The Pan-galactic Gargleblaster of my mind

11 April 2007


Lahcen and I finally finished all the bureaucratic BS and got ourselves hitched. Here we are signing the Register of Marriages. As of that moment I was officially married!

And here's what our contract looks like. The two main differences (as from an American marriage) I could immediately see: 1. We had to overwrite some clause that required my parents to be present for me to sign, and 2. He has to pay me a dowry. Yippeee! I'm worth a whopping 10,000 dirhams.

And this is us posing our rings. Cheezzzy, I know.

P.S. It has now been established that I am crap at keeping up with my blog. And crap at keeping up with emailing. I hope y'all don't hate me because of it.

09 January 2007

Aid Al Adha part deux

Last year I posted about this holiday (Click here for a refresher), but for whatever reason I didn't get the full Aid experience.

Something I was vaguely aware of at that time, but not affected by, was the existence of teenaged boys wandering the streets dressed in the discarded sheepskins. It seems they travel in packs, preying on the unsuspecting, whacking them on the backside with a sheep's hoof (paw? foot?) when they're not looking. The idea is they collect money for a neighborhood party, to be held at the end of the three-day Aid holiday.

I witnessed scores of young kids and teenagers running down the streets, shrieking with excitement as they were pursued by these monsters, only to be rewarded with a thwack on the rear when they were caught. It looked like good fun, if I were 10 or 15 years younger. At any rate, we got some fuzzy zoom-lens photos of a couple of these characters, taken from Shan's living room window.

This year I happened to be traveling in the days leading up to Aid, so I got to see a few villages' makeshift sheep markets, which consisted of lots of people milling around looking at lots of sheep, haggling over prices, and eventually carrying one home strapped to a motorbike. So many sheep balanced acrossed motorbikes -- live sheep, that is -- and I only saw one fall off. Pretty amazing. Here's a photo of the sheep market in a village halfway between Agadir and Marrakech (dunno the name of the village).

Visiting the In-laws

Aid Al Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) fell on 31st December this year, and we went for dinner at Lahcen's family's house. Mom got to meet his sisters and brother and his mom. Above is a photo of Nejma, Mom, Lahcen, Fatima and Lahcen's mom, Fadma. Despite the language barriers we all had an enjoyable time, though we're not entirely sure we were understood at all, as Lahcen gets a kick out of translating incorrectly. Like sometimes when I say "You smell like a goat" he'll translate it as "I love that dress you're wearing!"

08 January 2007

Christmas in Morocco, part 1

Okay, I have a list ten miles long of what I want to blog about, so better just dive in.

First, Happy New Year and belated Merry Christmas to everybody. I have been crap at emailing the last several weeks. I am ashamed but hope you still love me.

Mom was here for three weeks and we had a great time. she got to spend a lot of time with Lahcen because I was working for two of the three weeks. They seemed to get on really well and liked each other -- phew!

Funny story about Christmas: So, the moms were here so we of course wanted to do a big Christmas dinner. I boiled up a mess of chicken on Saturday afternoon to make broth for the stuffing and gravy. Sunday morning spent an hour or so sifting out bones and pulling meat off for the stuffing. Made a really beautiful, rich broth. Made some chicken and dumplings with part of it on Sunday, then back into the fridge. Then Monday morning set the pot back onto the stove, was chopping onions and whatnot, chatting away to Shan. Lahcen was washing dishes, like a good little husband-to-be. At some stage I noticed that Lahcen had washed the big pot the broth had been in, and I asked him where he had put the broth. He tells me he poured it down the drain. Quit joking, I say. Where is it? Uh-oh. Seems he thought it was "dirty water" and he was just trying to help by washing that pot. I lost my cool for a little while, because I mean, aside from all the hard work that had gone into making that broth, HOW ON GOD'S GREEN EARTH can we have Christmas dinner without broth?!!!! After I apologised to my good husband-to-be, who had, after all, only been trying to help, we had buillion-cube broth and the dinner wasn't too shabby. God bless us, every one.

13 December 2006

So many things to talk about

Yeah. Much has happened in the last little while. Busy times. Will try to make it brief.

1. The boss, Moulay Said, visited the US for three weeks for an International Visitors program on civic education. It's sponsored and organized by the US gov't as an outreach program to North African and Middle Eastern countries. He travelled all over the States visiting schools and learning about how the US does education. Part of his time was in D.C., and while he was there he met with the American Academy for Liberal Education and signed a contract with them to begin the accreditation process for our school. We start in January. It's gonna be a ton of work for us, but I'm looking forward to it.

2. Moulay has unofficially appointed me and Shan as director(s) of the school. Our first order of business was to fire our new teacher. She "just wasn't working out". No, really she was a little more than a little bit off her rocker, and couldn't keep it together enough to teach two kids, which was all we asked her to do.

3. Last week we got to "meet" the US ambassador to Morocco. Really what happened was he came in to address a group of americans, said "Hi" and "Bye" and we all ended up watching a lengthy video telling us how to wash our hands in the event of a pandemic flu. Seriously. Apparently our government thinks it's of key importance to inform its citizens abroad about how to avoid catching bird flu. And that means wash your hands and don't cough on people. Thanks! I didn't know that! (More ways in which our government is hard at work for us)Anyway, we ended up speaking to the Consul General for a bit and rubbed noses with what we hope will be the right people to help us out in the future when we encounter the inevitable bureaucratic hurdles.

4. My mom arrived on Saturday and will stay for three weeks. She seems to be liking Lahcen a lot, which makes me happy. A trip to the US embassy in Rabat is in the works for after Christmas, so I might be married before year end, if I don't get bamboozled with all the paperwork!

5. Shan and I wrote a masterpiece of a play for our kids to perform for their parents, so we're busy making props, gathering music and sound effects, and praying the kids will do everything right when the time comes. Can't wait to see them all done up in their costumes and dancing and stuff.

Okay, gotta sign off and get back to work.

22 November 2006

Our governmental institutions, hard at work. (or, Why me?)

Living out of the country for the last several years, it has been fairly easy to ignore certain pains-in-my-ass that I should have dealt with a long time ago but haven’t.

1. I may or may not have a warrant for my arrest in California due to an unpaid traffic ticket. I don’t think they’ve issued a warrant, but they have threatened several times, according to my mother, who gets my mail for me. My problem, and the reason I haven’t dealt with it yet, is this: I only got my AR license switched to a CA license THREE DAYS before I left California for Ireland. In order to get my CA license, I was required to pay any outstanding fines at that time. So I paid all my parking tickets, etc, so I could get the CA license. I phoned California a while back and was informed the ticket was logged in September in Van Nuys. Problem number two: I’ve never been to Van Nuys. Obvious administrative error. Problem number three: They informed me I must appear in court in Van Nuys to clear it up. WTF?! I won’t be in Van Nuys anywhere in the foreseeable future. Thus the possibility of a warrant for my arrest.

2. Not too long after I moved to Morocco, Mom opened a letter addressed to me from the State of Arkansas telling me they had noticed my federal taxes for year 2002 were filed using an Arkansas address. I filed with an AR address because I was, at the time of filing, living in Ireland but wanted my refund sent to my mom’s house in Arkansas. Makes sense, right, that I don’t have said refund sent to some address in California where I don’t live any more? Well, Arkansas tax folks, in all their brilliance, decided that if I filed with an AR address, it must mean I was living and working in AR in 2002 and therefore owe AR taxes. My question is, when they looked at my federal tax return to see I’d used an AR address, could they not also have seen my employer was a California company? Dammit? The best part is I had JUST thrown out my copies of my 2002 tax returns when I moved from Dublin to Morocco. After cartin’ it all around Dublin for three years, the moment I throw it away is the moment I need it. And now they're threatening to “lien” on me. Get it? “Lien on?” Ha ha ha. Anyways, I gotta make long-distance-from-Morocco phone calls to sort that crap out.

The reason this stuff is now coming to be a big pain in my ass again (because I could easily continue living out of the country and ignoring it for yeeeeaaaarrrrrrs to come) is that I have to get a background check in order for Lahcen and me to get married. Which background check has to be sent to the American Embassy here, so they can issue some sort of “citizen in good standing” paper to the Moroccan authorities. I guess they don’t want Moroccans marrying criminals. That’s no fair, if you ask me. Criminals have feelings too!

16 November 2006

Contacting the aliens

Who knew tin foil hats could be s'dern cute?


Poor itsy bitsy spider.

Berlin on a sunny day

Took these photos from the top of the Berliner Dome, a protestant cathedral. Almost 300 steps to the top. I nearly died. Really.

15 November 2006

Germany rocks

Remnants of the Berlin Wall
New Berlin Tours has a free 4-hour walking tour of Berlin which I highly recommend. Interesting and informative, especially for people like me who slept through any and all world history classes. Stories of the Reichstag and how Hitler came to power, through WWII and his suicide, on to Soviet control and spies and such. My favorite story was how the Wall came down... I think we all know it was an inevitability, but according to our tour guide, it would have happened at a much later date but for a goof up on the part of the East Germany Press Secretary. Vodka and public speaking apparently don't mix when you're unprepared for question and answer sessions. Anyways if you ever go to Berlin, make it a point to head on this walking tour. But try to choose a day when it's not zero degrees and raining/snowing. Four hours in the freezing rain isn't terribly pleasant, even when you're being entertained.
The day after I got to Berlin I met up with Ian and did a bit of exploring before meeting up with the lads from Lluther and Moth Complex. They were playing a gig that night at Sage Club, which of course was spectacular. We had planned to hang out in Berlin the next day, but circumstances put us heading to Hamburg the next morning. Cool for me, 'cause I got to see the Reeperbahn and a tiny bit of Beatley stuff. Uncool because it meant not getting to spend much time with Aoif and Ger and Ro and company. Ian and I caught the train back to Berlin that same evening. German trains are pretty comfy, even in 2nd class.
All in all it was a great trip; I had never listed Germany very high on places I wanted to go, but now I see I was fooooooolish. Berlin was really beautiful. It has so much history, and best of all is really clean and organized; I sometimes miss living in a 1st world country. It was so cleeeeeeeaaaan. Like, recycling and stuff. I'll have to write a letter to King Mohammed VI and get him to make littering illegal in Morocco. Another day, perhaps.

On turning 30

Yeah, so I turned 30 a few days ago. Everyone was asking me that day, “How does it feel?”

And of course it doesn’t really feel any different.

I had this idea that I ought to be slightly depressed, like “Oh, what am I doing with my life? This is not where I thought I would be at thirty! Oh, no! Am I screwing up? What am I doing!!?? Woe is me!” But strangely enough, those thoughts didn’t ever really cross my mind. At least, not seriously.

What did occur to me is that I’m busily checking off items from my things-to-do-before-I-die list. Living in a foreign country? Check. Traveling in Africa and Europe? Check. Learning a foreign language? Check. Shagging a beautiful brown boy? Check. Teaching? Check. Doing a non-desk job? Check.

Settling down, being responsible and saving money are down at the bottom of my list.