Sunday, November 11, 2012

Nine, Ten, and Eleven

#9 and #10. (I'm counting this as two because I decided to include a lot of pictures. Yes, it might be 'cheating' to count one post twice, but it's my blog. So deal with it.) As many of you know, my experiences here have been invaluable to me. It sometimes takes a reminder (often, it's a comment from a friend in the states) to helpe me realize that I'm pretty lucky to be here doing what I do. But I can now also see that it's not just 'luck' that affords me all of this. My thankfulness comes by way of being appreciative of the personality and character traits I possess in order to ALLOW me to dream, experience, and live this exciting life that I am in the midst of. I am aware that not everyone possesses the 'genes' that are needed to live this way and do these kinds of things. I feel fortunate to be one who does have 'it'. Without wanting to sound conceited or arrogant, I'm thankful for being Me. Or, more specifically, for having been given the personality and adventurous nature to do the things I'm doing. With that are some pictures I haven't included in the past from some travels while I've been over here.

This is the lovely town of Chefchaouen, in northern Morocco. Walls are painted a brilliant blue throughout. Such a great place to visit. On my list of places to go back to!

Carpets, carpets, and more carpets

More pics below from travels through Europe...

Salamanca, Spain
gazing at the Pyrenees

The Pyrenees
Content Cows. Traveling along different Tour de France climbs throughout the Pyrenees.

Love my Life...

#11.  I'm thankful for all of the veterans out there. It's good to have a day dedicated to all of them, as it is a brave and often thankless job they are doing (and have done). I come from a family of military men. My Great Grandpa Junge served in WWI and his uniform proudly hangs in the American Legion Hall back in Keystone. My Grandpa Wardenburg served honorably in WWII. And my Dad joined the Navy during the Vietnam War. I'm proud of all of them, and the others who fought, and continue to fight, bravely to allow us to keep the freedoms we have...and to try to help others obtain a small fraction of these liberties we are blessed with. As Americans, we are blessed. I think we all forget about that from time to time, and other times, we take advantage of some of those freedoms and don't demonstrate them appropriately. But, they are our freedoms nonetheless and one of the things that makes the United States such an amazing country. When you hear talk about people here being kept and tortured for such things as speaking out against the government, it's a reminder to not take our freedoms for granted. So thank you, veterans, for having sacrificed yourselves for what we, as Americans, have.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Eight, Huit (pronounced weet), ثمانية

#8 (in English, French, and Arabic - the latter two coming from google translate).

Yesterday (Wed.) was one of those crazy-ass drives home where I'm happy to have gotten myself and my carpool riders home in one piece. I mean to tell you, traffic and drivers here are NUTSO some days. This was one of those days. For those who have not read these posts before, here in Casablanca, those painted lines indicating lanes are merely a suggestion. If you can find space, put your car in it. If no one is around (and even sometimes when others ARE around), drive down the middle of the street playing Pac-Man with that line. Anything goes here. Today, I had a crazy person behind me speeding and darting around everyone like it was the Indy 500, putting everyone's lives at risk. Traffic was jam packed, per the usual on a Wednesday when we have to stay at school until 5:00. Cars were pulling out in front of me and not abiding by the roundabout rules (if you're in the roundabout, you have the right of way).
We had a tram sighting (testing things out I guess), were almost side-swiped by a donkey cart (I'm not kidding.) and sat on the street for at least 5 minutes moving nowhere because a line of dumbasses pulled out in front of us trying to go left in traffic that was not moving in that direction either. Gridlock. Once we got through that, some kids grabbed onto our bumper. Thought they were skateboarding with us, but looked in the rear-view mirror to see that it was one boy on 'wheels' and those wheels consisted of ONE foot wearing a roller-blade and the other one donning a Moroccan slipper. It was a laughable end to a stressful drive home. Most days I'm just glad to get Sterling safely in the garage until the next morning. He got a pat on the dash today for a job well-done! Thankful for 'him', being home safely, and for random Casablanca craziness like donkey carts and boys on one roller blade using it like a skateboard.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Lucky # 7

#7. I'm thankful for my building and street guardians here and how they look after me. Omar and Hassan are two wonderful men who just...look out for me! This has happened countless times in the past year and a half that I've lived in this apartment, and another example occurred yesterday. There was a soccer game here in town between the two local teams (Red and Green. I don't know their real team names). And soccer games mean absolute craziness in the city due to teenage boys be amped up on adrenaline and whatever they can get their hands on. Granted, the stadium is nowhere near my apt., but the soccer craziness resonates throughout the entire city. Shortly after the soccer game had ended, I was planning to just walk up to the Twin Center - which is a few blocks away. I could hear the cars honking and knew there would be more young males roaming the streets, but figured a short walk to the Twin was doable. As I walked out the front door, Omar and Hassan were hanging out in Hassan's car. They saw me and said hello and then stopped me as I started to walk away. With hand gestures and a caring/concerned look and tone, Hassan told me to: be careful, keep an eye out, and 'be strong' - because of the 'futbol'. I made sure they knew I was only going to the Twin, to which they both nodded their approval. I then set off on foot up the street. As I walked away, I heard the car start and I know that they followed me a couple of blocks just to make sure I was safe. That's just how great they are. My Moroccan Guardians. I am thankful for them!


#6- I'm thankful for salsa. It's a little thing, but it makes a big difference. I'm thankful that I am able to stock up on it at the commissary in Rabat (big bottles of Pace picante sauce). I'm even MORE grateful that the little Sarfeur store that I've shopped at for the past 2 1/2 years is now stocking it. It's Doritos brand, and it is fabulous! Comfort food in a foreign land is a fabulous thing. Mmmm - salsa.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Good things come in...fives?

#5. In trying to come up with a post, I start thinking about the significance of the number 5 and if I have any weird coincidences that could create a fun post. Not really. I'm from a family of 5, but already talked about them below. I have 5 nieces and nephews, and I love them with all of my heart. Each of them special in their own way: Paige has the biggest heart and loves nothing more than her family; Makenna has the organizational skills of a veteran secretary and a fun personality to match; Brock is a typical boy (goofy, into sports, etc.), yet makes my heart melt every time he looks me in the eye and just matter of factly says "Why don't you just come home. We miss you."; Zoey gives the greatest hugs and is mature beyond her years, and makes me break down every time I have to say goodbye; Cole is one of the funniest kids I have ever met and melts my heart every time he says "Love you Aunt Jodee. I miss you a lot." I don't know what my life would be without them.

Other things that '5' makes me think of... The "Sterling Fab Five" from last year - Jim, LuAnn, Fil, Nina, and myself. Lots of laughs and good times as we've done travels to Marrakesh, Fes, and Oualidia over the two years we worked together. Thankful for all of them having come into my life.

(L-R) Filipe, Nina, Me, LuAnn, Jim
(bonus picture to point out how absolutely beautiful Oulidia and
its sunsets truly are)
Another 'fab five' group came by way of my 'expat group' that met on Thursday nights at the bar (conveniently located) across the street from my apartment. Getting together on a weekly basis, and sometimes on the weekends as well, helped make this experience so much...more. Am very thankful to have met these guys and call them my friends.
my buddies: Andy, Jens, Stefan, Allen
I'm sure there are more 'fives' to be thankful for (the original Buch family comes to mind), but this post is already a day over due, so I'm done for now.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thankful - "four"

#4. I'm thankful for my health. This is an easy one to say, especially for those of us who are healthy. I know I won't be able to fathom what it mean to NOT be able to say this until an awful wake-up call hits me to make me feel otherwise. But I do truly try to give this some think time now and again. I should actually say that I'm thankful for my healthy family genes. I think I'm holding up pretty well for being 40, and love that I'm still able to hang with the 'youngsters' for the most part. Running, biking, water-skiing, hiking, exercising in general....I'm happy to say I can still do them all with a relatively small amount of pain. Most of the time. :)

Skiing at Lake Thunderhead this summer. (This also makes me
thankful for my brother's lake house and boat) :-)
Hiking an hour or so outside of Seattle this past summer.
Thankful that I can experience nature like this, on foot.
Extremely thankful we were able to make it to the top of this climb without having a coronary episode. The view of the alpine lake made it all worth it!

#2 and #3

2. I'm thankful for opportunities that I'm presented with, and the ability to make the most of them whenever possible. Behind many of the aforementioned opportunities are some really great people. They definitely go hand in hand. The opportunity to spend a beautiful July day sailing around the Puget Sound this summer with one of my lifelong best friends, and two of my newest best friends, was not lost on me. Cherri, and Jim n LuAnn - thank you for being part of my lovely day.

Laugh, laugh, and laugh some more. That's Cherri and I together. :)
LuAnn, Jim, and me. So fortunate to have them in my life.
(left to right): Mt. Rainier, Seattle Ferry, Bob (our Skipper)
   "Look! I'm sailing!!"
3. I'm thankful for my favorite candy bar (Reese's Peanut Butter Cups) and favorite candy (Hot Tamales). When living in a foreign land where your two favorites are not readily available without a trip to Rabat and the U.S. Commisary grocery store, it's both good (waistline) and bad (they're so yummy). However, on the occasions you DO get to have them, life seems a little happier. :) 
Side note: I'm also thankful for hilarious conversations (again, in Seattle) that make you aware that there is a difference (candy vs candy bar). 

Ever so Thankful...

...for so many things. Let me count the ways. Many friends on facebook post something they are thankful for every day during the month of November. Which is cool. In order to get my butt in gear with this blog again, I'm going to kind of steal the idea, but make myself do it on here. And then try to keep things going on here more frequently.

1. I'm thankful for my family. Always. Immediate family, extended family, and everything inbetween. I'm so overwhelmed every time I'm back home at the love I get from this amazing group, and how they also support me when I'm away living this fabulous life I have. My cup runneth over.
Cousin Jeff and Brother Ryan (Barney). Two of my favorite people.

The W & K Junge crew on vacation this summer.
With the nieces n nephews. haha. We're special.