March 31, 2008

First, let me say that Libya’s National Anthem is awesome.

Anyway, I have an infestation in my apartment. Roaches? Heavens no. Think bigger. Think scarier. So, I come home from the bar one night, and I go to get a glass of water. (Unrelated note, I heard the greatest quote ever while there: I asked a guy if I could get him a beer while I’m up, and he said “It is forbidden for a muslim man to drink beer! I’m here for the prostitutes.”) 

Anyway, something in my sink moves. And I think that’s sort of strange. So I look, and it looks like there’s some sort of weird stain on this one plate. So I go to touch it, and this giant freaking lizard scurries out onto the countertop. For about five or ten seconds, it remains beige, and then it takes on the grayish colour of my countertop.

What the hell? Chameleons can grow to the size of cats? When did this happen? They could be here in the room with me right now and I would never know. What am I going to do? I can’t freaking fight hideous monsters. Invisible monsters.


Weird Cab Rides

March 30, 2008

For whatever reason, this week has had a heavy concentration of weird cab rides. First, I was standing outside the police prefecture, and a cab rolls up and the guy waves at me. It was my old friend! He’d taken me to the train station one day and somehow remembered me. Then, wednesday, I got into a cab and the man in the passenger seat had quite possibly the biggest head I’ve ever seen. It’s like someone inverted a Cello and put a shirt and trousers on the handle part. He was also rockingly drunk.

Then coming back from dinner one night, the cabbie asks me where I’m from. I say America and he goes “Hey! All right! You know we Moroccans love American people, right?” And then there’s this long pause. And then he says “except not your president. Your president is a lunatic.”

So, there that is. Most Moroccans I meet have never heard of the city of Philadelphia, but they have strong feelings about our political process. I just thought that was interesting for some reason.

Oh! And at a party last nightI met a guy that claims to have gone to U Penn. I think he was lying though, because when I asked him if he’d ever been to the New Deck he said he didn’t think so.

Strange Morning

March 26, 2008

I woke up this morning, and there was a note next to my bed. It said Dear Aaron, We have had many wonderful times together, but with summer coming you and I both know it wouldn’t work out. Goodbye.

I ran to the mirror, and it was true. My beard had left me. I think I am very sad right now. Very sad and very clean shaven. Which means that my face is cold. I am considering investing in a scarf.

A Note on International Affairs

March 24, 2008

Speaking of International Affairs, I forgot to mention that on Saturday we went to a hotel bar in the Ville Nouvelle of Fes. We just wanted some beers. One of our friends was there so we went to join his group, and it turned out that they were mostly prostitutes. One of them was fairly attractive, but she was missing most of her right pointer finger. She asked for 500 dirhams (about 60 dollars) because she “needed the money.” I considered offering 50 dirhams if she’d just tell me how she lost her finger. But I guess that is a mystery I will just have to live with.

Anyway, that’s not the note on international affairs I wanted to mention. I understand that there is a school of thought that considers the modern era to be a “clash of civilizations.” Sort of the George Bush, Them-or-Us school of thought, you could say.

Just to clear things up for everyone, let me be blunt: if you think there’s a clash of civilizations going on, you’re either a chump or don’t get out enough. Read that above part. I got falling down drunk with a nine-fingered hooker the day after a major religious holiday in an Islamic country. That’s the eact same thing I do on the day after thanksgiving. Our civilizations are a lot more similar than you may think.

And this hogwash about “they hate us for our freedoms”, you may ask? That’ s a crock. My entire time in the Arab world, the closest “they” have come to admitting any dislike for the US was when one guy told me he was sort of upset that you can see a McDonalds from the roof of the Karaouaine Mosque (one of the holy sites of Islam). But shit, I was upset about that too.

Look here: There are millions of arabs in the world. A handful start some trouble sometimes. There are 60-odd Heisman Trophy Winners, and one of them is a deadly ninja assassin. You are, statistically, more likely to have your civilization clashed by a running-yards leader than a swarthy foreigner. This idea that it’s all-or-nothing, them-or-us is a load of crap.

Anyway, this is a gut reaction based on a conversation I had this weekend. There is no such thing as a clash of civilizations. At worst, it’s a clash of handfuls of guys, while the vast majority of the civilizations on both “sides” want only to mind their own business and aren’t all that different anyhow.

Beware Crusaders.

A Holiday!

March 24, 2008

So Last tuesday my visitor casually mentions that she had heard that thursday was a holiday of some sort. I ask at work, and find out that the University will be closed for two days. It turns out that its the anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him. Sort of a Mohammedmas, if you will. Thursday the whole place is deserted. I mean, there’s not even a single person on the street.

We went up to the Corniche (the Moroccan Wildwood) and walked up far enough that we saw a shrine I had previously searched for, built on a rock out in the ocean and accesible only at low tide. Dude, awesome.

For the weekend we went to Fes, where we wandered the Medina and I stumbled upon the location of the Shrines to Ahmed Tijhani and Moulay Idriss, much to my surprise. The shrines are amazing, little houses of all carved wood and painted tiles tucked away in the medina near Karaouaiyne.

Sunday as we left fes we noticed a lot more soldiers than usual on the street. It was soon apparent why: we saw a car turn the corner, and from out of the sunroof His Majesty Mohammed VI, King of Morocco, is waving to the crowd on the sidewalk. Dude. Sweet. I saw the King!

I Demand You Set Up a Delicious Buffet

March 18, 2008

So, last night, I recieved a package from dear old dad that contained a movie on one of these DVD discs that the young people are such fans of. The movie on the DVD disc was Casablanca.

I’d never heard of this film before, but decided to watch it with the aid of a bottle of Maghrebi brand wine (80 cents per litre, plastic bottle, tin foil wrapped around the top instead of a cork). The movie is fantastic! It’s 100 percent solid gold cash money. Although I think I am partial to movies with just a hint of moustache-twirling villainy. Also, it makes Overdrawn at the Memory Bank make much more sense. I could hear Scott’s faux-jowly voice grating out demands for ham as though he were in the room with me.

At work, the DSC is fixed! But the XRD broke. Is there some sort of Conservation of Moroccan Science Equipment law of which I have not heard?

And speaking of delcious buffets, I found a place that has fresh fish (I mean fresh – it’s at the port) and serves belgian wheat beer. Things is looking UP.

Re: Fermenting cabbage

March 17, 2008

So I decided to start manufacturing home made sauerkraut. I didnt think it would work so fast, but aparently, five pounds of cabbage, a big handful of salt, and four heads of garlic start to stink after you’ve compressed them for even just a day. It’s like some sort of itinerant polish festival has taken up residence at my place.