Sunday, June 26, 2011

One month in.

One month ago today I arrived in Morocco. Which means I have 1 1/2 more here. That's not a lot of time, really. I am glad I have it, even after all the sick yesterday (and I am feeling much better btw.) I can't believe some of the other students only have 2 weeks now. I have hardly bought anything and not seen very much of the country. More than I saw of Tunisia, as crazy as that is (which is why I hope to go back eventually), but still not very much!

I have definitely learned a lot of language here, both standard and Moroccan, though I do wish I had more :) haha, so hard to satisfy, but that's why I am staying longer than almost everyone else. I have also noticed some interesting things about the use of French and language attitudes that I may be able to wrap into something for a class at the very least, but possibly even my dissertation.

The next few weekends I am going to try to travel a bit more. Some people are going to a city near the coast and I may head over there with them (though if they continue on to a city further up, I may just stay in the nearer one. I also know people in two different cities within weekend distance - Meknes (45 min) and Rabat (2.5 hours) and I plan to go to both before leaving. Since I have one full week here after my classes end, I am starting to look at possible destinations and potential couchsurfers to stay with. Most of the Moroccan couch offerers are guys (or at least it's a guy who made the page) so I'll end up staying with non-Moroccans, but that should be fun, too.

It turns out to be very hard to meet Moroccans. There aren't a lot of groups to join or classes to take. People tend to meet others through their friends. I realize it's a lot like that at home, but there are a lot more places at home that it's acceptable for young people to hang out. Here, some more modern people will go to cafes, but it's still mostly older males. And that's not really my scene. It's typical for guys to get married around 30 or 35 to a girl significantly younger - and I have no interest in being seen as a possibility by them. So people meet their friends mostly at home and maybe go out walking or shopping together. Maybe get something to eat, depending on how much money they have, what their parents are ok with, etc. I was hoping to meet younger people, in order to get ideas on what kind of research might work (plus it's more fun to talk to people of a similar age/interests) so I have been trying outside and now have one Moroccan friend. The first couple times we talked I think she didn't know what to do, so we just helped each other learn more words and phrases. The third time started similarly, but we talked more after that. She speaks pretty English and ok French as far as I can tell so far, so we can get a lot across. We'll see how it continues.

Well, it is time to leave the study center - it closes from 1-4:30 on weekends. So I suppose that is all you get for now!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

(home) sick

I think many people here would agree. The distance from home becomes most obvious when you are feeling like crap and just want a hug/shower/the medicine you know/the foods you know/your favorite movies, etc. I don't know what exactly I did, but this is the worst my stomach has been from food. Really, it's not that bad - my stomach hurts and I'm uncomfortable, but I'm not accidentally pooing my pants or anything (has happened to a few others here, poor them.) But I do want to be at home. With some bland soup. And gatorade. And crackers. And people to go 'awww, you're not feeling ok? Have you tried this?' But over the internet it won't be the same, so don't try. Oh, right, and definitely the movies. May try to download Casino Royale. Can't feel crappy watching Eva Green, right?? I did figure out how to download this Moroccan soap opera I've been hearing about, though. They switch back and forth between Moroccan Arabic and French, it's pretty cool. And so much in line with my research interests. K, that's all for now :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Turning the tables

In the mornings, I meet with other students headed to school and we take a taxi together. Today we were trying to see if one other person was coming (turned out she was at school already) and while we were standing there a group of Moroccan teenagers walked past. One of the boys asked us (in arabic) if we could take a picture. We could tell by the looks on his friends' faces that he was kind of messing with us, so we said we didn't have a camera. (I bet none of us actually did.) Then he was like, 'no, we have a camera.'

We were still confused at what was gonna happen, but he called his friend with a 'camera' (a handheld game - maybe an old sony one? Or nintendo ds before the ds? I recognized it as old.) Then he started to act like he was going to take a picture WITH us. As in him & his female friend standing goofily with us with the other boys watching. And I told him "whoa, no, no, we will take a picture of you, but not with us in it." (K, don't know how much of that actually got across with my major lack of words.) Understanding well or not, they laughed and walked away.

While it was kind of odd, I am pretty sure that is what tourists here do to people sometimes and it was pretty funny that the kids decided to do it right back. I suppose we could have just taken a picture with them, the other girls may have been willing, but since it just seemed like a big joke, it didn't seem worth it.

Another interesting thing this morning was a comment my teacher made in class. One of the girls got our morning teacher to go off on a tangent that was actually pretty cool. He was talking about the purity of the Arabic language and how there is a saying that basically says you can tell who someone is by the way they talk (meaning whether they speak a language well, I think.) He also said that he judges news and television channels first by the language and second by the content - that if it's 'bad' Arabic he just can't listen to it no matter what, but if it's fluff news presented well, then it's fine.

The fact that the language used in the Koran is seen as the 'pure' language gives the people a really different relationship to it, and I'm still surprised by it at times. The teacher said that a king or president of an Arab country would never give a speech without reading it directly unlike American or European presidents (I sort of wanted to bring up teleprompters, but was enjoying his little diatribe too much.) He also said that if a king or president started speaking 'bad' Arabic or Darija (dialect), he would turn it off no matter what the topic or proposed program was because it is not the 'right' way to speak. I know from some of my research that in Tunisia the former president would sometimes give speeches in Tunisian Arabic, so now I'm curious what people here and there thought of it. And what language the speeches for the upcoming elections are in. He said that even the parliament uses 'pure' Arabic speeches, often written by someone else, so show how educated they are.

It's so hard to think of being required to change your language THAT much. If someone was raised without learning 'standard' Arabic, they would understand some words, but not really get the tenses or a whole lot of information. I can't figure out a good comparison, but maybe as different as Spanish and Italian - definitely some words in common, but different pronunciation. Some grammar similarities, but plenty of differences. You know, some dialects may even be more different. But don't tell that to some native speakers. For religious and political reasons, they're all considered the same language. K, I'll quit being a nerd now.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sweating is good for you!

I was lucky that the first two weeks here the weather was cooler than normal. Last week it started to heat up. And now it is high 90s all week. Still cooler than Austin (105 the other day) and much dryer. But the big difference is that there is no AC in my house here. Which means lots of sweating. For the next 6 weeks. My host mom says it's good for you, and that AC is bad. Wake up sweaty. Walk to taxi. Windows down, but no AC. Get to school. AC in classroom (reasonable amount) but before and after class, again none. But all the trees and plants surrounding the school keep it shady and cooler. In the afternoon, I head over to the school's study center. It's in a big, old house that is built properly for the heat, so it's cooler. But still not actually cool. Less sweating, anyway.

I have been drinking loads of water (and trying to keep enough salt in me to not just lose it all immediately) so I can tolerate it. I am actually starting to get used to it, which I find pretty disgusting in itself if I stop and think about it. But what can you do? Accept it and move on. And hope you can actually fall asleep.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Camel 'saddles' are not comfy and sand dunes are big.

The title is all you need to know.

I had a lot of fun over the weekend. I saw a ton of Moroccan countryside as well as the Sahara. We set out Friday after lunch (skipping all afternoon classes) and made our way down to a hotel in Erfoud. The city seems to be pretty small - mostly just a place for hotels. Or all of the hotels are outside of the city (totally possible, I just don't know which.) They are definitely built around people headed to/from the desert. Since the trip was organized by school, we stopped on the way down there for bathroom breaks at set hotels that knew we were coming.

The hotel we stayed at in Erfoud was ridiculously nice. Giant rooms with two double beds (and directions on how to make them stay together in case you wanted one realllllly giant bed. Then a TV and two couches to sit on. The bathroom had the toilet separate with its own door, which is pretty standard in France as well as many hotels, but the rest of the bathroom didn't have a door at all. So to get to the shower, you walked around this corner, and hello!. I ended up rooming with a very nice girl that I hadn't met before. She actually isn't studying at ALIF, she's doing an internship in Rabat. A group of students from her school is here, though, so she asked the professor and got permission to come on the Sahara trip with us. That first night we swam and ate. The food was a big buffet and for once there was plenty of fruit and vegetables! I was so very happy about that. I didn't even have a piece of bread.

A bunch of students had decided it would be a good chance to get drunk, too (no drinking in homestays, of course, or at school or the study center, so you are limited to not drinking or to drinking in hotels.) As you might guess, many of us felt that actually drinking was probably about the worst thing to do before heading into the desert as it would probably just make you dehydrated and possible hung over - not the things one wants to be while riding a camel in the heat. So I swam a lot and talked and showered and went to sleep.

The 'sitting area' of my hotel room the first night

The next day, we ate breakfast, had the option for more swimming (since it was all sunny I didn't want to be in the water for fear of getting totally worn out) and hung around for a bit until we moved to the second hotel. The second hotel was really just a staging area to get out on the camels. We had lunch there, could swim again if wanted, but a lot of us just relaxed. There were two rooms - one for the girls' stuff and one for the boys'. And these rooms were quite a bit smaller than the last ones, so it really was just peoples' stuff in them.

We grabbed what we would need for the desert (a lot of water, scarves, jeans and long sleeves) and met around 5:30 to meet the camels. Camels are pretty big animals. When they sit down on the ground, they are not that tall, but they have some serious legs on them! The guides would gather a small group of people and then start putting us on camels. And those serious legs make for an interesting experience as they stand up or sit down. Hold on tight and lean in the opposite direction of where you're trying to fall off. No one did fall, though. The saddles or seats or whatever you want to call them were the problem. Sort of boxy and squared. Covered in a blanket, as well as wool sewn directly on to it, but I have no idea what was under there because it was sooooo square feeling and awkward. The way out there wasn't much of a problem. It was waking up the next morning and standing up that you realized how uncomfortable you must have been. Which did not make the prospect of getting back ON a camel to head back the least bit appealing.

My view from the camel's back
The first ten minutes of the ride, I think that the only thing I was thinking was why hadn't I thought about the fact that camels are BIG animals. And not always happy to have riders. They move around, you shift with their every step, and I am not so sure what to do with animals. I've only even ridden a horse a few times, and you are closer to the ground with horses. Or at least the saddle feels better. After I got a little used to it, and quit gripping the thing you hold on to quite so tightly, I would take off one hand to take pictures (strap securely around wrist.) Like so very many things, pictures just can't do it justice. I mean, you're in the middle of a sea of sand. And it's so pretty but so big and dry. And those kids in A Far off Place? Never would have made it, even with the native friend's help. I know it was a different desert, but they were not dressed well and would have needed sooooo much water.

After about 2 hours of bumpy camel ride, we made it to the oasis that we would stay at. It was pretty funny because the place was divided into about 4 'camps' that are apparently owned by different families or people at least. We got settled and, as it was a little before sunset, some of us decided to climb the sand dune directly to the west of the oasis. It really didn't look that big. We started climbing. And got tired. And kept climbing. And climbing. And became exhausted. But refused to stop all the same. Forget stairmasters, some genius should make a sandmaster - that would be the true work out.

Brilliant me, I had left my scarf at the camp because I was hot and sweaty. So when I was about 15 feet from the top (maybe 5 minutes at my pace by then) the wind started to pick up. On our way in, we had heard thunder and I just thought it was cool. When that became sand blowing in my face, it wasn't so cool. I stayed at the top for a bit, feeling the sand attack my skin, lips, ears, nose and eyes. It didn't hurt in my eyes, really, just felt weird (at least not til I tried to get some out of my eyes.) After maybe 15 or 20 minutes at the top, enjoying but only having time for one picture before the wind was too strong (don't want sand in camera!) we headed back down. Some people had been up there longer than me, others shorter. Walking down was soooo much fun! The annoying part of getting up - feet sliding backward all the time - became a game of seeing how far a single step would take you. But that thing was much bigger than we thought, as my pictures of the tiny camels from the top should tell you.

From the very top of the sand dune.

Back down at the bottom, the winds continued. It wasn't a full-on sand storm, but it definitely got sand EVERYWHERE. At least I was at the bottom with my scarf by then. Still, it was very uncomfortable. Someone said we were all getting free microdermabrasion. And it's true that my hands were really soft afterward and my lips stung when I had orange for dessert. Didn't make up for it all, though. We had to have dinner inside this big, low tent. It was very hot in there, and the bodies of 45+ people did not help it in any way at all. We had a giant dinner for here (lunch is the main meal of the day) with different vegetables and tuna with rice, followed by kefta (meat balls) and fruit for dessert. I'm pretty sure the stuff was brought in on ATVs, not camels, as we saw plenty of tracks on our way it. I would much rather ride a four-wheeler than a camel.

After that there was drumming by some berber guys that was really cool sounding and a bunch of people got up to dance. I'm find with dancing, especially if it's having fun and learning how they do it. But instead it was a bunch of sweaty Americans sort of moshing around. And being covered in sand and hot, I decided it was better to stay out of the dancing and enjoy the sky. I think I have seen more stars once - at the MacDonald Observatory in west Texas. And probably only because there were some clouds and the moon was near full. It was still amazingly pretty. So pretty that two other girls and I decided to sleep out of the tent (most everyone did in the end). One of them grabbed pillows, but as soft as sand is when you're directly on it, when it's covered by a heavy carpet it's just hard and lumpy. We lied there for about 5 hours, but I probably slept 3-4.

We got up early to climb the dune again to see the sunrise. I guess desert sunrises can be amazing, but this one was very nothing. The sky just lit up, and the sun came up. No cool colors, nothing surprising at all. There were some people who stayed on the hill longer, and later it sounded like they were waiting for more. Um, sorry people, that's not how a sunrise works. We headed back, uncomfortably, on the camels and I was soooooooooooooo ready for 'breakfast' once we finally got there! I was crazy hungry, but unfortunately they didn't think fruit was a breakfast thing at that hotel so it was mostly bread stuff. I did have a hard-boiled egg and a tomato at least.

Then we showered (there was a shower building, not just the one in the room) and headed out. The van was hot and sticky both directions. The air was on, but not high enough. And I was just in a skirt! I don't know how the people in jeans survived. After lunch at another hotel (which seems to have upset my stomach) we made it back to Fes about 11 hours after we left Merzouga (camel start/end hotel city.) It was cool and I had fun and it was great to do something different, but I was also tired and happy to be out of that car!

I think I got a little sick from lunch at the last place, but here I am at school all the same. I'm sure I will live!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ants for breakfast!

My host mom is very nice. Every morning she makes tea and puts it out before I get up, as well as bread, butter and jam. Then she goes back to sleep. I think she stays up on the phone til 1 or 2, so I don't blame her for sleeping late. With the heat that is starting to set in, it makes even more sense.

Today I went out to pour myself some tea (it's always really hot, so I pour it a bit before I want to drink it) and noticed a few ants on the table. Odd, but considering that there aren't screens, the windows are usually open, the door is usually open, and the windows and screens probably don't close very well anyway, no big deal.

I came back a couple of minutes later to drink the tea and eat something and when I went to grab some bread I realized that it was fulllll of ants. Yay, yummy. Ant bread. So I brushed a few off and cut a piece in half, trying to decide if I'd eat it anyway, and found more ants wandering through the interior of the bread. That decides it, no ants for breakfast. There is a little food stand at the school that has lots of stuff, I just usually try to not spend money on food there when there's plenty of similar stuff at my house.

I was just told that I'll be getting a roommate tomorrow. She's not with a program, which I think is good - no built in group of people. It sounded from the housing coordinator's description that she's not excited about sharing a family, which is also good in my book, since I'm not either. Maybe we'll end up with different schedules. Only time will tell... I don't think I'll meet her til Sunday night since I have the desert trip. Yay, weekend!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I found a place that I can reliably upload photos! It's a miracle! And it's close to school and it's not a cafe, so I don't have to buy something to use their internet! It's the student residence for the school - people who aren't living here are allowed to hang out from 9am to 6pm. It's pretty handy. So here's what you get now. More pics next week - of sunrise and sunset from the desert!

Inside old traditional house American fulbright girl lives in.

scaffolding holding up said house

Fountain in ville nouvelle (new city) looking towards old city.

Cute kitty, don't know how it got there.

American playing keep away with Moroccan kids :)

Inside the study center

Floor of study center. I like all the stars.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Morning in the medina

This morning I walked around the medina with Karen and her host sister. Her host sister is 11 or 12, I think, and doesn't seem to mind wandering around with us, half showing us places and half just seeing with us. We speak mostly Arabic, but when I totally am lost Karen will use French with me. It's a nice way to get in some practice, unlike in class! Plus she speaks more slowly than native speakers, so I understand more. And we talk about immediate things that are easier to understand anyway.

Here is a picture of some plaster carving that I think looks really cool. The whole place is.... old. I just checked - apparently built in the 1350s. I don't know if this is that old, or if it's part of the restoration efforts, but the cedar in the building is apparently at least from the 1500s. CRAZY.

I am sooooo hungry, I am going home for tea! (at study center now.)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Food and laundry

The other night for dinner, we had a goat's head. Or maybe a sheep's. As in the whole thing. It was pre-cooked over a fire from the flavor, and then soaked for a few days and boiled in a little pressure cooker that Malika uses for just about everything. The flavor was fine - the hard part was the texture and knowing what was edible or not. I had been warned ahead of time, and when she brought it out there was the familiar direction, "eat!" I started slowly and was again urged to eat. So I asked, 'eat what?' and then she kinda realized I didn't know how to go about it and started pointing out good bits. Then handed me some. I started out with what I recognized as meat, and when there was something unfamiliar I asked "and this?" Every now and then, no, that was not a good eating part. Then she handed me a piece and said 'that's its ear.' Gee, thanks, as if this wasn't difficult enough already. Some of it, the texture.... ughhhhhhhh, just thinking about it makes me want to puke. But, with a decent dose of bread I made it through.

Tonight I got to do some laundry. They do have a little machine, but I don't know how gentle it is so I asked if I could wash my underwear. I did learn things in Tunisia - like how to effectively wash underwear by hand quickly and how many rinses it actually takes to get the soap out. Plus here I didn't have to lean over a bathtub - there is a part of the roof that's about chest height that I put the little tub on so I wouldn't have to lean over on the ground. But even that is better than leaning over a bathtub. Plus with the music festival in the background, it wasn't so bad. After hearing so much of it, I decided to spring for one of the shows, so I'm going to see Ben Harper on Sunday. It's like $35, so a small splurge, but way less than it would be at home! Like most (ha, out of like 5) of the concerts I've been to, I know the name, and am sure I know some songs, but honestly can't be sure of what they are. Always fun, though!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Still here

Since I've settled in, things have really slowed down. I go to class for 4 hours a day, with a 4 hour break in the middle when I go home, eat lunch, and do some homework (they tend to give us hw for the break.) I'm pretty frustrated with how slowly the course is going, especially since I found out that one of the other classes that started from the very beginning has been moving faster than us. I have to get through a certain # of chapters in order to take Arabic in the fall, and at this rate we will never make it - if some of the students can't even remember their alphabets still, how much will they slow us down later?? I thought at first maybe it was just ppls' motivations differ, but the two other girls who are doing well are learning arabic more or less for fun, so that's out as an explanation. I'm sure it will end up ok, blahblahblah, but I wish our profs would tell them, "go home, memorize this, you should know it by now." We're taking a whole 40 hours to do what I know they do in the program in Austin in 25-28. More people come in 1 1/2 weeks, maybe they'll mix up the classes then.... I kinda hope for that, but at the same time it could get worse probably, too. I'm hungry so food and slow class are the only things on my mind, which means I should stop now. Hope you all are well!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Two more pics

See more below!
A small part of a mosaic at a not-running public fountain in the 'ville nouvelle' (new city)
Couscous lunch on Friday - that reportedly made a few people sick. Oops.

Rude or smart?

It is SO hard to know what to do sometimes here. Lots of people try to talk to us. You can tell a lot of them are just jerks trying to get a response or who would later ask if you need a guide and then insist on money. We were told to ignore everyone and not feel bad about it, and in the old medina I feel like that's a very good rule. Sometimes outside of it, though, it's harder.

The other day I was walking home with another girl in my class and a guy tried to say sthg to us. Assuming he was just another jerk sitting near a store in a touristy area, we ignored him and went into a little store-stand to see if they had stamps. They didn't, but when we left, the guy we had just ignored told us where to find them. Oops. Still, with several shouts of "beautiful" and for some reason "Spice Girls" I don't feel bad for ignoring adults.

I had been wondering about what to do with kids. Little boys in the medina can be pretty aggressive, and again I was comfortable with brushing them off. But outside of there, maybe they are just trying to practice their language skills. I was staring blankly in the direction of a store area and a woman inside waved at me. I smiled back and heard a little girl call "bonjour!" and her mom corrected her, so she changed it to 'bonsoir!' and I laughed and said bonsoir back.

After a few minutes, a little girl came up and looked like she was going to pass me. On her way past, she said bonjour. I decided to say it back. Then she stayed with me. And asked for a pen. I told her no. Then she asked for candy. I said no again. If she asked me again I was going to tell her 'shame on you' which is sort of an effective thing - apparently in public people care, but when no one else is around (like me & the little girl) other students have said they don't care because there's no one there to enforce the 'shame.' Luckily she gave up on me and went back the other way. Brat.

It feels ridiculous because I think the nice, honest people are going to start thinking that foreigners are all unfriendly jerks, but it's not worth it to get followed or harassed by the jerk locals. And I bet that some of the Moroccans are well aware of the treatment of foreigners, but certainly not all. And not the little honest little kids that I will now be ignoring.

I also get annoyed by the tourists who fall for it - who would just give the little girl stuff not realizing that it's not cool and it's going to get her to keep asking everyone for gifts, or money. Or the girls who giggle or chat with the boys when they call them spice girls or britney spears. If they would all just knock it off, the rest of us could probably walk down the street without so many shouts. Brain-dead jerks. I think some people do it out of wanting to 'help' when they see the level of poverty, but that is NOT the way to do it.

I made some pictures work!

View from my roofMe on the giant castle stairs in Lisbon (where I apparently left my umbrella. grrrrr.)

Sunset from the plane!

Ok, it's not much, but it took like 15 minutes for these to upload from school, so you better appreciate it! Time for class now!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Answering questions

K, I'm not feeling so hot this morning, so I guess it's a good time to answer questions. Several asked about the marriage conversation - the guy was speaking in French, so I was translating that to English for the girl. Every now and then, she would ask him questions directly in Moroccan, or he would clarify a bit in English.

I am sure that the chicken will last just fine, but 3 chickens and only 3 people, one of whom is an 18 yr old who almost doesn't eat... it seems like a ton at the moment. We'll see how it goes.

My classes are at a place called ALIF. It's actually a bit like the place I worked in Tunis. They mainly offer english courses, and have a bunch of centers that do, but they also offer arabic - standard or Moroccan - to foreign students. Mostly, if not completely, American students. The instructors are all Moroccan as far as I know. I have two and they both are. One teaches us for two hours in the morning, the other for 2 in the afternoon. They definitely have different styles, so it's nice to have them both. I think some of the teachers may do it as a summer job, but others it's definitely their full-time job. One of my instructors is the language coordinator, so he would be there year-round. I know there are 4-5 times as many Arabic students in the summer than the rest of the year, so I imagine they must pull in extra. Or maybe they all just work more in the summer, who knows.

I live in what I guess is an apartment. It's in a 3-story building that probably used to be a big house. We live on the top floor, there are 2 bedrooms, a big main room, and a tiny kitchen. At least the kitchen's its own room. On the roof there is what I think of as a study/relaxing room, as well as plenty of space to dry clothes. There's also a storage room up there. The bathroom is sort of separate from the apartment, but we have it to ourselves. It has a western toilet and a shower whose drain is not in the curtained off shower 'space,' but on the other side of the toilet near the sink. Unfortunately not quite the lowest spot in the bathroom (anymore?), so you get to use the squeegee the excess water into the drain. I have practice with such things from the Taos kitchen. There isn't a yard, but there are trees here and there because some people do have them in courtyards. The streets are sort of a modern cobblestone, I guess. Bricks that are laid in together. On the bigger streets they are big stones that have a very pretty pattern to them. I'll try to upload some pics sometime, I just don't know where I might. There are also poured concrete sidewalks that are sometimes funny because they look like they were 'leveled' with a rake. (At least there ARE sidewalks, unlike some parts of Austin.)

I had some cheap local chocolate last night. I don't know how it passes for 'chocolate.' It's all waxy and doesn't taste like much. Mostly left my mouth feeling like I'd eaten 5 cookies worth of oreo guts. gross. My stomach doesn't feel great today. My host mom gave me some tasty instant coffee stuff made with milk. How to explain that milk will NOT help my stomach? I just took some lactaid and drank it anyway.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

No pictures for you!

I decided Saturday would be a good day to try to upload pics. It turns out that while my internet is helpful and relatively speedy, it does not agree with pictures. I shall try this again somewhere at some point. But for now, you all must be patient. Not fun, I know, but I am quite sure you will survive it!

On the menu for today is a walk through the old city with Karen (that I met in Lisbon) and her host sister and then maybe watching a soccer game with Selma (I'm horrible at fake names) and *her* host sisters.

Week 1 of classes left me tired, and not perfect at everything we're doing, but still feeling like I wish it would go faster. Having to learn a new alphabet for a language makes the process so much slower! And when our professors pronounce words, it's easy to her the long and short vowels/consonants. Not so much from the dvds we work from. Good practice and all that, I'm sure.

Friday, June 3, 2011


This evening I wandered around the medina a bit with Malika. She got Amira's watch strap fixed (guy did it in 2 minutes and was less than a dollar - people are cool about easily making things usable for longer here) and then bought some chicken. Yep, you may have guessed - whole, live chicken. She didn't kill them, the guy did. But just easy as that, picked out 3, one at a time. She'd kind of point, the guy would grab one, twist its wings together so it wouldn't move, weigh it, tell her a price (I gotta get better with numbers!) and she agreed. Then, slit it's throat, put it upside down in the blood-drainer-thing. Then we walked a bit more to see where they're going to have a bunch of the concerts for the next week (google fez sacred music festival, it's maybe 10 min from my house on foot and I could hear it from the roof this afternoon), bought some soap and noodles, and went back to pick up the chickens. All nicely plucked now, of course. I wonder how long they last like that. At home, it's supposed to be 2-3 days after buying, but clearly these are a BIT fresher....