Tuesday 30 October 2007

who needs words?

M.C. Solaar and Klong Chen Pa snooze in NYC

Monday 29 October 2007

just the facts

I am having to use the bookstore for online time as I fill my cases with books to take back to Morocco for long afternoons filled with the adventures of others. I borrowed my friend's car today for shopping and it was so strange to be driving again, and with a seat belt! Very odd indeed. I picked up three jars of peanut butter for my landlord Abdul Latif - we can't get peanut butter in Morocco, and apparently he loves the stuff. I will admit to the occasional late night spoon dipping into the 'chunky' genre...

I will be posting in a spotty-at-best-manner I fear, until I am once again in the Maghreb. I find no end of amusement to the fact I have internet access in North Africa but I can't get online in MA in a very 'wired' house! The Verizon hook-up for cable television, telephone and internet service does not 'recognize' me. Can you imagine that?

It is stunningly beautiful here. Fall is awash in her glorious cape of colors - gold, red, yellow, orange.... The breeze is crisp and the nights chilly - heaven. It is so odd to see cars with only ONE person inside, and to sit in the book store SURROUNDED by books and people speaking English. I can finally get some sleep tonight as the Boston Red Sox won the World Series and I do not have to stay up with Cathy until the last pitch of the ninth inning. They swept the Rockies in four games! and happiness reigns in Boston.

I have had my appointment with the opthalmologist who says I do NOT have a detached retina even though I fit all the symptoms, whew. Just a bit of wandering viterous... I have seen the dentist to find out my gums are in great shape (yes!) and he replaced the broken tooth that I had ignored for a year, and gave me a bag of free dental goodies.

I am on the run as I must get home and work on my final papers for my history class. Education on the fly as it were.

More to follow, bear with me lovely readers until I am once again in the land of constant internet access.

Thursday 25 October 2007

help wanted: geeks please listen up..

I can't get online at my friend's house in MA. I went to the local Barnes and Noble and accessed the wireless there, no worries. The Apple screen says: "Airport is connected to the network NUQC1. Airport has a self-assigned IP address and may not be able to connect to the internet." Thoughts? Suggestions? Hemlock? At times it was asking for a password and reading the network as WEP, but it is not... Argh! I NEED MY COMPUTER! I need access. I am feeling lightheaded... this is NOT good.

Wednesday 24 October 2007

from yesterday..

Now where was I? After the conference ended on Sunday, jmb and her lovely husband picked me up at the hotel and took me ‘over the bridge’ to Vancouver, where even shrouded in mist and dark clouds it was lovely. We went to Granville Island which is so much like the Fisherman’s Wharf area of San Francisco it was eerie – right down to the weather. Jmb (as you would expect) is a tourist’s guide extraordinaire, down to describing the mountains that you can’t see through the mist, “Now normally you can see the mountains right over there (include expansive hand gestures).” After a tour through the fabulous market, which was wreathed, in the rich reds, golds, purples, and intense orange colors of fall with fruit, vegetables, and flower;, we walked outside to the edge of False Creek, which runs between Granville Island and the silver glittering glass towers of Vancouver proper. Jmb was so desperate to show Vancouver in its best light she suggested, “How about a ride in one of the water taxis?” Remember – winds, rain, and mist in some serious chilly, when her brilliant husband quietly suggested, “Looks like time for a cup of tea.”

Sitting in a lovely glass enclosure that overlooks the water and shows off the sparkle of Vancouver proper we had tea and scones because according to Mr. jmb, “Fruit (my lunch) does not count as lunch.” Part of my welcome to Surrey consisted of the news item of the day, which was the discovery of six (yes SIX) dead bodies in an apartment. And just to really make me feel all warm and fuzzy the night before I was to leave Canada – by air – there was an airplane that came off the Vancouver runway into a building.

We visited an art gallery that showcases Inuit art; the gallery was closed but I assure you that jmb did not let that stop her. After a succulent dinner of “hot vichyssoise” (jmb’s description of the “a steaming potato soup with leeks”), salmon, and wine I was drooping at the edges but so grateful for the opportunity to have an afternoon and evening with Mr. and Mrs. Jmb.

Canada was not done with me yet, both in a good and a bad way. Checking out of the hotel (Sheraton Guilford Hotel) the next morning I mentioned that one of my orders from room service had exceeded their “thirty minutes or you get it free” rule of the hotel. The young woman at the desk did not breathe again before saying; “I’ll take that right off your bill.” I really liked that hotel, and they knew how to make porridge. The taxi arrived to take me to the airport, not a gnome this time but another native of India; one who was having some serious lower intestinal tract disturbances resulting in the sneaky expelling of a series of stinky flatus that filled the back seat with the odor of vile pustulant rot. In his defense, he did at one point roll down his window trying to flush out the smell - causing a small gale through the back seat.

The flight from Vancouver to Salt Lake went without a hitch if you don’t count the fact we left almost an hour late and I had only 56 minutes scheduled to make my connection. I arrived at the line, out of breath, trailing my scarf, but before the gate closed. A four-hour flight – they offered us crackers. I love Royal Air Maroc… I wish it had flights inside the U.S.

Most memorable moment during the flight? This was when the pilot announced over the PA system that we were entering an area of very bad turbulence and he was turning on the seat belt sign: seconds later the flight attendant appears in the aisle to ask the chap sitting across the aisle, “Hot coffee sir?” You do the math…

I know, I know I am behind. I have about six days of stuff to tell you, and I have not forgotten jmb that I still owe you Part IV of “the dinner on the beach”, but we are running into a thousand words here and I don’t have an Internet connection tonight! Yikes! I am on it. Keep your computer tuned to this channel for updates. Meanwhile I am now safely, if tiredly, in MA, usa after the dental appointment this morning. Oh yes, a story there as well. I do not understand how some people have a problem with something to write about! Please give me another day to answer comments and come to visit. I should be back online tomorrow.


Saturday 20 October 2007

Shrimp and baseball..

I met the author Bruce Hale at dinner last night. He writes for the younger audience, and has a gorgeous wife whose photograph he proudly displayed. I have always said, and still do – There is nothing sexier than a man who is madly in love with his wife, and talks about it.

Another great presentation by Hallie Ephron today, this one on point-of-view. I have no idea what sort of writer she is, but if she writes as well as she teaches, I’m in. Yes, she is one of those Ephrons.

I have met some lovely people here, and exchanged cards, like you do. I had breakfast this morning with a lovely German couple who live here in Canada; there are so many nice people in the world, I love that.

I missed lunch, as it just wasn’t worth standing in the long line to get the food they had – great conference, not so great food; but the fruit was good. Tonight I was going downstairs to the Book Fair and do some shopping – you know me, but I came to my room and the Red Sox are playing and the big dress-up banquet is not until seven! I turned on the t.v. and ordered room service. You have to make choices in this life… I will go down for the banquet – I mean I must – I bought a new outfit, and I have my Paris shoes with me.

Looking out the window briefly today I did notice the rain has cleared a bit; not that it needs do so on my account! Jmb has called and she and her best accessory are coming to pick me up tomorrow for some sight seeing and dinner. I promise to take photographs, only for you people – I hate looking like a tourist. Wow the Red Sox are tearing up the field!
A grand slam in the first inning! Of course with the Sox, that just makes you nervous that they will blow the lead…

I’m tired, but in a good way. Now for baseball, then networking…


Friday 19 October 2007


I’m freezing, and so happy about it. I can’t remember the last time I was really cold, but today one of the conference rooms was so frigid (even with the Princess coat on) I left the presentation early to scrape the frost off my ears and toes! It was fabulous.

Clouds have cleared from outside my window and I can see the mountains, but I fear my head is going to explode from all the information being thrown at me. I want to thank you all, lovely readers, for coming by and leaving comments – especially during this time when I am not doing any visiting of my own, due to the size of my brain. I can’t do one more thing!

Should any of you be writers in search of a writer’s conference, I am telling you this is the one to get your money’s worth – and that’s the word of a Scot! I listened, and made notes, and (yes jmb and Q), did my networking. Payoff: this evening over dinner a lovely young woman, who is attending the conference with her mum (my sort of girl!) gave me her card and the name of the person she suggested I contact to write yet another article about Curling in Morocco! How wonderful is that? I love it! I’m a ‘sports reporter’: a sports reporter who reports on Curling! Soon I shall be following the top Curling teams about the world to their competitions. Interviewing hunky Curling guys on the Ice (yippee, more cold stuff), and giving the inside call on who will win the next World Curling Cup. I already have the hat and the cigar…

The Princess Coat has been a big hit! I kept thinking of the stripper in the movie about Gypsy Rose Lee who said, “You gotta have a gimmick kid.” My conversation with the agent went very well this morning. It was a bit like speed dating, and I was nervous; but she was grand – and asked me to send her my ‘stuff’. Now, now.. not too excited, she may just have been being nice..

I have to rest my brain now; I am in fear of a sneaky migraine. You are all brilliant and wonderful, and I swear I can feel your support from wherever you are, all the way into Canada. That’s all pretty mushy for a Scot you know, so take it in that context.


Thursday 18 October 2007

boots, bombs, and mystery

Deborah Kerr has died. Oh my …”An Affair to Remember” (sigh), “The King and I”, “From Here to Eternity” (that scene on the beach!). She was indeed a class act; a nice Scottish girl.

The Boston Red Sox have won their game tonight! Well done there. A Yankees fan myself, I root for the Sox when they are NOT playing the Yankees; Q’s grandmother is a Sox fan, uh a rabid Sox fan. There is a great deal of angst involved when one is a Red Sox fan…

I had a very productive day indeed. The weather is bloody brilliant – heavy misting rain to outright downpours and 10 to 12 degrees C. Thank you Canada. I love it! My other suitcase (the one with my clothes) arrived during the night, and was delivered to my room this morning. The FedEx package with my shoes and the Princess coat arrived shortly thereafter – so I’m dressed now.

The hotel is nice, and my room has a huge picture window, a roomy couch, desk, and tables, along with a big comfy bed, and a view of the mountains. Good lighting in the bathroom (this is important chaps believe me), and good service so far.

After an early night to bed last night, I was up this morning and downstairs to the quite nice gym (treadmills, elliptic, bikes, mats, and no free weights but the machines) for a hard run. I had a good workout, and then picked up my registration packet for the conference. At one o’clock I attended a class by Hallie Ephron on mystery writing, ergo writing a mystery. I don’t write mysteries (albeit I LOVE reading the good ones) but I think any story needs suspense. It was an excellent class. She is a clear and organized speaker who was entertaining as well; and has written quite a few successful mysteries herself. I met a couple of other writers who are from Canada.

Tomorrow is a full day of lectures, and I have a meeting with one of the agents at 1030 hours. I decided to take the pressure off myself and take the attitude of ‘listen and learn’ since this is my first conference; should anything more happen I will be thrilled. I am looking forward to learning much about the business of writing, and how to sell that writing.

I can’t believe the violence in Pakistan today; or rather I CAN believe it, but it saddens me greatly. My first thought was (because of politic real) to wonder if Musharaf had anything to do with instigating the violence against Bhutto, or if she herself may have planned it in order to stir up sympathy. What a world.

On the other hand I loved the article in The Globe and Mail today, “Swearing by what you do” which says that swearing in the workplace helps boost morale. Now that’s my kind of study!


Wednesday 17 October 2007

the medal, the trip, and the lunch

See me smiling? Ear to ear! The American congress is giving His Holiness the Dalai Lama the Congressional Gold Medal! Well done yanks! President Bush was rather squeezed into acknowledging him but did so nonetheless, so well done there. The Chinese of course have their knickers in a twist, and are flexing their political global muscle by threatening to let Iran split those nuclei to their heart’s content.

I know, I know that I am behind on what I have promised you; but my life is running ahead of my typing speed. I am going to start from now and back my way into the rest.

I left Rabat at six a.m. on Tuesday morning and limped into the hotel this morning around one a.m. I don’t ever want to do that again. Everything actually went well – I mean I’m here and I’m not dead – always good. I had to sprint from one airplane to another and I spent a couple of hours sitting on the tarmac (in the airplane, which is better than without eh?), but all in all it came off well through three countries and two continents. I really didn’t expect my bags to arrive with me, what with all the close connections but one of them did; it was of course the one with all the stuff Q left in Morocco when she went to America in August! All my clothes and shoes (I was wearing my I-will-not-go-through-a-song-and-dance-to-remove-shoes-for-the-airport-security sandals) are in the OTHER bag. I have, so far, made three calls about the bag – it was coming this morning, it was coming this afternoon, now it is coming after midnight… I’m still waiting for it to arrive, but I am thinking positively, but just in case I am going to get the address of the nearby mall. They will have shoes yes?

When I arrived last night/this morning at the airport I was done in and then some. I picked up my bag (singular) and made my way to the taxi stand looking forward to not having to expend effort in giving directions yes? No. An ancient gnome, an ancient gnome who is a Sikh, in fact inhabited the first taxi in line. Shiva! His head came up maybe to my waist, and I was afraid if he lifted the bags he might die, so I put them in the back. Driving to the hotel was an experience in moving at the speed of dust! There were Canadian geese passing us on the freeway – they were walking! Again, good news is that we arrived and neither of us died.

Today I had a fabulous, conversational, and long lunch with jmb who treated me to lunch in my hotel – I couldn’t go out as all I have for footwear at present are sandals (not really weather appropriate). I can tell you she is even lovelier than one would think from her blog. I had a great time. But I am soooo tired, as I didn’t sleep last night, and was up at seven this morning. And so lovely readers I am off to bed. More on the morrow.


Monday 15 October 2007

GIRL RANT, gentlemen talk amongst yourselves…

Monday evening…

And so the day before I set out on a 13 to 16 hour flight (depending on your time zone) (in any case I must rise at 0500 hours, and will not be abed until midnight) I made appointments for hair, manicure and pedicure at Dessange; the things that make a woman feel more inclined to a sixteen hour flight that has the possibilities of my bags ending in New Delhi, the chance of a seat mate who has not bathed recently or who takes up more room than allowed on the ticket, the possibility of no leg room, screaming babies, and screaming adults. I am thinking relaxation yes?

Not today! I arrive to have the young woman at the desk say, “Your appointment is for three yes?”

“No, my appointments are for twelve; for hair, a manicure, and a pedicure. I went to some trouble to be certain the appointments were set up correctly.” At the time last week when I made these appointments, Muss the magical hairdresser whom I love, acted as my interpreter. I have specific people I want for my appointments and again, went to some trouble to be sure their names were there on the book.

In fairness they did get me right in for my color and Muss did the “brushing” for my hair; which as always was marvelous. But now it is almost two o’clock and I am still waiting for a manicurist. When she arrived, it was not Inane whom I had asked for, but some child they have just hired. I could have done a better job myself, and I am terrible at it, which is why I go to the salon! Now I will have to book a salon in Canada to repair the nail color. Grrrr.

This I could have taken in stride, but then when I go to the desk, after securing a hair masque to take along on the trip, I am told, “Oh no Madame the machine is broken (the credit card machine).”

I will tell you that was the straw, the last coin, the shot, et. al. that did it. My temper exposed itself, not a lot, but in the ‘pissed’ category rather than rage – which I CAN do but try to keep in reserve for more important matters. I knew no one could understand me so it gave me some freedom to let it fly in English, but I do think they got the intent. After about twenty minutes of this and that I said, “You have five minutes. Make a decision, I’m leaving. I have an airplane to catch.”

In the end the manager gave me the bill to sign, with the agreement that when I return I will come in to pay the bill. I explained I would be gone until November, but by this time I really think he was properly aware that my temper COULD get worse. I signed, I left. Q was on AIM so I ranted to her, and now you – I feel better, and I’m done. Thank you for listening. ☺


Sunday 14 October 2007

still playing catch-up..

Dear Annie at Blooming Marvelous has given me two awards. Huzzah! I'm shopping for that trophy cabinet. thank you so much for thinking of me, and thinking of me so kindly.

Mama Zen has memed me and wishes to know, "what's my view from my window?"

My little cobbled street outside is filled alternately with tourists and children, both are amusing. It is the laughter of the children that lifts my heart, and the teenage boys have become my posse - helping me out and being generally very fun. There are the football games with the little ones, and the twirling tops. Women in hijab and djellaba walk by, as do the girls in their fitted jeans and colorful tops and the occasional cat secure in their place in the world. Outside my window and across the river is the city of Sale’ that rings with the bloody history of the Barbary Pirates, the cries of the slaves, the guns of the Berbers, and the prayer calls of the Muslims - some are echoes, some are now. I can see the top of the oldest mosque in Rabat, which is in the Oudayas. Outside my window are adventure, romance, mystery, ignorance, poverty, richness, wisdom, and the always-changing reality of what tomorrow will bring.http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif

I tag Sicily Scene, jmb, and Dulwichmum with "what's your view from your window?"

I pass on to Sparx, Wake Up and Smell the Coffee, and Omega Mum the I Love Your Blog award.

I enjoy reading Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, today her column is a hoot; for a good laugh, read here.

Saturday 13 October 2007

some visuals for you - click on the photograph

Fez and the holiday week-end in Rabat 13/10/2007 13:05

I apologize for the delay, I have much to tell you, but as Q says, "Writers are either out having adventures or they are writing about them; you can't do both at the same time."

I will tell you about the trip to Fez, all that is going on with the end of Ramadan and Part IV of the evening on the beach - as soon as I can. I am getting on an airplane on Tuesday and heading for Canada.

Ciao for now.

Friday 12 October 2007

Pardon me?

The bile that pours from this woman's mouth astounds me. Exactly what is considered crossing the line? She is making a fortune from promoting hate. Please, if you watch any television shows, or read a paper where she is paid to appear, write a letter of outrage. While I feel sorry for this woman, as I do anyone filled with hate, I think she needs to be stopped from making a fortune off that hate and being given such a large platform. Freedom of speech, yes. Pay her for it, no.

Wednesday 10 October 2007

Part III, dinner

Now where was I… oh yes, dinner!

First came the dates, baghrir (crepes) with butter and honey, milk, and chabakia (cookies), with juices of every ilk in crystal pitchers with a tray of glasses for each juice. These are the traditional foods with which to break the Ramadan fast. Everything was presented on lovely china set on silver trays; white embroidered linen napkins, and sterling silver in a Baroque design, which as odd as it sounds fit with the dĂ©cor. And yes, they were indeed the King’s dates – oh my. The table was huge and with every course it was filled to the edges with food. The word banquet was fulfilled in its definition.

Next the harira, the traditional soup for Ramadan. I went over to Moroccan Kitchen (where for those of you who DO cook, the ladies have wonderful recipes) to get all the ingredients for you: chickpeas, onions, tomatoes, tiny cubes of beef, parsley, coriander, rice, potatoes, carrots, salt, pepper, saffron, and cinnamon. It was served of course with the wonderful bread of Morocco made in ovals, circles, braided, and tiny poufs.

Then the salads, the tiny bowls filled the table. The servers stood to the side and when we indicated what we wanted they filled the plates, and or bowls. There were more than I can remember but I’ll have a go: zaalouk with zucchini, cinnamon stewed carrots, the thick honey apple sauce they make here, humus, cabbage, eggplant, beets, stewed tomatoes in spices, Mediterranean white beans in a slightly tangy marinade, some boiled leafy greens that I don’t know the name for but that was really spicy, green, red, and black olives in various spices, and radishes boiled and something done to them that made me who hates radishes love them. On a large orange platter with an intricate black pattern were the bisteeya - pastry with shredded chicken topped with eggs in lemony sauce and dusted with powdered sugar and sweetened almonds. There was more but I don’t know the names for everything and there were so many bowls it was overwhelming; as well I was spending SOME of the time looking into those gorgeous eyes of Hassan and listening to his tales of his time in Saudi Arabia. I must determine some way of telling you some of the stories of the Saudi royal family without getting either of us into trouble – do remember where I am. I don’t think pseudonyms will do it, but I shall think of something.

After the salads came the main dishes – there was couscous with chickpeas, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, turnips, cabbage, zucchini, and pumpkin; spiced with salt, pepper, saffron, chili, ginger, and olive oil. The tagines were presented in grand style. “I recognize that design. Aren’t those like the ones we saw that day at the hotel?” I asked.

He smiled. He does that a lot. “Yes, I remembered that you admired them and so I had some made for tonight,” he said smiling like the Cheshire cat and reaching for some bread. He sat there on his silk cushion looking easily like some sheik from 1625 in his glory. I could envision that swarthy complexion wrapped in the headdress of a Berber warrior and his well muscled arms holding a scimitar sword. Yes, we already know I have a vivid imagination all right! Back to the food.

There were several tagines (we could have fed twenty people); one of chicken with preserved lemons and red olives, and another of lamb with prunes. The meat was so tender it fell apart and the sauces were a delight. Another of lamb with honey, almonds and raisins, and then hare with paprika, tomatoes and onions. Then a huge tray of chicken-almond, lamb, and beef pastillas: the meat pies wrapped in the thin flakey pastry and coated with powdered sugar and cinnamon. There were two fish dishes: one a small white fish fried in olive oil and covered in some flour-spice concoction, as well as grilled salmon, which was done to perfection.

At this point I was thinking, “Why oh why did I wear the tight jeans?”

“Shall we take a walk on the beach while they prepare coffee, tea, and desert?” he asked standing and reaching for my hand.

One of the wonderful things I love about Morocco is that food is not wasted here. When I asked Hassan about the obvious amount of untouched food he said, “The servers will take it home to their families of course. This is Ramadan so they will also give part of it away to those they know less fortunate.” He seemed a little surprised at my asking. This is not a wealthy country you know that. I loved his answer.

Tomorrow I am off to Fez, and so you shall have to return of Friday for the last bit eh? I must go to the gym; I’m still working off that dinner, and preparing for the feast no doubt on Thursday night in Fez.


a couple of items

What with one thing and another I have not had proper time to thank Debio for this cool award, now I don't have to go for one on Hollywood Bvld. Thank you!

And I want to post this great notification of the Nobel Winners that all us geeks owe so much gratitude. here I also have it over on my Data Pages. I'm still waiting for my quantum computer... let's get on it chaps!

Tuesday 9 October 2007

Part II, the dinner

When I spoke with Q last night her comment was: “When did I become the cat lady who lives alone (with your cat!), and you get dinner on the beach?”

“Hello. I’m so happy to see you,” he said as he took my hand and led me onto the beach.

“Hassan what is all this? It’s amazing.”

“I wanted to surprise you with something special. I will admit I have been planning this for some time. I’m only sorry it took me longer to get here than planned,” he said.

“I think you are forgiven, “ I said as I looked out over the scene on the beach. I’m trying to think of which movie to give you for comparison… Sitting center was a huge white tent glowing with the light from within. It even had a little flag flying from the center support. Next to the main tent were two smaller tents also lit. When I tell you the tent was huge I am talking the size of the entire downstairs of my house! There were torches staked into the beach all around the tents lighting the entire area in a fire glow of yellow light and giving it a barbaric and romantic ambiance. The ocean sparkled with moonlight and the additional decoration was provided by a black night sky full of bright stars. There was an ocean breeze blowing in that made me glad I had decided to wear that fancy, not-Anne Fontaine but the nearest Moroccan version, long sleeved black shirt (the one that fits like a glove), along with my black and white, not-Hermes (left them in storage), but the best Moroccan version silk scarf.

We walked around to the front of the tent where the sides were tied back opening the entire tent to a view of the ocean. Palms and begonias in huge pottery urns lined the walk up to the tent. The floor was covered in gorgeous carpets, cushions, and over in the corner was a divan! Candlelight and portable round glow lights hanging from the ceiling lighted the tent. Everywhere there were roses: pink, red, white, and yellow, contained in the most beautiful vases of every size; some of them four feet high, others placed around the tent on tables.

The display of color in the tent was another kind of feast – the candles were set in lanterns of multi-faceted glass, sending out shafts of blue, green, red, and gold light. There were tables in the corners with the light coming from inside and roses placed on the top. The carpets were of the Berber design in subtle varying shades of red. The silk and satin covered pillows and cushions lay on the floor and the divan in piles, and all sizes – from a pocket handkerchief to several the size of a large chair, and all were exquisitely embroidered with the satin stitch that is the hallmark of Rabat textiles. The supports of the tent were large cedar beams and I recognized the design from one that Q and I saw in David’s home in the Fez Medina that he had recovered from a Berber encampment.

We left our shoes at the door and entered this magical alcazar. Hassan led me to the cushions surrounding the low cedar table. The table was the most intricate carving I have seen since my arrival. I could not stop touching the carvings and following the patterns in the wood with my fingers. Sitting at the table, we were facing out towards the ocean, I could see the whitecaps rolling in and hear the sounds of the surf. With the silk cushions at my back and under my arms, I felt like a princess indeed. I felt breathless.

The servers were dressed all in white and began to bring in the food on huge silver trays. The smells slithering in through the front of the tent were making my mouth water. That would be part III eh?

Monday 8 October 2007

too good..

You must read THIS!

What a week-end!

As usual things didn’t go according to plan, actually I’m trying to remember the last time things went according to plan. After canceling last week, Hassan said he was coming Saturday night. He called on Saturday, “I’m so sorry. I’m caught up here and I can’t get away.” There was a bit more to it, but it was still a stand-up. “Oh well,” I’m thinking, “that’s all right. I never really thought it would come to anything. We had a great time at the Tadra Gorge, so that’s fine.” He said he would be here on Sunday night but by this time I wasn’t expecting it.

Just before eight o’clock I ran a trip to the hannout for water and coming back to my door met a lovely couple, Nihal and Srima Seneviratne from Sri Lanka who have been in Morocco for ten days visiting with their friend (quite handsome) Peter who lives in both Marrakech and Sri Lanka. From the conversation I can tell you they are quite the world travelers. They know people in Surrey Canada and at Norbulingka in Dharmsala. They were curious to see a “typical” house in the Oudayas and I wish I had been more prepared for company for they were such interesting people. In my life I have found there are people that one is immediately at home with, simpatico, the Spanish say it very well. These were such people. Of course in the Buddhist belief system we think this is because we arrange our own fate in order to learn needed lessons, and thereby meet again with old friends and family. I felt instantly comfortable with them and they made me homesick for India. One of the bad things about having grown up in several countries is that I have more places to be homesick for at times. All three were an advertisement for travel – as we all decided it is more difficult to shoot at a country if you have friends there. I know there was a famous Cricket player in Sri Lanka by the same name, and Nihal did have on a cap from the cricket club, so I am wondering… Peter had some wonderful historical stories about the Oudayas. They left for their destination after a short visit that I enjoyed, as is the wont of that culture, only after inviting me to visit them in Sri Lanka, and Peter said he will call when he is back in Marrakech. I admitted I have never been to Sri Lanka, you know me, the heat. I love how the Universe works, if I had been gone I would not have met these lovely people and whatever that may mean for the future.

Sunday brought surprises right out of A Thousand and one Nights. WUASTC you are going to love this!

At four o’clock Hassan called. He was here; he had a meeting at the palace. “I will send Ali with the car for you yes? I will meet you there.”

I am a girl you know, so I ask, “Where are we going? How should I dress?”

“It is best you wear sandals and slacks. You know the outfit you had on when we went to the Gorge would be fine,” he said.

“Jeans? You mean sandals and jeans?”

“Yes, I think that will work fine,” he said.

All right I admit it, I was a little disappointed. I’m thinking, “He’s been gone for three months and we are going out to somewhere I should wear jeans?” Inshallah.

Ali arrived just before sunset, which was good because I was starving by that time. The car headed off in a direction unfamiliar to me. Ali parked the car at what appeared to be just a small indenture off the highway.

“Where are we going?”

“Madame I have strict instructions to tell you nothing,” he said with a grin that split his jovial face in two. He led me up a small hill where we looked down on the beach and the ocean; my mouth dropped open at the sight on the beach. Hassan was standing at the bottom on the other side of the hill, smiling, and held out his hand for me.

That’s right, you have to come back tomorrow! I promise you it’s worth it. I’m sorry but I have a mid-term paper on European Industrialization and Imperialism to finish today.

Ciao lovely readers.

Sunday 7 October 2007

THIS is my Morocco

I just called our friend Mohammad at Coin Berbere to let him know I will be in Fez on Thursday. I wanted to check the hours of the shop as they are different during Ramadan. I want to pick up a few gifts to take to North America, and a new caftan for myself for the trip.

"Will you be in the shop on Thusday afternoon?" I ask after all the proper greetings.

"Yes, if you need me call my mobile. You are in Fez the night?" he ask.

"Yes, just on Thursday. I have some shopping and I must pick up Q's veil." Q had her wedding veil made and embroidered in Fez. I can't wait to see it! It wasn't ready before she left so I need to pick it up for her.

"Yes, she came to see me before she went home. Will you take dinner with our family then? You will come to the shop at five o'clock and we will go home and have dinner with the family?"

Oh people, you have no idea. Q and I were fortunate enough to be invited to Mohammad's house for lunch while we lived in Fez. You are talking some of the best food in a country with the best food! And during Ramadan? We are talking about a feast!

"Yes, I shall be happy to do so. Thank you."

"Wonderful. I will see you on Thursday at five o'clock then."

I love Morocco.

Friday 5 October 2007

worth the time

I don't normally do film reviews, except you all know how much I loved Die Hard IV. I have just finished watching A Mighty Heart. It was quite wonderful, very intense, very well done, and timely. Ms. Jolie, whom I enjoy watching and admire for her work with the U.N. is breathtaking as the wife of Daniel Pearl. I am going now to order the book.

I have put up some photographs for you to the right, just click on the photograph to go to the album. I'm better with words than a camera but it will give you some idea.


guest post today

at Sicily Scene

The power of the down turned bowl. This article, What Makes a Monk Mad, presents an excellent picture of the background of the protest in Burma.

The junta’s action “shows how desperate they are,” Ms. Jordt said. “It shows that they are willing to do anything at this point in terms of violence. Once you’ve thrown your lot in against the monks, I think it will be impossible for the regime to go back to normal daily legitimacy.”

Wednesday 3 October 2007

the return..

I am a sucker for romance and happiness it’s true. Watching Geoff and Sally together was such a pleasure, and the sheer joy that Sally was deriving from her surprises was heart warming. The entire time I was there she was wearing an ear splitting grin that made her even more beautiful. Geoff meanwhile was basking in the light of a job well done! I fear I talked their ears off having been without any English verbal intercourse for a while… I’m a bit embarrassed about that. I know the next stage of Sally's surprise as Q is the one who found the place! Have fun. If it is as good as we think, I am planning on heading there in the Spring.

My train trip back to Rabat was another round of fun. My compartment was full, which is unusual – but I believe it is as Mama Zen pointed out, people visiting for Ramadan (It is Easter, Christmas, Chanukah, and Thanksgiving all wrapped in one).

Oh yes, three of the compartments were engaged by a chap for his two wives, each for their own of course, and I do believe that was him in the compartment at the end, alone! I leave the rest to your imaginations!

Sitting in the first two seats were a German couple who are taking their first vacation sans children. The children are now eighteen and twenty. This is their twenty-first anniversary, and they are in Morocco for two weeks. I’m surrounded by romance. She is a teacher, and he is a businessman who operates in South America. They live in Cologne (I think I got that right, I may be off on the location). They were returning from a guided tour to the south, out in the desert and on the way to Casablanca. I was distressed to learn they have not been having very good food! This in Morocco! The food here is SO good. I think they will remedy that in Casablanca. Rabat is on their tour list, and I’m sure like all the tour groups they will pass under my window so I am looking forward to seeing them again.

Entering the compartment next was a family who brought with them a package of super nova joy in the human form of a small child. The father is on staff at Doyen del la Faculte’ de Me’decine et de Pharmacie de Marrakech and was absorbed with his Dell laptop and his notes he was transferring, except for the time he was being charmed by his child. The couple upheld what I continue to tell you about the Moroccan people being strikingly handsome. We had no language in common but managed to communicate, and the nice German couple helped as well. Look at the face of this child! Does your heart not melt? She reminded me so much of Q at that age – curious, precocious, and verbose, and full of energy. She and I spent some time walking the corridor singing, “Pour quoi, Pour quoi” in order to stretch our legs as well as relieve the tedium of the long journey – and her Mum really needed a nap.

And then… halfway between Marrakech and Casablanca the largest, most clearly defined rainbow I have ever seen appeared in the east. It was spectacular. My little friend liked the rainbow but liked it better when she decided my red hair was like the rainbow – that I carried a rainbow on my head! My shots of it don’t do it justice as I was shooting through the window of the train, and I had to wait to get my camera after her mother woke from her nap. The land we were passing through was very flat and you could see the entire arc. It was with us for a good half-hour or more. I played with my little friend for part of the trip and was entranced by her for the rest. It was a three-hour trip, and she was so good! She entertained herself, and us quite well.

After the car emptied out in Casablanca, a young man entered. A Moroccan coming home from Germany where he works, to visit his family in Fez. “I speak German, French, and Arabic,” he said when assessing my linguistic abilities. He was most interested in where my husband was, “You have aman?”, and some distressed to find out I no longer have one. He assured me smiling, “I have my woman in Germany.” I’m thinking a wife by his manner. He was very helpful in locating the conductor to make sure I got off at the proper stop.

The train was running an hour late and I was done in, so I was quite relieved to get a call from Hassan saying he won’t be here until Saturday. The taxis were scarce on the ground at the train station and the evening was lovely so I walked to the Medina and caught a taxi there. It felt very nice to be back in my little house. So hold on all you romantics, the story continues…


Tuesday 2 October 2007

Sally NOT in Norfolk!

I'm done in, more on the 'morrow!


This is Geoff and I discovering they now have wireless downstairs at Dar Soukaina. How do you like that mirror shot eh? I have to download 'Sally" now..

the great surprise!

Marrakech, Morocco

What a brilliant time I have had this day! I must thank Geoff for making me part of his romantic and wonderful surprise for Sally’s birthday. He consulted me just before Q left me for America, and I have to say it was one of the things that made her leaving easier. There are few things more fun than participating in a happy surprise for someone delightful is there?

I traveled from Rabat to Marrakech yesterday on a four-hour trip that is great fun for me, as I love trains, and the second half of the trip my car was filled with laughter from two toddlers and their mother. I say again, some of world’s most beautiful children can be found in Morocco.

When I arrived at the Dar Soukaina, Geoff and Sally were situated happily at a table in the courtyard having tea. I think Geoff knew right off it was I, but the look on Sally’s face made my week! And I must tell you all, that photograph on her site does not do her justice! The woman is stunning.

After the initial greetings I had to run for my room to refresh myself. We then had tea and conversation while waiting for sundown to break the day’s fast. I had great pleasure in taking the two of them to the main Square of the Medina, where all the white tents were set up for the evening meal. We walked about looking for just the right spot while enjoying the entertainment of the patter given out by the hustlers for each kitchen. When we found the spot we wanted, we had the Lab-ya (the great bean dish) served with olives (that had things done to them, spices and marinated), chili sauce and bread. After satisfying our appetites but leaving just enough room, we adjourned to the carts that surround the kitchens for our desert - the incredible cinnamon tea that I have found only here in Marrakech with the yummy spice cake, standing at the cart all the while being accosted by beggars, children selling their roses, and the ubiquitous henna purveyors. At the restaurant and the cart the Moroccans were suitably impressed with my vocabulary – not being able to see the cheat sheet I carried in my hand with the phonetic spelling of the necessary words Q had sent me! A round of the square later found Geoff buying some of the King’s dates, walnuts, and figs for Sally. The weather was just right with a nice breeze blowing in that foretold today’s rain – much to my surprise.

On our path back to the Riad, we stopped by the shop where when last I was here I bought my bag that I have been using constantly since purchase. The owner, much to my surprise, remembered me, and told Sally and Geoff how I had “robbed him” when I made my purchases. Sally found a lovely green bag and shawl to match her green top (guess her favorite color); and at a very good price in spite of Geoff’s pretended horror at the price of keeping a good woman…

We returned to the Riad, Dar Soukaina, for mint tea and philosophic conversation. Geoff has brought me the promised reading material and I fear that was why I didn’t get to sleep until quite late! All of the staff at the Riad provided the same great service as when last I stayed here. Omar and Rashid were helpful and accommodating to all.

This morning we had breakfast under the awning and the breaking storm, which I did not believe was coming, since I have not seen rain since March! I fear I was quite blissful while Sally and Geoff were prevented from exploring the medina, but I have sent them off now to the hammam and I anxiously await the report of their experience. I am off to the train for my trip back to Rabat.

I am quite in love with the ways of the Universe. I would never have imagined in May when I began the blogging experience that I would be traveling to Marrakech to make the acquaintance of two such marvelous people as Geoff and Sally. If I have anything to say about the matter it will be a long relationship.

Ciao lovely readers!

Monday 1 October 2007

a grand surprise

I have been holding a secret for weeks and it’s been driving me nuts! Give me bad news and I can keep my mouth shut forever, but good news? I’m about to bust! I am packing my suitcase this morning, tarting up a bit, and off to the train station for – somewhere I can’t tell you because the second part of the surprise is ME! I’m not sure the riad has Internet so I may not be able to post the details until tomorrow night, oops can’t do it then because I have my own surprise – Hassan is coming to town to take me to dinner (blush and a smile). He wanted me to come to Istanbul, but I just can’t do it right now, too much going on before the trip to North America. Apparently I shall have loads to tell you when next I post! Hang on lovely readers, I’ll get it to you as soon as I can. I’m off!