Ramadan, construction, continued. May 18-29, 2019. So far, so good. Fortunately, I have faired pretty well with the “fasting”. I got a little over-confident with my activities this past Monday and became very thirsty. I needed to leave the house to make sure I did not buckle and drink. I have not been unusually hungry, which I attribute to that 3:00 am meal. As the Moroccans are accustomed to their big meal mid-day, I know it is tougher on them. The lack of sleep is the toughest part. I am doing OK, but they tend to stay up later.
Part of Ramadan is giving, kindness, charity, and so I have received more invitations to Iftur (breaking fast at evening). I have enjoyed this meal with my host family three times, the “Twins” sister once, one of my English-speaking postmen and his French Teacher wife, my Darija teacher and her family, the family of one of the girls from Nour, and the family of one of the University students. All wonderful experiences. All serve similar, traditional foods, including the harira soup. My landlady neighbor brings me food frequently.
My host brother from Marrakesh, and his family, visited. It was very nice to see them all.
All activities are slow. Many stores do not open. In addition to Ramadan, the schools are going into their pre-exam mode. Many students are off school, studying at home, for the next 2-3 weeks. Teachers are still there, but attendance is low. Even the crowds of children in the streets and parks outside the Dar Shbaab are dwindling. They are said to be active at night.
One thing that has not slowed is the construction. So, picture a small city, the size of St. Helena. One day most of the streets are paved. Then, 3-4 crews begin simultaneously in different parts of the city, breaking the concrete/asphalt. They are followed by huge excavators, digging 15-foot-deep trenches, 4-5 feet wide, into which they lay 1-foot diameter plastic, corrugated pipe, the entire length of every street. Periodically, manhole risers come to the surface. As they move through the city, they are followed by the trench filling crew. They did not seem to be connected to anything, so I thought they were to carry surface water. Then, they were followed by the connecting crew, with small excavators, picks and shovels, they are connecting this line to the homes’ sewage lines.
Nothing about this is pretty, but it is all incredibly fascinating. First of all, I like construction. I like big ditches and big equipment. Coooool. In the US, it would take 10 years to do what they do in a month. First of all, there is no visible concern for safety, anyone’s. Apparently, no environmental impact studies and litigation, just “get ‘er done”. Huge ditches and holes are left unattended, day and night. No shoring on the ditch walls. Seldom is there even a hint of a barrier. The criteria seems to be that if the whole is big enough to swallow a car, then they have a few 8 foot wide metal barriers they can put up on the side most likely to attract a car. Huge holes with rebar sticking up, just 2 feet from a pre-school and primary school. Tiny children could topple in. I’ve seen kids go in big holes after a lost ball. Old ladies could fall in at night. Yet, miraculously, no one has had a single accident that I have heard. I suppose, with no one to sue, what would be the point of hurting yourself? Pretty sure it is pointless to sue either the local government or the King. The guy who connected my sister’s house cut a big chunk out of their nice concrete porch, in front of the door, stuck a cement trap cover in a terrible concrete patch, with a metal loop sticking up that was CERTAIN to break someone’s ankle (like mine). I turned it upside down. Still very ugly, but safer. Not all the houses are being connected. Are they already connected to something? Do you have to pay? Will there be more connections later? Where was this stuff going before?
So, there are some places where holes were re-opened, leaks, problems. I know of one place in the poorer neighborhood where a problem has not been fixed for months, and I am pretty sure that is sewer water running down the street. And the process marches through the town like a cancer. The pretty little town, now looks like a scene from the “Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. The dirt is everywhere and in everything. The wind blows, and the dirt with it. Gigantic piles of dirt are everywhere, blocking streets. Rightfully so, the construction workers start at daybreak, 6ish anyway. It is 9 at night and they are still working. Right outside my window is a small excavator and a roller/compacter, that sounds like a helicopter. There are 5 guys with rakes and shovels, to smooth out the dirt before the compactor. But, hey, what about that pile of dirt the size of a school bus right outside my door? Aren’t you going to move that? Hmmm. So, all these people accustomed to sleeping-in during Ramadan are just out of luck.
Yet, when it is all done, they say everything will be newly paved and pretty again. The streets and I are both 2-year projects. I hope they finish ahead of schedule.
I received one package and a couple of cards, but still missing lots of mail. I continue to see my host family every day, but my sister has missed some garden and evening visits. Sadly, she has not been feeling well. I battled allergies for a few days. Indeed, not being able to take medicine during the day was maybe the hardest part of Ramadan. I see more of the University students than normal. They are very helpful. The music people and art guy seldom come in. It is Morocco. While the weather continues nice here, at home in Oakville, they continue to have record-breaking rains. So far, for Tierra Roja, that is a good thing, as bloom is just beginning. The bottling of the 2017 will be in about 2 weeks, so that is exciting. More soon.