Have just had a great weekend - I had hoped to go to Essaouira, a town on the coast but unfortunately Sinead could not get the weekend off so have had to stay in Asni, BUT the payoff has been a visit to the Saturday market, a 'New Year' party at Dar Asni 1, the house for the younger girls and a great run this morning and a walk this afternoon. The only challenge has been a massive wind which seems to have howled through the mountains for the last few days, which rattles and severely tests the catches on the windows of the house, has blown down the flagpole and filled my hair and eyes with dust and grit whenever I have been caught in a particularly vicious gust!
I went to the souk with Khamisa the cook as she does her weekly shop there. With its mass of little vegetable and fruit stalls, selling apples, pomegranates, satsumas, quinces, tomatoes, little aubergines, beans, potatoes and onions as well as huge bunches of herbs it is very much aimed at the locals. Interestingly the vast majority of the customers appeared to be men - apparently it is the men who do the market shopping in the mountains - and there was a wonderful mix of older men in djellabas with wrinkled weather-beaten faces as well as younger ones in regular shirts, jackets and trousers. The odd donkey wove its way through the narrow alleyways between the stalls and the street outside was packed with taxis, little lorries and buses and people arriving to buy and sell.
On Saturday evening I went to Dar Asni 1 for the party and found the girls dressed in their smartest kit and warming up for the dancing - and can they dance! In many ways it reminded me of a school disco but without the complication of boys. I have rarely seen so many wiggling hips (emphasised with scarves) and such great movements! They just love Moroccan pop and Sinead and I were embraced wholeheartedly into the dancing and we had a ball! This was followed by some mimes and sketches (some of which we could understand better than others) but they were clearly good as each act was greeted with huge applause. And then everyone sat round the table to eat cake, cookies and apple crumble - our contribution to the festivities!
Today I discovered a brilliant run, though have to say that unlike daughter Fenella I probably spent rather more time walking as I went right up onto a ridge with spectacular views of the high mountains and the valley below and then at the top a wide dusty plain with a few villages dotted around. Later in the day we did another walk again with lovely views of the snow-topped ridge of the high mountains (and quite a lot of dust and wind!) On both the walk and the run we saw men riding donkeys which were picking their way up and down very steep and sometimes almost non- existent paths. And now, thankfully, as I have been writing this, the wind has died down at last, and there are no more banging doors and rattling windows.