Outdoor Concert

September 30, 2007

So, I live in a place called The Villa, it’s like a dorm for the language school. And there are lots of other English speaking people here; about half Americans and half British.

So some of us decide we’re going to go out to dinner, buy some covert booze from one of the vendors at the local souk, have a spot of it, and then go to an outdoor concert.

The concert was part of a free outdoor series for the holy month of Ramadan. So we stand at first, and eventually move to a table (myself and a guy named Andrew.) Our friend Erica tells us that we had just missed a great Andalusian rap band, whatever that is, so we wait for the next band to come on.

The next band was called The Last Poets, and the lyrics to their first song were so memorable I wrote them on my hand as I fled:

We love love and Americans love death
Death is their prize, so throw grenades in their eyes
The Americans are Terrorists
The Evil Tyrants

Despite the lyrics, I didn’t feel especially threatened. I don’t think many people understood them, because they were in English. It was when the MC started freestyling in Arabic and I could pick out the word “Ameriki” every fourth word that I thought perhaps a quiet departure would be the best part of valor. Falstaff agreed.


September 27, 2007

Apparently, Libya is the Canada of North Africa. As such, witness these jokes:

“When you buy socks in Libya, they come with a label on them that says ‘put these on before your shoes.'”

“In Libya, at the bottom of a container of Yogurt, they print the words ‘STOP EATING’ to keep people from digging through the bottom of the container.”

I’m not sure what these jokes are trying to imply.

The Thing in the Bathroom

September 27, 2007

After sitting on it for 20 minutes, I have come to the conclusion that the thing next to the toilet in our communal bathroom is a Urinal, and not a Bidet. The end.

Actually, let me say this about European-style showers: worst idea ever. A European-style shower consists of a metal hose with a nozzle at the end. You have to either hold onto it or lay it on the floor. Now, I can understand the utility of this. I guess some people with, you know, weird angular bodies really need a flexible hose. Those of us that are 6’4″, however, are unamused.

That being said, I finally got a towel. An enormous, fluffy towel. Morocco, you make a mighty fine towel.

The Funniest Thing That Has Ever Happened in The History of Mankind, Ever, to Anyone

September 25, 2007

Caution: This post contains puerile humour and one coarse word towards the end.

So, we are in Arabic class and our teacher, a straight-laced little man that seems like everyone’s grandfather, is explaining vowels. In arabic vowels act sort of like punctuation. There are no vowel letters, just symbols you place on vowels to make the letter have an “aa” or “ee” sound. For instance, our teacher explained, B plus one symbol makes Boo. B plus another symbol makes Bee. Therefore, a 2-letter word can be “Boobee”. He then proceded to say “boobies” like 30 times.

Now, I’m a mature guy. I can handle a lot of things. But there are some immature things that just make me laugh, and will continue to make me laugh until they dump me into the cold hard ground. So, the point is, I started cracking up. I thought nothing could be funnier than our teacher asking us to repeat “boobies.”

So that night, we’re at the hotel bar with a Moroccan guy, and I start telling this story. He interrupts me to ask what the word “boobies” means in English. I tell him, and he leans back and thinks about it. Hand on chin, furrowed brow, the whole nine yards. Then, he leans forward, and with an almost professorial, academic manner, he says in perfect english:

“In Morocco, we usually call them titties.”

No one has ever, in the history of mankind, laughed as hard as I did. They were able to hear it in Snefrou.


September 23, 2007

In retrospect, I notice that some of the recent posts seem a bit harsh in places. That was the being sick talking. I certainly didn’t mean to seem so hard on the ladyfolks. Anyway, back in the US, I’d heard great things about Moroccan food. So here’s a survey of my daily eating habits:

-Moroccan food itself seems to rely on pressure cooking. Tagines, made in a conical ceramic pot, are pretty much slow-cooked stews with meat and vegetables that are really tender. The meat ones are great, but the fish ones contain bones that were at first surprising. Iftar is the meal for breaking the fast during Ramadan; I’ve been to one traditional style Iftar, where I had chunky beet juice, a hard-boiled egg, potatoe-and-onion latkes, and a bowl of harira, a sort of tomatoe noodle soup. Also, there was moroccan desert which I think is honey wrapped in dough, the fried in honey, and served with lots of honey. The entire meal set me back 18 dirham, which is a little more than $2.

-Couscous is amazing over here. Nothing like what we have in the US. I saw them making it here: they had a giant stewpot full of vegetables and meat, over which they put a steamer basket full of uncooked couscous. When the couscous is steamed, they mix it all together, and it’s fantastic.

-Mint tea is good, but it’s not considered made correctly unless it has 13 pounds of sugar in it. I’m not really into sweet stuff, so I can’t have it more than once a week.

-Fresh vegetables and seafood can be got at the local outdoor market. I am trying to learn to cook vegetables, but the secrets of making them tasty continue to elude me. I did, however, get a pound of raw shrimp for $3, which took an hour to peel and vein. They are tasty fried with eggs or spaghetti. I have yet to work up the courage to buy fresh, raw, whole (eyes and all!) fish, squid, or stingray, but who knows. Some day.

-Pizza is the big snack food here. It’s treated like hamburgers in the US: you can buy it on every corner.

-In terms of stuff from America, yes, you can get coke here. I swear, it stays fizzier longer than it does in the US. Potato chips are in the British ‘crisps’ style, that is, crunchy to the point of being hard. I can kiss a few fillings goodbye before I leave. You can get 7-Up here, but it tastes terrible.

- We’ve been to two different hotel bars here. They serve only three beers: Casablanca Lager, which tastes just like Yeungling except with the added benefit of an hour of diahrrea the next day for every one you drink; Flag Especial, which tastes like someone added copper to Pabst Blue Ribbon; and Heineken, which is used in the United States primarily for watering houseplants. I hear that Marjan, the Moroccan Walmart, has lots and lots of variety of beer, but that section is closed during the holy month of Ramadan. Still, Especial will get the job done. You can get liquor here with some ease, at least as a foreigner, but I’m not really so hot on liquor, so I can’t comment much on it.

Illness, the Young Ladies, and Convoy Duty

September 17, 2007

So, I see that that picture didn’t come up. I’ll figure it out one of these days.

Let me give you a quick outline of my health so far in Morocco: the first few days I was healthy as a horse on steroids. Then, I got the berber’s revenge. Then it cleared up, but only because the Berbers went for reinforcement. For a day I had the Berber’s and Montagnard’s and Kosovar’s and Chechen’s revenge. Suffice it to say that they kicked my ass.

Yesterday, all of a sudden, despite it being 90 degrees out, I was absolutely freezing. And then around 8 pm my throat swelled juuuuust almost shut. So it hurts to breathe, talk, or swallow. And since I haven’t gotten out of bed in two days, my doopah has gone completely flat and sore.

So, Morocco is rife with cute girls. And they all think I am awesome, because they haven’t heard any of my jokes before. I was so entertaining saturday night at the pub that couscous came out a young ladies’ nose. That’s how hard she was laughing. But this has its downfall: I went to get a beer, and heard a young lady telling one of my jokes despite the fact that she wasn’t there when I told it the first time. The ladies are talking about me behind my back… I guess Morocco isn’t really that different from the US. Don’t worry though- three months from now, when I’ve exhausted my joke supply, they’ll go back to thinking I’m a cad.

Just like in the US, young ladies are deft experts at using menfolk. What does this mean to me? Any time a young lady goes outside of the Villa in which we live, I’ve got to escort her to make sure she doesn’t get hasseled by young men. I guess I give them a sense of security. They’re going to be pretty surprised when they realize how false a sense of security that is.

Found a Bar

September 15, 2007

The Hotel right next door to where I am staying has a bar in it. Adjusting to life here just became 10 times easier. The beer that they have here is called Flag Especiale. It could be a little more Especiale, if you catch my meaning… though it does have the reeeming feature that after two, they taste just like Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Good luck with that cream flavour, J.

Testing, Testing

September 14, 2007

I have not yet put up any pictures. This post is a test to see if I can figure out how to do it. It’s the view from the roof of the house of David (the bald guy) deep in the Medina.

If you can read this, my WiFi is fixed

September 14, 2007

So it turns out that Windows Vista has some sort of weird issue where the wireless won’t automatically get IP adresses on some networks. I had to disable DHCP manually, if anyone else has this problem, by going into the registry editor and adding some DWord. But if you are reading this the problem is now fixed on my laptop. Thank you the Wetzel!

 Ramadan began today, so no eating or drinking during daylight. I want to do that just today to prove that I can, but some of my fellow Americans are being jerks about it, bringing food and water to class, etc. Asking Moslem teachers what eateries would be open. If I were going to eat, I’d do it on the sly, in my room. I mean, seriously, we’re supposed to be over here to show people not all Americans are jerks, and then we can’t go for twelve hours without a hamburger during their holy holiday? Feh.

For the record, though, I’ve found a pizzerria here. It seems pizza is a really popular snack food, I guess the equivalent of tacos back in  the US.  Two big pizzas (one plain, one shrimp and mushrooms) and two cans of coke was a little over $10.  (That is, 86 Dirhams.)

Also: Fezs are rather hard to come by here in Fes. I may have to wander into the medina and make some dude’s year. But don’t worry, fellas, you’ll get yours.

The Phrase “Insh’allah”

September 12, 2007

I have, through the generosity of the Department of State, secured 3 months of language training at the beginning of my stay in Morocco. I feel my learning is coming along well, despite the fact that we are using latin transliteration of colloquial Moroccan Arabic.

Anyway, in Morocco, one is obliged to say “Insh’Allah” in every single sentance. It means “god willing,” more or less. The language teacher explain the reason for this in the following two examples:

Teacher: “How many children do you have?”
Female student: “Er… zero?”
T: “No, you must say zero, insh’allah, otherwise you may wake up tomorrow very pregnant, and your neighbors will say that you are a loose woman.”

Teacher:”What day is tomorrow?”
Class: “Thursday?”
T: “No, you must say Thursday, Insh’allah, because what if tomorrow is not Thursday? What if the government decides it does not like Thursdays, and we wake up tomorrow and it is friday? That would mess up our plans for studying, wouldn’t it.”

So there you go. Say “Insh’allah” at every opportunity, or you will wake up as a pregnant woman with a messed up calendar.



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