Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Did I really see/hear/read that correctly?!?!?

Two posts in one week? It just might happen. This one is more a random compilation of  random stuff. There are so many things that happen here on a daily basis where you just have to smile and think "You know you are NOT in the U.S. anymore when...".  These are just SOME of those moments off the top of my head.

*There is a beauty salon here called "Le Clap". Where one wonders if they can get a haircut and an STD all at the same time?

*Several weeks ago, I was walking to the gym to work out. I came around the corner and saw an older woman, two younger children, and a pile of papers, old notebooks, binders, etc. I also saw that she saw stuffing said papers into an opening in the side of a concrete building. Inside this opening of the building was a raging fire. Black smoke billowed out from this 'burn hole'? (kind of like the 'burn barrels' back home I guess?), as she continued to shove papers in and the kids continued to dance around and watch her. When I came out of the gym some 45 min. to an hour later, this was still going on. And it was not a pleasant smell either.

*Driving around Casablanca, you see many, many strange things. So many of which I wished I had a camera for...but they happen so fast, pictures are nearly impossible. And, we are usually so shocked about what we are seeing, that we don't react quickly enough to take pictures. Many of these 'shocking' events are accomplished at the hands of mopeds/scooters/motor bikes. A family of 5 riding on a moped with only the driver wearing any kind of helmet? Absolutely. 2 men on a motorbike carrying a lawnmower? Sure!  And a few weeks ago, I saw 2 guys on a moped driving away from me, and off to the right I could see 4 legs. They both had a right arm wrapped around the body of a sheep or some sort of 4-legged animal, driving down the Casablanca streets.

*Speaking of sheep... There is a major muslim holiday coming up, which is the Eid al-Adha. It is a time when families sacrifice a sheep and then feast on it. It is a big family tradition thing. Anyway, as the Eid approaches, you start to see billboards pop up. Most of which show 'happy sheep', as if they are feeling good about their upcoming role in this bloodbath. I guess when they first slit the throat and kill the sheep, they also then 'blow up' the sheep to loosen the skin? Or something like that. Well, there's a billboard out right now showing a guy blowing on a sheep's leg, inflating the sheep so it looks like a sheep balloon. It's pretty funny. I'll try my best to snap a picture, but no guarantees.

*Head lice has been running a bit rampant in the Lower School this year so far. Yes, gross. I have had one case, but it was caught over a weekend and treated, and we've had no other issues. But today, they brought in an outside nurse to help do head checks. And this is what I saw... A nurse.  With NO GLOVES and no 'stick' to prod through the kids' hair. She just got in there with her fingertips. Head after head, with no hand-washing in-between. I had to stop looking. All I could think about is how shocked my teacher friends in the states would have been as well.

*I had recess duty today for 3-5th grade. A little boy (3rd grade)came up to me and said "Miss! I need help!" I looked down at him and he was pointing to his shoe. A perfectly good shoe, with its shoelace untied. I asked him what he needed help with and he said "I can't tie." To which I said "Aren't you in 3rd grade? And you can't tie your shoe?" (Yes, I was THAT teacher taking a stab at his self esteem. But seriously...don't you learn to tie shoes in Kindergarten?) He said "No, my Mom ties for me." To which I replied, "Well, then you need to learn!" So I kneeled down and showed him my method that my parents taught me. (NOT the double bunny ears...because I hate that method. Those are the kids whose shoes are always untied, I swear.) I did one for him, walking him through the steps. Then I had him practice one time, and he did pretty well. So, he ran off to play. A little bit later during recess, he came running up to me - "MISS! I tied my other shoe!!" I gave him a high-five as he grinned from ear to ear and ran off to play again.

*They are putting up some type of  structure for people to park bikes under at our school. Yesterday, during dismissal time when there are hundreds of kids running around, there was a man welding. Just sitting on top of this structure, with no mask or goggles, with sparks flying down below where kids are crossing, within a couple of feet. No one even blinked an eye (other than us, of course).

There are so many more cultural stories to tell. I love being a part of it all. I've gotten so acclimated, that I just kind of take everything in stride. But, I realize that most of you probably enjoy reading about these types of things. I'll do my best to keep feeding you culture, a little bit at a time.

Here is a random photo, taken this summer as we came back to Casablanca from Europe. You know you're back in Morocco when....

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Little bit of Europe, part UNE (that's French for one)

**author's note** Remember, the blogger loves feedback. Even if it is simply checking on of the silly boxes at the bottom to indicate that someone is reading this stuff. Please and Thanks.

Yes, this is a post about the summer and I realize it is now fall. Or, at least it's fall for those of you in the states. Sadly, we don't really get much of that season here. I think last year I realized that I miss fall and early spring (more specifically, Royals baseball games in the spring) as far as seasons go. But definitely miss fall the most. However, that's not what this post is about, so I'll leave that little tangent right here.

As most everyone knows, I spent 2 months of my summer back stateside. Which was amazing. I was able to get my heart filled up with love from family and friends and everything inbetween. Life is good, and I'm one lucky gal to have the people in my life that I do. Without question.

That also includes new friends I have made over here...two of which I was lucky enough to spend about nine days with traveling down through part of Europe. Jim and LuAnn make every day here fun. I say that with complete honesty and sincerity (and because they often invite me down to their place for it never hurts to butter 'em up just a bit). With that said, when I had the opportunity to fly into Frankfurt and travel down to Morocco with them, I pounced on it! Jim and LuAnn are veteran travelers, as they spent most of last summer traveling through Europe, and again this summer doing the same thing. I was just happy to be with them, and their trusty Honda CRV named "Sterling", venturing from city to city and campground to campground. After we somehow found each other at the Frankfurt airport (my communication on flight arrival was admittedly not very clear), the adventure began as we made our way for a stop to see Casablanca teacher friends who are now living in Frankfurt. It was great to catch up with Brian, Marlo, and Auggie over some German food (schnitzel and goulash) and beers.
We then started our journey south, with a destination of Cordes, France and our wonderful hosts Randy and Anne. After a hotel stay in northern France that evening, we spent the next day driving south (and by 'we', I really mean he did all of the driving and would give me a hard time for trying to take credit for it). As evening approached, and we were almost to Cordes, we drove through a brief rainstorm that produced an amazing sky and landscape.

This is a little 'grainy', but the fields of sunflowers under this sky were just beautiful!

We spent three days in Cordes, France with "The G's". It was fabulous. Their town is just a beautiful little place up on a hill in southern France. We ate, drank, laughed, and toured around the area. I'm not sure it's possible to have better hosts than Randy and Anne. They even had a postcard and jars of homemade jam to welcome me to their home. We miss them at CAS, but are happy for them and their life of retirement...  The following are pics from time spent in the surrounding area of France.

I was allowed to hang out with the men while they worked the bbq.

We visited a winery outside of Guillac.

Cool city square with a typical French cafe.

Jim walking down a street in Cordes, and this is LuAnn and I amidst a crowded market in France. I didn't write down the names of any of the little towns around them that we went to, so I can't tell you where we actually were.  :-) 

Jugs of table wine for sale, and as we were walking, we saw an actual flower bed. :-)

The Sunday market was fun to stroll through. Crazy crowded, but still a fun little adventure. Lots of colors with all of the different flowers, vegetables, anddifferent sausages too!

This is Cordes. High on a hill. Picturesque.
France...with friends...was fantastic! Thanks to the G's for being
such wonderful hosts!!