Saturday morning walk

To best keep it out of my falling-apart plastic loafers, I hop over the sudsy water being pushed out of a neighboring apartment building. My eyes follow the soapy bubbles to the gutter, where they join and carry tiny balls of styrofoam. On dry land, I step around the offending packaging lying mostly whole. We don’t buy fish here.

Arriving at my destination, my fruit stall and adjacent bread-goods stall, I collect a lovely assortment of fresh apricots, a ruby grapefruit, and bananas from Ecuador, as well as two pain au chocolat from the perfect little pile. Bees buzz around the glazed almond croissants.

A neighborhood cat is standing guard at our corner. He is bone-thin and so dirty, but at least he has all his fur. A sibling of his stalks by, similarly dirty and thin. This city is hard on animals, animal lovers.

There once was a gal in Rabat,
A chocolaty pastry she got.
She’ll get one tomorrow,
To lessen her sorrow –
The croissants are the only high spot.


Oh, you mean this weekend?

That time when Colin bought a bag of split peas that had more weevils than peas–and we cooked them anyway. The darn peas were so old that they cooked for five hours and were still hard–and we ate them anyway.

And then the day after, we had friends over for wine so poor that we mixed it with pineapple juice and pieces of watermelon and toasted Cinco de Mayo.

Two weeks from now, I’ll be on my way home, and one of these things I will miss, and one of them I won’t. Two years from now, I’m not sure where I’ll be, but I imagine it will be both of these things that I miss.

Earth Week in Morocco

It was Earth Week this past week, which I believe went completely unrecognized outside of my school, where there were mini-concerts by elementary students, lawn bowling, Earth-saving brainstorming sessions, and a finale by a drumming group from Casablanca that uses plastic barrels for instruments. We were not really prepared to do anything related in our classroom, but I wish we had, because boy, do these kids need the encouragement to think about how their actions affect the planet.

One earth-friendly thing I did see outside of school was an official-looking truck watering the street trees on my walk to school. I’ve never noticed it before anywhere in Morocco, and I have seen a whole lot of dead trees that look as though they fell victim to the long hot summers here. The guy holding the hose was one of the few Moroccan males I’ve enthusiastically smiled at.

On Friday in class we do cooking, and for a number of reasons, my teacher and I were scrambling for an easy idea on Thursday afternoon. Stove-top popcorn it is! I led the demonstration while she graphed the kids’ favorite popcorn toppings (powdered sugar won), and I provided a great example of what happens when you aren’t paying attention and now have an inch-and-a-half-long burn on my forearm for anyone who needs a reminder. Later, as I was settling them down after recess, one kid noticed the Hand of Fatima dangling from my bracelet.

“Yep, it’s there to protect me,” I said.

“It didn’t protect you when you burned yourself on the pan,” one student sagely pointed out. At least some of them are paying attention.

Not doing myself any favors

“Where’s your sunhat?” my produce guy asks me in French, or maybe Moroccan Arabic.

“Huh?” He’s done this before, asking about my sunglasses, which are typically perched atop my head. I smile and flick them down, hoping that’s the answer he wanted.

“Your sunhat?” Again in French or Arabic, accompanied with helpful gesturing about his head, as if he were chasing gnats away.

“Oh! My hat!” I respond in French, understanding but totally unable to explain that I couldn’t wear my hat because it wouldn’t fit over the messy bun my wet, uncombed hair was twirled into. Not that he really cared to know that.

So instead I spilled my change all over the ground.

Zoo visit!

Field trips are the best, right? Going somewhere cool and different with all your friends and skipping math centers? To borrow my students’ collective favorite word of the week: “Awesome!”
warthogsAnd the Rabat Zoo? I was pleasantly surprised! The animals seemed content, if a bit hot, and there was really lovely landscaping throughout. The trees need a few more years to mature into decent shade trees, so hopefully they don’t forget to water them (as the Rabati seem to do with a lot of their other city trees).
goatsSpringtime meant there were so many baby animals to “oooh” at–Barbary sheep, antelope, lions, goats–and “oooh,” we did. We walked through a magical garden area with peacocks roaming around that the kids gawked at and marvelously didn’t scare off. I could have stayed there all day.
peacockThe kids overall were pretty good. They complained a bit, but it was really hot and there wasn’t quite enough shade. They only asked for ice cream for the first hour, and when it became clear they weren’t going to get any, they stopped. They were way better about reapplying sun screen than I would have been at 6, and they stayed with the group such that I only got nervous about losing one when we got sandwiched by a few other school groups. Plus they’re extra cute when they’re excited about all the animals and given the opportunity to show off. Animal? Oh yeah, these 6-year-olds think they know all about them.

Temperatures rising

Last week I was shivering in the shade. This week it’s been nothing but sweating in sun hats. Rabat seemed to skip the pleasant temperatures of spring and go straight to the 80s. Well, the Moroccans are calling this pleasant; I’m struggling to adjust to the sudden spike.

Luckily, hats, sandals, skirts and sleeveless tops are all allowed at school. Two of those things don’t transition as well to my walk home from school, but I make do. Tomorrow we’re going on a field trip to the local zoo—Woot! Shorts outing! Except…

Our apartment is reacting to the change, too: our chilly tile is no longer so chilly, and the bugs have multiplied. Colin is awoken nightly by mosquitoes. And I need to remember some different meals because lentils twice a week and stews twice a week aren’t so appetizing these days.

It does mean we get to take more advantage of our terrace area and the sweet lanterns I picked out for my birthday, though unfortunately the construction project directly across from us has built up nearly to our fifth-story height.

Our salon area stays dim and cool in the afternoon, so that’s where I do a lot of the wedding planning. If you’ve worried that I’ve disappeared from the internet, you’re welcome to keep track of my engrossed activity on that front.

Busted-open door

Anyone who’s been burgled knows the sickening feeling of seeing their front door forced open. Colin and I shared that unhappy experience this morning when he got a call from our landlady saying our apartment had been broken into and we rushed home to take stock of the damages.

We’ve been dogsitting since Friday and staying at the friend’s home, and technology-addicted fiends that we are, had nearly all of our electronic devices with us. We don’t have much else of value, so the thief must have been disappointed to not even have a set of speakers to snatch (ours are portable and with us). He made off with the little bit of cash in our grocery stash and found Colin’s traveler’s wallet with a fresh-from-the-ATM amount of money, but he left the passport and the wallet itself, which had a credit card ferreted away, too. He didn’t take my passport, lying naked on the dresser, nor did he bother going through my drawers to find my cash.

In the absence of any significant losses, the really unsettling part of the matter is that it appears that we were cased. No one else in the building was robbed, so we think someone must have noticed that the Americans on the top floor weren’t staying there this weekend. I’d been home to pick up a few things what must have been just hours before he struck—so I can’t help but think he saw me leave.

We have a new blue door with a new lock and key. Our landlady suggested we stash our cash in the couch cushions. I’m just hoping he wasn’t impressed with what he saw and won’t be coming back.

Kindergarten Congress

While my kids were off doing somersaults in PE yesterday, I stumbled on this article about Rand Paul breaking his 12-hour-long filibuster over the drone strikes policy with a trip to the bathroom.

Politics completely aside, I was tickled by the news of the traditional filibuster in use. If you want to be obstinate and hold up progress of a particular bill, you’d better be willing to stand up and read from a phone book like the Founders intended! The newer silent filibuster, which requires only the announcement of a filibuster without anyone having to stand or talk or even be present, delays things by changing the required number of votes to pass a bill.

With such a low (non-existent) hurdle to clear before holding a bill hostage, it not surprisingly gets used and abused. It just seems so absurd! This isn’t how it’s supposed to be done; forgive me, your rules are asinine.

It reminds me of the way my kindergartners play tag: by crossing their arms like an Egyptian mummy and shouting “Shield!” they are apparently un-tag-able. It’s a silly rule that doesn’t advance the game.

Paul’s epic filibuster made quite a splash, but ultimately the outcome was something a lot of my kids could relate to: it’s a good day if you can get to the bathroom on time.