Snappy Berfday.


"Time and Tide wait for no man, but time always stands still for a woman of thrity."
                                                                                                    --Robert Frost

Today is my birthday. I was born 30 years ago and every morning since then God has waken me up from sleep, restored my senses back into my body, and followed me throughout my days. I’m happy to be alive and even happier to be happy.

It’s a little strange having a birthday away form home. My Blackberry isn’t ringing every 2 seconds and texts messages aren’t’ flooding my inbox.  I haven’t’ heard my aunts call me an ol’ battle axe and I have no plans to party. There will be no cake, no cocktails, no scantily-clad night out on the town, and definitely no hangover. This is all perfectly fine with me. I started my day today at about 3:00 am and I’ve been in a good mood ever since. I miss my family a lot today, especially my incredible mom and dad. I wish I could go to my mom’s house, hug her, and thnuggle on her amazingly comfy couch (perhaps with a nice sammmmmwich.) I’d love to see my dad today too, give him a hug and hear him go, “Uff-uff-uff-uff-uff” and crack me up.

For now, I’ll just keep things calm and relaxed.

You know they say birthdays are a good time to reflect on who you’ve become.  At this point, I’ve  really had a lot of encouragement and nice words from family, good friends, acquaintances, and even strangers. Lately I’ve received so many emails and facebook messages from people saying the absolute kindest and sweetest things to me. To everyone who has taken a minute (or an hour) to write to me, I really truly appreciate it. I read every word and keep them inside my heart. I’ve been through a lot the past few months but knowing that I still have people to back me up makes me feel stronger. No matter how far away I am, I still love everyone.  The people that I’ve never met have made some interesting comments on my blog and I’m surprised at how accurate they are sometimes. (see the comment on my Afreekah post). Sometimes a few words really make a difference in my day. 

Thanks God, for the people that are by my side, thanks for the people who are now in my past, and thanks for the people who are in my future. I trust in Him 100% for the plan He has for me. Today is the first day to a fresh new year of my life and I’m so grateful to have a peaceful heart.

 I’m still chasing the Light…

  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS


Everyone has a junk drawer. Well mine is made up of pictures and videos and now it's time to clean it out. This post is a collection of random things I've done or seen and none of it fits into a category. So this is my junk drawer:

Let me start by saying that there are a lot of things I've seen in Morocco that makes me ask myself, "Is this even real? Am I hallucinating? Has the African sun soaked into my brain or is this really happening?" A perfect example of this is from a time when I was at the souk. I saw some pretty cute Moroccan chicks and I was like, "Heyyyy, how y'all dooooooin?" Apparently they didn't speak any English and they ignored me. The thing is, they were really cute. There was just something about their beauty that was striking to me. Something seemed a bit...different.

Money for nothin' and your chicks for free...
PS--this is NOT Photoshopped. I swear.

Ok, back to my randomness. I decided to paint my guest bedroom a while back and never posted a picture of it. I painted a huge wave and it wraps around the room from the corner. Leave me alone in a house with a bunch of paint and you never know what will happen.

Yes, Mom, that's the Green Thnuggler you see there.

Speaking of houses and their interiors, this is the ceiling of my friend Omar's house. The picture doesn't even do it justice at all. The whole ceiling is hand-carved and it sprawls out around 2 huge rooms. This picture is like 10% of it. It's gorgeous.

Just a glimpse of Moroccan beauty

Not only do I like interiors, I like exteriors as well. Ummm...can I please stay forever?

Fresh rose petals smell amazing.

One thing I've noticed about Moroccans is that they are very resourceful people. They know how to make a lot from a little and can find a solution to almost every problem. If there is no solution, the answer is, "Makayn mushkil" said with a smile and it means, "No problem." If there's no way to fix something, oh well. Adapt. I was raised this way so not only do I recognize their resilience, but I appreciate it as well. One of the best ways to experience this philosophy is by taking a look at transportation.

It is quite normal (and appalling) to see a family of four on a motorbike. It's usually Dad driving, a toddler standing between dads legs and holding onto the handlebars, Mom on the back behind Dad, and a small infant sandwiched between Mom's belly and Dad's back. And TMZ went crazy over Britney? Ha! This is a sight I see literally every day. Sometimes, however, it's not the family you need to transport on your motorbike, just a large parcel. Sometimes it's 2 guys and 2 ladders, sometimes it's one guy and a tube of blueprints. Either way, they get the job done.

He's holding his package.

Another thing I’ve learned about transportation is that Moroccans love to be hot. I simply cannot understand why. Maybe I’ll never understand it, but it seems as though everyone loves to bake in heat. I’m hot enough with my jellaba and pants on so I can’t seem to imagine making myself hotter. But here? Tehhh! Bring on the extra heat. Let me remind you that it’s August. That doesn’t mean you will not find winter clothes everywhere you go. Take for example, the man on the bus: T-shirt, dress shirt, sweater, and fur-lined parka with hood. I’m hot just looking at the guy. He’s not. And if you think the breeze cools him off, guess again. Apparently everyone here is afraid of wind and fresh air. When I ride the bus people actually close the windows, yes close the windows.

A perfect example of this is my bus ride to Essaouira. Normally this is a 3-hour trip. This time? Oh no. Definitely not 3 hours. It started off as a normal bus ride, but got a little screwey along the way. We sat in the back and everyone had their seats—until the driver decided he wanted to make a little extra pocket-cash. So he stopped every time he saw somebody that wanted a ride. So here we are on a bus with NO WINDOWS and a zillion people in layers of winter clothing. It’s hot. I mean it’s Africa hot.

Harry: "Hey look, Lloyd! There's some people that want a ride!"
Lloyd: "Piiiiick 'em up!"

The only thing that’s keeping me alive is this tiny square window a few rows ahead of me. It’s on the ceiling and it’s the only way I’m able to breathe. So as I’m gasping for breath and panting, it happens. I see the bus organizer dude walking from the front to the back of the bus. I have this sinking feeling that I know what’s about to happen. He comes stompin’ back with his winter jacket on and heads straight for the window. Now there’s a tiny flicker of hope inside me that thinks maybe he’s coming to get a breath of (sort of) fresh air. Wrong. I watch it all unfold as if it were in slow motion. He grabs the “lid” for the window and starts lifting it towards my breathing-hole. Just like the movies, in my head I’m shouting, “nooooooooooooo!” but to no avail. My friend next to me is just as shocked as I am and we watch in horror as he closes the window. WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU DO THAT?? (side note: If there's any Moroccans reading this who can explain to me why anyone in their right mind would seal off the only source of air, please comment at the end of this post.) It’s 95 degrees outside, there’s no windows, and we’re at double capacity with people sitting on the floor in the aisle.

My only hope. It was fun while it lasted....
Did I mention the bus broke down about 10 times because it was over-heating, going uphill while trying to shift gears, and there was 110 people in a 65-person bus? Yeah. Smart. So in the middle of the twisty, winding mountain road what do we do? We stop to pick more people up. That’s a great idea! Let’s make it hotter and heavier. After all was said and done, our sauna-on-wheels trip got us to our destination in a speedy 5 ½ hours. Bon Voyage!

When I’m not melting on a bus, I like to chill by the beach. This is my Monday. You’ll never hear me whine, “Is it Friday yet?” And yes, I take myself seriously with these pants on. Business slacks and heels? No thanks. Never. I’ll stick to my clown pants and shlip-shlops.

It's (9 to) 5 o'clock somewhere.

Chill-mode is something that is a way of life here 100% of the time. You may have seen a post I did a while back called the Heartbeat of Morocco. This is another example of the chronic relaxedness here. This is a snapshot I took in a restaurant--yes a restaurant. This guy is waiting for his pizza so why not just kick back while it’s cooking? Shoes off, bare feet on the wall, the whole 9.

Taykkit eeesy...

Like the Loch Ness Monster, sometimes it's hard to catch an actual monster on film. Well I found one AND got a picture. There was a strange creature at my house and I was lucky enough to creep up and see it in action. I paparazzi'd this picture and now the whole world can see it...

The Gnarly Sock Monster was at my house. Yuck, dude.

When I'm not chasing monsters with night-vision goggles on, I'm usually at the beach. There's a little girl whose parents own a restaurant on the beach and she just loves me! (It's mutual) She is the most beautiful little girl and her name is Kawtar (pronounced "cow-tar") and her name means a river in Paradise. Anyway, whenever she sees me, she comes running and she's so adorable.

She has saltwater hair from swimming all day, every day. Total beach kid.

Besides going to the beach, I’m all over the place. There’s this certain juice café that I walk by every day and it’s SOOOO hard not to go inside. They have the best fresh fruit juice smoothies ever (my favorite is avocado-banana-peach-orange) and the little pastries are irresistible! They also have this little chocolate bomb called a “chocolate ball” and there are not enough words to express how delicious it is. One thing Moroccans know how to do is make sweets! With all the French influence here, the patisseries are everywhere. Walk fast, don’t stop. Walk fast, don’t stop…

Yeah, hi. I'll have one of each please. Thanks.

The inside is like almondy, graham crackery, chocolatey perfection.

So the other day I was at the beach with some friends and we decided to take a cruise on a camel. The price per person for an American girl is 150 dhs. However, when you speak Arabic, call them out on their gauging, and make them laugh like I did, you can get it for 10 dhs. I’ve always loved a good sale.

Yo breff stank. Brush dem teefs.

The next item in my Junk Drawer is a box of Kleenex. I was riding in the back of a taxi one day and I spotted this in the back window. For some reason, I immediately thought of my friend Michelle Parkhill. Why? I don’t know but this just reminded me of her. Now, if I were a Kleenex company, what would I want my product’s image to be? Hmmm…I know! How about a 2-year old kid (with a hot leather winter jacket on of course) scratching her neck, not looking at the camera, with a slightly confused look on her face? Perfect! This just screams “Facial Tissue.”

I don't even have words for this one.

After the taxi, I got home in time to hear the Moroccan dudes playin' around like the Pied Pipers of Agadir. I nicknamed them the "Rang-Bang-Boom Crew" because they're always bangin' around on something. It's a tradition here that different guys go around the neighborhoods playing their "music" or whatever it is and then you're supposed to go out and give them money for unsolicited "entertainment." Riiiiight. So in order to get this on film, I had to be very stealth-mode in my operations. You see, I cannot simply walk past a window as that confirms the presence of a human in the house. Once I've been spotted, there's no stopping them until you give them money. I've thrown down some cash before but apparently it's never enough for them. So they stay outside bangin' away until you cave. At this point, you're paying them to go away. And they know this. So as you can see, I had to remain undetected and James Bond it with the video cam. Here's what I got:

As a reminder, it's still Ramadan. Currently we are on Day 17 of the month. Since we don’t eat all day, we spend it preparing and cooking food for the night. (see my post below about Ramadan). I found this really awesome recipe online, (yes I looked online and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that) and it’s for a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich called The Golden Gate Grill. Let me tell you, it is awesome. It’s a grilled cheese sandwich that I made with cheese, avocado, cilantro, and cracked pepper turkey. SO GOOD. The best part is that instead of just buttering the bread like normal, you dip one side in egg, then into fresh grated parmesan and then put it in the buttered pan. Words cannot describe how delicious it was. Everyone loved them and they were a huge hit! Half the people in the house had never seen sliced bread before so that was fun in itself. The link to the recipe is here:


Click on this to see it up close. Worth it.

I’ve been trying to cook some extremely American food. I think Grilled Cheese is pretty high up on that list, right? I wanted to make a dessert to go with it and I made my famous banana bread. This time, though…. I made Raspberry Banana Bread. Everyone loved it and it was gone in about 10 minutes. With an oven that works properly it’s amazing what I can do!

Raspberry Banana Bread = a slice of bomb.

So as it turns out, I can make a good sandwich. Big shock. However, my mom is the Queen of a "nice samm-wich." She makes them all the time and melts the cheese just perfectly. But look out, Mom. There's some competition over here in Morocco: The guy at the sandwich café. I think he might have a crush on me. He always blushes and gets shy when I go in there and he makes my sandwiches with a little extra love...

Bon Apetit!

I showed the Moroccans sliced bread, and they showed me fresh bread. This is made every single day from scratch and it is a staple in the diet here. This particular bread is called "hhobs" and it's really good. I got a quick lesson in how to make it from scratch. It turned out pretty good for my first time! Not bad for someone who "doesn't know how to cook anything." Hmph!

The secret ingredient to good bread? More clown pants.

After the bread was made, I saw a plastic grocery bag on the table. I went to move it and caught a glimpse inside. It was the world’s longest fish. This guy was like an eel or something! What the heck?!

Just a bag o' fish. No biggie. Wait...yes he is a biggie.


I shot this picture with a fish eye lens.

Another random thing in my junk drawer is the old school toothbrush. It’s basically a stick. Like a real wooden stick. It’s called “Miswak” (Mees-wack) and I think it’s great. People walk around all day with a stick hangin’ out of their mouth and they’re constantly scrubbing their teeth with the little tree branch. It’s kind of fun actually. No need for expensive Oral-B “contour grooves” when you have a stick handy. And it’s great for the ladies because it’s purse-sized!

Meesy? Wacky.

Sometimes between the camel rides, fish heads, hot buses, sandwiches, beach sessions, and chocolate balls, I have time for a little fun. Nothing makes you feel like a kid again like smashin' around in some bumper cars! I'm allegedly going to be 30 this month but there's no way that's accurate. I'm still just a big dum-dum having fun and being goofy wherever I go! I refuse to live a boring life :)

Don't worry, I have an International Driver's License.

  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS