The final weekend begins, Yanks vs. Red Sox. Exciting stuff! This means some very late nights–I can watch and/or listen to the games, but the night games don’t start until 11 p.m. here. It’ll be worth it, though.
John, my RELO, came up with a fun project for Nabila and me (she is the other English Language Fellow in Morocco–she’s in Tangiers). On Oct. 14th we’ll mosey on down the road into the Middle Atlas mountains to Imouzzer, where 25 new Peace Corps volunteers are training. She and I will give a workshop on the use of English books in the English teaching that they will be doing. The program is called “Books in a Box,” not very original, but there are 37 books included, all of them quite useful. Nabila and I get a box also; we were given a workshop about them in Washington, D.C., during our pre-departure orientation. Should be fun, since I love interacting with PC people, being a former volunteer myself. John offered us the opportunity to stay there over the weekend, but then he remembered it’s during Ramadan, and very few places will be open during the day that might facilitate sightseeing. Thus, we’ll probably head back to our respective towns once we finish the workshop.
This morning, however, I am waging war on a towel! I bought a very nice, I thought at the time, fluffy, blue bath towel when I first got here. The problem is that it sheds like crazy. I washed it the other day and I had a pile of blue lint around the washing machine drain. I figured that took care of the problem. When I toweled off after showering last night, I later noticed that I was covered in blue fur! Geez, so I’m going to wash the darn thing again today. It’s actually a good towel, somehow gone bad.
I’m also fighting with the roaches in my kitchen. I’ve laid out several traps, and sometimes I think I’m getting the upper hand on them, but sometimes they seem to be winning. I think they use the traps for resort areas. More later.
John and Hakim, the RELO and his assistant, visited Meknes yesterday and took me, Mohammed, the CPR director and a few other teachers out to lunch at the Palais Didi, a very beautiful riad converted into a boutique-type hotel and restaurant. The meal was traditional Moroccan cuisine, starting with a salad of tomato, lettuce and fish and slices of bread, followed by several side dishes of beans, egg plant, beets, potatoes and other such goodies. Included in this were a couple of varieties of briouats, one with chicken and the other stuffed with a spicy ground beef mixture. The main course was a very slow-cooked roast beef, tender enough to cut with a fork, smothered in prunes and almonds. Dessert was a huge whole-fruit platter. A delicious meal in very beautiful surroundings.
The Didi is also very close to the Royal Meknes Golf Club, whose greens fees don’t look to be all that expensive, $20 or so for the day. Uniquely, the course is lit, so you can play at night. (I’ve been wondering what the very bright, nighttime glow was behind the medinah.)
I expected John to give me something to do, since the CPR doesn’t begin until November, presumably after Ramadan ends. About all he wants me to do is help the local American Language Center, which is under the guidance of Tariq, a native of New Jersey. John is very high on Micro Access Scholarships for underprivileged Moroccan kids, so Tariq and I are going to be selecting 9 (I think) recipients for the scholarship. Should be interesting. Other than that, I’m foot-loose and fancy-free for a while.
Yes, I got my boxes yesterday, too. Just like Christmas. My middle-age loss of memory serves me well, since I was a bit surprised at what was in the boxes. Right now I’m listening to a local radio station (FM) on my shortwave. So far they’ve played an hour of Carol King oldies and a Tchaikovsky symphony. Last night they played what sounded like New Age music and traditional Moroccan/North African tunes. Very eclectic. More later.
If you access this site often enough, you’ll notice that you’re not taken to the usual page. I decided to link directly to the Blog, since I think that is the primary emphasis of the site; at least, I hope it to be. Besides, I didn’t care for that photo of myself on the old page–it just wasn’t too dashing, too sophisticated enough. 😉
If you look to the right hand side of the page, to the sidebar, you’ll find the Photo Gallery link. I’ll be adding more links later.
Well, nothing happened with the barricades/traffic control bars. As a matter of fact, the next evening they came along and reloaded them into the truck without ever using them. Hmmmmm. Go figure.
Went walking today to the Centre Pedagogique Regional (CPR), my workplace when I do actually start working. I wanted to see how long it takes to get there on foot. About 30 minutes. I haven’t yet bought a bicycle, but I’m pretty sure tomorrow I’ll plunk down the dirhams for the one I’ve been scoping out. I went by the shop today, but it was closed. Many businesses are closed on Sunday, though it’s really no special day in an Islamic country. I think most places close this day in the ville nouvelle because of all the expats living and working here who treat Sunday as they would in their home countries, but I’m told that the medinah operates like it does on any other day, with all businesses open.
My Regional English Language Officer and his assistant, John Scacco and Hakim Boumert, are coming up from Rabat on Tuesday, and they are bringing with them the two boxes that I shipped from the U.S. Great! I’ll have my camera tripod, some extra clothes, books, music and software CDs, etc. It’ll be kind of like Christmas because I don’t remember all the things that I packed! Since the CPR classes don’t begin until Nov. 1, mainly because of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, so I’ve been told, I’m sure that John will find something for me to do. I’d like to do some traveling, but I’m also getting pretty bored and I’m chomping at the bit to get into a work routine. After all, that’s why I’m here.
Go Yanks! I’ve been able to watch or listen to all the games lately and this coming week should be exciting. I’m still using the wireless access point that I discovered, and I’ll keep using it as long as it remains a tenable connection. Sketchy at times, but free. More later.
I’m sitting here watching the Yankee-Baltimore game on my computer on MLB.com and I hear a commotion outside. There is this large truck filled with these metal fence-like crowd-control barriers, somewhat inefficient, but indicating that some kind of event is going to be taking place. A couple of guys set them out on the side of the main street and then they leave for the next drop-off point. Hmmm, maybe there’s a parade or march or something going on tomorrow. The king was visiting Meknes Monday and yesterday. Perhaps he’s still in town. I’ll let you know what happens.
So here’s the view of the medinah from a good vantage point in one of the quiet neighborhoods away from the downtown area. I attempted to “stitch” together a series of photos into one panoramic shot–not the best of results, but you might get some idea of what the medinah looks like. It’s a pretty small image, but click on it to get a larger version. I posted a much larger image on the photo gallery.
Tomorrow I might go shopping for a bicycle; I saw one for sale for about $80–nothing fancy, but it will suit my purpose.
The Meknes Medinah
I took a walk this evening, looking for a good vantage point to watch sunsets, and I found several great areas near the apartment, but out of the downtown core area. Tonight there was a gorgeous sunset, but, unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me. Hopefully, I’ll soon be posting more great photos of my favorite time of day.
Walking back to the apartment, just after sunset, I heard the call to prayer from a mosque nearby, and then, seconds later, from across the small valley, several mosques in the medinah echoed the call. The sound of the amplified voices blending in their sing-song chant was very exotic and beautiful, coming, as it was, from several directions.
Before coming to the apartment, I decided to stop at the patisserie (bakery) just across the street and pick up a baguette. What I didn’t know was that a couple of chocolate-cream filled donuts with my name on them were waiting to ambush me. Yummmmm!
Another thing I’ve noticed here, a comforting thing for me, is that roughly 25-30 per cent of the men are either bald or have receding hairlines. I’m not out of place in that respect, unlike Korea and southeast Asia, the hair capital of the world, where I and the Buddhist monks were the only ones, it seemed, with balding or completely bald heads. Refreshing, Morocco is. More later.
I just noticed that my blog entries still reflect Korean time, so I’ve changed the configuration file so that the correct local time is shown.
I also just purchased Major League Baseball Gameday Audio, so I can listen to the Yanks on the radio over the computer. This wireless network I’ve tapped into is just not fast enough to run the video that I’m already subscribed to. Hopefully when I get my regular connection, it’ll be fast enough to handle the video. Until then, I’m content to listen to the games. Go Yanks. Only 1 1/2 back from Boston and closing fast!
I keep making the 15-minutes walk to Label Vie (La Bell Vee) supermarket to stock up on stuff, and I can’t help but notice how low the price is for veggies, with carrots, onions and potatoes ranging between 10 to 20 cents a pound and they are fresh. Apples check in at around 50 cents/lb. Meknes is situated in a fertile valley and agriculture is probably the chief concern. Friday is the Muslim sabbath, and couscous is the traditional dish eaten on that day. Right now I’m at the dinner table eating couscous, carrots, potatoes, peas and onions, all mixed together. Delicious! But, not nearly as good as that which Mohammed’s wife prepared last Friday.
Below is my first Meknes photo, a setting sun near one of the many beautiful mosques that spike the skyline of the medinah (old city). More later
Just realized that my posts were still reflecting Korean time, so I changed my config file to set the blog to Moroccan time.