Who's #50?


As you can clearly see on the left, I have readers in 49 countries. But the question on everyone's mind is...

Who will be number 50?!

(Okay, so maybe that question is only on my mind, but still.)

Whatever country pops up in my stats column next, I'd like to do a post on whatever place that may be. 

C'mon fiddy, where you at?....

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A Year in Morocco

Yeah I used a stock photo. So?

December 15th, 2010:  I packed my bags in the morning and prepared to leave London on the morning train to the airport. I'd been traveling from Los Angeles to Kenosha to Chicago to Dublin to London and this part of my trip was almost over. Not only was I leaving these places, I was also leaving western life behind.

I didn't really know what to expect when I boarded that plane. After I found my seat, I sat alone with my right shoulder leaning against the cold airplane window. I had a lot on my mind-- my family, my friends I'd left in so many places, and the new life I was about to begin. The last few days in London was full of chaos and charisma, trains and traffic. As fun as my travel blur had been, I was ready for some peace and quiet. Just as the plane took off, the sun was beginning to set. I watched out the window as we lifted above the cloud cover and it felt as if I was floating into an orange glow of warmth. The rays of the sun seemed to reach out and hug the plane. For some reason everything felt like it was going to be ok.

The first few months in Morocco revealed so many new things to me. It felt like a dream come true as I took each day in stride, unprepared for what was ahead of me. I traveled the roller coaster of roads through the depths of the countryside, into the mountains, through the modern capital city, small villages, beach towns, campsites, ocean-view cliffs, and back to Agadir again. I didn't really know what to expect before I came here and Moroco had its way of showing itself to me one day at a time.

The African coast is so beatiful, isn't it?

I eventually settled into my beach house in Tamraght and the pages of my life book turned quickly. Each day was different and the friends I had made earlier played a really important role in my life. There are a few people that helped me with their words, wisdom, insight and philosophies that really meant so much to me. There's one person in particular who really had a big impact on me. He used to talk about everything with me and his words stuck in my head. One day he told me to be positive always and rely on God. We sat in his truck one day and he said to me, "You just have to chase the Light." I never forgot that and it's been a big theme of my life since then.

Soon after I met an incredible banana cupcake gypsy lady named Cindy and she moved in with me for 2 months. Our adventures were at God's perfect timing and we both helped eachother in different ways. She needed me at the exact time I needed her. If you want to see what I mean, check out my post called Cindy-bindy .

Ramadan was just around the corner by the time Cindy headed to Spain and I was preparing for a new spiritual adventure. Fasting for 30 days straight was something new for me but I was ready for it. The whole month of August was such an amazing experience. Each day I would wake up around 4:00 am and eat a huge breakfast. Then afterwards I would pray and go back to sleep. When you fast, you can't eat or drink ANYTHING (no gum, no water, no nada) and you break the fast at sunset which is around 7:30pm. The days during that month were spent learning more about Islam, reading the entire Quran twice, and cooking the big dinner to break the fast (without tasting anything--just eyeballing everything). After dinner, everyone would go to the mosque for the extra evening prayers and sometimes we'd be standing in prayer for over 2 1/2 hours. It was incredible to feel the way I did. Here I was in the Africa all alone, yet I felt like I totally belonged here. The unity I feel when I'm at the mosque is like the glue that binds me to my faith. I'm so thankful that I've been able to develop in the surrounding that I'm in.

After Ramadan was over, Mohamed proposed to me. Ever since then, life has been a whirlwind. We've done so much together, learned so much about eachother, and traveled in between also. I've spent the last few months teaching him how to speak English and he's spent the last few months teaching me about Islam. He is truly a blessing in my life and I am so happy he found me. 

You know, when I came here I didn't really have a plan. But God did. He knew exactly what I'd be doing and how I'd live, survive, and make my way in this beautiful country. I'm now an official resident here and it feels really good to be here. I'm so happy I trusted my gut instincts and decided to pack everything up and just go. There's no way I can describe how empowering and valuable it is do just do your own thing. I really really really encourage anyone reading this to take a chance on whatever it is that you're thinking about. Is there something that's ALWAYS on your mind? Then do it. Seriously, why wait? What are you scared of? Just take the risk and go with it. You won't be disappointed. And even if what you want doesn't work out...you'll still have fun along your way. The people you'll meet will inspire you in a way you can never imagine or plan for. 

Big props to my girl Haydee who packed everything up from Beverly Hills and moved to Costa Rica last month. Now she's chillin' in a dope loft with a hammock on her balcony overlooking giant fields of palm trees. A year ago in LA at my going away party, she thought I was nuts for moving to Morocco alone...now look at her. :)  And to my friend Jen Le: it's time for you to move to Italy. The photography industry is waiting for a bubbly American like you to get it where you fit in. There are too many opportunities that you're missing out on every day. Set your plan in motion. Don't just talk about it, DO IT! 

See what happens when you take a chance?

I have so many people to thank for my sanity and my survival. First of course, are my mom and dad. Without their constant support, I'm sure I'd be a train wreck. (Dina Lohan: take note). To all my friends who email me to tell me that I'm an inspiration, thank you. People don't really realize how a simple little email can make someone's day. To all the strangers that I've never met that have stumbled upon this blog, thank you for all of your kind comments and emails. I really appreciate it. 

To everyone that's never met me:  Can you add a comment and tell me how you found this blog? I mean...I have page hits from over 100 countries so I'd love to know how you've all found me! :D

In conclusion, a year is a long time and a short time all at once. I'm very happy where I'm at both physically, mentally, and spiritually and a lot of it has to do with being here in lovely Agadir. I really miss all my family and friends so hurry up and book a plane ticket to come see me! I love you all!

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Guacamole, The Green Bay Packers, and a Russian Smurfette

It's been almost a year since I've moved to Morocco and I definitely miss a lot of people/things/places from back home in America. One of the things I miss the most is my social circle and having a lot of friends. You see, here it's a little different. It's harder to make friends here and sometimes people are intimidated by me. There are a lot of people that are hesitant to speak with me because they either don't speak English or if they do, they're afraid it isn't "perfect" enough. The ironic part is that they don't know that I speak Darija Arabic just fine. But hey, that's life I guess.

One day, about 3 months ago, Mohamed told me, "I know somebody that's married to a woman and she's an American like you. She's also Muslim and she lives in Agadir." I was like, "Wait, WHAT??!!!" How could this be true? There's an American chick here and I don't know her? Why not? We need to change that ASAP.

About a month ago, after the Friday khotba in the mosque, Mohamed tells me over lunch that he has the number of the man who's married to her and he called him 5 minutes prior. He tells me, "She's excited to meet you and wants you to come over right away. Like now. Like right now." Ok! Sounds good to me!

As soon as we finished the obligatory couscous, we headed out and went to their gorgeous apartment. Her husband told me she was just inside around the corner in the living room. Much to my surprise, their house looked totally American! There was no Moroccan tiles, no lace doilies on the tv, no fake flowers, and no  paintings hung on the walls with their plastic and cardboard corners still on. Then Sarah, yeah that's right--SARah, not "Seddah" came down the hallway and introduced herself. Here's the best part: She spoke English! Yes! Real English! With sarcasm even! I was already sure we were gonna be good friends.

After a few minutes I see this amazingly gorgeous little 4 year old girl. Her name is Hannah and she looks like a tiny version of M.I.A. She has big, beautiful bouncy curls and an irresistable smile with a little gap in her teeth. She is so stinkin' cute and I instantly fell in love.  Just when I think she can get no cuter, she starts to speak English. She said, "Mama, the woman? She's here now." She said it with the most innocent whisper and I couldn't believe how cute she was.

Then I met her brother. His name is Ibrahim (EE-bruh-HEEM) and he is too much for words. Picture an adorable little one-year old with white skin, blonde hair, and big brown eyes that just look up at you and melt your heart. Yeah, that's my dude. He's my little homey and he has the cutest 3 1/2 teeth you'd ever see. 2 babies on the bottom and a big one up-top. The fourth one is on its way in but you don't even notice it--because when he smiles you just see the Big Poppa up top.

So as Sarah and I start talking, she notices my accent. I notice hers. Hmmmm....    Later I say that I'm from Kenosha, Wisconsin originally and guess what? She's from Green Bay! What?! Are you kidding me? Seriously, what are the chances that 2 cheese-heads both converted to Islam, moved to Agadir, and love to cook? We were both like, "No waaaay! That's awesome!"

What was that? Undefeated? Oh yeah.

As it turns out, Sarah's supes cool and she has the same sense of humor as me. (big plus)  We understand eachother in a way that's hard for Moroccans to understand us. Did that make sense? I bet she'll understand it when she reads it. Ha! No seriously, we really get along well and it's like a small piece of home is here with me now. I find comfort in our friendship and it's only just beginning.

Sometimes I go over to her house and Mohamed drops me off. It's kind of like she's babysitting me and neither of us mind.  We laugh, joke around, and do not stop talking from the time I get there to the time I leave. Literally. Hannah even says to us sometimes, "Can you guys PLEASE stop talking? I don't want to hear you anymore." haha! Not to worry, though, as Miss Hannah has an agenda of her own. She's far too busy watching the Smurfs in Russian. Yes, that's right--in Russian. Let me remind you that she does not speak a word of Russian. But that's ok. Why? Because she thinks it's in French. *Ahem*  She doesn't speak French either. 

One day, we were talking about what we miss most about living in America. We both admit that (besides our family and friends of course) it's definitely the food. I was nearly drooling when I started talking about how much I miss the Taco Trucks in LA and how absolutely bomb Mexican food is. There's no sour cream here which eliminates a lot of cookng.  But wait! Sarah informed me there IS in fact sour cream here. But like everything else, It's a Hoax . It's actually sour cream wearing a yogurt container's clothing. M-hmm. Not surprised. So guess what that little food angel friend of mine did? She invited me over a few days later for a Mexican Fiesta! 

We're talkin' home-made guacamole, nachos, beef AND chicken, real tortillas, salsa, the whole nine. (or maybe the whole nueva) I'm not even joking, my mouth was watering as I was going up the elevator. The whole house smelled like guac and cilantro. Seriously, I walked in and it was like lunch ecstasy.

OMG, Yesssss...


Since then, we've hung out a lot, talked about everything imaginable, visited a palace with a female Michael Jackson impersonator, had a tea party with M&Ms, Snickers, Pringles, and other American goodies, and I've given her and the kids haircuts. Everytime I see her, I leave happy. She's really a blessing in my life and I know that it's no accident that we know eachother. :)

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