Thoughts and Scribbles

I’ve decided to post a collection of the random thoughts and notes from inside my phone. Almost every day, I encounter things that are unusual so I’m going to let you in on some of the stupidy, craziness, and goofy things that are a part of my day-to-day life here. It’s all short, random, and unrelated. Enjoy.

#1 Uhhhh…wudd-ju just say?
 Sometimes, it’s really cute to hear Arabic-speakers try to pronounce English words. One thing I’ve noticed is that the “r” is very difficult for them to say. An example and test of this is the word “squirrel.” Almost 100% of the time when I ask people to say it, it comes out “squiddel.” Haha!  One time, a litltle Moroccan girl was trying to explain to me that she needed a ruler but she didn’t know the English word for it. After I figured out what she was trying to describe I said, “Ohhhh, ok. This is called a ‘ruler’.” She said, “Ah yes.  Looler.”  So stinkin’ cute. Another example: the other day my friend’s mom was jokingly mocking me and I was saying “this flower”…but when she said it, it came out “shit sour.” No harm intended but many laughs resulted!

Pearl the Squirrel, aka Piddel the Squiddel

#2 Priorities
So my friend just had a baby boy. In the house. No doctor, no medicine, no epidural, no after-birth vitals check-up, nothing. After a few hours, it was time for baby’s first meal. Breast milk, you ask? No, my friend. A bottle full of diluted Moroccan tea. I mean, what baby doesn’t want to start life off with a fresh cuppa? Skip the pump, ma—hand over the tea pot. And who wants to look like a raggedy newborn mess whilst sippin’? Not to worry, as grandma had already applied baby’s first coat of eyeliner and eyebrow liner.  So with guyliner and tea bottle in tow, that little guy had a pretty good first day of life.

#3 That’s the Pits!
 No matter where you go in the world, adolescent boys do the armpit fart.
 It’s just a fact of life.

Wonder if that baby's wearing eyeliner...

#4  Untitled …because I literally have no words to say about this.
I was brushing my teeth today and while I was doing so, a friend of mine came up to me and asked what I was doing. Personally, I thought it was obvious what I was doing but around here it may not be something everyone’s used to.  She looked at me and asked me why I was brushing my teeth. She thought it was funny that I brush my teeth every day and so I asked her how often she brushes hers. In all seriousness she replied, “About 2 or 3 years ago.”  No comment.

Eww. Gnarly teeth much?

#5  I’m a Rebel.
Jevver drink water out of a bowl instead of a glass? Well you should. I tried it the other day at 4 am and I gotta say it’s way more fun than using a cup. Just hold it with one hand like you’re at a cocktail party. It’s like you know you’re doing something wrong kinda…but there’s no one there to stop you. The same applies for eating chocolate brownie ice cream for breakfast. Just a thought.

#6  Why Didn’t’ YOU Think of That?
My next topic is the magic dustpan. You know how most people have a set of “kitchen scissors” for cutting food or whatever? Well guess what? Moroccans have their answer to the kitch sizz. It’s the kitchen dustpan, or as I like to call it, the “Yuck-Dumper.” Here in Morocco there’s usually a crowd eating together and the meals are followed by fruit for dessert—almost always apples, oranges, and bananas. Oh yeah—nobody here uses individual plates so there’s always some debris left afterwards. Think about it: when you use a wet sponge to wipe down the table after eating, what do you do?  You wipe all of the table gross-ness into your hand. Eww. Instead, why don’t you invest a buck in a “Y-D” and swoop all the mushy junk into that? Brilliant. BONUS: It can even hang in an inconspicuous spot. BONUS #2: It’s more fun if you give it a name…like Bob The Dustpan. Or maybe Doug. Or maybe Fiona Apple Core Scooper-Upper.

Totes Gross.

#7  Working Girl
So I got invited to a huge party today and I decided to go. I knew there would be a lot of people, I just didn’t know what to expect. Right now I’m writing this on my phone from an apartment and I just counted: There are 67 people here. It’s a one-bedroom apartment. It’s also about 117 degrees in here with a surplus of small toddlers. If you’ve read any of my other posts then you know how much Moroccans hate any kind of breeze, wind, or air. Today is no exception as I click away on my BlackBerry. Everyone is singing and rang-bang-boomin’ around on some tambourines so I stepped away for a quick breath of (almost) fresh air.  ---  For some reason, I always get roped into being the “Lead Makeup Artist” whenever there is any type of group gathering. It starts when one person politely asks if I will do her makeup and results in a line forming in a bedroom. There’s usually about 20 people in a room about 9’ x 9’ .  I just finished doing some makeup but this day, I stopped after one. I’m used to doing makeup in Hollywood—we’re talking cash money in large amounts (sometimes), craft services, and most importantly…AC!! Today the requests didn’t stop at makeup—they also included hijab tutorials, aka “how to wrap a head scarf.” I try to wear mine differently and the Moroccan women have taken notice. I’ve been at weddings where the girls ooh and ahhh and ask me how I do it. It’s kind of ironic to me that the American girl is giving lessons to life-long scarf-wearers! I don’t mind, though—just as long as it’s not an inferno where we are. Ha! With all the makeup apps, scarf wraps, and boom-baps, I actually had a really good time at the party.

#8  Extremely Hot Quote of the Day
“Take off the fur coat immediately or I’m gonna puke.”

#9  Let’s Keep it in the Gray Area
No extreme emotions are allowed here. Crying is frowned upon (pun intended) whether it be from something really sad happening or something really funny. Either way, you BETTER not have wet cheeks or there will be consequences.

#10  Daddy Don’t Like No Knuckle-heads
Fun is strictly prohibited when Dad is around. (…and I don’t mean MY Dad of course as he is the King of Hilarity and Goofiness) There will be no loud laughing, giggling, shrieking, and certainly no flailing limbs at any time. Pipe down or fear the repercussions. It’s almost as if every dad here is like a Moroccan Archie Bunker… “STIFLE!”

QUIET!! A baby was boin yestaday!

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The 7 Day Scramble

WARNING: If you do not have 25 uninterrupted minutes, do not read this now. It's a long one with a lot of pictures.

So this past week has definitely been a whirlwind to say the least. Everything has happened so fast and so crazily so I will break it down day-by-stinkin'-day:

I wake up early and go to my bank at 9am, armed with 3,300 Euros ready for deposit. I deposit the money and get an official bank letter stating my updated balance. WHEW! This was one of the biggest obstacles since I arrived in Morocco, other than that blasted criminal record paper. So after I have the paper in hand, I get dropped off at my friend's work. I wait for Said (pronounced "Sigh-EED", not "sed") (my "mentor" we'll call him) and then he drops what he's doing in the midst of his own personal chaos and we go to the administration office. There, I have to get all of my passport copies certified and stamped and sealed with signatures. Of course this is not free. I need the same for my apartment contract, criminal record, and another paper. So just before we walk in, I realize that I need more copies of my passport (because 4 is simply just not acceptable). So we walk around the block, make the stupid copies, and go back to the administration office. We walk in and there's about 60 people in there waiting  for their own personal crap. Thankfully, Said knows the lady working in the front and we casually slip in the front of the line and "cut" everyone. Bing-bang-boom, 5 minutes and we're outta there, albeit with dirty looks from everyone in line. That feeling of guilt passes in abouuuuuuuuut...3 seconds. Sorry peeps, I got ish to do.

Then we walk to a little store thing to buy this "stamp" which is 100 dhs. Thanks. Then Said and I just sit at a cafe table for a minute (even though we're both fasting, thirsty, and dying for a coffee) and "re-group" so I can organize my 40+ sheets of official papers and what have you. It felt like we were two people just sitting in the middle of a tornado. Literally. We both had 5,000,000 that we should have been doing but we had to just stop and say "skip it" for 5 minutes of peace and quiet. So after we snapped back to reality, he put me in a cab and sent me on my way to Batwoir. Once I was in Batwoir, I took a grand taxi to Taghazout where that stank-nasty police office is. 

The last time I was in Taghazout, the sergeant gave me a complete list of exactly everything I need for my residence paperwork. He told me that if I have the packet turned in before September 7th, I don't have to leave. Ok, cool. I get to the office, proud as can be of my finally completed paperwork (6+ months in the making) and set them on his desk. Those glasses of his slide down to the tip of his nose and he lets out a, "No. No good."  At this point, I don't have enough energy left to get pissy or annoyed. I'm just like, "ok fine, whatever. Now what do you want me to do?" He says, "you have to be out of Morocco TOMORROW." Great. Kthanks. Bye.  And off I went. 

Mystery Man (don't even comment or ask me who this is because I'm not going to tell anybody now) calls me and meets me at the taxi station after I trek it back to Agadir. He's waiting for me and we go to a (another) cafe to sit down and talk without a million people and motorbikes buzzing in our ears. We are both fasting so again I'm at a cafe, thirsty and dying for coffee. I have to lay all the papers out on the table and slowly explain to him what the problems are. Let's not forget he doesn't speak a word of English so everything I explain to him is in Arabic. Slow Arabic. I don't know the words for "ferry to get out of the country", "passport stamp" "deportation risk" so it was an interesting conversation. After 5 minutes he understood everything including the urgency of the situation. Without hesitation, he says, "Let's go. I'm taking you to Inzegane." (a city just outside of Agadir)  It's a strange plaza with 7 or 8 tour operator/bus company/transport offices. He goes from office to office asking about tickets from Agadir to Spain and finally decides on one. Before I have a chance to say a word, he plops down 800 dhs on the counter and says, "I need a ticket for her. Tomorrow. She needs to leave by noon." And that was that. He accepted no protest from me. 

We drive back to the house and it starts to sink in that I'm leaving to Spain in 16 hours. I have a lot of planning to do. Once I get to Spain..then what? How will I get back? When does the ferry leave? What's the schedule? How will I get from Tangier to Casablanca? Bus? Train? What are the schedules? The prices? How will I get to Agadir from Casa? Train to Marrakech, then bus to Agadir? What are the schedules? How much will it cost? Where is my Drivers License? Where is my ATM card? My backpack? What should I pack? Do I take my extremely heavy and expensive laptop or leave it at home? I need to go to my apartment to get everything but I can't go till after the neighbors are alseep... (I haven't been home in 6 weeks and I don't want them to see me and bombard me with 1,000s of questions when I'm extremely stressed and have a zillion things racing through my mind.) How will I get to my apartment? I can take a grand taxi but do not want to stand on an un-lit street around midnight waiting for a taxi back. What about my appointment at the US Consulate in Casablanca? What if the slots are all filled? What if I have to blah blah blah blah blah?  As you can see, my mind was racing.

Mystery Man called me while he was out with a friend. He told his friend (with a van) my situation and they picked me up, took me to my apartment, I James Bond-ed my way into the house unnoticed and grabbed all my stuff in 30 seconds. I felt like Jason Bourne in the Bourne Identity. Mission complete. I run down the hill to the van by the light of the moon and we're on our way. I get back to the Mystery house, plug in the computer and begin my schedule researching. I only have a short amount of time and I'm beyond exhausted. My eyes are heavy but I manage to get all the information I need. By the grace of God, there's an 11:00am appointment at the US Consulate on Thursday, exactly when I need it. I literally couldn't believe my eyes. I booked it and passed out.

I wake up and realize I have to pack with a short amount of time to do so. I pack. Then I walk to the corner store to buy a roll of toilet paper (as all of Morocco is BYOTP) and a bag of these little cookie things the size of dice. On the walk back, Mystery Man texts me that he's at the house and ready to go. I say goodbye to everyone, grab my backpack and purse and we head out on the motorbike. We arrive in Inzegane and the company says the bus is being reduced to a van because there's only 12 people traveling. This might actually be a good thing. We have 20 minutes to kill so we park the bike and kind of linger. Mind you he's dressed in full butcher's clothes since he left work to come take me to the bus station. We're talkin' navy quilted jacket, athletic gym pants, and knee-high rubber boots, all yucked out. Don't forget the Ray Bans. He asks me if I need anything and I say no. He says, "Come here." I follow him and he takes me to a little stand and buys me a bottle of water and 3 carmoos fruits. He told me to eat them right then and there but I knew he was fasting and didn't want to eat (or drink an icy cold bottle of water) in front of him. He insists. I'm not fasting beacause you are not allowed to fast while traveling. I finish the fruits and we wait a few minutes more until it's time to board the van. It's a bunch of Muslim dudes with beards, a French lady and her 20ish year old son, and me. We pile into the van and I get a window seat and a vacant seat next to me. Hallelujah! I don't have to worry about someone's hot body all next to me. Gross. I wait for everyone else to get situated and for the next 10 minutes I'm standing outside the van talking with Mystery Man.  I told him don't worry that I'm a big girl and I can handle this. He said he wasn't going to rest until I was safely in Agadir again. So cute. I piled in the van and away I went.


After 2 minutes, I expected the AC to kick on. Nope. I started to get nervous (and hot) about why there's no air circulating. I'm wearing a t-shirt, leggings, black socks over my leggings, and an un-breathable black jellaba. I'm also wrapped in a hijab scarf. So hot. There's a window on the sliding door so I figure, "well if the AC is broken or something, at least we can open the window." Wrong! The driver stops the van a short while later and DUCT-TAPES IT SHUT!!! WHAT????? Are you kidding me???? I'm ready to explode. Like seriously explode. I simply cannot take any more of this stupidity. This was the last straw. FRESH (HOT) AIR WILL NOT MAKE YOU SICK!!!! People here are scared that air will make them sick. I'm dead serious. Honest to God, they wear more clothes in 95 degree weather than I used to wear in wintertime in Wisconsin. I'm being 100% serious. Like 3 or 4 layers at all times. I'm dead serious. I'm getting annoyed just typing about it. Like how are you so backwards? Why do you torture yourselves for no reason??? OMG, I gotta stop thinking about it. So anyway, I'm in the back, about to faint. Everyone else is hot, too. (surprisingly as this is the first time ever  in Morocco that I've seen people hot. Honestly.) So about an hour of agony later, we stop to take a rest and eat. I tell the driver that if he doesn't open the window, I'm literally going to die. The French lady was wearing a tank top and shorts and her full-on manly armpit hair was swaying in the breeze so she wasn't hot. Everyone in that van knew I was the hottest one because of what I was wearing. So after the break, I talk to the driver again and ask what city we're in. If we're in Marrakech, I'm seriously going to take a different bus to Casa because I don't think I'll make it. As I'm talking to the driver and nearly fainting, the French lady tells me I can switch seats with her son. He was riding shotgun and wasn't hot at al so that little angel son of hers switched with me. Thank GOD! I cranked the AC in the front full blast and held my hands up to the vents to let the air blow into my sleeves. It was 1,000 times better. Don't get me wrong, I was still super hot, but now at least I could feel moving air on me. The temperature at this time is now 109 degrees in Marrakech, which is a landlocked city with zero breeze from the ocean. Just stale, hot, dead air. Is now a good time to start, "99 Bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer..." ? Oh wait. It's a Muslim country. "99 Glasses of tea on the wall, 99 glasses of tea..."

A little fluid from our rest stop--
This looked "gross" so I bought it.
 It was.

We FINALLY arrive in Casablanca at 8pm (only 2 hours late, no big deal) and there we change buses to a big huge coach bus with AC. (not cold, but cool. I'll take the upgrade.)  While the dudes are hauling everyones' suitcases underneath, I sneak away for a few minutes across the street. At this point, the entire bag of crumbly cookies has emptied into my purse so it's time for a new snack. I see a guy slangin' peaches on the corner so I pick up a half kilo and make my way back to the bus. Armed with a bag of weird ketchup-flavored puff things and 3 peaches, I claim my seat on the bus. A few minutes later we were off. After 2 stops, the bus is now full. A moroccan girl about 35 years old with bleach bottle blonde hair sits next to me and we make a few minutes of Arabic small talk and then the driver cuts off the lights. An hour or so later, a very very pretty Moroccan woman boards the bus with arms full of luggage and 2 small kids in tow. The guys in the seats in front of me find other seats so she could sit with her little boy and the 7 year old girl sits across the ailse in the window seat. 10 minutes later the boy is getting whiny and you can tell they've been traveling for a while before the bus. I take one of the peaches out of the seat pouch and tap her on the shoulder. I hold up the peach with my eyebrows raised, and she stops for a second, lets out a smile of relief and mouths "thank you" to me. The little boy stands up in his seat and looks at me. He wanted to see the source of the peach apparently and after mom's prompting, says "Tang you!" and dissapears behind his seat.

Later on, we stop for a 30 minute break at a rest stop. There are 3 other buses like ours already there and the place is packed. After checking out the gnarliest bathroom in Morocco, I doused myself with hand sanitizer and walked past the restaurant and stood outside. I was like, "uhhh...ok. Now what? I don't want to stand here for 30 minutes and the bus is locked. Ummm..." and then I felt a tap-tap-tap on my forearm. I look down to see the little girl from the bus. She grabs my hand and without saying a word pulls me into the restaurant to the table where her mom, little brother, and the blonde girl were sitting. The mom smiles at me and motions for me to sit with them. We all start talking and they're very sweet. Her children are just as gorgeous as she is and I'm very happy to be sitting with them. She ordered some kefta, bread, fries, and hot tea for all of us and we ate together. So here we are 5 strangers, but connected by the "woman's club." The little boy was clause-d in due to his age and we had a really nice dinner. Sometimes I really have to pinch myslef. Like honestly. Here I am in the middle of Morocco in some town out in the boondocks--at a rest stop sipping tea with the women and having an absolute blast. By far, it was the best part of the bus trip. We all head back to the bus and fall asleep on the dark ride.

At 5:30 am we arrive in Tangier. If you don't know, Tangier is the northernmost city in Morocco and this where we will take the ferry to Spain. We're supposed to leave at 7am and arrive at 8am. Of course the ferry is late. We're told be won't even be boarding till 8am. Neat. Yeah, neat-o.  The last thing I want to do is sit in the ferry station on a metal bench wating for a boat. But I'll deal with it, whatever. When it's time for all the bus people to get their tickets for the ferry, we have to show our bus ticket in order to get our green ferry ticket. There's only one problem with this. There is no such thing as "orderly fashion" in Morocco. There is also no such thing as lines. It's just chaos at all times whether it's in an administration building, bus stop, mosque, ferry station, souk, anywhere. It's all the same. They use what I've coined as the "funnel system." This is basically when everyone obnoxiously pushes and shoves towards a tiny doorway and slowly funnels through it like sugar. It's hot, it's gross, and it's all too common. The ferry station however, was more like a scene from Wall Street. Tiny papers flying, arms waving, men yelling, and little me in the back of the group waiting patiently. I know there's enough tickets for everyone so why smush myself between the armpits of sweaty men? Thankfully, one of the bearded guys from the Inferno Van saw me and acted like a gentleman. He took my bus ticket and braved the crowd to ensure that I didn't have to duck and dodge flailing arms. So there are in fact people here with manners. Hmmm. A short while later it was time to make our way to Passport Control. This should be easy enough, right? Wrong.

The PIT Crew

When it's my turn at the window, the guy looks at my passport which was last stamped on March 7th. It is now September 7th and 6 months past my original entry date. Americans are allowed only 3 months here, not 6. Not to worry, I have an extension granted from the Moroccan government allowing me a 3 month extension, totalling 6 months from March 7th. So the guy says, "Ok, if you have your paper, no problem. Where is it?"  Me: "Uhhhh....my paper? Yeahhhhhh. It's in Agadir."  You see, the police sergeant told me I wouldn't need it at the border. Thanks guy.  Customs dude told me to go to the police office inside the ferry station. So I did. 

I have to wait outside the office and at this point I was getting a little hungry. I was super exhausted and not caring about anything. I reached inside my purse and felt some of the cookies that emptied out earlier. So there I was munchin' away and this lady kept staring at me. I must've had this look on my face like, "Yeah I'm eatin' cookies outta the bottom of my purse. SO? And yep, they taste like perfume. You got a problem, lady?"

Anyway, so I finally get called into the office. The police chief was slightly charmed by my ability to speak Arabic and the fact that I was full on Muslim'd out---but not charmed enough to sign my paper. Now what? Panic mode. He tells me to go back to Agadir and get the paper and come back. Uhhh, say bruh-- it's not like a 5 minute Vespa ride. We're talking 22 hours each way and by then I would definitely miss the ferry. So all of a sudden I had an idea. I call Mystery Man and explain to him in 30 seconds my problem (because of course my phone is on 5% battery and my charger does not fit the plugs in the ferry station). He totally saves the day and my plan gets set into action. I call Said (the "mentor") and wake him up. I explain to him that a dude on a motorbike will be coming to the office in 20 minutes to meet him with an important paper. He's thrilled. Then Said totally saves the day and takes a picture of the paper on his phone, which he then immediately emails to me. 

Thank God I decided to bring my laptop with me.  I fire that bad boy up on the policeman's desk and plug in the internet key to get ready. BOOM! The picture of my paper is in my inbox within 3 minutes. I show the police dude. All of a sudden, this is not good enough for a signature. You've GOT to be kidding me. A warm rush must have come over his heart because he instructs me to follow a dude to the upstairs office where I can print it. It's time for Jason Bourne to come out again. I just HAPPEN to have my card reader with me and I pull it out of my purse. I take the cover off my BlackBerry, remove the mini SD card, pop it into my card reader, then into the laptop and open the documents folder. I save the picture from my email as a .JPG file and file it into the BlackBerry folder. I save everything, take the card reader out and run upstairs. (Let's not forget the boat is departing in 4 minutes, with or without me) I run upstairs, put the card reader in the system computer, print out the paper and fly down the stairs with my jellaba billowing behind me. I get to the office, slam down the paper on the desk, get the sig, shut down the laptop, pack the bag and get escorted to Passport Control. BOOM! Exit date stamped, access granted, and away I go. (Tuh-DAYOW!)  With my heart pounding, and my lungs out of breath, I run to the (now empty) shuttle bus, hop on and tell the driver to step on it! We come to a screeching halt near the boat dock and I'm running just like it's the movies. Wait...it's not the movies. It's Morocco. In my hayday, I forget how slow things are here and realize...there's a huge line of people waiting to board the ferry and I have at least 10 minutes of waiting in line to do. Oh well, I still felt like Jason Bourne.

They clearly saved the best for last ;)

Wait for me!

Once I'm on the boat, I walk up 2 levels to the top deck. I've never been on a ferry before (unless you count the Ducks in Wisconsin Dells) and I'm pretty stoked to be there. I love traveling alone. It's really fun and it makes you grow so much. Anyway, I'm by myself up-top for a few minutes and I'm totally ready to do "Titanic" -- you know, arms out, wind in the hair (in this case, scarf) the whole bit. Then I realize we haven't left yet and the boat's not moving. All of a sudden, it doesn't seem so exhilarating.

I was totes ready to do Titanic...

Ocean View

Mooja Kabira
After an hour of sitting on a bench on deck and smiling like a huge dork, I arrive in Thpain. The only thing I'm looking forward to in Thpain is eating some delicious Thpanish food. Actually, it doesn't even have to be Thpanish food. It can be anything, anything besides Moroccan food. I have from 2pm-4pm to decide what to eat and then it's time to head back to Morocco. Well guesssssss what? That assenine siesta is from 2pm-4pm so everything is closed... Except the Moroccan restaurants. Let me tell you the last thing on earth I want to see right now is a tagine pot. Or a kebab. Or couscous. I'm just like, "You know what? whatever. I'm in Thpain and I didn't miss my boat. The rest is whatever. If I gotta force couscous down my throat, fine." Well lucky for me, I found a place for a triple culture lunch. It was a Morccan place in Thpain that served American hamburgers. I'll take it. So here's the blue-eyed American Muslim eating at El Aladdino (yes, I'm serious. That's really the name of the place) in a sea full of Moroccan dudes. I place my entire order in Arabic and it was like the jukebox stopped and everyone stopped and stared. "Yep, boys. That's right. I speak Darija. ANDDDD??" They didn't even know what to think of me. And I'm alone so now they're definitely confused. What was that? You want me to speak Spanish? Yeah I can do that, too. Get owff me. So I ate a sorry excuse for a burger, the world's soggiest fries, and a can of Coke with a straw in it. I'm not picky anymore. I ate it and bounced.

I wandered around the city for a while, picked up a few things at the Thpanish grocery store, and a few other things here and there. There was this really hot Spanish guy named Esteban who kept flirting with me. He kept asking me for my phone number and told me he wanted to take me out some time. I told him "no thank you" but couldn't stop staring at him. I love a man in uniform.

That's Esteban. He puts the "MAN" in "MANNEQUIN"

I got back to the ferry station a little early and I was super hot. All I wanted was some ice cream while I waited. Wish granted. I found this chocolate ice cream bar that totally made my day. I unloaded my 400lb backpack and sat in the waiting lounge. The ice cream was soooooo good and I just sat there happy as a bluebird. A few minutes later, I boarded the next ferry and it was back to the land of craziness.

Apparently the key to Chocolate Paradise...is usually a Magnum

You know it's death by chocolate when it comes in it's own casket

The second ferry was waaay nicer than the first one and it was a good ride. The inside had an area that looked like airplane seats and then there was a lounge, a cafe, a restaurant, chilling tables, everything. I sat by a window, plugged my laptop in and did some video editing while looking at the waves of the ocean.

Beats 2 oars and a rowboat...

Plane or boat?

Lounge #1

Lounge #2

Each one of those rectangles is a train car!

AdiĆ³s, Spain!

 I got back to Tangier at 6:00 local time and then waited for the shuttle bus to the city center. While I was outside waiting I was like, "Hey, wait a second...nobody stamped my pasport!" So I go back inside and request my passport be stamped. Whew! That was the whole reason for my trip! Glad I remembered. Anyway, I took the shuttle bus to the city center and then a taxi to the train station.  Reminder: at this point it has been a little less than 48 hours since I was in the police sergeant's office in Taghazout. All of this has been less than 2 days. Seriously??

I board the train and find myself a seat. Guess what? the AC is broken. OF COURSE it is. All I want to do is pass out and sleep until Casablanca. Well guess what? They don't turn the lights off. Ever. So I'm hot (again, or rather still) and I can't sleep. I manage to doze off somehow and am awakened at 2:30am because of all the bottles of water I drank earlier. So I get up and mosey 2 cars down. Now I'm on the fast-track to Yuckville in a dirty bathroom. There's black water all over the floor and it seeps into my shoes. Great. Now I have the grossest liquid known to man inside my babouche slippers. Awesome. Even though the light didn't work,  I did get to catch a glimpse of the flushing system. Wait, there is no flushing system. In fact, there's no bottom to the toilet. Whatever goes in, falls down onto the tracks. Cool or gross? I can't decide. Maybe both.

The Marrakech Express

We got to the Casablanca station at 5:30am and not exactly the time I want to call my friend in Casablanca to say I was on my way over. I also had to be on the other side of town at 11am for my appointment. I texted to say I'd come later and sat in the waiting area of the train station. I just wanted to sit in peace and quiet. Plus, it was really safe there. I didn't really have anywhere else to go at that time of day. So I stayed there for 2 hours and slept sitting up.

Goodmorning, Casablanca!
 I really did not feel like sitting there till 11 am and by this time the sun was out and the city was waking up. I decided to take a chance and took a taxi to the US Consulate at 8am in hopes that they could see me earlier. Thank God they said yes. One of the zillion security/police officers outside told me to come back in 40 minutes and to have a cup of tea at the cafe across the street. The place was called Cafe Americano outside of the US Consulate. Sitting there was the most American I've felt since being in Morocco.  I had a quick bite to eat and then headed to the appointment.

Wait...am I in LA?

A REAL omelette! Not the nasty Morccan kind cooked in a metal pan that's all runny, soggy and gross.

 My meeting was surprisingly fast (oh wait, this is the US Consulate, not the Moroccan administration) so I was out the door with all documents signed, sealed, and stamped with fees paid in less than 15 minutes. Wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am. 

I took a taxi to my friend's house and when I got there I was ready to drop. I'd been traveling for 2 days straight with no real sleep.  They welcomed me with open arms and insisted I take a nap immediately. I did not object. They made up a bed for me in Khadija's room and padded me with a sheet and a blanket. That bed was SOOOOO comfortable I thought I was in heaven. I kept apologizing for not being fun and they totally understood I was exhausted. Instead of making me get up, they brought in a little table and gave me a tea party in bed. Literally! The room is also painted pink and purple so I really felt like a 6-year old princess. 

The Perfect Tea Party

I had some tea and cookies and passed out. When I woke up, I felt a little better but I didn't feel like actually getting up. What a fun house guest! Khadija, Salma, Jamila, Ayoub, and their mom were so sweet and kind to me the whole time and we actually had a really good time that night.

I woke up feeling great. Friday is the day of the big prayer and I really wanted to go to Hassan II mosque in the center of the city. That is the place I said the shahada and every time I'm in Casa, I like to visit there. Next to Mecca, it's the biggest mosque in the world. It's breathtaking and amazing. Ayoub escorted me by 2 buses and a taxi to the mosque. He waited for me while I was inside. A half hour later I came out and we took a few pictures and headed back to the house for the obligatory Friday couscous. 

Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca
In the picture above, you can barely see this but it's huge!

This is about 5% of what I saw. It's too big to fit in 1 photo

Dome ceiling where a chandelier hangs from

One of the zillion chandeleiers

Part of the outside

That's me!

After lunch, we relaxed a little and I got to actually be myslef again and talk to everyone. Then after a while Ayoub took me to the medina. We wandered around the medina for a while, I got my purse fixed in about 2 minutes by a tailor (for a buck) and we stopped for some ice cream along the way.  I wanted to buy Mystery Man a little hat and some cologne oil as a token of appreciation for everything he's done for me lately. Ayoub and I searched high and low but couldn't find the little hat thingy. I settled for some different little oils and we decided to walk around the city. The sun had set by this time so it was dark and cool finally. As we were walking, I saw a guy on a motorbike with one of the little hats on. He was talking to someone on the sidewalk with his bike running with one foot on the street and one foot on the curb. I politely said "excuse me" in Arabic and asked him if he knew where I could buy a hat like that. He said "I'm sorry, I bought this in Marrakech and it's a one-of-a-kind hand-made hat." I told him I wanted to buy one like it for a gift for someone who helped me and he plucked it off the top of his head and said, "here, take this one." I of course refused and he insisted. I told him there's no way I'm gonna take the hat from his head, especially if it's one of a kind. He asked if I was Muslim and I said yes. He said, "Then you should know how we Muslims do things. Take this hat from me, I insist. I will not accept 'no' as an answer." I accepted the hat. On one condition: that he hold out his right hand. I took out the bottle of cologne oil and said, "Bismillah" and put it into his palm. He looked at it, got excited and was happy about our trade. So was I. We both parted ways with a smile.

I woke up Saturday around 10:30 and had breakfast in the salon with the girls. We had bread with butter, olive oil, apricot jam, and honey. Oh yeah, and chocolate cake. It's totally acceptable (and normal) to eat cake for breakfast here. I have no qualms with this policy. It was a lazy sort of saturday and we didn't do much during the day. By the way, I was only planning on staying for one night but the mom and daughters insisted I stay until Sunday. They were like, "Nooooo, please don't leave after the Friday prayer! We want you to stay all weekend!" I thought, "what the heck? why not!" I had nothing to do and it felt nice to be away from Agadir for a bit. We kind of just hung around all day and didn't do too much besides goof around. We had a nice lunch and later we had a tea party on the rooftop. It was really nice to watch the sunset over the ocean with all the huge mosques as the spread out skyline. After the sunset it was a cool purple-y blue color and we talked and had cookies, cakes, tea, and little pastries. The mom came home from a baby shower and shared her goody-bag with us. I tell ya, Moroccans love some sweets! 

After our tea party, the youngest sister (Salma) and I were talking on the roof for about 2 hours. She speaks a little English so it was nice to exercise my vocabulary. Sure I email and blog in English but I rarely speak it anymore. It's nice to hear it, too. She's 20 but very intelligent and bright. She's really sweet, too. I found out something INSANE that I could not believe. It's 100% true and super weird. Ok. so Salma and Ayoub are twins. Sort of. What do I mean sort of? Ok, well Salma was the first one out. Usually twins are separated by a few minutes but not her and Ayoub! Ayoub stayed in his mom's belly for an ADDITIONAL 12 months!! He came out a YEAR later!!! Yes, a whole year! So he was in his mom's belly for a year and 9 months total. WHAT??? How is that even possible? I was like, "was he walking and talking when he came out?!" I guess he was only slightly bigger than a normal baby. So strange! So they're twins but she's 20 and he's only 19. 

Sunday I woke up and had breakfast with the family. I packed my bags and was ready to go at noon. Mystery Man was in Marrakech with a rental car for a friend's wedding and wanted to meet me in Marrakech so I didn't have to take the bus back to Agadir by myself. Around 2pm, Ayoub walked me to the train station which is only about a 10 minute walk. However, there is no sidewalk and we walked along the train tracks. 

There's about 6 tracks and it was daylight out so we weren't in any real danger. I gave Ayoub a couple dirhams and showed him how to put them on the tracks. We waited for a train to come and afterwards searched for the coins. He was blown away and for a few minutes thought I was the coolest chick around for showing him that. He kept taking it out and looking at it while we waited for the train. 

Coins on the tracks = cheap thrill

One of my favorite pictures

I bought my ticket and then we waited for the train (which was of course a half hour late). I thanked him for everything and he waved goodbye as I got on the train. The AC was broken still and I used a fan I bought in Spain to cool myself off. Who'm I kidding? I was definitely not cooled down.

 After a few hours, I took a walk to the space between the cars where I found both doors to be open. Safety first! It looked like a scene out of a movie. There I was on the Marrakech Express all alone and perfectly happy to be there. I stood in the open doorway of the train and smiled as I saw the bright light of the moon piercing the blue, purple, and orange sky. The mountains were in the background and I was finally cooled down. I stood there for a few minutes and smiled and thanked God. I thanked him not only for the beauty of the moment but also for the strength to do what I do in my life. I thanked Him for my independence, my gutsiness, and my constant search for the new and unknown. In some ways, I live a fearless lifestyle and I'm very proud of the 30 year old woman I've become. I have my parents to thank for that.

Standing in the open doorway with nothing to prevent me from falling out

A Precious View

The Perfect Sunday 
Don't let life pass you by...
Get on track to wherever you want to be
Don't hesitate or think twice
Just do it NOW and don't look back

I arrived in Marrakech and 10 minutes later Mystery Man met me at the train station. He was exhausted from the wedding celebration and I from my travels. We got in the car and headed on the highway back to Agadir. The moon was bright, the sky was dark and clear, and there was hardly anyone on the road. With the windows open, I felt the African breeze on my face and was happy to be going back. It was a long peaceful car ride and it felt good to be there at that exact moment. 

I've been home for a few days but I leave again in a short while. This time, it's going to be a whole different story--and I'll be flying this time. Do airplanes serve purse cookies? 

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How to Make a Bomb Little Apple Roll

Okay, Okay... I know this blog is not called "Recipes from Morocco" but I've been getting a little creative in the kitchen lately and I decided to post this recipe I invented. It looks like a lot of work but it's actually very easy to make.

I took a recipe for Moroccan pastilla and added my American flavor to it. Pastilla is this flaky, super thin pastry-style dough but it's not dough. It's like thin paper made from flour and water. Anyway, I wanted to combine that with something from my culture and I thought, "What's more American than apple pie?" So it turned out to be this delicious Moroccan-Cinnamon-Apple-Egroll-Thingy with glaze on top. 

You will need:

Deep pan with water for a double boiler (yeah, that's right. I got a lil' fancy with it)
A Teflon pan (Moroccans: what you guys call a "T-Fal")
A paintbrush

For the Pastilla
some flour
a pinch or 2 of salt
about 5 big apples chopped into little pieces
a cup or so of sugar
cinnamon (maybe 2 big tablespoons?)
a little less than half a stick of butter
a tiny dish of vegetable oil to prevent the pastilla from sticking together

For the Glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
a pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon butter

I don't measure anything and you shouldn't either. Just make it so it looks good.

Peel the skin off the apples and then chop them into little pieces (like if you cut dice in half). Actually... it really doesn't matter. You can do whatever you want. There's no rules in cooking but the little pieces cook better.

Mix flour, pinch of salt,  and water so it's like a liquid--not too thick, you want it runny. Put the teflon pan on top of the other pan filled with boiling water so the steam from the boiling water is what heats the teflon pan. Using the paintbrush, paint a circle around the pain and then fill in the middle. It should be suuuuuper thin and it will cook very fast. When the edges start to lift, peel it off gently and set it on a plate. Dip your fingers in oil and gently brush over the whole thing.

Brusha, brusha, brusha...

See? Soops thin.

I learned how to make this from one of my friends a few months ago and I took a video of it.  This is me watching for the first time and after about 2 minutes, I got the hang of it. Watch this video--it's super short but important. 

I'd make about 20 of these. It should take you about 10 minutes. No biggie.

Put the apples in the pan you used for the pastilla. Pour the sugar and cinnamon over the apples. Chop the butter into small pieces and distribute around the pan. Put about 2 handfuls of water in the pan. IMPORTANT: PUT THE PAN ONTO A REGULAR FLAME, NOT OVER THE PAN YOU USED FOR THE PASTILLA.

Turn the heat on medium. Stir everything around in there till it's all mixed up. Cook over the heat for about 10 minutes until apples are soft. Once they are soft (but not mushy) turn the heat to low to make the liquid turn more gooey. You want it to be like carmel sauce kind of.

When it's as thick as you want it, take it out of the pan and put it in a big bowl to cool down for about 10 minutes. The sauce will get thicker as it sits.

Lay a piece of pastilla on the table. Fold the bottom of it up. Put a spoonful of the apple mix in the middle of the folded up part.

Shcoop a shpoonfull on nare...

Then fold the left and right sides in towards the middle. 

Right, Left, Roll...

Roll that baby up and set it aside. If they don't all look exactly the same, who cares?

They're gettin' all thnuggly...

Bake them in the oven at 300˚ for about 15 minutes. Honestly, I'm just guessing. I actually have no idea how long I cooked them for because I was in the kitchen doing other things. Just cook them till the outside is a little crispy. You don't want them soft like when you put them in. 

While those little nuggets are cooking, make the glaze. It's soooo easy.

Melt the butter. Add it to the rest of the ingredients. Stir. That's it!     

When the apple rolls are done cooking, let them cool for a little bit and then drizzle the glaze over them.

1/2 Moroccan, 1/2 American   :)

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