The day starts early in Arrakesh. At first hint of sunrise this morning, Megda rose and stirred the fire. Kattan rose too and had filled the water butt outside the cottage before I had wiped the sleep from my eyes. I slept remarkably well considering the thinness of the mattress.
After breakfast of toast (again made with almond flour) and tea, I wandered out into the village to observe the villagers going about their daily business. Just down the hill from Kattan’s cottage lies the Meeting Hall, a large building, not fully enclosed. Behind that lies the storehouse. I peeked inside and was astonished at how well stocked it is. The villagers seem to work together in all things. Meat caught while hunting, food gathered by the women, all goes into the storehouse. Even excess produce from each cottage’s garden is brought to the storehouse to be shared out by Pikat, the storeman.
To the north of the Meeting Hall lies a woodpile that would make any Carlikan weep. Again, it is the result of communal gathering, and will be shared throughout the winter.
The villagers are very friendly, eager to show me around. Many are also eager to ask me about Carlika or to tell me about their own experiences there. I must ask more about the Sharesh. It seems that very few Arrakeshi ever choose to stay in Carlika when their Sharesh is over, and even fewer ever return there afterwards. I am interested to find out why this is so.
I am still with Kattan and Megda. Apparently there is a spare cottage that I may have for the duration of my stay, but it needs maintenance before they deem it suitable for habitation.
Another villager shared a meal with us tonight, a young man named Jakan. He is relatively tall for an Arrakeshi, though still at least a foot shorter than me. I had guessed him to be about my own age, but Kattan tells me he is, in fact, only twenty, a good ten years younger. He was introduced as ‘The Treespeaker’, a title which intrigues me. He seemed reticent to speak about his role, however, and I have not yet had chance to question Kattan. I do know from talking to Arrakeshi visitors in Carlika, that there is a deeply held belief in the spirit of the forest itself. I presume this man is some sort of priest or seer, but I do not want to seem too greedy for information. I’m sure I will get a chance to learn more in time, if I can win Jakan’s confidence.
One thing that was clear was the obvious affection he had for Kattan and Megda. He apparently has no family of his own and lives alone in a cottage on the far side of the village. From what I saw in the village today, he is well respected by the other villagers, despite his young age. I look forward to getting to know him better, for I suspect he is the key to learning how Arrakeshi society functions.
Now to bed. I have been invited to go gathering yams with the women tomorrow. I am not sure whether to be pleased or insulted.