Monday, September 20, 2010


This post title is the name of the gym I joined here in Casablanca. According to Google translate, it means 'Cape Shape' in french. I'm not sure what 'cape shape' should look like though. Thin as a cape? Strong like superman who wears a cape? The possibilities are endless. (They have a website if you'd like to check it out. It's in French.  Anyway, as I said in an earlier post...gyms are the one thing that's pretty expensive here, relatively speaking. The 'fancy gym' that is kind of by our school costs about $100 a month. Which is REALLY expensive for things here in Casablanca, and Morocco in general.  I think I'm paying around $35 a month for my membership at my 'less than fancy' but 'not too shabby' gym. Not a bad price, especially because it's quite convenient. I walk down the stair of my apt., out the front door, and about 10 steps left and I'm in the front door of the gym. I have no excuse to NOT go. Except for when I'm tired. That always seems to be a good excuse.  Or, when a bottle of wine or a cold beer is a necessity after a long day with the kids. Wait, what was I talking about? Oh...the gym. I'm not sure what my point of this post is other than 1) I'm posting 2 days in a row, so yeehaw for me, and 2) you get to learn a little about gyms in Casablanca.  Because of the whole separation of men and women within the muslim faith (not sure of all technicalities on this...but one thing I did learn is that a woman is not to be in a car with a muslim/moroccan man if they are not married. It's actually illegal. But, as one of my friends found out, it's ok to be in a car with a muslim/moroccan man if you are an American woman. She was happy to not be left on the side of the street, or in jail.). So, at the gym, ONLY women can work out on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  On Tuesday and Thursday, women can work out WITH the men if they so choose, but only until 6 pm. Then it's for men only. And on Saturday and Sunday it is mixed. Kinda weird, but whatever. As most of you know, I stupidly lost my iPod on the journey over here. My dear mother did buy one in the states and sent it over here, as an insured package. But it, along with other essentials, is sitting in customs. Lord only knows if I'll ever receive it. Have a feeling it could end up on the Black Market here. Which, would mean I'd get it for a cheaper price AT the black market....but that's neither here nor there. Soooo....without an iPod, working out kinda sucks. Try it sometime. I dare ya. Imagine my particular pain of working out while listening to women chatter in Arabic and French all around me. (And yes, I'm sure they are talking about the American girl in her cut up t-shirt, sweating like no woman they have ever seen.) In addition to their jabbering, I get to watch, and listen faintly, to the TV's in front of me that are set to some sort of MTV like station. Only most of the music is NOT from the states. Today, for example, I was able to watch a video involving a musical group that had 2 women and one man. Their names were flashed across the screen in a 'solo shot' early in the video, and it reminded me of the Brady Bunch for some reason. I kept watching, and the song somehow had these women in short skirts and loud tops, and it involved a train, some coal being slung around in the train, ladies in big hats, pole dancing in the train, more dirty coal faces, and lots of cheezy smiles and singing. It was troubling, to say the least. However, this was followed up by Fergie's 'Clumsy' video. So, maybe I can survive without an iPod. Or, maybe a trip to the Black Market is in my near future...

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Let me know what you think. I think the background might be a little too busy. But I'm done playing around with it for today.

Last weekend was an 'Eid' break. We had Monday and Friday off of school. I was fortunate enough to be the 8th cog in a trip to Oualidia with some other returning teachers. We loaded up their family trucksters Friday morning with food, booze, and packed bags, and off we went. It was a beautiful 2 1/2 hour drive down the coast to a beach town called Oualidia. I haven't been on the Pacific Coast Highway, but I have to believe this is
equally as beautiful, and with less traffic. Plus, you wouldn't see pack mules on the side of the road in California! We rented a villa for a measly 800 dirhams per night. So, each of us paid 100dh each night to stay, which is equivalent to about $12.50. We had a beautiful patio, outside eating area, plenty of space, and beauty all around us. Out our front door and over a sand dune was the beach. I have a lot of facebook photos posted of this beach. Absolutely gorgeous. We could hear the waves crashing on the rocks from our villa at night. When we arrived in Oualidia we found a restaurant to eat at just down our little road. We were welcomed with complimentary mussels, clams, and razor clams...along with a drink. This was all on the house. We then ordered and enjoyed a delicious meal of fresh seafood. The rest of the day was spent relaxing at the beach and at the villa, and then preparing for our evening meal. Our fabulous chefs did not disappoint! Drinks, dinner, tunes on the was a perfect night.
On Saturday morning, my friend Jenny and I went to the beach to do some exploring. It was low tide, so we were able to climb on the rocks along shore that were engulfed in the ocean the previous day. I love seeing the fishermen out and about in the mornings. It's just sooo peaceful, maybe serene. I have yet to actually see anyone catch anything, but their baskets are always full. They do this at Jack Beach in Dar bouza as well. So cool.
We loaded back up in the vehicles and made a short drive to the city of Safi, known for its beautiful pottery. (See pictures off to the side.) We went into the small pottery market and I was mesmirized by the colors and designs. You'd expect to pay hundreds of dollars for stuff like this in the states. I bought a huge platter for 20dh. Which is a little over $2. Crazy.
The rest of the day was spent back at Oualidia where we walked up to the lagoon area that Oualidia is known for. A hole was blasted through the rocks out in the ocean, allowing a tidal lagoon to form inside. Beautiful as well. We saw an amazing sunset and again relaxed with great food and outstanding company.

My first trip outside of Casablanca showed me what a beautiful country Morocco really is. I can't wait to take in more of it throughout the next two years...  

breathtaking sunset



fishing boats

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ramadan is over...

So, I know I'm already slacking here. Too much going on already to keep up with posts on my blog. I promise I will try to do better. I need to update you on the end of Ramadan, which meant our first 'holiday', which meant my frist travels outside of Casablanca, which resulted in a trip to Oualidia and Safi, which saw me eat:  edible, inside part of a sea urchin; clams; razor clams; mussels; oysters.  That's just the seafood. :)  Morocco is a beautiful country, and I've still only seen a small portion. I'll post more about  my trip later this week hopefully, and include some pictures. Especially the one of cows riding on top of the back of a pickup. I know it's hard to imagine...which is why I'm glad I have a picture to show you.

Yes...cows on top of truck going down  highway. Boy sitting up there
whose 'job' it is sure the cows don't fall out?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Kids are Kids

First week of school is almost a wrap. And, I've learned a few things. First and matter where you go, it seems, kids are kids. Period. They all smile a lot, talk a lot, laugh a lot, and sometimes drive their teacher crazy. And they are smart. And some...not as smart. But overall, many similarities from U.S. to here. Except that here, I'm teaching kids that know/are learning 3 languages. If they are native Moroccan, they surely speak Arabic (primary language). They most likely also speak pretty fluent French, or a combination of Arabic/French (as one of my kids called it). And since they are attending this school, they are also fluently speaking English. Ah-mazing if you ask me. The start of the year is tough for some of them who don't speak a lot of English at home. They easily slip into French mid-sentence, or Arabic when talking with their friends. I've had to come up with 'discipline/consequences' for not speaking English in school...just to help reinforce their thinking about it. But, on the playground and at end of the day while walking to the gates to go home, they can speak whatever. My rule is when you are outside, you can speak whatever. So, the minute we are out that door, they smile and make sure I hear them say "We can speak Arabic now!"  Today, I asked a couple of boys to teach me a few phrases in French and Arabic. Which was funny just listening to them. They say things so fast, I can hardly pick it up. I asked how to say "hello, my name is..." in French, and they told them. And then I asked how to say it in Arabic and Othman said "oh, it's harder." I asked what it was, and another boy said  what sounded like 'is me'. Technically it's 'Asmy'...but sounds like "Es me". I laughed and said "that's harder? it sounds just like you are saying "It's me"."  He just shrugged and smiled. Then they asked if I have facebook and one boy chimed in and informed them that I do have facebook because he had already looked me up. Haha.  Facebook...the universal language!
5B - my fabulous fifth graders