Music is the Common Denominator

7/16/2017

What does one talk about when one doesn’t understand the other’s language?

Music!

Youssef, and I played music to each other and discovered that we share similar taste.

He likes Rock…hard rock. I played him AC/DC. He played us Simple Plan and Metallica. I played Beach Boys, and Beatles. And then Youssef saw that I had Bob Marley. “I like Marley.”

See… common ground. You can always find something in common with someone.

And we have talked politics, President of U. S. and King of Morocco. World politics, the unstrife going on in neighboring countries, imigrants, refugees, jobs, inflation, cost of living, health insurance, medical- in Morocco, the hospitals are free, but not quality doctors/ care vs the clinics that have good doctors and care, but charge lots of money. Same belief with education system-public is free, but not good, private is better, but you pay. Primary grades are charged $125 a month. Students are picked up via school bus at 7 am. The students come back home for 1.5 hour lunch, then go back to school and return at 6:30 pm.

Teachers start at $30 / hour for one student if they want to tutor.

We talked about babies; having them, where to have them- midwife or doctor, home or hospital. Women have babies in the hospital with epidural.

Young women are having fewer babies. One to two, due to high cost of caring for them. And women working outside of the home. Difficult time to find jobs. Refugees come in and do the same work for less money, but the King continues to import tech jobs for his people.

People also leave to work in Dubai, only to find out that it is too expensive to live there, food is not good, and the hours worked are long, difficult, and they aren’t treated nice.

We talked about discrimination, racist beliefs in both our countries. 

We talked about marriage. Youssef wanted to marry Flower Power, but her dad told him no, that he wasn’t good enough for her. He continued to seek her as his wife. Her dad kept saying no, that she was in college and not to be his wife… he would need to have a house first.

Youssef, kept at it for 5 years! He got the house and then her dad said yes. Very different from the way things happen in the states.

We talked about food. Organic, pesticides, buying produce, shopping, eating out ( they don’t- not healthy, costs too much), raising animals for meat, growing produce. Flower Power shops everyday at little neighborhood market/ window, from produce, meat, fish carts. Her daily job is cooking, cleaning, laundry, raising children, taking care of mother and in-law.

Next year, we are invited to go to their family home in the countryside. It is a working farm, 12 hour bus ride, or 6 hours by car. We are all going to go on a road trip!

We are all different, but the same. We share common interests, concerns, thoughts…we all want to be good human beans.

Shopping is Not for the Faint of Heart

7/15/2017

Well…off we go to the one of the bijillion shopping neighborhoods located in Casablanca. We take the taxi with Abdullah, our designated bodyguard.

We first visit Youssef’s shoe store, where we notice that we are the only women in this massive shoe warehouse. The size of this place is unbelievable. About a football field size warehouse, two stories high, and chucked full of shoes, and athletic type of clothes. Inside, the place are cubicles… pretty much like an indoor swap meet. I don’t know how one makes a living selling things when each stall is selling pretty much the same stuff…but people do.

Now, having a guy shopping with you has been quite fun. I can take care of myself. Abby can take care of herself. But, having a guy along makes a difference with regards to the type of attention one receives.

For instance, in the shoe shop, this older guy thought I was alone, and greeted me politely, and started to ask a question, when Abdullah, came over, snarled at him, said something in Arabic, which made the guy apologize and move away.

It was awesome!

All day long, and on our previous excursions, having a male escort has made a huge difference. When we go out by ourselves, we are treated entirely different… dramatically different.

Next we went to the shoe store on the other side of the street to visit with Bryanm ( I am sure that I am misspelling his name, but this is how it sounds to me), Youssef’s brother. He was delighted to see us, ordered mint tea to be brought to us, and we sat and chatted, in Spanish…well Abby and he did, while I, and Abdullah listened and watched.

Bryanm is a scholar. He has a stack of books that he studies from at work. He has worked at selling shoes for 15 years. But he enjoys doing it, because it gives him time to study.

While here, I kept hearing shouting around the corner. Sounded like the Barker’s down at the fair in the Midway.

I went out to look, and this hallway was jammed with women and children shopping for clothes. Young guys are standing inside a box that sits up above the crowds, holding up varity of clothes, and yelling out descriptions of the items trying to get the attention of the women shopping. Fascinating.

So I go back to tell Abby and Abdullah about this scene. He speaks only French, so I renact the scene. I stand up, grab clothes and yelling out descriptions of the items…pure nonsense… but they laugh, and unbeknownst to me, the owners of the site are standing there, watching me and laughing at my outstanding reenactment.

Shopping is fun.

Paint by Number

7/15/2017

Abby likes henna. Flower Power’s sister likes do henna. Abby is loved by the whole family. They are taking turns to keep Abby happy ( Abby is happy with whatever comes what may) because, Abby shows much appreciation for their goodness.

So Abby is getting the royal henna treatment; hands-on front and back, and her feet too. This henna is the real deal. Not like crappy American stuff. How do I know this? Well, we- Flower Power, and I stopped at the carpenter’s stand ( he was handcarving a beam… I wanted to watch, but we couldn’t stay), gave him a drinking cup to fill with shellac type chemical. I know…bad mom for putting posion on my daughter for vanity purposes. Believe me, my first thought was of the French wearing powder made out of arsenic!

Anyway… this liquid makes the henna mixture smooth and spread easily as it is sucked up in the syringe tube, and “drawn” on the skin by use of the needle as it is squeezed through. The liquid also makes it last longer…no doubt as it has etched into the top layer of the skin… you know… like a mild form of acid… just kidding…kinda.

Saida is a wonderful artist. She does her own designs as she goes along. Not like the way it is sold in the states; using a stencil to carbon copy a small design to trace over with henna. Moroccan henna is different from Indian henna, so they have told us.

We are learning a lot about the culture as we live in the 3- leveled house, with 4 generation of women in the family we are staying with. We may not be able to communicate with all of them in one fluent language, but we all are learning about one another’s culture through the various languages that are spoken.

Showing appreciation and gratitude doesn’t mean that it has to be in spoken language.

Well…Plug It

7/14/2017

FYI: You can plug up the pee hole in the floor. I know. I did it.

I am lactose intolerant. Sometimes. Well, guess who didn’t pack the pills that helps with the digestive system? In my own defense, it was recommended to avoid milk products altogether in Morocco. I was going to do just that. But… I don’t want to offend our hosting family and their family members.

So…dairy is served in one form or another at every meal; yogurt, buttermilk, cheese, milk… and there is lots of spicy delicious food that is absolutely wonderful. And our hosts feeds us, a lot! Fruit, veggies, bread ( oh my gosh… the bread here is every bit as good as in France!)… needless to say, my internal digestive system is doing absolutely wonderful. My plumbing is working very well…too well.

Last night, I kinda exploded…in a good way… not the tourist to a new country I drinked the water and sucked the ice cubes way. 

But… the pipe hole is a certain diameter AND it is an elbow fitting… not sure why an elbow pipe would make sense in the toilet hole due to the need for large solid waste to make a sharp turn in order to go down.

Let’s just say that I squatted there for awhile pondering this. What am I going to do? There is nothing laying around to help make things disappear. No matter how much water I keep pouring into the floor hole, it refuses to budge. CRAP! Oh…yes… this is it literally. Between a rock and a hard place so to speak.

I think, “Perhaps if I use the big weighted plug that you use to cover tight the hole with, to seal the stink smell… perhaps gravity will take it’s course… and by morning it will have disappeared?” So me thinks as I set the weighted bell shape thing into place.

I go to bed. I tell Abby what has happened. Our host goes into the restroom. We are holding our breathes thinking perhaps he won’t notice. We wait…hear water going… and we hear him say “WOW!”

I am now mortified. I am beyond embarrassed. I want to crawl away.

Abby…she is heaving with laughter. Spastic silent spasms rock our bed, as Abby keeps saying, “WOW!” Over… and over again.

I get up early in the morning to take care of business. I remove the heavy bell weight plug thingy. 

Gravity has not taken it’s course.

Sigh…

Those Americans have really messed up now!

I don’t know how it got resolved, but by mid-morning things were back to normal.

And let that be a lesson for all of you, just because you poop in a hole, doesn’t mean that it will go sliding down like in an out house.

Hole in One

7/14/2017

Ok. Heads up. This is not a topic about playing golf. You might get squeamish if you read about potty talk and find the topic gross. But hey, part of traveling to other countries is experiencing the bathroom situations. Yes… they are all similar, but different.

And by the way, everyone poops.

I find golfing to be boring. Stand around, wait for others to play through, hit a teeny-tiny ball into the sand pit, or if really lucky, into the Dixie cups size hole in one shot. That’s just luck. Line the ball up, hope for the breeze to blow in right direction, and swing high and straight.

Pooping/peeing into a hole takes the same luck. Squat, pray to not slip on wet tile, aim straight, hope that the stream of pee is strong and doesn’t dribble down the leg. Pooping is the same… except you get really excited when you get a hole in one. “GOAL!” Is the word that goes through my mind as I have successfully mastered the end result. I think I should have a medal…or a trophy by the time I get home from this trip. I will have earned it.

Scrubba, Rubba, Ding-dong!

7/14/2017
I have found my Nirvana! That’s it… I know EXACTLY what I need in my garden. I need a bath…a real type of bath where I sit on a marble stool, dip hot water from the marble “bird fountain” shaped basin, all over my body, looking like Jennifer Beal in “Flashdance” while soaping up with this outrageous black soap.

I need a woman, who is clad in bra and panties, to hold my hand, guiding me across the very slippery, wet marble floor so I will not fall, due to my ignorance for soaping the soles of my feet.

She helps me lay, butt naked on top of a marble platform rectangular box, and rapidly pulls me back, keeping me from slipping off ( you are supposed to bring a rubber mat that looks like an enlarged placement to keep your slippery-soapy naked butt firmly in place- but I am traveling… I didn’t know of such things).

Then the dominatrix Amazon woman, violently rubs my entire body raw with a mitt that feels like it is made of sandpaper. It. Feels. Wonderful.

She tisks at me for the amount of dead skin that she is shedding from my dirty American body. I feel good AND guilty at the same time.

I have been born again. I glow with brand-new pink baby skin. I feel…cleansed in a way that makes me wish that I was a snake so that my skin could shed monthly.

Two hours and $7.50 later, I have a new epidermis. I need this at my American home. I wonder if the woman can do home visits.

Some of this, some of that

Ok, let’s see how this post goes. I am rusty at doing this, and the connection is on and off, and my battery is getting low.

We have made it to Casablanca. Found the train station. Found our hosts. Have survived many visitors coming over to welcome us to their neighborhood, and have discovered that people don’t go to bed until 12:30- 2:00 am!

We are in a constant state of glistening glow. Also known as sweat. That’s all we do. We just soak through our clothes, our faces are glowing, our hair is wet, and we drink lots of water, which just keeps seeping through our pores.

We have traveled around the city, walking, and taking taxis to further out places. Our host, Flower Power ( we nicknamed her this), has had her brother, Abdula Hula ( we gave everyone rhyming nicknames) escort us around. Since he only speaks French, and we speak only English, we communicate through facial expressions and gestures.

It has made a difference when we have had an escort vs us being by ourselves. For one thing, we went to a wifi cafe, ordered cokes, and then asked for the access code. The guy told Abby no wifi. Abby pointed to the wifi stickers posted around the place. He told her, ” No wifi for YOU!”

Now this could be due to us being unescorted; or being white women; or being too vocal…or for anything. But the next night, we are back to being escorted, and we have wifi. We are in the “Sinful” place. The den of sin is a place full of men only, smoking, drinking coffee, and playing pool and card games. We fit right in.