Sunday (day three of the trip) was generally relaxed as Sundays should be. We spent most of the day chatting music and the Studio Live project with the members of influential local band Tiris. The meeting was great as it was important to get different viewpoints on the project, especially about the involvement of the Ministry of Culture. It was generally agreed that the Ministry have the best local knowledge and infrastructure to make the project work. We were given some food for thought by the band, and some good questions to take to our meetings the following day. After that we headed back to Hamdi’s for a bit of R and R.

Once there a guy called Sherif came round to discuss getting involved in the project. He is a local musician and businessman with a transport company in Tindouf. As soon as he heard about the delay to our van he used his connections to call the port of Oran where the van is being held. Apparently the van will be released on Friday 11th and will be with us by the 14th, just enough time for our recording session with Tiris.

After a dreadful night sleep, at 8am I was woken up yesterday morning by Danielle worried about having lost her camera. Worried she may have caught something from Nick we got up to look for it. Fortunately she left it in the house we were in the day before so no drama. Besides it was her birthday so I couldn’t hold a grudge.
Aside from being Danielle’s birthday, Yesterday was a huge day for us as we went to have our first big meeting with the Ministry of Culture. Unfortunately our trusty host come chauffeur driver, Hamdi, was experiencing a little difficulty with his car. By this I mean that the rear wheel on the passenger side was only just managing to somehow remain attached and the shocks had gone long ago. So we waited for a taxi… and waited… and waited… until we finally bit the bullet and piled into Hamdi’s death box. The risks we take for FairTunes huh?

The meeting with the Minister was really positive and everyone in attendance seems fired up about the collaboration. We found out that the school building that had been discussed during our last mission has nearly been completed, which is great news. Furthermore, the design of the building is largely based on the redesign that I sketched out as best I could on a piece of paper a couple of days before I left the camps last time. To say I am excited to see the school is an understatement, I can’t wait. Grand designs eat your heart out!

Along with FairTunes and Sandblast working in the school we will be joined by a team from Spain who will be dedicated to teaching music. Fantastic news! There are also three national bands from the camps that will use the school. Apart from the studio the other main area they need help with is in live music production: they need to train more engineers so that eventually each camp will have its own team and system to put on their own concerts and cultural events.

Despite all this good news the highlight of the visit came when we were led to another room where the Minister of Culture had arranged a surprise birthday cake for Danielle. We all sang the song and stuffed our faces full of cake for the blushing Danielle.

Afterwards a guy called Selmu gave us a quick look at some equipment that had been bought by the Ministry. As expected the equipment was overpriced and not the best quality, but better than they had before. Once the Van arrives we will be able to provide them with what they are missing, and with much better quality as well. Roll on the 14th.