wednesday morning, so the goal was to have the place presentable by Tuesday night.


Taken Tuesday morning…

We did it too. Although there is still a pile of boxes in the hallway, we can’t do much about them, and I personally think the place is looking great! Rugs have been beaten and triple-vacuumed; books have been flung on shelves with little regard for separating poetry from prose or fact from fiction. The point was organization or at least a sense of it, with time for more precise sorting later.


Taken Tuesday night. This area was completely empty before.

Some of Donn’s office furniture didn’t fit through the door. That is, it got halfway in and then stuck, reminiscent of Pooh and Rabbit’s door. Apparently, the Mauritanian-made table was wider at one end than the other, and the Moroccan door was wider near the top than near the bottom. A perfect match, in other words. What to do? Donn found the skill saw and trimmed it down until it would slide through. Easy, right?


We had their arrival all planned out. Donn went to pick them up; I started coffee and Elliot was dispatched for pastries. Ilsa squeezed 2 ½ kilos of oranges, which is the only way to drink juice in Morocco, where oranges cost about 15 cents a pound. When Debbie and Erik walked in and announced that Tim had stayed behind, I thought they were joking. I craned my head to see past them, expecting to see our tall friend straggling behind with a heavy suitcase. But Debbie was serious. Tim had been detained for questioning as a material witness; yet another fall-out of our friend’s death to terrorists.

Long story short: We had a great time with Debbie and Erik, but we only saw Tim briefly, when he reunited with his family in the Casa airport and they continued on to the US. We have spent a lot of time not going too far from the computer, keeping skype open, waiting for news. That’s life in the fast lane.

In spite of the uncertainty and missing Tim, it’s been a nice visit. We’ve known this family since our arrival in Nouakchott in 2001. We share many memories; of week-long camping trips under the desert stars; of hiking in baboon-infested canyons and not swimming in crocodile-infested waters; of relieving ourselves in full view of the waiting taxi and avid villagers. We worked together at the English center, and shared carpooling activities and sleepovers and locust invasions and jellyfish stings  And these are just the good times.

The logical solution is for them to move to Rabat. We have pointed this out several times. In fact, we told them, we are willing to start apartment-hunting now. Because it takes time; we know this.