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Quiet

Yeah, everyone’s gone, more or less. Many of the Dominican players left after practice yesterday to spend the weekend in their hometowns and most, if not all, of the foreign players hopped on the team bus to spend the day in Santo Domingo. I, however, am staying here to work on this week’s lesson plans. I have to go to Santo Domingo tomorrow or Tuesday to apply for my work visa and do some shopping for supplies, books, etc. I’ll go to SD next Sunday with the players or into Boca Chica.

There are some strange, but beautiful, insects here. A few nights ago I saw a large one that looked like a bright green leaf, and last night I walked onto the balcony and noticed a small beetle with glowing eyes. I don’t know if they glowed from some internal mechanism or if they soaked up the light from the overhead bulbs on the balcony. I turned the balcony lights off and the eyes still glowed, sort of a radioactive green color. Very beautiful.

What happened to the Tigers last night, all you Detroit fans? They better get on the ball. Maybe Big Mo (momentum) has deserted them after their long lay-off.

Marrakech Hotel

John sent me email yesterday informing about our stay in Marrakech next week. We’ve been booked rooms at the 5-star Royal Mirage Hotel, the former Sheraton of Marrakech. Very posh hangout. Since Marrakech is Hakim’s hometown, he’s promised to show us around. I believe we’re going up on Friday and coming back Sunday. Nabila and I give our workshop on Sunday morning. Should be a fun trip.

Finally, I started jogging again. I went out this evening at 6 when no one is on the streets and did about 20 minutes.

White Sox up 2 games to 0. I’d like to say bye-bye Houston, but I remember, try as I might to forget, what happened between the Yankees and Red Sox last year.

And yet another sunset photo. Ok, maybe a couple.

First Rain

Despite a forecast for clear skies today, we were visited by a stray thundershower about 12:30 p.m., which drenched Meknes with quite a gully-washer (or, as one might say in Morocco, a wadi washer) for 20 minutes or so. Perhaps we’re being influenced somewhat by the odd tropical storm Vince, which is sitting in the Eastern Atlantic just off the coasts of Spain and Morocco, heading this way. At any rate I’m told that the rainy season doesn’t begin until the end of November or beginning of December, and this is the first time it’s rained since I’ve been here. It’s nice to have an early shower to settle down the dust.

Yanks win 3-2! Yes, forcing game 5. It starts at 12:30 a.m. this evening, so I’ll probably wait until tomorrow to watch it.

Time Shift

Everything has been moved back a couple of hours, due to Ramadan. So, for example, the patisserie, normally closed at 10 pm, now stays open until midnight or 12:30. It’s the same for most of the other shops also. Most of them don’t open until noon, instead of the normal 10 am. Around sundown, say 5:30 or so, the sidewalks clear out–the whole city seems deserted, with a few cars buzzing around. It’s a good time to go bike riding or walking, since everyone heads home to break their fasts, as I posted previously. Interesting and kind of eerie, but in a good way, I suppose.

Sunday, John, the RELO, and Evelyn Early, (I think that’s her name), the Public Affairs Officer of the Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the U.S. Embassy in Rabat, are coming to Meknes. The PAS used to be known as the U.S. Information Service. Neither are coming up on an official visit; Ms. Early is fairly new to the country and John is taking her to visit the ancient Roman ruins of Volubilis, about 20 miles from Meknes, and I have been invited to join them. So, it should be a very interesting, and photographic, journey.

I rode my new bike to Marjane today, a 35-minute trip to the Wal-Mart of Morocco. Bought some odds and ends for the bike, but also bought a new bath towel to replace the “Blue Demon” lint producer, that, after several cycles through the washer, shows no sign of ceasing its shedding. I’ll have to find another use for it. Any suggestions? Wall hanging? Substitute cat?

My permanent internet connection is supposed to be hooked up on Monday. I had to get a regular phone installed in order to get the 512K ADSL connection–the number is 212-55402717 (or 055402717 if you call from inside Morocco). Might as well put my address here also, in case anyone wants to send me some goodies (though I can get everthing here that I need or want, for the most part.) It is Immeuble LAKHSSASS, Apt. #3, Avenue Hassan II, Meknes, Morocco, 50000.

If you notice the time of the posting dating for this entry, be assured that it is correct. Yes, I’m listening to the late-starting (in Morocco) Yankees-Angels playoff game, hoping that the rain holds off in New York. HAH! The Red Sox got swept by the Chisox. Awesome! More later.

Ramadan, Bicycle, Eclipse

Today is the first day of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting and prayer. The small street running along my apartment was much more subdued this morning, quieter and less bustle. Many of the shops stayed shut for most of the day, opening a little later than usual. Most of them are shut down now, but only, seemingly, so that the employees can go break their fast (it is now after sunset). The patisserie is closed, but they haven’t pulled down their security shutters on the shop windows, so I assume they will open later on this evening. The normally packed streets are unusually empty, almost strangely so, though there is the usual assortment of vehicular traffic. Mohammed told me that most people stay at home in the evening, eating and drinking (non-alcoholic, of course) with their families. A few days ago, all of the restaurants that serve alcohol shut down, as well as liquor stores and the areas in grocery stores that sell alcohol. So, if you’re an expat looking for something stronger than mint tea, you’re out of luck until November.

I finally broke down and bought a bicycle the other day, a Bacini mountain bike (made in Taiwan) for about $110. I took it for a long ride in the country, which you can get to with just a short trek outside of Meknes. The surrounding farm land reminds me a lot of Montana, as I’ve stated before, with rolling hills leading into the mountains and strip-farmed land checkerboarding the landscape. It was a pleasant ride, though I have to do some adjusting to the gear shifters and derailleurs, which are a bit cranky, so to speak. Needless to say, after my 20-km (estimated) ride, my rear end was sore the next day. Here’s a look at Meknes from the southern edge of town.

Of course, I’ll put this image and most of the others that you see on the blog into the photo gallery in a larger size, so check there for these photos, and others, in the new section “Morocco.”

Monday I was tempted to get up early and watch the eclipse, but I decided not to bother since I had no way of observing it without going blind. By all accounts, it was fantastic. There is another one in this area on March 29th, 2006. Unfortunately, Morocco will be just outside the zone of totality.

Hah, Yanks win first game 4-2. I didn’t stay up to listen to it last night, even though it was an “early” game. With a 7pm Eastern time start, that meant it didn’t come on until 11pm our time. Tonight it’s even worse, starting at 2am (10pm ET). Of course, if the people upstairs are still up making noise because of the late Ramadan hours and keeping me awake, maybe I’ll try to watch or listen to it. More later.

Big Baseball Weekend

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.

Nothing New

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.

Chinese “Yellow Dust”

Yes, it’s that time of year again–the advent of Chinese Yellow Dust season, when dust blowing from the Gobi desert sweeps across not only China, but South Korea and Japan as well. The Korean Meteorological Administration issued a dust warning for the country, and I, not thinking about the dust until afterward, jogged outside today for about 30 minutes between classes. I probably inhaled 20 pounds of the stuff. You could hardly see the nearby mountains because of the haze; it’s as bad as a Montana forest fire. A former Chinese Prime Minister predicts that the capital city of Beijing will have to be abandoned in a few decades due to the advance of the Gobi desert.

Not much else happening here. The cherry blossoms are very near to blooming, so I’ll post some photos of their beauty as soon as they open up. Baseball’s Opening Day saw the mighty Yanks knock off Boston. Unfortunately, Rivera blew a couple of saves–that’s rather worrisome. Should be a fun season, though. Since I signed up for the MLB.com game feeds, I’ll be able to see most of the games. My brother Randy, with nothing better to do, keeps sending me taunting emails about the Yanks, which I refuse to respond to. I don’t think he has a favorite team–the former Yankee fan, now a screeching turncoat, only seems to root against the Yankees, but not FOR anyone else. He joins the ranks of untold thousands in that futile endeavor.

The big earthquake in Indonesian waters a little bit back brought this email from my friend Palm on Ko Sukorn in Thailand (I edited out some of his fractured English grammar and spelling for clarity):

How are you, Ron? Hope you are good. For me now, I am sick.
Do you know about earthquake. I am afraid very much. And every body
gone to the mountain again. Now, I sleep with my mother every night.
Because, I am afraid tsunami, Ron. And I am thinking tsunami is not come.
And what about you? You saw earthquake or not? In sukorn no have tourists and it’s raining every day.

Geez, I really feel for those people. If you’re going to take a vacation in Thailand this year, go to Ko Sukorn. You’ll love it for its beauty (though there are more beautiful beaches in Thailand), but you’ll want to stay because of its people. More later.

Photo Gallery

Ok, I’ve got most of the photos transferred to the new gallery and I’ve uploaded many more with lots to come. The new gallery has a lot of features, such as a search function, the ability to add comments about the photos and the ability to rate each photo. I hope you like it; I know I do. It is fun to work with the software Coppermine Photo Gallery and it is a lot easier to add new photos. There are also a lot of other features that I may incorporate as soon as I learn the program better, features like registering and adding your own photos to your own gallery. Let me know what you think.

O, ye Naysayers and Doubters, ye Prophets of Doom. Hah! The Yanks just won their eighth in a row, coming back again against Oakland after yesterday’s fantastic come-from-behind victory. There’s a good article about The Boss by Sports Illustrated coming out and there are some excerpts here.

Opening Day and Korean Holidays

Opening Day of baseball season today. I was able to enjoy watching the Red Sox lose to Baltimore, but it should be a heated battle, to say the least, between Yanks and Sox all summer. The game was shown live here at 9am.

Wow, how come I wasn’t in school teaching, you ask? Well, April 5th in Korea is Arbor Day, one of many national holidays throughout the year. Plus, rumor has it that there are going to be no classes on Thursday due to a “sports day.” There was one of these last semester–most of my students were off playing sports around campus and the ones who were in class didn’t want to be there. Since most of their friends were out playing, I ended up cancelling a few classes. This year, though, it sounds like it may be an official day off. I hope to find out more tomorrow.