Books I've been reading.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I've Got Feet on Two Different Continents

Alright, so I'm back in T-town. I've been composing a blog post in my head while I walk around town. But, as most thoughts do, they seem to have escaped from my head.

At first when I came back to town, I was painfully lonely, resorted to insomnia, and am just beginning to reacquaint myself with being alone again. Not that I have to be alone, I choose to be alone and to savor these last alone moments before I had back to America and am again roped into the roll of fast-paced life. The way I see it, the insomnia is just how I react anymore to big changes coming in my life. I recall for 6 months before I left for PC, I could not sleep at all. Now that I'm entering into 23 days left, I can't sleep still. And for various and asundry medical reasons, I've been told not to exercise rigorously. I've taken to yoga and am now feeling muscles I haven't used in a long time. It's been a long time in general since I've done yoga. For those of you who knew me then, I totally injured myself doing yoga a few years ago, but don't worry, I'm being as gentle to myself as possible. I'm trying to set up a schedule for myself as much as possible. But really, without having a schedule or actual work to do (I declined to actually commit to work seeing as I only have a few days left) I'm just wandering around to people's houses saying goodbye. I'm also watching a lot of movies, reading a lot of books, and doing a lot of yoga. Oh what a strange ebb and flow of work as a PCV.

As I walk around town, I keep noticing small changes. A new sign here, a house painted a different color than what I remember. T-town is kind of rolling back into the Fall. School has apparently started but I know that there are still lots and lots of people still traveling and not yet back in town.

I remember two years ago, entering into PC and feeling superbly overwhelmed at the prospect of 2 years in a foreign country. I honestly did my best not to think about it. But now that it's over, I'm like, man, where did the time go? Even being back in T-town for a few days makes me squirrely. I know that I need to continue doing my goodbyes and look forward to coming home but my mind is so out to lunch. I'm trying to keep to my schedule but I know that I'm also trying to prepare for the future. I'm applying to jobs while making myself bagels here. I feel like I have one foot on this continent and one foot on the other. It's a weird cognitive dissonance. I know going home is going to take some major adjustments. I'm used to having incredibly slow internet, no tv, sharing food with everyone, including those I don't know, speaking constantly in Arabic or the little Tashylheit I know, meeting up with my counterpart, going to people's houses for crazy sweet mint tea, and generally all the time I spend hanging out in my house, listening to music, making new foods, etc.

I was just watching a movie (doesn't really matter which one it was, just that it was modern and done in a culturally western country) last night that made me think about the way we decorate our houses, dress, eat, sleep. It's so different from here. I feel like most people here are superbly friendly with me and I can count on most people to help me out in a bad situation. I kind of forgot that a lot of western houses have wood insides, plaster versus the cement or mud walls that are here. People outside Morocco don't necessarily dress in long robes and jellabas. When I go outside my house in America, I can wear my hair down, wear shorts and tank tops without attracting loads of harassment. Funny the things you get used to after being gone from America for so long.

Anyways, you've probably had enough of my incoherent babbling. I should probably go wander off to meet my counterpart anyways. It's rough leaving him and his association. He's so used to working with me and I with him. It's kind of a bittersweet time. I'm a bit sad to leave T-town but elated to go home. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Back to T-town After the Long Haul

Hey there...people, 

So I'm back in T-town, alone. I feel so weird. I feel like such a weird alien here. It's the first time I've been alone for more than an hour since June. o.0 

When I entered my house today I found like 15 dead cockroaches, lining the stairs, all the way up to my apartment. I was like...oh that is so sad.

I also walked around town for a little bit today, and by a little bit, I mean, to the vegetable guy and back to my house. I really did not see too many people I knew. I didn't even see my regular vegetable guy. He was out. :/ I then talked to some shop owners I knew and asked where so and so was, and they're like...they're on vacation, not to return until the first of next month. FIGURES. THIS IS WHY I LEAVE. *shakes my head (This being particularly important because I leave on October 10th, home, to SEATTLE. I'm only somewhat excited). 

Anywho, I have SO much stuff. Where did it all come from? How will I take...some...of it back with me? AUGH. I may have to make a box and send it. And also, my good buddy finally convinced me ( was really my dad who did) to go on a camel trek. However, I'm going with a group and the group wants to go on a camel trek on the 15th, which means I ahve exactly 10 days including today to figure out all the stuff I need to do here. o.0 I'm hoping I can get it all done. Push comes to shove, I'll come back to site if I need to. But based on what I saw today, if no one is here, it may not be as big an issue as I thought. The world is a crazy place.

It's so weird to be here. I was in Marrakech this morning. I woke up from a fitful sleep and slogged out the door at 6:30 to catch a bus into the city center and then took another bus at 8:30am and arrived in Ouarzazete at 2pm. But it's not over! I then had to transfer yet again to a taxi from Ouarzazete to T-town and finally made it home at around 4:30. Long day. Long long long day. But why was I traveling you ask? Well, I've been so close mouthed on the internets for God knows why but I've been working at various camps, orphanages, and events around the country. I have been all over this country now except for the very south where I can't go anyways. 

And that is all. For now. 
I made tuna salad and it was delicious. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Moroccan Cuisine: Tagine

So I've been meaning to write you guys these recipes and now seems like a decent time :) Tagine is one of the first meals I ate in Morocco. Tagine is actually an earthenware pot that is used for cooking and serving food. It comes in all different sizes but generally looks like a shallow pot with a conical lid. I finally sat down with one of my friends the other day and asked if she could tell me her recipes. 

Now here's a photo of my mom eating tagine in Casa. 

Good luck with your tagine experiments!

Chicken Tagine:
Begin with a low temperature for the tagine. If possible, use something metal or a surface to separate the tagine from the heat. If not, place tagine on burner or in the oven.
Put a generous amount of oil in the bottom of the tagine, something like ¼ inch. Then you can crush one tomato to give the base some water. Now you saute the chicken in the oil once it is hot. Add spices to taste:
saffron-a small small pinch. A little goes a long way.
Turmeric-to give that yellow color
2 cloves of garlic
There's no wrong or right way to do this. Every house has a different recipe, so go experiment.
Then once all of that has been added, stir the mixture well into the tagine and on the chicken.
Now you remove the chicken for a moment to place veggies onto the bottom of the tagine.
First place sliced carrots and onions to line the bottom of the tagine. Then replace the chicken on top of the veggies. On top of the chicken you can add peppers, peas, lemon slices, green or black olives, potatoes, and tomatoes.
Place top on tagine. Check every 10 minutes. Add water if necessary. Cooks for about an hour.

Meat Tagine:
Begin the tagine in the same way except add ras l'hanut (a combination of spices specifically from Morocco,, cumin, parsley, cilantro, and a very little bit of red pepper flakes. Add more onion slices this time than the chicken.
Before you add the vegetables this time, cook the meat longer to make sure it is really cooked by the time you add the vegetables.
Check every 10 minutes. Add water if necessary. Cook for about an hour.

Fish tagine:
Begin by crushing 3 tomatoes, 3 onions, and a LOT of garlic. Like, a whole bowl full of garlic -3 bulbs. Squeeze a lemon over the fish. Add pepper, salt, turmeric, cilantro, ginger, ras l'hanut, and parsley. Mix it together and put in a pan to bring to a simmer. Let the mix cool. Then cut the fish up, rub the mix in well.
Heat up a tagine, layer the bottom with ¼ inch oil, potatoes, bay leaves, carrots, and celery. Place the fish on top of the vegetables, then put peppers, tomatoes, lemons, cumin, green onions, and pepper over the fish. Cover and cook, checking every 10 minutes. Cooks very quickly, so no more than 20-30 minutes. (My friend wasn't more specific about cooking times than that...sorry)
Alright, let me know what you think of these recipes! Remember there's no right or wrong way to do this, so you can't mess up. :) Enjoy, or as we say here in the Maghreb, BssHa!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Trip to Berberville

Okay, time to recount the tale of the trip to Berberville that I went to a few weeks ago.

Here goes:
My counterpart invited me to go on an overnight trip to a small village in the area. He said we would pass out clothes and do activities for the kids. I said sure. I liked the idea, so I showed up at the youth center at 
1:30pm, and of course, transport didn't come until 4pm, and then we literally went 2 hours out into the small small villages where I had never been, in a transit, with a guy playing the drum constantly in the back, and me shoved up in the front between the driver and my friend. The road that took us to the village where we were going was possibly one of the most scary roads I have ever been on. I (generally fearless when it comes to crazy roads) was actually scared, and couldn't stop murmuring under my breath for the driver to keep watching the road, because he was, of course, yelling into his cell phone, while we're all sitting in this transit, on the side of a mountain, on a road that's about a horse cart wide.

So that was, whatever.

Eventually, the transit stops at the end of the road, on the side of a mountain and we got out and then I look down the mountain, and my friends are like, pointing out the donkeys and mules that the town is sending up to us from way down there. It took me about 5 minutes to find where the animals were, they were so small. Anywho, it took us an hour to descend the face of the mountain and when we got to the village, this was where the real fun starts happening.

Somewhat like a weird dream, we're greeted by about 20 children running up the path from the village to greet us, and they're so...awestruck (this village is isolated/there be dragons) that the kids are just staring at us, until my friends start taking candy out of their sacks (stranger danger doesn't work here) and then the women and men come out to greet us as we enter into the village and immediately my hand gets taken and held for the next 3 hours by this woman, who looked like she could have been out of a storybook. This woman looked like a character out of a storybook. She was covered in black cloth that was bordered with neon colored thread, draped in traditional Berber jewelry, and underneath her head covering, she put a sprig of basil.

I'm looking around this village, and i'm wondering to myself if they have running water or electricity. Check one and check two, except  electricity was run by solar pannels.

That evening, we put on a little movie for the kids on a projector screen (since people in this village try to conserve energy, I don't think they watch too much tv) and then we had an aHawaiyj moment, where we did all sorts of traditional dances and hung out together

I feel like i've also been practicing how to be quiet. This weekend, everyone spoke Tashlhiyt, a language I don't know well. I was delighted to find that a few women spoke Darija and so did some of the boys, (Because Arabic, and especially Moroccan Arabic, a street dialect, are languages learned in the bigger city streets and at school).

Anyways, the second day, we got up, did more games and activities with the kids, and then handed out tons of clothes to the village. We separated the clothes out into batches, and after doing this for about an hour and a half (my sense of time is a little funky because I turned off my cell phone due to no reception and I don't wear a watch)I sat down on a pile of blankets and passed out hard.

I mean, the temp in the mountains isn't as severe as it is in T-town but, it was warm, and I was dehydrated, which is ridiculous because I had drunk about 6 liters of water that day and still felt like I could have drunk more.

And then we ate lunch, and while we're all hanging out after lunch, the man of the household comes and tells us to take what he's handing to us, which is roasted liver wrapped in fat, which actually I don't mind because I think I crave the iron that it has. and then we wandered around the village, hung out at the river, dipped our toes in the nice cool water, and I watched the tadpoles swim around. It was kind of great not doing anything and I could feel my mind blanking out. And then we went walking through the fields, which is where I grazed/fell on a cactus and got a million prickles in my shirt and into my skin. This was directly before my counterpart asked me if I wanted to go to another douar (small village), to which I firmly said, 'no.' And I felt ok saying no, I wasn't prepared to do another night out, especially without more stuff from my med kit, aka tweezers and pepto, haha.
and with our goodbyes said, we headed back up the mountain. I'm happy to say that it only took us around an hour and a half to two hours to get up the mountain, in which we got back in the same transit, with the same kids playing on the drums, and the guy on the cellphone and managed not to die.

Sorry, I left my photos on my external drive. I'll get them to you in September. Inchallah.

For now, I'm in a really swanky beach town called Safi and it's been marvelous, minus the 110 degree weather. We've all been sweaty messes. Blagh. But, it is nice to be around the beach. Huzzah!