Saturday, November 30, 2013

Buying just a little

I really love that in Morocco it's completely normal to buy just a little. I bought a couple little tubes of yeast a few weeks ago (think sugar packet size) but it was really finicky, even though I attempted to pre-proof it. It's not like I'm new with yeast! So today on the way home I stopped by the small store on my block (there's an average of one every two blocks I'd say, maybe more) and asked for yeast. The guy pulled out an open brick of yeast and crumbled about a quarter cup onto a paper (the typical way of giving some - at least this paper was clean) and asked if it was enough. I didn't recognize it as yeast, but I know I had the word right and I know I've seen that package before and it says it, so I was just like sure! How much? 1 dirham. 13 cents.

You savvy bakers probably can guess - fresh yeast! It apparently has a short shelf life, which makes it even better than I didn't have to buy a pound of it. But if you're nice to me, and it's allowed and wouldn't go bad, I might bring you some. Now to figure out how to use it to make me some cinnamon rolls...

Friday, November 22, 2013


Two participants were filling out my questionnaire when I heard something that sounded like a heavy cart rolling down the hall. But then it got louder. And sounded like the cart was spilling things all over. Then I realized it was an airplane. An incredibly close, loud airplane. Like the kind that makes you cringe and look up wondering if it's gonna hit your head. 

I looked up at the two of them thinking WHAT IS GOING ON?? And realized that they were simply sitting there, writing. They hadn’t even looked up from their papers. Me: “Is that normal?” Them: “It’s the airport.” Me: stare. Them: “It’s only our second year, so it’s not really normal, but it happens a lot.” Me: “What kind of airport?” (It’s my third day here and the first time I’ve heard that.) One: “military” while the other mimes shooting.


Thursday, November 21, 2013


Dude stands on metal ladder, placed in street, only kind of in the lane, and trims branches with a pair of gardening shears. Make sure the ladder you are envisioning is metal and the cross-brace, that keeps it from opening too much, is a frayed old red rope.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Quick observations on the university

I spent an hour between lunch and a meeting and noticed a couple of things:

1. There is no restaurant at the university, but there is a cafe. There are restaurants a short walk away, though.

2. There are lots of places to sit outside, but no tables. Somehow this doesn't surprise me.

2b. some of the benches are painted 2x6s on metal frames. About half of those are missing parts of the wood.

3. There is a big, nice grassy area where you can sit and chat with friends.

4. The main walkways are covered, I'm guessing to protect from both sun and rain as both can be nasty.

5. There is a solid dirt-colored stripe around knee height on many of the walls, particularly near classrooms. Apparently a lot of people wait while leaning against the wall with one foot on it as well.

6. Speaking English gets you stares and eavesdroppers (I eavesdrop on other languages in the US, so I'm ok with that). Speaking Arabic gets giggles (although they seem to be surprised ones, so I guess that's a compliment?)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How to shower when it's cold in Morocco

Step 1: Ten minutes before you want to shower, move a portable radiator into the bathroom, turn it on, close the door behind you.

Step 2: Do jumping jacks or pushups or run in place for ten minutes to attempt to get hot/sweaty.

Step 3: Go back to bathroom, turn on water all the way to hot and let it try to get warm.

Step 4: Take off all four layers of clothes and put towel in a place easily reached from shower, preferably without opening door/curtain. All while water is running.

Step 5: Water is probably warming up. Enter shower, check to be sure, and start showering.

Step 6 (optional): If you are crazy like me and still concerned about saving water, crouch down when the water is off to conserve body heat.

Step 7: Grab towel without opening shower curtain/door and losing the beautiful warmth. Dry off as much as possible in shower without getting towel all wet.

Step 8: Jump out, throw jeans onto radiator for the 30 seconds it takes to get on other clothes.

Step 9: Put on jeans, turn off and unplug radiator. Close the door behind you in the hope of keeping some of the warmth.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Hijab + haircolor = ?

I'm terrible at remembering to write real things. I keep meaning to... and then I don't. I even will sometimes start to write by hand away from my computer. And then lose it or forget or get wrapped up in something else. So here is something I just saw instead, for a little bite of flavor.

Setting: Mostly-empty grocery store (2ish on a Friday afternoon - people are almost all eating couscous with their families and/or praying.)

I am standing at the one open cash register, waiting to buy my stuff, and a girl comes and stands behind me. She is wearing a store vest and a hijab (headscarf). Her one item that she's purchasing is hair dye.

It made me wonder - is she going to dye her hair? No reason that she couldn't, but why since she covers it? Maybe it's like the people who get hidden tattoos. Or maybe it's for someone else? Who knows...