Friday, 25 May 2007

Observations in the Maghreb

Last night there was a big fireworks show. They were launching the fireworks off the Hasan Tower, an unfinished mosque. It was started during his life, they ran out of money and it was never finished. It has a perfectly flat top as opposed to the normal mosques with a small tower and place for the chap to stand and call out the prayer time. We can sit on the terrace and have ringside seats. It was really quite grand.

In Morocco they pour the tea from a height of six to eight inches above the glass with a lift and lower, up and down motion. It has become tradition. The original purpose is to aerate the tea, but the superstition is that the more foam on your tea, the more money you will have. All well mannered young women learn to serve the tea properly. Q can do it. I haven't tried it yet as I fear I will splatter hot tea everywhere. Those glasses are really small!

1 December 2006 at the Villa in Fez
I was getting nothing done in my room, I think I have the "I finished four stories and sent them in to the contest and I am having a bit of a let down, and empty emotionally" thing, like you do. So I decided to eat cereal.

I walked into the dining room and cute-girl-from-downstairs-just-moved-in haven't-met-her-yet was at the table. Tilley, who is so sweet we may box her and sell her in the confections aisle, was rummaging in the cupboard. Kristof our witty Austrian, was just inside the doorway to the kitchen, leaning on the frame eating cereal.

As I opened the refrigerator I heard Tilley's voice, but not what she was saying. Kristof said, "Lady MacLeod," and motioned with his head that Tilley was speaking to me.

"What's that then?" I asked.

In her clipped, upper crust, English accent she asked, "Do you know whose nuts are roasting in the oven?" I swear to you, straight face, as sincere as if she had been asking after the state of my health.

I stood, looked at her sweet face, and then turned to Kristof. I put my hand against his cheek in a gesture of affection and said, "Kristof, darlin', should she not be making this inquiry of you?"

As his face turned an impressive shade of scarlet and he choked a little on his cereal, Tilley sucked in a quick breath and covered her mouth with her hand, eyes wide.

"Tilley I have no idea whose nuts are in the oven," I said, "but no matter what you have heard from those Marines, I didn't do it." I turned and marched with great dignity back to my apartment with the sound of joyful laughter following me.

I took a Petite Taxi to Marjane this morning. The cab driver who was a sweetheart and had as many words in English as I do in Darjia did some very well intentioned and sweet recruiting for his faith. “You must learn Arabic to read the Koran; to enter the mosque; the Koran takes all, Buddhists people too – under Islam. You are a writer-woman, very great.”
I often get credit here when someone notices my Mala beads (Buddhist prayer beads, mine are sandalwood) around my wrist, as they look very similar to the Islamic prayer beads.

On the walk home I passed a little Fatima in all her sparkly dressed up glory headed for a wedding or a fancy dress party, and a chap riding a bicycle, like you do, with four or five skinned (I can say this with authority as it was the glistening that attracted my attention) carcasses of sheep roped over the back wheel. I kid you not!

I remain entranced, the mouth-hanging-open-you-are-not-from-around-here entranced, with the birds of Morocco. There was a high flying v-formation lofting over as I walked home, and I was greeted with a cacophony of birdsong as I stood in front of the French Ambassador’s residence to write in my little black Mole Book about the sheep on the bike, ‘cause yeah I was really likely to forget that...but you never know.

AT dinner last night Sally told us about the Australian “Sorry March”. Really quite grand it was. Apparently some years back the Aborigine population of Australia requested an apology from the government for the treatment of their people in the past. It seems that during the colonization and as recent as 1960 Aborigine children were taken from their families and sent to live with “white” families so that they would learn to assimilate. “There are people my age, and in their fifties who have no idea who their parents were, who their families are,” she said.
The government refused. The people of Australia (who number only about twenty million) organized a march [May 2000] where a quarter of a million people in the “Walk for Aboriginal Reconciliation” crossed Sydney's famous landmark, the Harbor Bridge. For five and a half hours, a steady human stream filled the bridge, traversing the four kilometers from North Sydney to the southern end. This was just one of a number of demonstrations the people took upon themselves to organize in the face of bureaucratic denial.
Isn’t that cool?

The Moroccans just do not know how to queue properly. IF the British and not the Frogs had colonized here they would not all be rushing the counter, of course the British were busy suppressing people in Egypt and India. You can only do so much.

Q was giving me a shoulder and neck massage during the final draft of my paper: “Some people blow shit up, some people command troops; I cook and give backrubs. I have peace time talents.”

Q and her professor Hamid were discussing problem solving. “In America we do like to go to books to find the answers to our problems,” Q explained.
“In Morocco, we have no choice, our neighbors solve our problems!” said Hamid.


The Good Woman said...

Amazing what travels by bike in Africa...

I love these random observations. It's a bit like closing my eyes in the sun and having small pictures play before my eyes between sips of tea.

Thank you.

lady macleod said...

good woman,

Isn't that the truth!

thank you for the kind words, and for coming by.

james higham said...

Another daisy chain of linked observations, m'lady.

...the more foam on your tea, the more money you will have...

My tea is very flat.

Omega Mum said...

I'm telling you now, 6 - 8 inch pouring doesn't work with PG Tips a) it doesn't foam and b) it renders it unsuitable for dunking activities and c) I'm still poor

lady macleod said...


But your charm, wit, and intellect are quite sharp!

omega mum,

oops, oh, and aw...

Melody said...

Lovely musings. I've enjoyed reading your words and viewing your photos. I'll be back to travel via your blog.

Thank you for visiting my place.

Mama Zen said...

Wow! This is absolutely fascinating. I can almost imagine that I'm there. Great blog.

lady macleod said...


Thank you for the kind words and for visiting. Yes do come back, you can travel with me anytime.

Mama zen,

I am pleased you enjoyed it. Thank you for visiting.

Chopski said...

I have an affinity with Morocco having travelled to Tangier on a few occasions when, a lifetime ago I lived in Gibraltar. Your blog has rekindled memories of the place with your vivid descriptions and I can almost smell the mint tea! Funnily enough I have just finished a novel by Robert Wilson called The Blind Man of Seville which in part is set in Tangier and Ceuta where I also spent some time. I hope you don’t mind me sharing this with you and I will be back for more!

Lainey-Paney said...

It's so random that I found your blog today.

A friend of mine & new coworker, lived for a while in Morocco, and was telling me about how she lived in a small village, and people would go through the trash that you throw out.
It was so bizarro to me!

Anyway...thanks for sharing about some of the customs there.

lady macleod said...


Quite the opposite! Not only do I not mind, I like it. I love hearing other people's stories, as do the other very nice people who come here.

My daughter and I are trying to make the time for a trip to Seville before she heads for graduate school at NYU.

Sounds like you have done some traveling yourself. I am pleased your enjoyed the blog. Thank you for visiting and I will be happy to have you back for more.


I love the way life works. Where did you friend live? I am not surprised at the news about the trash. We (of the west) make a lot of trash, and I fear we are used to a more disposable culture.

You are welcome and thank you for visiting.

Brillig said...

Wow. What a fascinating world you're living in!!! I love reading your musings about it.

And, hahahahaha. I love the exchange between you, Tilley, and Kristof. Hahahahaha.

lady macleod said...


Thank you darling. I know! It was so funny when it happened I was in tears from laughing. I'm glad you enjoyed it as well.

thank you for coming by.

Shauna said...

Love reading about your life! I'm fascinated!

mutterings and meanderings said...

I am going to practice the tea pouring...

lady macleod said...


Me too. I can't wait to see what happens next! I'm glad you enjoy the blog.

here's excitement = kitty is trying to eat my toes...

Thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...


Let me know how that goes! (he he) I am afraid because I am such a klutz.

Thank you for coming by.

Drunk Mummy said...

I have tried this 6-8 inch pouring with my bottle of prosecco tonight. There is so much foam that I fully expect to win the National Lottery this weekend.

lady macleod said...

drunk mummy,

That's going to be SOME party! Chill the Crystal and I'll be on the next flight out.

Thank you for coming by.

debio said...

I too have practised the tea pouring thing but I am a danger to my fellow-drinkers.

Here, live goats are frequently transported lashed to the back of moped riders. I am always amazed at how calm they appear - if only they knew their fate!

Lovely ramblings, lady macleod, like a box of eastern chocolates...

lady macleod said...


Live goats?! I haven't seen that one ...yet. Thank you for your kind words and
Thank you for coming by.

Liz said...

You tell such wonderful stories! What an interesting life you lead.