Sunday, November 14, 2010

Here´s where my Village is

Since I´m not there anymore, I think it´s now okay to show the exact location of my village, Khoukhate. I´ve marked all the important places, bike trips, running routes, and others, and put up some pictures.

Here´s the link to the map:,-4.784546&spn=0.433129,0.883026&t=h&z=10

Here are some of the pictures that are shown on the map, that correspond to places I´ve marked:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Three villages, six irrigation ditches, and ten days before I leave

A couple of months ago, I began a project to improve some irrigation ditches around the Izzie village. Our valley is fed by dozen of natural springs that gush water all day every day, all year long. Most of these springs are channeled through dirt ditches to get to fields, but along the way, the majority of the water seeps into the ground and never makes it to the intended destination. A few of these ditches have over the years been improved by concrete, preventing loss of water and reducing the amount of time it takes for this water to travel to the fields. My favorite institution the Rural Commune has funded these projects in the past, with the following results:
$6000 constructed a channel 150 meters long
$15,000 constructed a channel 400 meters long
I had a few thousand dollars to improve a major central channel that serves the majority of farmers in the village, or as much of it as we could with these limited funds. My results:
$1500 finished the 400-meter original project (10% of the cost of the project had the Rural Commune financed it)
The other $2500 has financed five other smaller irrigation projects, for a total of probably about 650 meters, almost all constructed within the past week.

This project, though stressful in that I'm about to finish my Peace Corps service, is fun for me because I get to watch these three villages compete for my approval, all three asking about the progress of the other ones every day. It's also fun because it gives me plenty of opportunities to shake my head disappointedly at my favorite institution.

In Memoriam

My second and final attempt at raising a kitten in Morocco has failed - this one got caught in a glue mouse trap, stumbled around for a day stuck to a piece of cardboard, then probably died of a heart attack or inhalation of glue fumes, I'm not sure. This picture was taken a few hours before the unfortunate incident:

Day One of the Saffron Harvest

I'm a notoriously bad gardener, but finally something that I planted grew! It also just so happens to be among the world's most valuable plants. If things don't work out for me in America, saffron farming might be the way to go. I literally gave them zero attention after planting them, and just about every bulb blossomed. The two kilos of seeds I planted will probably yield less than a gram of saffron, and I'll probably be gone before at least half of that is harvested, but I'm still really excited.