John and Hakim, the RELO and his assistant, visited Meknes yesterday and took me, Mohammed, the CPR director and a few other teachers out to lunch at the Palais Didi, a very beautiful riad converted into a boutique-type hotel and restaurant. The meal was traditional Moroccan cuisine, starting with a salad of tomato, lettuce and fish and slices of bread, followed by several side dishes of beans, egg plant, beets, potatoes and other such goodies. Included in this were a couple of varieties of briouats, one with chicken and the other stuffed with a spicy ground beef mixture. The main course was a very slow-cooked roast beef, tender enough to cut with a fork, smothered in prunes and almonds. Dessert was a huge whole-fruit platter. A delicious meal in very beautiful surroundings.

The Didi is also very close to the Royal Meknes Golf Club, whose greens fees don’t look to be all that expensive, $20 or so for the day. Uniquely, the course is lit, so you can play at night. (I’ve been wondering what the very bright, nighttime glow was behind the medinah.)

I expected John to give me something to do, since the CPR doesn’t begin until November, presumably after Ramadan ends. About all he wants me to do is help the local American Language Center, which is under the guidance of Tariq, a native of New Jersey. John is very high on Micro Access Scholarships for underprivileged Moroccan kids, so Tariq and I are going to be selecting 9 (I think) recipients for the scholarship. Should be interesting. Other than that, I’m foot-loose and fancy-free for a while.

Yes, I got my boxes yesterday, too. Just like Christmas. My middle-age loss of memory serves me well, since I was a bit surprised at what was in the boxes. Right now I’m listening to a local radio station (FM) on my shortwave. So far they’ve played an hour of Carol King oldies and a Tchaikovsky symphony. Last night they played what sounded like New Age music and traditional Moroccan/North African tunes. Very eclectic. More later.