Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Welcome to the Sahara!

Welcome to the Sahara! Even after almost two weeks, I still find it hard to believe I live here. Now that I know my way around town a little better, I thought I'd share it with you.

Knowing my way around town isn't hard, because there is basically one paved street in town. It runs from one end to the other, which is about a half mile. The street is lined with little shops, called hanoots. They carry all the daily necessities: milk, water, soap, etc. There are a few little hardware hanoots, a few clothing, a few furniture. There's the bank (with an ATM that works only when you aren't in a hurry), the schools, the mosque, etc. Twice a week, all the vendors come to the big outdoor market (souq) where you can get all your vegetables and bigger items that aren't available on a daily basis, but we still tend to have to go to the nearest city to get anything more than the simple stuff. In short, this isn't a town where you can immediately find items to meet cravings, but basic needs are covered.

The pace of life here is really different and had taken some getting used to. This is mainly due to the climate. It is really hot already (around 100 degrees), and it'll only get hotter from here. The heat dictates everything; when you do chores and when I can go running and when people are willing to come to classes at the women's center where I work. During the middle of the day (from about 11 to 5 ish), there's hardly anybody out. Everyone sleeps all afternoon, because it's too hot to do anything else!

We wake up early to the sound of roosters and donkeys, but days still start slowly; we eat breakfast around 9:30, after many of the chores are already done. I live for the evenings and night, when we set a carpet in the front yard an enjoy the cooling world. After dinner at 11 pm, we carry mats and blankets to the roof and fall asleep under the stars. It's amazing, the perspective that brings to your life. Little frustrations somehow cease to matter, when I weigh them against the immensity of that night sky.

It is a very simple life, and I like it. People sit in front of their houses in the evenings (and during the day), and they greet everyone who goes by. I've helped two elderly individuals make the trek to their homes already, simply because I was walking past and they needed a hand. And you know what? I was free to stop and help, because I wasn't rushing somewhere or running through a to-do list or talking on my phone. I feel like I'm very present in this place, and I like it so far!

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