Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mamma Mia!

"Anyone can be a mother but it takes someone special to be a mommy".  My mom has a shirt with this on it.  It's true that any woman can become a mother.  It's even truer that it does take someone special to be a mommy.  Lucky for me, I have a mommy.

So today on Mother's Day, even though I cannot be with her, I want her to know that I'm thinking about her.  It's not just today though.  I think about her everyday.  Here's some of the reasons why:
  • Coffee.  We are a big coffee drinking family.  On mornings when she didn't work, we would sit at home sharing a pot of coffee or go out to breakfast and enjoy coffee together.  Sometimes she would forget her travel mug at home when she left for work early in the morning and I would have to bring it to her.
  • Popcorn.  When she would come from work, we would share a bowl of popcorn and some diet pepsi.  I can't get the diet pepsi here, but I do make popcorn on a daily basis.
  • My hair.  It's incredibly long now and I could use someone to french braid it.  Mom's the best french braider around.
  • Clothes.  Not only are several of the important pieces of clothing I have here in Morocco made by Mom, others have had to be patched up several times which always makes me wish Mom was around to do it for me.
  • My soap.  My aunt sent me a care package with Cotton Blossom shower gel from Bath and Body Works which makes me think of Mom because its her favorite scent.
  • Mamma Mia!  Not only is it one of my many nicknames for her, we also saw the musical in Toronto and went to go see the sing-a-long version of the movie.  There was one other person in the theater with us and I'm sure he's still sorry for staying while we belted out the tunes.  I still watch the movie frequently and sing the songs of Abba almost daily.
  • Little children.  Don't get me wrong most of them are adorable.  Every once in awhile though they get me to that point when I think in my head "you're on my last nerve buddy".  Just like when my brother and I were little causing trouble after Mom had worked all night and she would say that to us.  Like mother like daughter :)  Also, since she works with the little babies I think about all the little kids here who should be a lot bigger but they are not because of malnutrition and poor health.  
  • Sickness.  Morocco and my health system apparently are not good friends.  It seems that every week I have some sort of sickness going on which just makes me want my mommy.  Or I need her to confirm that I am not dying from cancer or a brain tumor.
  • Cleaning.  It seems that everything where I am is destined to be covered in dirt.  Every time I have to clean I think of my Mom always cleaning her glasses.  Every time she would clean them, put them on and say "that's better".  Just like how I feel after I've swept up the new inches of dirt covering my floors.
  • Flowers.  There are a few flowers that just make me think of her.  Sometimes it will be the smell of lilacs or it will be the colors that remind me of the flowers she used to buy every week to put on the dining room table.  
  • Pancakes.  My mom used to love making pancakes for dinner and so do I.
  • The song 'Mama' by Il Divo.  a) it's a beautiful song and b) it talks about love for their mother which I also have a lot of
  • Technology.  Not many people in Morocco can type very fast which yes, makes me think of my own mother slowly typing out the letters.
  • Women.  Not every women but the ones that I know who are strong, confident and loving mothers themselves.  
  • Blue and red.  The color most likely to be seen being worn by my mother.
  • Scrub pants.  She's a nurse and sent me some old scrubs.  They save my life in the heat of summer and make me think of her.
  • Wine.  Yes my mother is enjoying good quality wine while I'm stuck with the freshly squeezed bottles but I think about how I tease her for being an alcoholic when she might enjoy a glass of wine from time to time.
  • Books.  Mom's an avid reader and enjoys the benefits of working a few days at Barnes and Noble.  She was always a pro- let's buy a book instead of a toy kinda mom.
  • T.V. shows like 'House' and 'Revenge'.  She's the one who told me to start watching them and I'm hooked!
  • Germany, Italy, Albania and Canada.  Just a few of the places that Mom and I have traveled to together.
These are just a few of the things that always make me think about my Mom.  It's been hard to be away from her and the rest of my family these past years but her support was one of the reasons why I've been able to do this.  I look forward though to being able to go to breakfast with her again or have a spa day together.  I'm happy that soon I'll be able to talk to her everyday or at least way more often than now.  Soon I'll be able to spend holidays with her again.  It will be good to be home.  With that said, happy Mother's day Mom!  I love you.

Mom and Me at my brothers wedding in 2008

Friday, May 11, 2012

Concept of Time

In America, when you say "Let's meet at 10", you show up a few minutes before 10.  If you show up at 10, you're late.  Here in Morocco, time is a much more obscure concept. Here you're more likely to hear, "let's meet after lunch" which could mean anything from 3 onward.   Several institutions are more likely to keep business hours such as the post office, banks and the dar chabab.  However, that means every time you have to go to the store to buy bread or try to get a taxi to go to another town or try to visit a friend, you never know if the store will be open, there will be taxis running or if you'll interrupt that friends meal and/or nap.

Most places in my town close for about two hours for lunch.  This means if its lunch time and you need something, you're out of luck until later in the afternoon.  It's happened to me several times where I needed just one thing to make lunch and I forgot to go get it before things closed.  I also had to learn the hard way about traveling out of my site during lunch time.  When I first got to site and tried to leave anytime between 12 and 2, I ended up waiting for at least an hour to actually get on the road.  Lesson learned.

Just when you think you have time all figured out in Morocco, they throw you a curve ball.  Daylight savings time.  Not everyone observes daylight savings time here.  Farmers work by the sun, not an actual time.  The only people who you know for sure follow it are those people who work in the post office and banks.  Not even all dar chababs are on new time which is confusing since the schools are.  This has now turned the conversation into something like this:
friend: Let's meet at 4.
me: ok, old time or new time?
friend: old time.
me: ok, so we're going to meet at 3.
friend: no, I said 4.
me: yes, but I am on new time.
friend: ok, well I'll see you at 4.
me: yes, 4 old time.
friend: inshallah.
me: inshallah.

Did you follow that?  So you can see the confusion this causes.  Most stores are still on old time.  The workers work with the sun and accordingly the call to prayer.  This means that now when I think it's lunch break, I still have an hour to go out and buy anything I need.  This also means that most things are still closed for lunch break when I am walking up to the dar chabab at four.  The best part about all this is that during Ramadan, everyone will go back to old time for the month and then spring forward again after Ramadan ends.  Are you confused yet??

Luckily, this concept of new time and old time is not new to me.  Even in Albania when there was daylight savings time, some people stayed on old time.  It's just like old leke and new leke or dirhams and ryals.  Not everyone uses the same unit of currency but after awhile you just know.  You learn who uses old time and who is on new time.  You plan accordingly.  If all else fails, you just blame it on old time.  "I'm an hour late?  No that can't be.  I'm on old time."

So you see, the concept of time in Morocco is quite different from America.  You get there when you get there.  An appointed time to meet is more of a time frame to meet.  Time is money in America.  In Morocco, time is uhm, well....... time is not going anywhere so don't worry about it!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Moroccan Tile

There are so many colors found throughout Morocco.  The best example of this is through the tiles you find around the country.  There are so many different colors, patterns and designs.  They use them on everything from walls, to fountains, to gates.  I always love looking at the tile when I travel.  Here are a few different examples of Moroccan tile from around the country.  

Tile on a fountain in Agadir

Tile at a train station in Meknes

Tile in a house in Fez

Tile inside a hotel in Azrou

Tile inside a hotel in Azrou

Tile inside a hotel in Azrou

Tile outside a house in Azrou

Tile at a train station in Meknes

Tile outside the big mosque in Casablanca

Tile outside a park in Tiznit

Tile on the gate leading to the old city in Meknes

Tile in an outdoor fountain in Rabat
Which one is your favorite???