I am a lady in Spain…

Hey friends, thought I should give a quick update… I left Morocco sadly and have come to Spain for the next part of my adventure.  I am hanging out with some friends here having a great family experience and getting some exercise for my creative powers… The two little girls of the family love stories and I think I made up four or five for them yesterday… Lots of love!

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It’s Laundry Day!

 

That is my laundry in the little tub on the edge of the fountain, soaking in preparation for a good washing.

All clean!

 

Second time doing laundry by hand ever and I finally figured it out.  Not that I figured it out on my own, cuz my host mom had to teach me everything I know.  But the first time through, she only let me do half of my laundry, probably cuz she felt sorry for me.  I was such a klutz at it, and I was afraid I would never get the hang of what I was doing.  I was splashing water all over the place, couldn’t get the clothes to stay put on the washboard, couldn’t muster up enough violence to actually get rid of the dirt, etc.  Today I was struggling along with the washboard again, and suddenly just felt my hands fall into a rhythm.  I couldn’t tell you what I was doing differently from before, but the whole motion of scrubbing was smoother and actually effective.  It was one more thing that makes me feel like I am two years old.  Here in Morocco, I feel like I am learning alot of things the way little kids learn them… not intellectually, but physically, training my body, whether or not I understand what I am doing.  I hope I remember this laundry experience next time I try to teach a kid something, and make sure to give them lots of time to practice…

 

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The Common Cold…

Today I am sick, blech…  It is just a cold, but it is amazing how much different a cold feels when you are in another country.  Everyone has their own ideas on how to get rid of it, and it is hard to know if it will act the same as it does at home, or if the cold bug is a different breed here.  Also, it is harder to fight because the house is freezing!  Moroccan houses don’t come with heating systems, just super thick walls that work pretty well to keep out heat and cold.  Most of the time I haven’t been bothered by the cold, I have just put on another sweater.  Now I have all my sweaters on and I am still cold.  At least they have plenty of awesome, fuzzy blankets to wrap up in… Those rock, and I swear every spare corner of this house is hiding more of them.  If only I had room in my suitcase to bring one home…

So hopefully I will write soon with a happier post.  I really want to write about starting my Arabic class, but first, sleep.  Take care and dress warm!

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Our Trip to McDonalds

 

Look mom, Mcdonalds! We must be close to home...

Drissia always said the food at McDonalds in Morocco was better than the stuff in the states... do they really have mousse here? I got yelled at a little for taking this picture... not sure why you aren't allowed to take pictures, are they afraid I will share their gourmet menu when I get back to the States?

Satisfied smiles over our burgers

Me and my big Mac. It was about 2/3 the size of a Big Mac in the States, but at least it didn't make me sick to eat the whole thing. And the fries were just as tasty as ever 🙂

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H…

I think speaking Arabic is the one thing that will keep me alive in Morocco.  I am not talking about the ability to communicate.  I mean because it makes me drink water.

I can’t speak for all of Morocco, but in the three homes I have been in so far, the use of water for drinking is so different from the way I drink water back home, it is sometimes hard to remember to drink any at all.

At home, I drink water at every meal.  Here, we have a couple of glasses available, in case someone might happen to want some.  At breakfast and dinner I drink about a cup of tea, but I think all the sugar in it outweighs the liquid benefits of it.  I expected people to drink alot more juice here, but I haven’t seen it yet.  Maybe in the summer.

But every time I try to speak Arabic, I am reminded to drink water.  Arabic requires you to use the back of your throat alot, but I feel like the back of my throat is always sticky and won’t cooperate.  If they say “Kh”, I say “H”, if they say “H” I say “Gh”…  and there are alot more of these “H” sounds I haven’t even heard of.  Today I found one “h” in the back of my throat that I have been looking for over the past week, which was really exciting!  I think there are at least four more of these I need to find, but at least it is a start…

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Two weeks..

Today I have been in Morocco exactly two weeks.  It is funny because in some ways time moves really slowly here.  We spend alot of time in the house, cooking, eating, cleaning, watching soap operas… not alot of crazy stuff.  And when you can’t understand anything that anyone is saying, some conversations can seem really long.  Those times, I feel like I should understand what people say by now and I get frustrated.  Yesterday, I got that “am I supposed to know that word?” look on my face again.  Drissia saw it and laughed, and reminded me ” you’ve been here two weeks, its okay if you don’t understand everything”.

Still, it is amazing how time has flown by.  My list of Arabic words is growing, and Drissia’s mom has started teaching me to write and read.  I think reading the arabic script will help alot.  I won’t have to worry about trying to decipher my own transliteration into the latin script.  I spend alot of time wondering “was I thinking in a Spanish accent when I wrote that?” or “how come there aren’t any vowels in this word?” or the worst “now which version of “h” was that supposed to be?”

Not that learning to read and write will automatically make speaking easier.  Turns out, when Moroccans write in Arabic script, they use classic Arabic, but they speak Moroccan Arabic.  This is like how in America we speak words like “can’t” and “won’t”, but we aren’t really supposed to write them.  (except we do, but I’m sure someone, somewhere is having a cow about it…)  But in Moroccan Arabic, they have a “can’t” form for alot more words, words like “teacup” and “delicious”.

I guess in some ways we do the same things in English.  Like Hajar’s (my homestay sister) new favorite word in the Washington state accent: “in-a-net”, translation “internet” in normal English.  She was so confused the first time I said it, and I was confused about why she was confused… until I remembered all the times my crew made fun of the way I said “mou’an”, translation “mountain”.  Then I realized I was speaking Washington English, and I tried to speak more clearly.  Now, she will say “in-a-net” to Drissia, glance at me, and giggle, and it is kind of like our own inside joke.  So maybe it isn’t that much different from the way we use English, although we wouldn’t go as far as calling it a dialect.  The differences in American English do still seem like accents.  But the differences between Classic and Moroccan Arabic seem bigger and less systematic than the differences in American English (it doesn’t seem like there is a blanket rule like “drop all the t’s in the middle of words”).  But maybe that is just my foreign ears.

Hopefully in another two weeks I will have learned all the letters in the alphabet and will start understanding some of the dialog in those soaps (all that drama is driving me crazy!)  Oh yeah, and hopefully I will be able to start joining in the conversations with my Moroccan family too…  if I can figure out all those h’s… 🙂

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Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Hey friends, sorry I havent really written, we have been busy the last week showing our friends Mark and Agnes around Morocco, so didn’t have much time to write, but I will update you more about that soon… for now, a little bit about my transportation adventures…

There are so many ways of getting around here.  Two days in I thought I had seen it all, but new vehicles and styles are appearing every time I turn my head.

Trains:  I have been in Morocco over a week and have ridden at least ten trains.  They are pretty comfortable and reliable, and seem to be the prefered method of long distance travel. It is a little uncomfortable if you have a lot of heavy luggage that wont fit in the overhead racks… but that is another story.

Taxis:  The next major mode of transportation is the taxi, and so far I know of three different kinds (but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more).  The petit taxi is color coded according to city (light blue for Meknes, cherry red for Casablanca, etc) and is the cutest, obviously.  It only holds three people, but it will take you anywhere you want to go.  Big taxis are all Mercedes, which is an automatic point in their favor, although they are all grey, so they aren’t really pretty.  I have never seen so many Mercedes in my life!  You can fit six people in these (four in the back, two in the front, plus driver… yeah if you do the math, you figure these guys are not super fans of seatbelts, although they are required by law).  Big taxis work like buses:  They travel a specific route, so you have to find the right one to take you where you want to go.  Also, often they will stop and wait until they are full, so you might sit there ten minutes waiting for more passengers.  Still, they are super cheap, 2 to 5 Dirhams, which is less than a dollar.  Finally, there is the tourist taxi.  It looks exactly like a big taxi, but you only find them at major tourist stops, and it will take you wherever you want to go, like the petit taxi.  I am still not sure whether we caught that one on purpose…

Bus:  The bus is just like any other bus, and seems to come pretty frequently.  The weird thing is that it costs the same to take a bus or a taxi, so what you take basically depends on how much of a hurry you are in and which one you find first.

Other:  Things I have seen but havent tried, yet:

Pretty little surry with the fringe on the top.  No joke they are everywhere.  If you don’t know what this is, you should go watch Oklahoma immediately.

Donkey:  They are so tiny and adorable, it is amazing how much they can carry!  They are all over, hauling groceries, people, carts, mineral soil.  I think EarthCorps should invest in a few for trail projects…  The second day here, I saw a donkey cart almost run into a taxi… the one I was in!  His face was two inches from my window and he didn’t flinch or even slow down.  Drissia always warns me that the drivers here wont stop for you, but I bet the taxis would stop for you before the donkey would.

Moped:  good for zipping around and through traffic.  We saw one pair of mopeds traveling together, and the people on the moped in the back were pushing the people on the moped in the front.  I am not sure if they had run out of gas, or just didn’t feel like pedaling, or just couldn’t go as fast as their friends… I wanted to take a picture, but couldn’t get my camera out in time.

Bike:  If you really want to take up the road and keep from getting run over, just ride in pairs.  We saw two bicyclists riding side by side, holding on to each others arms, as though they were pretending to be one car.  Also, bikes are great when your moped breaks down.  I saw one guy riding his bike into town with his moped strapped on the back.  I couldn’t believe he could ride like that, since the moped was at least twice the size of the bike.

 

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