There’s a definite chill in the air lately, but the days continue to be sunny. The high temperatures have dropped into the upper 50s and the lows are in the high 30s. Hopefully, this is the most extreme that winter will become in Meknes.
I just returned from an admin meeting at the CPR. Unfortunately, Mohammed had to work, so I assumed I would be engulfed and overwhelmed by the Arabic and French that would be swirling about me. Fortunately, the CPR decided to hire two more English teachers, Moroccans whose fluency level in English is very high. I had met both of them before when John and Hakim came down for lunch at the expensive riad in the medina (9/28/05 posting), and they were able to keep me informed of the proceedings. One of them, a very distinguished, gray-haired gentleman, speaks with a pronounced (no pun intended) Scottish/British accent. I’ll have to remember to ask him where he studied.
Next week was supposed to be the first week of the students’ practicum, when they go out into the schools to observe and to teach, but at the meeting it was decided to postpone it until the week after. There are several of these scattered throughout the term, some of them lasting two weeks, so I was looking forward to being off next week. That’ll have to wait, though I hadn’t really planned on doing anything special. So, if any of my students are reading this tonight, you read it here first. No practicum next week! The powers that be also decided to split the class of 50 students, way too large, into 2 groups of 25. Excellent news. Even though my teaching hours will almost double for a brief while, it will be much easier to teach and much more beneficial to the students within the smaller classes. The last 3 weeks I’ve been teaching 8 hours per week, but that will jump to 12 next week. After the practicum, the hours will probably drop back down to 8 again, with me teaching 2 classes per week for 4 hours each class.
I’ve about had it with my bicycle. It’s a very cheap, in both senses of the word, Italian-made job. I mean, it’s got a front shock AND a rear shock and cost less than $100. Cheap parts. The original chain broke, I have to keep tightening the handle bars every couple of weeks, and it slips out of gear quite often and/or the chain comes off, which can be dangerous when I’m trapped in a traffic signal change and cars are bearing down on me from the left and right. I tried adjusting the derailleurs, but to no avail. The bike shop to where I’ve taken it a few times has nice mountain bikes, Peugeots, for a couple hundred bucks, no shocks. I think one of those will be much better, not to mention safer, than what I have now. I met the owner of the shop, who is close to 80, I would guess. He doesn’t speak any English, but I managed to find out from him that he was the national champion bicyclist of the Tour du Maroc in 1950 and 1952; he has pictures of his past accomplishments posted on the walls of the shop. His son or grandson (I couldn’t figure out which) is a citizen of the U.S. and served in the American Navy. The old man was quite proud of the fact that he got to visit Washington, D.C., where his son lives, and Chicago and Texas last year (I think he said). He’s really a great, friendly fellow, so I don’t mind giving him my business. I think I’ll stop in after class tomorrow and buy a new bike. More later.