Saturday, 29 March 2008

It looks like Kentucky, doesn't it?

Well, according to Fred at least...
And actually, we have no idea, we've never been there. But that's the impression the wheat fields give us at this time of year.

The wheat grows along the walls of our house, and sometimes the clouds seem to touch the ground.

Friday, 28 March 2008

A newcomer in Ouled Mgatel

And we don't know how she came here!

We found this little turtle in a crate of plants that we brought back from Meknes two weeks ago. Did climb her way into the crate? No, she can't be that good a climber . Did one of our friend put it here, to make a joke? No, it sounds unlikely. Or maybe, was she buried in one of the flower-pots, sleeping until the end of her hibernation? Probably, because, as soon as we found her, she only wanted to hide under a rock or dive into the hay.

We built her a little house, and now she just stays there.

The turtle doesn't like parsley...
or maybe she's too shy, and doesn't want to be in the picture !
Too late, I was faster.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Internet in Ouled Mgatel... it's really hapenning !

After the water-treatment plant, the new technologies are literally invading Ouled Mgatel, 30 inhabitants. Yes, it is 2008 here too.

The other day we plugged our satellite modem, just in case, you never know, there was some reception. Imagine this: there was reception. And there still is.

The proof:

There is some signal, but the internet connection doesn't work. For now. We asked for information in Fez, and they told us that in 2 months it should be OK.
It can sound kind of surrealist, because there is no telephone here, and the electricity was installed by the electrical company only two years ago, and that if you want to come and see us, you'll have to drive on a very bad road for more than 2 miles.
But it is real. There is a new telephonic company in Morocco, and they're going to launch their new cellphone AND the satellite internet everywhere in the country. (So of course it's not just Ouled Mgatel...)

We want the internet to come to us soon, very soon, because our house will then really be a small paradise. (plus, we'll be able to write a lot of posts on this blog... in case you wonder why our posts are so erratic, now you know !)

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Small changes

After two days spent in bed, sick... when I finally got out of my bedroom, things were a little different.

The color of the sky had changed.

An orange-tree had been planted in the patio, and it was in bloom.

The dog Lisa had discovered our water treatment ponds... and she rather liked the water.

Inside the house, the fridge had finally taken its place on the brand-new floor of the kitchen.

Thank you so much Fred, Bachir, Aziz, and Fouad !

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Cleaning the water... and making plants very happy

Our water-treatment system is finished. .
Here, in Ouled Emgatel, there's no running water. The inhabitants use the well. But we're French, and we're used to running water so... we've installed it. The water has to be brought here. We pay a man from a village a few miles away to bring us, every two weeks or so, a tank of water from a big well near the river. Which he does with his tractor. We put this water in our tank, and that' it, we can shower and everything. We still need three different filters, which make this water drinkable.

By the well... well, yeah, but with a tank !

Someday, we hope, we'll build a well.
As for the waste water, we don't have much of it anyway, thanks to our dry toilets . These are in fact composting dry toilets, and it's really working.
The filters we've built recently only work with our small waste waters (washing-up, shower and washing), and thanks to these we'll be able to use the water a second time, and water the garden with it.

We've built three ponds. The first two filter the water and the third one, the bigger, contains the clean water.

The pebbles will clean the water

How does work filtration?

The idea is to make the water run through a pond, or several ponds, in which you put a layer of pebbles, one layer of gravel, then some sand, and put aquatic plants in it, like reeds or rush.

At this point, in the French version of this blog, I explained how all this works... but English is not my mother-tongue, and it's a lot more difficult to do ! So, well... I won't be telling you about bacteria, filtration and microbes. Lucky you, in a way !

The thanks are working, and the plants are happy

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Our purification plant

We've begun the construction of our purification plant. Well, purification not really, but phytopurification, that is, purification through plants. We'll explain everything about it later. And station, huh... in fact, the workers call it "the eggs".
That's why.

Fouad, Bachir, and Aziz in their eggs

We'll do the technical explanations later, since it's already late. I leave you with this picture of the construction, and I let you decide what role plays the donkey in all this.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Fez invaded by the countryside

In a street of Fez, near the American Center, a field of fava beans...

... just in front of a very official-looking building, which turns out to be, according a young passer-by, the service of fraud regulation.

Friday, 14 March 2008

A child's life in Ouled Mgatel

Hayat, 5 years old, little shepherdess

In Ouled Mgatel, children have a playground as big as the farm... There are always strange things all covered in mud, stuff to break into small pieces, hens to chase, lambs to cuddle, a little brother or a cousin ready to hear fantastic stories.
But children have to work too, and when they're very young. Hayat, 5, is sometimes a charming and mysterious little shepherdess. Sometimes, she is the keeper of her baby sister, that her mother put on her back and attaches with a scarf. Soon, she'll also have to get water from the well, help her cousins in the kitchen... and, which sounds a lot less fun, go to school !

Hayat and Samir with their father Abdelftah

Little Samir never looks happy when you look at him... but he is, believe me ! In the background, the cousins of Fez enjoy the calm of the countryside.

The dogs respect little children. Well, actually, little children rule dogs !

Noha, Hayat, and Samir have breakfast, and the dogs are hungry !

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Photo of the house 3/12/08

After the whitewash... or the snow?

Saturday, 8 March 2008

The dogs of Ouled Mgatel

You've certainly noticed them in our photos. The dogs are part of our life here. At first, however, I didn't like dogs, and Fred neither. But, you see, the dogs here are nothing like French dogs (or English dogs, or American dogs, I suppose...). They don't rub themselves against you. Nobody talks to them, except for telling them "go away !". Nobody touches them. They never go into the houses. They're not big babies. But instead:

1. They bark every time a stranger approaches the house (and that "stranger" can be the neighbor's little boy...) They are guard dogs, they live in packs, and their job is to protect the farm. They are really great for doing this, they can feel people a hundred miles away. Well, at night, it can be very annoying, all those concerts of barking !

2. They are always VERY VERY hungry. They eat mainly chunks of bread. So they are VERY VERY skinny. It gives them some kind of hyena look, not really reassuring I agree, but don't worry, they are completely harmless (well, if you're our friend...). According to Fred, who knows a lot of things about science, for the dogs, we're part of their pack, and they see us as other dominant dogs. So they fear us, and obey.

We haven't chosen to have dogs. THEY chose us. Mohammed, our neighbor, has 6 or 7 of them, some very strong dogs, and 2 of them regularly spend time with us.

The dogs Miloud and Lisa wonder when we'll decide to share our meal with them

Even if nobody ever calls the dogs by their names, they have names, strangely, because they have IDs. So I introduce you to our two more faithful companions, "Miloud" aka "Shfar" ("thief", he's not always very polite) and "Lisa", the old bitch, brave and noisy defender of our house.

When she's not hunting down strangers, she sometimes cuddles our orange tree, that surely appreciate her help, because it's been difficult for it to adapt to the earth of our garden.

And then, because she's too hot, she dives in the wheatfield... and it's pure happiness.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Joyeux anniversaire

One of them was born on the 6th of March, the other on a 8th... I'm writing this post on the 7th, so nobody will be jealous !
With those wild flowers of my garden, I wish a happy birthday to both of my grand-mothers who are, I was told, faithful readers of this blog.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Our Moroccan Mudbrick House : it's not completely over yet...

... but we did some good work!

We now have a real kitchen, all white and clean. Well, there are still a couple of things left to do, but it's nice, isn't it?

The kitchen, covered with white and black soap

And here's our dining room, freshly whitewashed. We're really proud !

And, last but not least, the garden which, hopefully, will soon be wonderful. We sowed and planted a lot of stuff, mint, parsley, coriander, melons, orange trees, lemon trees, zucchinis... We apparently did quite bad with the seeds, but Abdelali, the son of Mohammed, our neighbor, came and repaired the damages we cause with big blows of hoe. It turned out we didn't dig enough, and the roots of the plants would have been very small.