Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Brother Kelly, don't read this.
Our fair little Marion was proposed to last night. I joined Megan for the initial part of her date with one of her many restaurant owner suitors. We'll call him Momo and please refer to our flickr pictures of our adventure to the lemon farm if you would like a visual of said suitor. I had a drink with Mimi and Momo before they were to share a romantic candlelit dinner des poisons et vin. During the drink, Momo proposed to ME that we start a travel agency together and I would gather people from the states to visit Morocco and he would secure hotels and desert adventures and such for the visitors upon arrival. I accepted my proposition without hesitation. After I left, he gave Megan a different and slightly more romantic proposition of entering into a serious relationship that would soon lead to marriage. After a brief hesitation, Megos said she was here to spend time with her older soeur and would feel terribly if she entered into a serious relationship and left me all by my lonesome. Momo replied matter-of-factly that I could move in with them, and have my own room downstairs and that would be that.
The young ingenue is currently considering the engagement and weighing out her several options as I research the various online travel package deals and what competition my new biz faces. It's cool.
Just another day,
Julia Andrus Kelly
I am glad to know that you noticed our absence in the blogoshpere, since at times I am convinced that you have forgotten me completely. We returned yesterday from yet another beach vacation, this time to Essaouira. Essaouira is a lovely beach town that was a haven for the export of sugar molasses and the anchoring of pirates during the 16th century. Jimi Hendrix also visited, which is a real point of pride for the city. We decided to go with some friends that work at (okay, own) a restaurant down the street from us. On our way, we drove directly into a storm, and could not see one foot in any direction. I almost threw up from fear and Julia almost threw up from car sickness. When we arrived, several terrifying hours later, at our little beach side hotel we had a nice meal of fresh fish (prepared over a fire right in front of us), salads and wine. Then the four french people we were with smoked 500,000 cigarettes and we all went to bed.
The next day we rented four runners (really not sure if that's what they are called), and raced around the beach and through the sand dunes. Had I not been so utterly scared the day before in the car, this may have been the most frightening part about the weekend for me. Then we went to a little shack on the water where there were tons of stray dogs, one little puppy and several attractive Europeans getting stoned and eating seafood. We (not Julia and I) picked out the fish and crabs that we wanted killed for our feast. Julia went swimming in the ocean and I played with the puppy and a couple of camels. Since we stayed about twenty minutes away from Essaouira, we didn't really get to see much of the city. We went in only on our way back to Marrakech, but for our new European friends, visiting a city means only entering, finding the first nice food establishment and ordering more food and wine while exploring the city from the rooftop.
But since the actual town is supposed to be rather charming, I think we will return in a few weekends.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Mon petit enfant, brace yourself, there are mentions of nudity in the following letter...
There are several ways to get to know your new co-workers... The more timid might meet for lunch in the faculty lounge and swap tales of unwieldy students, perhaps the more gregarious might take the happy hour route and let loose over a few margaritas and a plate of nachos. Personally, I like to get naked with my new colleagues and allow older Moroccan women to beat the crap out of me.
So, I really should have looked into what a hammam was more carefully before accepting the invitation to go to one with several co-workers who I did not know at all. I knew a hammam was basically a Moroccan spa but you pay like 15 bucks for a few hours worth of treatments instead of the 500 you might fork over at Bliss. What I didn't know - and I realize this sounds naive - is that we all would be naked in a room together while older, slightly militant ladies ordered us around. One by one, we were picked to lie on this marble table au centre du chambre while one such spa soldier would scrub our entire bodies down, removing what seemed like an entire layer of skin. As I lay there on my stomach wincing in pain while the Spa Sargent lifted up my legs in very precarious positions to scrub, I saw bits and pieces of my dead skin falling softly from the table and the 60 year French teacher giving me a thumbs up from afar.
Don't get me wrong ... Yes, the scrub down was totes painful at the time, but the rest of the hammam experience is pretty heavenly. You leave the place feeling totally rejuvenated and your skin is beaming. I will certainly go back again and again. Though, I believe I shall stick to the nachos with the rest of my nouveaux co-workers from this point forward.
Steamed, cleansed, oiled, soaped, massaged, showered with warm then cold then warm water,
PS- I was destroyed by my 7th grade class today. They annihilated me. I almost cried.
Can't discuss for at least a week.
It has been an eventful few days here in Marrakech. Perhaps I will give you only a brief recap in order to intrigue you and get you to call me... but then again you have never been ALL that interested in the details of my life.
Friday morning we had big plans to go the barrage.. even thought we didn't really have much of an idea what the Barrage was. Jules picked me up for Friday half day at my work (which is in the old palace, suitable for me as I am a princess). After haggling with several cab drivers who were totally intent on ripping us off, we gave up. We headed to our local Peach Pit, where we always act surprised to run into the cute French boys we have developed crushes on.. Even though they work there, so seem to be a little confused by our surprise. The owner, we'll call him Jerry since I forgot his name, has a lab named Whiskey who is, obviously, the true object of my affections. He invited us, which we are beginning to realize in Marrakech means not so much asking as commanding, to visit his Riad that night. As he runs with the French crew that Jules and I are desperate to be a part of, we immediatly accepted.
We then headed bravely into the Medina to visit the Musee de Marrakesh and the Saadian Tombs. We allowed ourselves a half hour to find it (supposedly right inside the souks) but instead it took almost two. To get to it, you have to weave though the many alleys that seem just wide enough to fit the two of us, but amazingly somehow also fit donkeys carrying carts of fruit, motorcycles, and a few cars. It is really a bit terrifying as I tend to space out a bit while walking and this really is the worst place for it. We asked directions at every corner and were just told go left, go left and then ask again.
We eventually found it and the museum was lovely and had tons of winding hallways with weird Moroccan modern art, but way more importantly, we met Harry. Harry is from Minnesota, he is handsome, he is smart, he was not wearing shoes that made me cringe.. Harry was perfect. Julia and I both briefly and individually planned our lives with him and then asked him what brought him to Morocco. Study abroad in Spain. Twenty years old. Almost.
Then we went to the Riad where Jerry, who seemed to forget he had invited us for an appetizer, left us with his father who loved to smile and spoke little English. We all smiled at one another a lot over a glass of wine, and then Julia and I excused ourselves in French.
Off to the Trattoria for dinner, where my husband, the owner, treated us to dinner. This meant he ordered the whole menu for us. After dinner, we went along with him and his friend, and older German lady whose story is a bit of a mystery to us, to his house. We drank wine, and watched MTV Idol. Watching "Lemon Incest," while Jules tries in vain to explain why she thinks it is a bit inappropriate for a father and daughter to be in bed together like that.. Too tired to speak broken French, I insisted we return home to rest up for our next day in the Ourika valley..
In the next minute by minute, Jules will fill you in on the break up of my marriage with Mohammed (who is, incidentally, on her facebook page if you would like to catch a glimpse and also who, incidentaly, is married), our short lived modelling careers for Pasha (yes, that's the biggest nightclub in all of North Africa), our visit to the lime farm, and Morocco's love for Norah Jones and Traci Chapman.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Our telephone convo was just "cut off" as I started to tell you all about my date this week.
That's right, my little mentee... I went on a real live, boy and girl dinner date. I assure you, this wasn't any ordinary date, though. The young man (and by young, I mean tres tres young... why, he's just turned the vibrant age of 23) is the athletic director at my school, which is not to be confused with the gym teacher, mind you. Anyway, without hurting any one's feelings, I will just say that we have absolutely nothing in common. Zilch. I'm not sure why he asked me out after I told him that I don't watch football and he responded in total disgust, "well, what do you DO then???" Anyway, upon meeting him at the restaurant, we ran into our school librarian, who is a very sweet, grandfatherley older man. We invited him to join us for a drink. He accepted this invitation but instead of staying for one drink, he spent the entire date with us. So my dear Deni, I essentially was on a date with the gym teacher- I MEAN athletic director - and the librarian. While the elder spoke of racial tensions he observed while living in Georgia in the 60's, the young professeur des athletes regaled us with tales of his freshman year binge drinking and how disappointed he was at the decline of his universities rating as a party school since his departure.
I also invited Megan to crash the date half way through, and she brought a friend. As we all sat together, this Motley crew of Motley crews, awkwardly sipping wine and commenting vacantly on the lamb tagine, my young friend whispered in my ear, "Just remember, age is just a number, Julia. What happens in Marrakech, stays in Marrakech..."
I can't help but wonder if he whispered almost those same words to another gal while on spring vaca in Cancun but a few months ago...
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
I know you certainly are familiar with the nerves that accompany the first day of school. Julia has just departed, lunch box in hand, to catch the school bus. After trying on a few first day outfits, I think we settled on the perfect conservative, yet fun, strict, but with a flair of creativity, 1st day dress and cardi combo for the aspiring teacher-intern-assistant of grades 1-7 and the library. I do hope she will find a buddy to sit next to her on the school bus!
As for me, well, I am dressed in my finest 1950's alcoholic oil heiress expat to Morocco outfit, and am setting off to my first day at the film festival. At least if they make fun of me, I won't be able to understand.
Monday, September 8, 2008
I am putting my photos up on Flickr today. flickr.com/meganmarion. I seriously doubt that, with our Internet connection, it will actually work. Also, there appears to be a problem with our digital camera charger and Morocco, so the pictures are rather limited and mostly of me taking pictures of Julia over the dinner table, jumping or acting like she is doing her senior yearbook photo.
It appears we have, as promised, a sister blog. Check out http://moi-tout-seul.blogspot.com/ to read about the misadventures of our own Ignatius J. Reilly and his musings on fashions, etiquette, and the charming city of New Haven.
Perhaps later I will reflect on our overly air conditioned bus ride, where three separate individuals blasted music (some Moroccan, some Mariah) from speakers while I tried to sleep, and occasionally the news would come on in Arabic, allowing me only to understand "Condoleezza Rice" which would plunge me into a deep state of panic that all eyes on the bus would turn to Jules and me and we would be forced to fend for ourselves in the surrounding desert rather then defend our country to the music lover bus passengers in broken French. Jules agreed that setting off alone in the desert would indeed be preferable. But since I am now, as usual, tired and hungry, I am not sure I would be able to do this post justice (ie starting with a more broad and co-authored picture, then focusing more in on individual writing about smaller details, taking a more serious look at the country, as suggested by one of our more dissatisfied blog readers). So, Dad, until I can make more of a literary push, bessalama. Oh, that's just Arabic for goodbye, literally meaning with peace.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
We were supposed to go to Essouria for the weekend, but we didn't take the Lonely Planet guide seriously when it directed us to buy our bus tickies one day prior to departure. As we had our mind set on the beach, we chose the next best option that had a bus leaving on Thursday evening: Agadir, aka Las Vegas, Morocco. So, people say that Agadir is a lot like Vegas and isn't really authentic Morocco. Agadir was totally wiped out from this huge earthquake in the 60's and they rebuilt the whole place in a very....ummm modern, let's say, style. There's lots of neon signs and bright lights and tons of enormous all inclusive type huge hotels (in a moment of total desperation when we could not find any cafes open because of Ramadan, we snuck into one such resort and were quickly denied food as we clearly were not guests of the place and were forced to hit the streets again). Anyway, the whole "soul-less," "inauthentic" thing that people complain about Agadir didn't really bother us much and upon getting to the amazing beach, I couldn't care less how much neon surrounded us. Agadir, CHIN UP! Your beaches are perfect, your sand is absolutely flawless, your water is impeccable and your cool sea breeze made us shed a tear after the heat we've been dealing with in the 'Kech. So to anyone thinking of taking a jaunt to this southern most beach town, I wouldn't listen to the Agadir nay-say-ers. Totes worth it.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Thursday, September 4, 2008
We went to buy our bus tickets to go Agadir this morning. Waiting in line at the bus station around noon in Marrakech feels like eating a bowl of sand cereal while sitting in a small room with 1000 flies and 500 sweaty men, wearing a head to toe wool body suit (Megan's is pink) and your only relief is to take a dip in a vat of hot sauce.
We are off to the beach,
Some reflections on Ramadan:
1) One of our many new friends told us that towards the end of 'dan people start to get rather upset easily, and fights often erupt. It appears on our street, Rue Mohammed El Beqal, this has started already. For a whole fortnight, R.M.E.B. was a peaceful little haven away from the many men-cafes and speeding mopeds of Rue Mohammed V. Last night, however, on day jooj (that's two, in my 2nd language Arabic), a crowd of about seventy men, and one fierce looking pit bull, gathered around a fight blocking of all traffic on our petite rue. In the end, because of the large crowd, we couldn't really see the root of the scuffle, but I promise you Denny, it was intense and amazing that I escaped unscathed. And without the pit-pup in my arms.
2) The naturally sympathetic soeurs we are, we ask all the men-waiters how they are doing with their extreme hunger and thirst. With extreme pain across their faces, every single one so far has said, "No! It's not the thirst. I have not smoked all day." The thirty day ban on smoking has improved my life, however, and I can finally eat without having all of my food taste like nicotine, and the air outside smells only of gasoline and the trash.
3) The streets are now vacant from 6-10 at night. This, my friend, is totally terrifying. Walking on desolate streets in Marrakech does not exactly make one (us) feel at all at ease, particularly when passing the usual group of dudes outside a cafe. Outside our window, at about 11, Rave Ramadan commences, and music fills up R.M.E.B., and all of our neighbors party and feast for about six hours. I think perhaps Jules and I are just a bit bitter that we are not invited to the gigantic block party, but it has cut down our sleeping time from about seven hours to four. Last night I had a really scary dream about Scientology-I blame Ramadan.
I really do love you,
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
I thought you would be a bit curious about Moroccan tradition. Me too!
So you've been invited for couscous...
Receiving a lunch or dinner invitation is truly an honour. It means that you have warmed the heart of a local and they want to reciprocate by receiving you in their home, the seat of the beloved family unit.
Handshakes are exchanged with everyone in the room, and if you can manage it, a greeting in Arabic makes a big splash! You will probably be shown to the almighty TV. If you need to use the bathroom, ask discreetly.
Over tea and pastries you will be asked questions which you probably have no worlds for. Act them out- Moroccans love theatrics and goofing around.
Moroccans tend to encourage, even bully, their guests into eating as much as they can. Pace yourself. Also, slurping tea and belching is taken as a sign of appreciation. When the event is over, your host may doze off and you are welcome to join them.
Every day, Megan and I have a destination that we want to reach, and we then spend AT LEAST four hours walking around completely and utterly lost trying to find it. The other day, we were exploring our neighborhood (Gueliz) and I was certain that we had covered most of the surrounding neighborhoods as well as we had been hitting the pavement for most of the day. We got home and I mentioned to Megs that I really felt like I had a feel for the layout of Marrakech after seeing so much of it that day.
After getting to the know the area a bit more in the last few days, I am 120% certain that we were never more then about 5 blocks from our apartment that day, we literally just made circles for a good 5 hours. We called a driver to pick us up that evening to meet some people at a Cafe we had passed earlier that day (which at the time seemed miles and miles away) and it took us 20 seconds to get there. It was 3 blocks away. The driver didn't even charge us for the ride which is unheard of here as they normally milk you for all you are worth in taxis.
Anywhooo, I blame much of our lack of direction on the fact that there are street signs about 10% of the time. You can walk like 10 blocks without seeing one and in our case, that led us in circles for an entire day. While I am not attending to my duties as the school intern, I shall start a street sign business and it will be a wild success.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
I think the heat has really gone to Megan's head.
Today we were in the Medina and she bought 3 pairs of false teeth. Like, teeth that belonged to some dude at some point. She is wearing a pair of the falsies right now.
Perhaps you should come visit us sooner rather then later.
Monday, September 1, 2008
The other night, the littlest one and I encountered an enormous, vile African cockroach (which was to be the first of many). After frantically spraying nearly an entire bottle of Raid in the apartment, we were able to trap the venomous creature under a blender. We quickly consulted the internet to learn more about our toilet dwelling friend as we wanted to ensure we would not meet his family that night. We clicked on frequently asked questions regarding cockroaches, hoping there would be a question that said "how do you prevent cockroaches from getting into your bedroom and crawling all over your body while you are sleeping?" Instead, we found that the following question was more important to the aspiring cockroach connoisseurs: "Could cockroaches develop albino mutants in the wild?" If you wanna know, you'll have to google it yourself.
Julia Andrus Kelly
Marrakech feels like it is a hot summer day and you decide to go inside a sauna and light a camp fire wearing a parka and smoke a pack of cigarettes and you reach for a bottle of water only to find that there is just the dysentery filled eau that your pet cockroach just crawled out of.
Denis, I am so hot.
The other night, Monty and I were in a cab going home from dinner. We were giggling to each other about something and the cab driver turned around and said definitively, "you are gazelles." I asked him what he meant by that and he responded, "all women are gazelles," with a little snort. "Well, if women are gazelles, what are men?" we asked. Our driver responded as though conveying a well known fact, "women are gazelles and men are men."
Good to know.