cat update`

July 31, 2011

We found the kitten that we rescued from the sewer under one of the couches in the dorms with no momma or other kittens in sight.  It seemed a little shaken up but we got it re-united with his mom.

So tiny.






Well I took my final test in arabic on friday.  I’m not going to dwell on how it went.  But now I’m back out of intensive study mode and able to communicate with the outside world again (other than my girlfriend and occasionally, my parents.)

As I said, I’ve spent the last few weeks studying and not doing much else.  I did finally find a good shwarma place, although instead of a tahini based sauce they serve it with this stuff that is almost like ranch.  It goes against everything my mother taught me but it’s still quite good.

My classmates and I have also been going to a local pizza place when we are thirsting for a change of pace. (We tried McDonalds once, and it’s really not very good. Also quite expensive.)  It’s called ‘Retro’ and is decorated the way moroccains think things were decorated in the US in the 1950’s.  Everything is pink/red with white trim, and there is a mural-sized picture of a bright red cadillac across from a mural sized black and white portrait of an indian chief in a huge headdress.  It’s quite the juxtoposition to be sitting in that environment and be brought a pizza with potato and carrot on it by a woman wearing a hijab.

With Arabic done I havn’t had much to do all weekend, which has been really nice.  We spent most of friday evening sitting around like there was something we needed to be doing.  Went to Cafe Clock for some lunch and then pretty much bummed around.

Saturday some friends and I went to the old city to do some last minute gift shopping/standing around in the sun.   Basically we’ve just been killing time for the last few days getting ready to head to the coast.

Also, while I was in the middle of writing this post, something interesting happened.  A few weeks back there was a pregnant street cat that had been adopted by the groundskeeper here at the ALIF dorms.  She gave birth about 4 weeks ago, and proptly hid the kittens somewhere after about a day of all the students fawning over them.

Now that all the students are gone, the few of us that are left were talking about the kittens and decided to go find them.  Believe it or not, they were all standing around in the back yard of the dorms mewing and being floppy.  They skattered into the bushes when they saw us and Maryam(the momma cat) came over for some head scratches.  We hung out for a minute, and realized that there was some pitiful sounding mewing coming from the sewer grating a few feet away.

We hauled the grating off and saw a tiny little kitten down at the bottom, doing its best to crawl its way out from the sewer.  After swatting away a few cockroaches, we had a wet bedraggled kitten in our hands that was promptly named Han Solo.  Now he’s off nursing with his mom(still wet and muddy) and hopefully doing better.

OK well I’ll update again when I get to Marrakesh or the coast.  Talk to you soon!

nerd stuff

July 7, 2011

This picture seemed fitting.  I’ve added another link to my blogroll that has nothing to do with Morocco or travel, but I think that it’s worthy of showing to everybody out there.

Back from the desert

July 5, 2011

So I’m not as good about posting on this blog as I originally intended since we are already half done(!!!!) with the class portion of my trip and I only have a handful of posts.   I blame my professors.

Anyway… We spent the weekend out in the desert.  We left friday right after class and took an 8 hour bus ride out to a resort where we spent the night drinking and swimming in the pool, which was a nice break from the usual grind.  The next morning we got back on the bus and headed to another hotel on the edge of the desert, where we swam a bit more and waited until the early evening to get onto camels.

If you’ve never ridden a camel before and you get the chance to, I’d probably tell you to try it once.  If you have ridden one, I suppose I don’t need to tell you not to do it again.

That's me on the left

We rode for two and a half or three hours through the desert.  Twice during the trip the camel belonging to my poor friend Jeff freaked the fuck out for no real reason and bucked him off.  The second time the camel ran off with all Jeff’s stuff still tied to it’s back and the Berber guide who was with our group ran after it yelling “jooj!” They finally recovered the camel and Jeff’s stuff and he had to get back on.  I don’t think I would have, and I was pretty much paralyzed with fear for the rest of my ride that I would be next.

We got to our campsite which was an oasis at the base of a huge dune.  I never really saw a map but based on travel time I guessed that we were pretty near the Algerian border.  We arrived just before dark and had a large dinner of Kefta and Eggs followed by sleep in Berber tents.

A Berber tent

Berber tent, interior.

It leaves a little to desire as far as interior decorating goes, but after the back of a camel’s head anything is a welcome sight.  The bed on the far left was mine, and actually one of the most comfortable beds I’ve slept in since arriving here in Morocco.  It was one of those nights where my head hit the pillow and I was out.  It felt like I blinked once or twice and my classmate was waking me up the next morning.  We actually got up at about 4:30 AM in order to climb the gigantic dune behind camp and watch the sun rise.

The Spice must flow

This was the view we had, with myself in the foreground and our camp in the background.  This is from about two thirds of the way up the dune.  Getting down the dune was much easier than getting up (I still have sand in my hair, shoes, and chest hair) and after that we got back on the camels.

More of this!

The idea that people actually did and still do cross the entire desert like this makes my crotch hurt.  The whole thing struck me as being a bit touristy, but I still had a lot of fun.  After the camels we got back on the bus for about 11 hours(!) and headed back to Fes, where our teachers reminded us that we had homework due at 8 AM the next day, followed by an exam.  God damnit.

part two!

June 24, 2011

Here is more from the daytrip we took last saturday:

This is where we ate lunch after the tour of the ruins, and the following picture is the view from our table:

We had an unexpected guest as well!

He and a friend of his were two of the most well-fed and healthy looking cats I have seen since I got here, but they still got some samples of our lunch which consisted of chicken, chicken liver, and red olives all cooked together in an oily sauce.

After lunch in Meknes we headed to the shrine for the king during the time of the Barbary pirates.  I cannot for the life of me remember the name, however.  There was more beautiful architecture, but the rest of my pictures didn’t really turn out.  bummer.


June 23, 2011

Hello again!

I thought I had uploaded and posted all these pictures last weekend after I got back from the trip I took them on, but I guess I forgot!  On saturday we took a bus to Volubilis, which is the ruins of what was once the southwest corner of the roman empire.  I swear to god i’ve posted this before.  Anyay:

This is the main drag through the center of town.  At one point this city was home to about 20,000 people.  The grey stripe is some of the remnants of the sewage/plumbing system for the city.

This is an example of the mosaic floors that are all over the ruins.  Aparently most of them have been restored.

Detail of another mosaic floor.  I think this is supposed to be herculese.

This is the inside of some rich-ass roman’s house. This is the pond in the central courtyard.

Same house.

This is me in front of the main arch into the city.  It’s huge!!

Another group shot!  I swear it’s the forced perspective that makes me look gigantic. The guy on my right is at least as large as me in real life.  Also my head is not as big as anybody’s torso.


OK! that’s it for now! I’ll try to post pictures from the rest of the trip tonight or tomorrow, but for now I’m getting thrown off the internet.

Fes Medina

June 17, 2011

This isn’t my video, I found it on youtube to show my girlfriend back home what it’s like here. It is pretty representative of what the Medina is like in Fes.  Absolutely insane in the best way possible.  Keep an eye out for the donkey cart at about 1:50.

To clarify, I’m not living in the Medina itself, but many of my classmates are.  I live in the new city, which is a lot like how I remember Beirut except more garbage and beggars.

There are cats everywhere in both sections.


I’ve edited this post to show off what traffic is like here too.  Are any of you the right age to have played frogger as a kid? That’s what crossing the street is like.  This video is of Marrakesh, but again its pretty much the same here.


June 17, 2011

Photo dump part two.

June 17, 2011

OK, i’m back at school and have a chance to upload more photos.  Sorry for the delay!

Adil and Jeff discuss the finer points of Arab grammar after class

This photo is of the classroom we are in every day from 8AM to noon.  It has the same type of mosaics and engraved plaster as the mosque I posted yesterday.

This is another shot of our classroom. Prior to being owned by ALIF it was a mosque.

This photo is of the courtyard in front of the school where we both eat lunch and hang out and do homework.

This is Beau sitting in the courtyard at the Alif Riad, an old Riad in the old city that ALIF purchased a few years back and converted to a sanctuary of sorts for students.  (The main campus is on the other side of town in the new city).  Gorgeous all around again.  They serve free tea/sugar water here as well.

For those of you not in the know, a Riad is a huge house/mansion with no windows o

photo dump

June 16, 2011

We went on our tour of the medina today, really amazing!


I mostly just got pictures of some of the archetecture we saw, and the tanneries.  It didn’t seem like a good idea to just snap photos of the locals.


The view from above the tanneries in Fes

The tanneries really were pretty strong smelling, but you would have thought they were way worse from the way my classmates were whining.  The tour guide told us that it was decided by whoever decides these things that working here is the third hardest jobs on the planet.  He added that the first was crab fishing in alaska, after which one of my classmates chimed in “No it isn’t, being a mother is!”


More images of the tanneries follow:



Next up, I’ve got a string of photos from from the Madrasa, an Islamic school set up by the Islamic University in Fes (which, apparently, is the oldest university in the world.)

The handsome one is in the middle.

Group Shot!

This shit was crazy. The courtyard of this school is HUGE, and the walls are covered with engraved plaster.  All that detail work was done by hand, and is about a half an inch deep.  The pictures really don’t do it any justice.

These mosaics were on the walls below the plaster, going from the gound to about shoulder height. They were also done on the wall, piece by piece.  I usually find people who gush over stuff like this distasteful, but this was simply one of the most amazing things I have ever seen.

This one is a little farther back, to give a sense of scale.  When I said the mosaics started at shoulder height, maybe I meant head height.  That is our tour guide on the far left.


I’ve got to move locations, but there’s more to come later tonight or perhaps tomorrow afternoon.