Monday, June 13, 2011

My Golf 'Date'

Earlier this year, one of the boys in my class was asking about me playing golf. We talked about this briefly, and he informed me that he golfs as well. He even plays in tournaments. A few weeks ago, he asked if I would maybe want to golf with him sometime here in Casablanca or the surrounding area. I told him that I didn't have clubs here or anything, but if I could rent some, I would love to golf with him.  This led to him asking for my height in centimeters so that he could find me proper fitting clubs to rent. (He later told me they were one cm too short, but hopefully they would work ok. He does not know that A) I have never been 'fitted' for clubs before in my life, and B) that the clubs I play with at home were given to me by an ex-boyfriend 14 some years ago. Let's just say the clubs I played with last Saturday were a bit of an upgrade...) We had sort of decided that we were going to make this 'golf date' happen on a Saturday. I was home sick from school on that Friday, and we hadn't had a chance to work out all of the details yet. So, I typed up a note for my assistant to give to him with my phone number on it. A bit of a sidenote here, but I must also tell you (if him getting my club measurements wasn't enough of a clue) that RZ is a very organized, rule-following kid. Details do not go unnoticed with him. He is just that kind of kid. With that said...  On that Friday, I went to workout at the gym and returned home to find that he had called me 10 times already. Every 1-2 minutes. I got the impression he was excited about this golf outing! I called him back and he had an answer to every one of the questions I had listed on the paper. I asked how much this was going to cost, and he said 'Nothing. It is already taken care of. I have clubs ready for you and a caddy.'  After I giggled a bit at the thought of having a caddy, I asked where we were playing and what time so that I could try to figure out my taxi situation. And he then informed me that he and his driver would pick me up. We decided to meet at the Twin Center at 8:00am, and they would pick me up there. All set.

Saturday morning, I'm walking up to the Twin at about 7:55 (those of you who know me, know that I'm a very punctual person), and RZ (his initials) calls. Mind you, I'm not late. He just wanted to assure me that he and his driver were there waiting for me. They were actually out of the car walking around to make sure they hadn't missed me, even though I told him on the phone that I would be there in 3 minutes. :)  Too funny.

It was a nice, 9-hole course in Casablanca. Royal Anfa something-or-other. The King has a villa that overlooks the course. And there's a horse track around it as well where he runs his Arabian horses I guess. RZ filled me in on all of this. We did see some of the horses going for light training runs while we were playing. They also had a John Deere tractor out there grooming the track. (Which almost felt like I was back at Tara Hills Country Club watching the tractors drive by out on the stretch of blacktop that runs by the first three holes. Almost. But not really.) RZ had also arranged for us to hit driving range balls first, as I had told him I would probably need to warm up since I hadn't golfed in a year. My caddy ( cool is that? I had a caddy. Who handed me clubs. And chased down errant shots. And teed up my ball. And high-fived me and gave me thumbs up on nice shots. And didn't laugh at me on my bad shots. Granted, he was Moroccan and spoke no English, so it's not like he was going to chastise my golf game a whole lot during these 18 holes. He did very well communicating non verbally, especially on the crazy-lucky shot I had on one hole where he went over to the other caddy to express excitedly about the shot I had somehow pulled off that landed me within 5 feet of the hole. It was hilarious.) handed me clubs and set balls down for me to hit off the artificial grass mat. I actually felt bad not bending over and getting my own balls out of the little bucket. Yet, I let him do it for me anyway.
Apparently the grandstand where people sit to watch the horses.

Looking down the first fareway

Eventually, RZ and I made our way to the first tee with our caddies. We were also going to be playing with an older Moroccan gentleman. He turned out to be very nice, but a horrible golfer. I heard this gentleman talking to RZ and then heard 'professor' in the conversation and realized he was telling the man that I was his teacher (they were speaking in French). I then got to thinking about how odd it probably looked to have me out there golfing with an 11-year old kid on this course that is predominantly male. And mostly Moroccan males. Not that I cared...but I bet a lot of the guys out there playing were a bit curious about our 'pairing'.

We played. Not always well, but sometimes. We jawed back and forth a bit. I got RZ to smile and laugh and not take everything so seriously, which is something we've been working on all year in class as well. By the end of our 18 holes he was able to laugh about his bad shots just like I did, and he was giving me a hard time while keeping track of who won each hole. I think he also must have told me at least five times how much fun he was having or asking me if I was having fun. And then suggesting that we do it again next year when we are back in school. He is such a great kid. I loved spending the morning out on the course with him. We ended our golf day with his driver taking us to Pizza Hut. I insisted on at least paying for half of our pizza, even though his mom had said she wanted to pay for us to go to lunch as well. I figured it was the least I could do. :) And, hopefully we WILL do this again next year. My first golf outing in Morocco was most definitely a success, even if my scorecard did not show it!

Walking across the horsetrack to leave.

Aaah, Pizza Hut. :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Soccer Craziness

So, soccer is a big deal here. They love it. My students can't get enough of it. They talk trash about Real Madrid vs Barcelona every chance they get. They have also been known to fight over these two teams...and have fought at recess about soccer. My point is: It's a big deal to everyone it seems, young and old. This post sort of has 2 different parts to it, with both relating to soccer craziness.

A couple of weeks ago there was a big soccer match here in Casablanca pitting the local 'Green Team' (Raja) against someone. I'm not sure what the implications were with this game, but it doesn't matter. What matters is that people get crazy. I mean CRAZY before, during, and after these games. We witnessed said craziness firsthand. I was riding with 4 other friends over to a house party, and we had to pass pretty close to the soccer stadium. The game had just recently ended, and Raja (the local Green Team) had obviously won. This was obvious because there were what seemed like 100,000+ crazy teen and twenty-something year old males all over the streets. As Jim turned left onto a street, we were met by a mob. And by mob, I mean the street had no other cars on it because a street-wide mass of hyped up men were coming toward us - chanting, yelling, jumping, waving flags, waving scarves, and some were weilding clubs of some sort. I felt a bit of instant fear and regret that we were on this street, as did my car-mates, but we tried to play it off and smiled and sort of cheered along with them as they completely engulfed our vehicle. (We also rolled up windows and locked doors. Except for the driver. Because of course Jim's window was broken and wouldn't go up.Bad timing for that to happen.) Due to the fact that Jim's window wouldn't roll up, and we were at a complete stop now because of the mob of men surrounding us and now climbing on the hood of the vehicle, some of these guys starting reaching IN the car through Jim's window and grabbed at  him a bit. This went a bit too far and he pushed his arm out to get them away. This angered the mob a bit and they started hitting the car, eventually breaking the passenger mirror and reaching back in to steal Jim's sunglasses off his head. This was all that they got because Jim punched it. Luckily, they got out of the way and we managed to get on another street and then onto a street that had other vehicles on it. (Lesson learned to not go AWAY from traffic in these situations. People and traffic are your friends in these scenarios) There's no alcohol served in the soccer stadiums, but these boys were amped up on something besides the soccer victory, that is for sure. As we continued to drive to our party, the going was slow because of soccer traffic. I eventually took a couple of pictures (after my hand stopped shaking for fear of being beaten up in a soccer mob), trying to capture these little trucks that were driving around with nothing short of 20 people hanging on in the back.

We were able to laugh about the whole thing later while sipping cocktails at the party we went to. But these reckless men jacked up on glue, testosterone, and whatever else are nothing to mess with. The lesson we learned is: when there is a soccer game, stay the hell home!

The second part of this post having to do with soccer was this past weekend. This game was not IN Casablanca, rather it took place in Marrakesh. It was an Africa Cup qualifier (so I was told...I don't really follow this stuff), with Morocco playing against Algeria. Now, there is no love loss between these countries as it is. (There is still a disputed border that is not drawn on maps for this reason.) So, this was another HUGE game in terms of Moroccan national pride. The Morocco Lions (I didn't know national teams had a nickname, but apparently they do here?) defeated Algeria by a score of 4-0 Saturday night. We were at a friend's place playing Rock Band on the Wii when the cheers interrupted our stellar jam session. Eventually, we started hearing lots of honking. And then another friend called to say that Moroccans were taking it to the streets, driving around and hanging out of vehicles with flags, shirts, etc. honking their horns the whole way. (oh, how they love to honk their horns here!)  We left our friends' place and caught a couple of taxis to get where we were going. My friend Jenny shot this video footage from her cab. She said her cabbie was very excited about the victory as well, and had the Moroccan music blaring. As you will hear. Love to see the national pride I guess...but it seemed a bit over the top for this match. I was told today, however, that Algeria's coach resigned after the game...apparently too shamed with the loss to continue coaching. Huh. So, the moral of this post is - Soccer is a really big deal here. click below to watch the video. Or, go to my facebook page as it is posted on there as well.  Video of Casablanca post-soccer match craziness.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The end is near...

That is, the end of the school year is near. Since I now have report cards and comments finished...that should leave more time for me to catch up on some blogging. Hopefully. Those of you who actually 'follow', or still check this...I know it's been a long time since I've posted. Life just got too busy, and when I wasn't busy, I was having fun. If you DO read these posts, please comment if you can. Or check one of the boxes so I have an idea if people are even reading this stuff. Cuz if no one is reading it...well, it just might be a waste of my time.

So, all for now, but I hope to post a couple of times this week if all goes well!