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Au Moroc pour commencer la 9ème Semaine

Forgive me for writing the title to this week's report in rather dubious French. However, in recognition of our trip to Morocco last weekend, it seems only fitting to add a little North African flavour. I wish I could use Arabic - the official language of the region - but in two days travelling through Chefchaouen, Tetuoan and Tangier, the only word I managed to pick up was "shokran", which means thank you. The students, I'm pleased to say, got quite a few more expressions down, though perhaps this is owed to the considerable time they spent regateando (bartering) in the Moroccan markets!

The students and I certainly owe a huge shokran to our awesome guide Abdoul –aka Michael Douglas - who lived up to the high praise bestowed upon him by Ken (the two had coincided on a previous trip). With his jokes, quips and teasing (“ I am looking for a fourth wife…”), Abdoul constantly had the students laughing. However, we should also be thankful for having a guide with such a profound knowledge of his homeland and evident pride in his heritage. We will undoubtedly be hoping to see Abdoul again on future trips, a true ambassador for his country.

As for what we got up to, I’ll let the photos below tell the story…

Three local women...or are they our students?!

Michael Douglas keeps everyone entertained

The green hills of Africa...

Don't worry Mom, it's not permanent! Henna tattoos.

Riding camels in Tangier

Chloe ready to cross the Sahara.

Ivanna's favourite pic!

Bustling downtown Tangier

SLC architecture walk with Keith

On Tuesday we set out for a stroll with Keith to learn about the architectural history of Salamanca. With the long awaited sunshine having finally arrived, everyone was in fine spirits and, in looking upwards towards the facades of Salamanca’s many magnificent buildings, I dare say we all managed to work our suntans a little while we learned. Bonus!

Our charismatic Irish lecturer in action

Segovia and La Granja de San Ildefonso

On tour with Mariano

On Friday, we ended the week with a day trip to Segovia. Historians will tell you that the Romans built the city's stunning aqueduct more than 2000 years ago, but we rather preferred our guide’s, story that the Devil built it in exchange for a little girl’s soul (don’t worry, her prayers saved her in the end!). We’ve had the pleasure of working with Mariano for many years in Segovia so it was great to see him entertaining another year of Citrus students, dressed with his familiar hat and leather bag,  We finished up our tour in the Alcázar, which, as is often pointed out, looks more than a little like the Disney Castle!

After lunch we jumped on the bus for the short drive to the Granja de San Ildefonso, an old summer residence of Spanish kings and queens. Here, our guys had free time to promenade around the magnificent gardens just like the royal residents of old. The sound of whirring and beeping mixed with the songof the garden birds as the students made their cameras work overtime. Fortunately, the valientes  that ventured into the hedge-maze all managed to find their way back out again!

Looking down from the Alcázar

La Granja de San Ildefonso

Erika having fun in the gardens

The final countdown

So, we’re rounding the final corner and into the home straight - next week is the last of the program! In a mere seven days we’ll all be at the airport saying our goodbyes, but we’re trying to forget about that for now. All the departure preparations are in place, so the aim is to make the last week a really memorable one. On Sunday we’re going to see a soccer game, which many of the students have expressed a desire to experience. Then on Wednesday we have our final group meal, where the good times will definitely be rolling.

Until the fat lady sings,

Andy and Carlos