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The Levant, otherwise known as the Levante or Sharqi, is a wind that blows westwards through the Strait of Gibraltar. Local myth has it that the wind has an ill nature and has curious effects: some say it slows the mind, others that it induces fatigue, and yet more claim that it invokes a general feeling of indescribable malaise. When it blows, the temperature seems to drop and clouds fill the sky, though it remains humid, and no amount of deodorant can hold back the sweat. People just seem to friction up. And yesterday, after a three day assault, it died away with the news that my home country had severed its ties with the EU. Truly, the Levant is an ill wind.

Welcome to Morocco. Ladies and gentlemen, I did it. I said I was going to and I did. I made it back here. I deliberately held back from posting on here for my first two weeks because – as you’ll see here – I had a very nasty case of cold feet, for no reason other than that I was sorely out of practice on the Arabic front. That tends to happen when you don’t speak a language for a year or so. I spent at least the first two weeks feeling like a dead weight in class, dragging my heels in a most abominable fashion over a very rusty Arabic outlook.

I’m happy to say that, thanks to the Dar Loughat team, to my tireless host family and especially to two real stars amongst my new friends here, I’m very much back on the rails. I used to think I was the kind of person that simply shut down in the face of overweening confidence in somebody else. Quite the opposite, in fact. I positively bloom on it. That’s the most beautiful thing about enthusiasm: it’s not just a one-way method of getting motivated. By its very nature it exudes positivity in buckets. My mother has always done well in her line of work for the sheer enthusiasm she brings to the job, even now, with so many years of experience. That’s a role model and a half for me. Truly. Fa3lan.

I’m up very early this morning. We’ve got it in mind, my new friends and I, to set off bright and early on a random walking adventure into the mountains from Martil (things that you could never do in Amman include…). We’ll be speaking in fusHa for as much of it as we can, that’s the caveat: and though we’re an Englishman, a Frenchwoman and an American and all (dare I say it) capable linguists, the language we’ve chosen as a common tongue is Arabic. That’s why we’re here, and that’s how we’ll succeed. It makes up for a lack of a friend circle in theMoroccan community itself, especially as these two genii are such wonderful company. (NB. Linguists always are. Just sayin’)

The terrible news about the events in my home country almost crushed me underfoot a few days back. But no more. I for one refuse to give in to fear. I have a job to do and a language to master, and I will stick to my guns. Choosing to study Arabic was not a mistake, it was one of the very best decisions I ever made, and one I made alone. I’m so proud of that.

I’d better pack. We’ve got a long hike ahead of us and it’s at least a forty five minute walk to the taxi ranks anyway. Ila liqaa ahbābii x

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