Everyone wants out.

Do you ever find yourself browsing the streets of a foreign city in Google Maps in the street viewer to see what a city is like?  Perhaps you have $2000 and you go to travelocity or some travel site to see just how far away from home the money will take you?  I love Google Maps!  I once was browsing the streets of a town in Columbia and saw, what seemed like, real time imaging of this guy peeing right on the street.  Remember ya’ll Google is always watching, lol.  So I guess what I don’t understand much is the real reality of what goes on here in Morocco when it comes to the young folks here.  Everyone has internet and everyone has a cell phone, yet it’s still not really acceptable to date as a teenager.  That’s okay and all but it’s interesting that in this day and age of being able to talk to someone around the world at all hours that these kids still really can’t date.  So here’s the way it works over here.  When kids are teenagers and in high school they don’t really date.  I’d say 60% of them do not date but some of them do.  Basically a boy or young man spies a girl that he likes.  He finds out where she lives then goes to ask for her hand in marriage.  He doesn’t really have to know her but as long as he has a good job or can support her then if she says yes, and most times they do, then the parents will say yes or no.  So for example my niece Donya, she was talking to a young man and my sister in law yanked her out of school.  They would rather her have no education rather than talk to a boy.  Now let’s think about this for a minute.  You have a young girl with no education and the boy around the corner sees her and his hormones are raging.  Remember those days? So he then goes and marries her.  She has no education so the parents agree that if she wants to marry it’s ok.  This is the reason that Mbarek never got married.  He said that wanted someone who was smart and preferably French lol..  I still laugh at that.  So they get married and they don’t even know each other.  They have kids and then they become miserable.  The way Mbarek says is that most of them just get married for sex. Okay so many people do.  So what’s different here still?

The young people are now on the internet and they want out.  They want to get out of here so bad that families will pay people like me many thousands of dollars to hook them up with someone in the US or in other countries.  It’s interesting that I’ve been here for two months and I’ve met many of them who want out.  Pleasant young men who are attractive, sweet and fun loving are wanting out.  One of the reasons is they think someone is going to “save” them.  I ask myself save you from what?  Everyone needs saving!  Hell I still need saving!  Mbarek has a hard time some days just walking the street.  Just the other night he was approached by a woman who lives around here and she asked him if I had a sister or a daughter that we could introduce their son to and that they could give us $4000.00 to get them set up.

I suppose what I want to say to them is that you are crazy.  I have told a couple of these guys that things are just not what they think in the states.  It’s not all what they think it’s going to be.  When I decided to move here Mbarek was so happy that I’d actually come to live here in Morocco.  I wanted to for many reasons and one of them is the fact that he’s Muslim.  He doesn’t go to church at all but he is none the less.  He has an accent and might not be treated incredibly great the the US, at least not at the present moment, there’s a lot of hatred toward Muslims. I didn’t want him to give up his work here to come to start over somewhere else.  These guys that want out have no trade, like Mbarek works on everything, he can fix anything.  With no trade and trying to talk to women who are a bit older than them it’s clear all they want is a green card.  Have these guys thought about what they will do when they get to the US?  That’s the thing none of them have thought about it.  Nor have they thought about the fact you have to pay taxes, etc.

I don’t know I really don’t but what I do know it’s very interesting and someone could make a lot of money taking advantage of this situation.

In the end, does it matter anyway?

I’ve been living here in Morocco for one month and twenty four days.  I am very close to getting married, legally, and all seems to be right with the world.  Mbarek and I are trying to conceive our first child.  Well, I’ve had a child many years ago, in fact she would have been 18, but she died hours after she was born.  Of course this was a tragedy many years ago and I thought I would never recover from her loss.  It took many years, the better part of 10 years to get my feet on the ground again and get out of an alcohol induced coma that sucked the life out of me.  Finally here I am about to be married again, no doubt to my soul mate, and we are looking forward to trying to start a family at our respective ages of 40 and 42.  I realize being 42 and overweight has me at a disadvantage of conceiving a child let alone the obstacles I would face during the nine months of gestation.  None the less it’s what I want and hopefully I will have my dream of a family of my own.  If not I’m ok with that too.  I look at the other women in my house and I see how very different our cultures are as well as our reality gap.  When I speak of “reality gap”, I’m speaking of the distance that my generation has with theirs and the cultural exposure as well as technological needs which are apart of my reality now.  It’s noticeable that most of the women here do not work, and that’s ok, but it’s also noticeable that they are the most integral part of the home.   The stay at home mother here is the norm.  FYI for those of you who are wondering, there is no government assistance or welfare here so you don’t see many people who have more than two children.  The mothers walk a lot.  They make a trip in the morning to walk their children to school, they walk to get them at lunch, then return them to school and walk to pick them up.  All in all that is 6 times they are walking just for their children.  Most women do the laundry by hand and make their own bread.  Most families eat at home because there isn’t a lot of money to throw away on eating out.  Most people do not have cars so you either walk or bike everywhere.  My sister in law, Habiba, walks to work every day so even though she’s never been to a gym she gets her exercise.  She, in fact, would laugh at you if you told her you were going to a gym.  She could give even the strongest man a run for his money when hand laundering these handwoven rugs and blankets we have.

I’m sure not every woman or mother here keeps a tidy and spotless house but I can say that the two I live with do.  For those who know me I’m not much of a house keeper.  I clean things when they get dirty but to just clean for cleaning sake, NO.  So I can say that living in such a small space it is easier to clean and only takes a jiffy to have it nice and tidy. The problem with our space is that I am use to having an entire kitchen, living room, two bedrooms and a spacious living room.  I want to fill it with all of the luxuries that everyone has, or at least that I’m use to.  It’s funny I had just cleaned our room, made the bed, did the dishes and Habiba came into my room and started cleaning.  At first I didn’t know what to think that she just opened the door and came in, started cleaning.  Keep in mind I didn’t know how to say, “Please don’t do that”.  So then for a split second I was kinda pissed then I thought, hell you hate to clean so let her do it.  So I did, she swept the floor.  I realized then that we had a big clean freak on our hands.  At first I thought this was just her being nosy or maybe that she had ADD.  I mean after all, she worked all day long, then wants to clean our room.  What could her motives be other than being nosy or ADD, right?   It was then I started to take a second look at the ladies I lived with.

I asked Mbarek what they do for fun and he said nothing.  I thought about it and UNO cards are a must in the package I’m having my mother send from the US.  This is the ultimate card game to have some laughs and everyone can learn to play.  But I began to notice that both of these ladies clean all the time.  I’ve come to believe it’s what defines them.  I can understand my mother in law cleaning all the time she’s 79 and likes to stay busy but for Habiba, in her early 50’s, cleaning all the time?  So I asked Mbarek, “Why do they clean all the time?”  Evidently when Mbareks father passed everyone had a difficult time.  Then his mother, over the course of many years, has had 5 children die.  When I came here I read that the infant mortality rate in Morocco is currently 24 for every 1,000 births. The United States wanes in comparison 6 for every 1,000 births. He went on to explain that both of them are very sad after losing so many children and siblings.  I could completely understand, completely.  I certainly couldn’t imagine losing that many children.  Not all of the children were infants, in fact, most of the children were over 20 when they passed.  I’m not sure of all of the causes but I do know that the ones that lived longer were very talented.  There was a brother that was an amazing artist.  He could draw portraits better than anyone I’ve seen.  The last sibling of Mbareks’ to pass was Malika.  Still again I’m not sure what kind of medical condition she had but she was in a wheelchair for most of her life.  Habiba spent most of her life caring for Malika and was a wonderful care giver and freind.  They were sewing partners and made the most amazing garments, table clothes, napkins, drapery, you name it they made it.  Looking through these hand made beauties was just too much for words.  They truly loved what they did together.

So I sit here in my room and I am contemplating my life.  This is truly the first time I’ve ever had to just take care of myself, mentally, physically, intellectually and spiritually. I don’t worry about buying food or car insurance or the light bill.  As most of you know I converted to Islam in May of last year. I had many people ask me when I announced that I was moving here if I was going to convert.  Just to be clear to everyone I converted and didn’t tell anyone that I had.  I firmly believe that things like that are an individual decision between you and God.  So when I told Mbarek that I had converted he was happy for me.  In fact I didn’t have to convert in order to marry him but after reading the Qu’ran I wanted to because it made sense to me.  I grew up Southern Baptist praying to Jesus but honestly I could never figure out why we just didn’t pray to God.  I found myself always praying to GOD even as a Christian.  So when I read the Qu’ran it answered a lot of questions for me about who God is and I love having the Christian background because it makes my spirituality much richer.

After realizing that my surrounds are now my reality I am looking within myself to try to understand those around me.  I’m still stuck on the cleaning thing.  It’s almost like I’m living in the 19th century where women in the country did nothing but farm, clean house and take care of children.  It’s interesting the basic things that people do here and they are content with it.  I mean everyone has a satellite dish for TV and everyone has the internet but it’s the basic things that I have overlooked all along.  Can one find joy in just cleaning the house?  Is there a solitude in picking through the wheat, washing and drying it?  What do they get from all of it?  See I would prefer to find solace in watching tv, reading, listening to music, sewing, blogging etc and leave the cleaning for later.  I would rather enjoy myself with other things.  Both Zahre and Habiba are very simple.  When I mean simple they are simple.  From the things they cook to the technology they use it’s all remedial and basic.  However there is a beauty to this simplicity.  Their minds are not diseased with the everyday world.  In fact if you ask them about what’s going on in the world they don’t know and furthermore they don’t care.  This is their world.  For me that is very difficult to get my arms around.  I must know what’s going on 24/7, I have to know, I’m addicted to technology and what’s going on in the world.  So for someone like me to come to Khemisset and having been living in a different reality this is eye opening.  It was my goal to slow my life down when I got here.  I’ve been a bottle rocket all of my life living full speed ahead and now I’m learning to be a snake and sparkler.

Last week I hand washed all of our dirty clothes.  I have never had to hand wash so many things all at once but it’s a must here because there are no laundry mats.  There are washer and dryers but we, like many people, do not have one.  I have wondered if we bought one would the ladies in my house use it?  I’m not sure they would.  There are cleaners here that will dry clean your clothes and wash them but they are very expensive and not in most families budgets.  Really it’s not that expensive but relative to what the wages are here it’s for the rich.  $6.00 to wash and dry a large bed blanket.  Not expensive per US wages. All I can say is I was worn out and even sore for days after my arms hurt worse than if I had gone to the gym.

So I’m still left with the question of Why all the cleaning?  Does all of this build character?  Could that be the answer?  The old saying, a little hard work never hurt anyone, it makes you appreciate things more.  Maybe that’s it!  My grandfather use to say that hard work builds character.  With that in mind I have used my time today to read about what exactly character is.  What I found gave me great insight on why these ladies do what they do.

Our world today is so much different than in the 19th century where the word “character” was used to define a person.  For example, “he is of strong character”, “he is of weak character”.  Our society shifted from producing to consuming.  The consumption of mass produced goods, expansion of personal leisure time and the internet has all made it possible for us as individuals to  create our own identity that we present to the world.  Instead of defining yourself through your hobbies, virtue, dress we have toggled to defining ourselves with material possessions.  In fact when you look up articles on character it’s difficult to weed through the plethora of listings describing how to create your own character on profiles, in games and avatars.  It takes a minute to find information on something that individuals actually possess. What develops character are the life events you have experienced and how you were raised.  In fact a brief conversation with a person when you were little has impact on your character. In fact we are being made every single minute we are alive.  Everything we do, everyone we meet sculpts our being and character.  In fact you become characterized by your deeds.  And, the more frequently you do the deeds the more pleasurable it becomes.  These deeds become habit and I’m sure everyone knows we are a creature of habit.  Actually our character has become known as a habit of will.  It doesn’t take a dramatic test or crisis to define us, it starts with the simple things that we chose to do, “at will”.

At our time in life we are bombarded with two major things that have shaped the way we have become.  Celebrities / Reality TV and multitude of self help workshops, books,etc.  I think you know what I’m talking about, it’s everywhere. People want to look like, dress like, Kylie, Kim, not so much Kanye but it’s these types of exposures that have helped us forget who we really are and what we have and don’t have. I mean people are famous for what?  The answer is anything these days, I mean they haven’t actually accomplished shit but they are famous.   Many years ago I had a conversation with my grandpa and I said something very profound to him.  He was talking about how he bought the first radio for his family back in the 1930’s.  How the world came into his house with music and talk shows.  I then told him that it was only until that moment did they realize how poor they actually were.  He said that I was absolutely right.  We don’t know how poor in the pocket we are until we are able to see and compare our life to others.

In fact we have become a society that no longer looks a character but at personality.  When you are asked, “Why do you like this person”, what is your reply.  Do you reply because their outgoing, adventurous, friendly, sweet, hilariously fun person.  Or do you reply, I like them because of their citizenship, loyalty, work ethic, morals or manners.  I think we all know the answer to that, it’s just the most basic way to tell how our society and people have changed over the years.  All of these personality traits, being fascinating, attractive, magnetic, glowing, etc., are wonderful and they can certainly help you navigate the world maybe make you famous but keep in mind, my friend, there is no substitute for character.

Yet again, “WHAT’S WITH ALL THE DAMN CLEANING?”

As best as I can figure after thinking about this all day and many days prior, is that it’s what builds their character.  It’s not just that these ladies love a clean house or that they don’t have anything else to do.  Cleaning house for them and washing the wheat is a part of what has molded them into being wonderful people.  I have never met such caring ladies, ever.  They don’t judge me for not doing what they do or the fact I chose to spend my time doing other things. They are not tainted with ideas of racism, prejudices, or always trying to keep up with the Joneses.  In fact most of the ladies I’ve met here who keep a spotless house have wonderful character and amazing personalities to boot and they are not monetarily rich.  I think that people need to concentrate more about what they have within them and reflect on what they have become as a result of their free will.  The humbleness that these ladies exhibit is overwhelming, literally.  They are happy with just the basic material items and the simple things in life. They have almost zero waste and I can’t foresee their carbon footprints combined is as large as mine.  I think there is a lesson to be learned here.  I’m going to try to be closer to God, kinder to people, more helpful to others, not as selfish and really try to see the beauty in the simple tasks such as cleaning.  Maybe mankind should really take a step back from the mental pollution we are exposed to and reflect on what is really good for us.  As a great philosopher said.. We are always in our own company – Friedrich Nietzsche.

So at the end of the day, does it matter anyway?

Yes I believe it does.

I’ve attached some photos of the needlepoint that Habiba and Malika did.  Malika was paralized in one arm so she used her wrist to hold fabric and she would stitch with her right hand.  Not only was she a talented at making the items but she created the patterns too. FYI all of the crochet was hand done as well.

My photos are very slow uploading I will get them on here asap.

Until next time…..Ciao Bella

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Will we ever get married…..?

The quest to obtain all of our paperwork to get married has begun.  The list of paperwork is extensive and may not at all be exhaustive once we get to the judge.  I planned to have a hard time but when reading about all of the things that you need I cam prepared with all of my documents.  Not at all did I truly believe everything I read on the internet from others who have gotten married here in Morocco, I took their words of experience as some would take a grain of salt, somewhat serious but not really.  I knew there would be some running around to do but let me say this.  What I have read on the internet is not quite what I experienced, except the running around part.  Yesterday we set off for Casablanca at 5:00 AM.  Keep in mind we only live 2 hours away 177 KM.  So I thought leaving this early was excessive since our appointment with the US Consulate was at 9:00 AM.  Well needless to say I’m very glad we left when we did because finding the Consulate was very difficult.  We had to stop and ask directions A LOT!  Having GPS was great but once you got into Casablanca it was almost useless.  We had a great drive but it didn’t turn to daylight until after 7 sometime and there was so much traffic that it was crazy.  Once we got close to Casa I spied something that I had been reading about while still in the US.  A major furniture store wanted to build just outside of Casa, however the government was having a hard time agreeing on terms with this company.  BUT…   finally Morocco has one…   Yep you might have guessed it IKEA!  How exciting, well I was at least, no one else in the car seemed to care but they were men so go figure.  IMG_6384IMG_6385

Keep in mind Casablanca’s population compares to that of Los Angeles, so it’s a big city and the traffic is equal to that of Los Angeles.  What it reminds me of is New York before they had the traffic light blocks in the intersection.  Remember when you use to see traffic at a standstill in the movies, cars facing you T bone style with cabbies honking horns and people yelling in the center of intersections..  that is Casa.12661933_10206683331735624_6782431881081623488_n12717301_10206683333855677_2291760336999020093_n12687866_10206683332775650_302535643607941048_n12670230_10206683331335614_7286650437250217029_n12728922_10206683329135559_1064564647104056002_n

 

I did take video of my adventures that I’m writing about but they will not upload here.  You will find them on my facebook.

Along the way there were many people standing along the interstate as well as many people walking along the interstate.  I found out they were walking to work or they were waiting for someone to pick them up.  It was very interesting that people were standing on the interstate with children and then there were people selling things.  I couldn’t imagine that happening in the US.  Once we moved onto a main road from the “auto route”, traffic was equally as bad.  We passed the same car twice so I know it was no mistake that it seems to be ok that women have their children in car seats in the front seat, if not this lady was breaking the law.  The smell of auto exhaust was stifling, it was the first time I realized that the US did a good thing by putting vehicle emissions policies in place as well as anti littering policies.  The architecture was beautiful in the city, much like Parisian architecture, but keep in mind this country was under French control until 1956 when the Monarchy was established. So there is very much a French influence here in the language and in the architecture.

As we made our way through the booming metropolis it was difficult finding our destination, the US Consulate.  After stopping time after time to ask directions we finally landed on the street and in the vicinity of the consulate.  Parking is a nightmare so we had to walk a long way.  Finally as I approach the building you see the cattle guard rails surrounding the building and the Moroccan military guarding it.  I get to the entrance at the edge of the building and have to go through security then to a lady who checks my appointment and my passport.  I’m allowed to go in.  When I get to the door there is a sign on the door and it read, “Caution heavy door, pull hard and watch your fingers”.  Well it was like an iron gate.  Every door in this place was heavy like this for a minute I thought I was in Ft. Knox.  So you come to a small space big enough for two people and it’s the area for security.  They checked everything and I mean everything.  I turned in my cell phone, went through the detector.  The guard had my watch and two of them examined it then they fingered through all of my paperwork.  I was ushered up the small ramp and into another room.  Every door opened with a buzz so you had to wait for that to open the doors.  I saw the cashier and all of the people applying for a visa then I was motioned to go through two more doors and I finally spoke with the man to request my certified copies of my passport and my letter of approval.  I took my unsigned paperwork to the cashier to pay my 1000 Dirhams or $100.00 USD then went back to the office and gave the man the receipt.  Finally I was called up to take an oath.  The oath was to validate I knew what the document I was requesting and that I was Julie Basey. 12715652_10206683334775700_8607053075886510761_n

Once I got my three papers sealed with the US Consulate seal I asked for the bathroom because man I had to go.  He told me the directions to the restroom and I went out the door.  I turned to exit out the door he said and before I could get the door open someone had me by the arm saying no no no no.  I tried to explain I needed to use the restroom and I could see it and the man told me… but no NO!  They escorted me back to the security room took all of my belongings and asked me to have a seat.  I’m thinking what the hell it’s just the bathroom.  A lady came finally and escorted me to the restroom.  She waited for me to do my business then searched the room after I walked out.  She escorted me to security, they handed me my paperwork and phone then said you are free to go.  Back through the doors I went and finally made my way to the street where Mbarek met me.  After all of that I needed a cigarette and a coffee so we went across the street to a cafe and relaxed a bit.  We needed to get out of Casablanca before everyone went to lunch as to avoid the extra traffic.  So we meandered through the streets trying to find our way back to the auto route and alas we were on our way to Rabat.  I’m telling you this trip to Casa was very interesting.  I will say it’s not some place that I want to live, it is however the mecca for business here.

On the way to Rabat the country was absolutely beautiful.  There were huge apartment complexes next to farms where animals were grazing, the ocean was very visible with the crashing waves and cargo ships.  The waves were huge I’m sure this is a surfers paradise. If you know me at all you know I’m on the outlook for places to spend money and shop, I love to shop.  I found an outlets mall, well actually 3 of them during this trip.  Lucky me, poor Mbarek.  LOL.  So on the way I tried to take photos but I couldn’t get my camera quick enough to capture the things that I saw.  There was a truck carrying a load of horses but it wasn’t an enclosed one.  The horses had their heads sticking out the top of the bed of the truck but it was a very tall truck bed, I’m not sure how they got them up that high and I’m pretty sure this is not legal in the US.  Well there’s many everyday things that I’ve seen that are not legal in the US.  The DOT and OSHA would have a hay day with all of the things I’ve seen on the roadways here.

We finally made it to Rabat!  This city is the most beautiful.  I would recommend a visit to Rabat for any of you making your way to Morocco.  It’s very clean but has the charm of an upper class city, the sky is beautiful and just the whole town is beautiful.  We only live 45 minutes from Rabat so Mbarek and I will be there quite a bit.  We are already planning a trip to spend the weekend, afterall it has an ocean front view.  Two papers had to be obtained from Rabat and we weren’t really sure where we needed to go to get them so again we were stopping and asking directions.  Finally we pull up on this crowded street and Mbarek jumps out and opens my door, we get out and approach this kind of house looking building.  He walks me in the door and then tells me to get in line with the women.  OKAY, women on one side and men on another, what the hell was this place.  He was having a hard time explaining it to me but he told me to take my papers that we just got in Casa.  I didn’t know what I was doing there and what I needed from there and no one spoke much English.  To top it off they wouldn’t let Mbarek go in with me!  Let’s say I was scared because all of the writing on the wall was in Arabic.  I was looking for the French posters and papers on the wall so at least I could figure out what this place was but there was only one French sign and it listed the fees.  It read, “20 Dirhams for Moroccans and 40 Dirhams for strangers”.  OKAY.  They ushered us through this house into a back court yard, obviously it was a waiting room but what I didn’t understand is they had us separated in the front of the house then we all sat together in the courtyard.  Made no sense.  After waiting and being ushered into another room Mbarek showed up and I was relieved.12705424_10206683327935529_4331228219337416452_n12662688_10206683327895528_2465225900938748406_n  We then went up stairs where we waited for a place at the counter.  We handed my paperwork to these two men and they looked at it then stamped it with a rubber stamp.  Everything here is rubber stamp and lick and stick stamps.  Nothing hardly is computerized.  We then paid 80 Dirham or $8.00 and we were free to go.  This was not the end.  Across town we found the next place we had to go and it was a large government building.  I entered the building and again hardly no one spoke English.  This time I knew that I was requesting form #3.  I filled out my paperwork and then was given a ticket saying to come back at 3:00 PM.  This paper was a request to the Moroccan Government asking them to let me marry Mbarek.  We waited, had lunch at the old fort wall, and by the way it was the best chicken panini I’ve ever had, then chilled out taking photos. DSCF4448DSCF4460DSCF4465DSCF4461DSCF4458DSCF4459DSCF4454DSCF4445 Waited for 2 hours then back to this building to pick up my paperwork and pay the 10 Dirhams.  Everything we’ve had done has cost money but it’s no different than any other country.  I got yet another rubber stamp imprint and off I went.  Now we are all set to have our documents translated into Arabic.  it’s interesting that the documents we were given in Rabat are all in French so they have to be translated into Arabic so we can submit them to the Judge.  I suppose they use two formal languages here in the government and not just on the street like I thought.  After we were done we just wanted to go home.  It was already 4:30 PM by now and getting back to Khemisset was all I wanted to do.  We took the long way home and drove by the palace where the King lives.  There were so many armed guards along the parameter that you obviously know the King lives there.  One thing I really loved about Rabat and my trip to Casa was the Moroccan Flag.  This flag is red with a green star in the center and it is everywhere.  It’s just a very pretty crimson color and it looks like Christmas.  Even along the interstate every few yards there is a flag or two.  They must spend a fortune on flags.12650817_10206683317215261_7167468448291233396_n

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Rabat modern museum of art

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Rabat Morocco

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There’s a big thumb there..  Do you see it?

 

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Even the street lights are fancy in Rabat.

For a capital city Morocco sure has is right.  This place is amazing.

I sat back and relaxed on the way home just taking photos of the land and interesting things I could get in my lens.  The last time I had traveled these roads it was dark and I was coming from the airport.  There were two small cities that we went through and I do have video of one of them.  I took my sweater off, rolled down the windows, took off my hijab and had my arm out all while listening to my rap music.  We got home and we were exhausted.  Hell I’m exhausted thinking about all of it and there is still more paperwork to go.  If anyone reading is going to get married to a Moroccan and they are not Moroccan themselves hit me up I will help ya figure it all out.

*** My photos are taking so long to upload so I will add them as they upload.

 

Change is imminent..so is death

In my favorite show there is a question posed of a character, he’s asked “Where is your assignment?”  He then says, “It’s imminent”..  the professor then said “So is death…”.

This is true of life and change.  I’ve gone through an enormous amount of change during the last year.  Events are sometimes fuzzy but there are some during the last year that stick out very clear.  The death of my best friend, Mbarek asking me to marry him, losing my job, working my ass off, the day I left Albuquerque and the day I first saw Mbarek in person.  I don’t think I took enough time to really look back and think about the other times, until now.  The times I was riding in the car dreaming of Morocco and thinking of my future.  The ceremony at Florence, Kentucky for my father honoring him as a fabulous race car driver and him being inducted into the National Late Model Race Car Hall of Fame.  The race that his hometown track held in his honor, The Butch Shay Memorial.  The drive to Denver knowing that I was going to miss the snowstorm and catch my flight.  Saying goodbye to my neighbor who had become my new best friend.  Starting my new life.

I remember leaving Albuquerque and being so happy to start my new adventure, the day had finally arrived.  I got to the New Mexico-Colorado line and said my final goodbye to the place I’d called home for 9 years.  After a long drive with the animals crying and being restless almost the whole way I finally made it into Denver.  I got checked into my hotel that I would call home for 3 nights.  There was so much snow that I really couldn’t go many places and many were closed because it was Christmas.  Thank God for McDonalds being open I don’t know what I would have done without that.  I stayed for 3 nights at the airport Motel 6 and just counted down the time to board my plane.  I decided to call a shuttle to take us to the airport.  I had 5 big bags and 2 big big animal crates.  The man who took us to the airport was actually from Albuquerque and he managed to get all of our stuff into an SUV, I still don’t know how he did it.  The ride to the airport was liberating and exciting.  He got us very close to the curb and the sky help were standing by just kindof watching us probably thinking oh my god look at all of this shit.  I got into the check in line with much help and then I got a phone call.  The man who brought me to the airport called me and said what a pleasure it was meeting me.  He wished me luck and then I just broke down in tears right there in line.  I WAS FINALLY HERE…  I WAS FINALLY HERE …  I HAD MADE IT!

I got checked in but that took about an hour to do with the animals and all.  I paid my $1350 for my luggage and babies then they wisked me and the animals off to security.  My babies had to be screened by security then I had to go through the normal security lines.  I will have to say Denver gets you through quickly, props to the airport because I was running late after all of the check in procedures and still managed to have my last meal in the United States.  Yep it was McDonalds a double quarter pounder combo.  I did receive some heartbreaking news while standing in line for security.  I opened my facebook and found that one of the people I grew up with had been killed in a car accident in Lexington, KY.  I remember calling my mom quickly to give her the news then I had to go because I was approaching the examination line.

I got through got to my gate, ate, then boarded my plane.  We took off late so I was worried about my babies getting to their plane in Detroit.  Hell after we were really running late I was worried about getting to my plane in Detroit.  It’s amazing when they announce to let the international people off the plane first how everyone becomes an international passenger.  Oh well right I made it obviously but I was worried.  We were late taking off my Detroit but that was ok because once I got to Paris I had 7 whole hours.  All I could think about was the macaroons from Laudree’ and how I was going to get me some.  If you’ve never had the macaroons from Laudree’ (https://fabricantdedouceurs.laduree.com/en_int/) you must try to get them.  They do have a store in So-Ho in NYC it’s worth the money for heaven on earth, while they last.  I suppose if you have the money you could be in heaven all the time LOL.

We boarded our Airbus and off to Paris we went.  I was very lucky to have sat next to a great guy who was fun to talk to.  It’s not often I enjoy a strangers company on a plane but he was very nice and it made our flight a lot of fun.  You know I never got his name..  huh.  Anyway we talked and talked I got to know him very well.  He lived in Detroit and was travelling to meet up with his wife and young daughter in Bulgaria.  He had met his wife online a few years ago and flew to Bulgaria to get her.  She was from a small town close to the Turkish boarder.  He had only been there once and that was to meet her parents and announce their engagement.  He had a 3 hour drive once he landed in Bulgaria.. WOW what an adventure.  He was equally interested in my new adventure so needless to say our 7 hour flight went by nicely.  There was also two meals and free alcohol so who’s complaining.

So I made it to Paris and looking back it was the nightmare I thought it was.  The French are not very helpful.  I did find a couple that were helpful and nice, I wanted to handcuff and duck tape them throw them into my purse and keep them…  I wish they would have walked with me and helped me the entire time but NOT.  So I had to go through French Customs in order to claim my animals and re-check them.  I had done my research so I kind of expected to have to do this.  Some people said they would transfer some said no so I just went and got them.  Here I am in the Paris airport with two big animal crates and my carry on luggage going through the airport with a small trolley.  No one would help me, people just ran over me walked into me, stood and gawked, pointed fingers like Oh there’s a dog in there then laughed.  I was to the point I wanted to just go through the airport saying fuck you, fuck you and fuck you.  Only if I knew how to say that in French.

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When pushing it I couldn’t see shit and people would not move out of my way.  

I would stop and ask directions, stop ask directions, stop ask directions it was crazy.  It got crazier once I got to the Air France Desk.  OMG.  Air France in Paris has the typical thin girl wearing heels and a uniform at all of the desks.  I swear it was if I had stepped back in time to the Pan Am era of the 60’s.  Let’s put it this way they didn’t lift any luggage because they might break a finger nail and that applies to the men too.  So I had to weigh the animals in their kennels myself while they watched, no they didn’t help me lift anything.  Finally I get them checked in and go out to smoke, which in that field I was definitely not a minority, everyone there smokes.  They still have smoking areas in the airport, inside, now a thing of the past in the US.  So I planted my ass out side on a bench and light my cigarette.  I got no more than 2 drawls off of it and the luggage man comes to get me.  We have a problem madame.. he says.  Holy shit what now.  Well they couldn’t take the animals until midi and it was 10am.  So I had to trolley them with me for two hours.  I went back outside with the animals on the trolley and sat.  I must have smoked 4 cigarettes and then the man comes back outside to get me an hour and a half later and says we can take them now.  Concerned that I hadn’t seen my cat move I was worried thinking was he still alive.  I didn’t have anything to cut the zip tie with and neither did the luggage guy so finally they improvised and took their lighter to melt the tie.  Bhakdi was fine he was just hiding under the covers.  Whooo  I was relieved, I grabbed them and hugged them and thanked them.  They didn’t know what to do I’m sure they were thinking like what a crazy American Woman.  I will warn you now it didn’t end there!

I finally went to the bathroom and had to go through security and customs again….So I make my way through a gift shop too exhausted to shop, yes I was too exhausted to shop.  Found my way into the Air France line and they asked me to weigh all of my belongings.  Well be advised when travelling on Air France you are only allowed 12 kilos of carry on bags period.  I had 30 lbs.  so I had to go back to the luggage check and give them my roller bag.  Then they wanted to charge me another 100 euros.  I was like hell no!  It took a while and a manager was called and he let my bag go for free.  So it was back to the security line to be weighed again and I passed YAY.  I got my second stamp in my passport and found some water and a coke which cost 8 euros.  Planted my ass again and took a breath.  I skyped with my mom and thought this is it.  I’m home free.  I met a guy from New Jersey who was on his way to Mali and little did I know I only had 1 1.2 hours free time after that whole ordeal.  Thank God I planned a 7 hour lay over there.  So we go to board the plane for Casablanca and they tell me that I owe for my bag that I checked.  Here we go again.  After showing them my paperwork I finally get released to board.  I never thought hearing “bon voyage” madame would be music to my ears.  I boarded the plane and we were off.  At this point I didn’t care what seat I was assigned to I just wanted to get out of Paris.  They fed us again and the food was good, then they came through selling stuff like nick knacks, watches, perfume, jewelry, toys, and cigarettes.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  LOL.  I’m sure you’re asking… Did I get the macaroons?  With everything going on no :(.

Finally I land in Casablanca and from the minute we touch down I know that it’s unlike any place I’ve ever been.  Honestly this place is like a movie, things I’ve seen I’ve only seen in movies.  I make it through customs after being pushed by this older couple, they were cutting line and pushing people it was interesting. I get into the hallway and the smell is different not appealing so to say.  I make my way to the bathroom and there is no toilet seat or toilet paper.  Oh boy, right?  I think what have I gotten myself into.  I go to get my luggage, again, no one is around to help.  This time I’m worn out, exhausted and pissed.  So I command that someone help me with my luggage and two very nice young men volunteered to help.  They took me to claim the animals and they stayed with me until I got in the car to leave.  They got a healthy tip too.  All of my luggage had to be scanned and I presented the paperwork for the animals to the inspector, he looked at it and said ok you’re good to go.  Now I had to find Mbarek.  Was he there waiting for me, the thought had crossed my mind.

I followed the boys through the crowd looking for Mbarek and finally I see him….  He was very tall, thin, and very dark hair with these eyes….  I ran to him for a hug and a kiss that changed my life.  I left my purse and everything because I knew he would take care of everything now.  My nightmare was over!  We drove 2 hours to get home and my eyes were wide open the whole way looking at everything I could see in the dark.  We made it into Khemisset and pulled up to a restaurant where we were going to get turkey sandwiches and fries to take home and eat.  We arrived home on this tiny street which will only fit one car at a time and unloaded my cargo.  I think his family must have thought I was nuts bringing all of this stuff.  At night things looked normal like they would in the US but when I woke up the next morning…….I was in a different world.  A VERY DIFFERENT WORLD!

Change is good for everyone.  I will paraphrase from the Bridges of Madison County…when they are talking about change.  Most people are afraid of change, but if you look at change as something you can always count on then it can be a good thing.  I have had a couple of bad days since I’ve been here, I’m not gonna lie.  I’ve been frustrated at the simplicity of living here and how you can’t just go to Wal-mart or a store to get what you want. I’m learning to let all of that go…  the former life is no more. Here, patience is a virtue.  I am learning to embrace this new life and it’s challenging growing pains for me. After all I’m not use to having family.  Things like family intimidate me because of being an only child and not having any real aunts, uncles, or cousins to be around.  I’m use to small.  It’s funny that I’m use to small but I’m not afraid to travel the world, how could that be I ask myself?  I still am battling with depression, it doesn’t go away overnight, but it’s getting better.  I’ve made a list of things I need from the US and momma is gathering those things to send a box, UNO cards are on the list!  Maybe by playing games with the family we can get a chance to have some fun.  My Arabic is coming along better since my melt down the other day and I’m learning a lot more which makes me feel more safe believe it or not.

Oh wow how time flies when you’re having fun blogging, it’s the call for prayer so I gotta go.   Ciao for now!  One more thing… I have photos for this entry but they aren’t uploading right now so I’ll add them later.

Who is Mbarek Harcharas and how I met him

How did I meet the man of my dreams, the love of my life, my soul mate you ask.  I’m sure many of you can guess.  Drum roll please….. …. I met him on….. The Internet!  I realize that many people have worried about me moving to Morocco for a guy that I’ve met only over the internet.  Fact is, what did I have to lose?  I certainly didn’t have anything keeping me in the United States.  No family really, just my mother who lived 23 hours away from me by car and a whole day of airplane travel.  She and I managed to see each other on occasion and well it amounted to about once a year or even less at times.  During the last 9 years I lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico and she lives in Louisville, Kentucky that’s 1200 miles apart.  We lost my father to cancer in June of 2014 and since then neither myself or my mother have been the same.  It’s amazing how death changes people.  You tend to re-evaluate everything in your life because you are having to live without someone whom you loved very much.  It certainly took it’s tole on me and my mother, so much so that we didn’t talk for a long while. We had tremendous distance between us and then our phone contact ended for a while right after he died.  I felt like I had lost both parents at the time and still to this day things haven’t been the same between me and my mother.  After a while our daily talks have resumed but the conversations are very different since daddy’s been gone.

I don’t know if it was widely known that I had not had not been in a relationship really since 2006 when I left my ex-husband.  I divorced Tim in 2007 but little did I know at the time he had moved on and met his future wife to be at the time.  It didn’t matter to me because I had moved on as well just in a different direction so there was no hard feelings.  I moved to Albuquerque and started a new life.  I have to say it was the best thing I had ever done. I had a new found independence and life which I took full advantage of.  I partied my ass off for many years, built a house on the west mesa but always had a hard time keeping a job.  the workforce in Albuquerque is not good now but was really difficult during the 2008 recession or depression as I’d like to call it.  Some economies in other cities rebounded over time but in Albuquerque it really didn’t.  Over the course of many years all of my partying friends had met someone and eventually got married or they had children and they were doing married with kids life.  Everyone always seemed to have a boyfriend and I always wondered why someone didn’t introduce me to someone.  The guys I did have in my life never stuck around probably because after being alone for many years I developed a crazy side.  Hey wait I have always been crazy but this was a lonely kind of crazy so I took to social media to have some companionship.    I did find a couple of men locally that would have been perfect for me but either it was they had just gotten out of a divorce, had a girlfriend, on and off, or were married with children looking for a fling.  A couple of other guys I met were great but again it wasn’t good timing for them.  There were health issues with one of my friends who I loved and the other one couldn’t stop smoking weed long enough to settle down. Then I met some really great guy friends that I loved to spend time with just as friends, two of them turned out to be room mates of mine.  No they were not friends with benefits in case your asking yourself at this point.. LOL.  I had to throw that in.  Anyway nothing worked out, nothing. Most of the guys I met couldn’t afford to take me to McDonalds $1 menu let alone settle down and have a family.  Nor did many of them want to because of nasty divorces and baby mommas.  So for my companionship I had a few friends that I’d come home from work and talk to.  I had a variety of friends that I got to know around the world from Pakistan, Morocco, Germany, Italy, Barbados, India, Tunisia, France, the UK, Lebanon, and Australia.  Ultimately, most and I stress most of them, all wanted sex and I wasn’t about that so I met a lot of people to find my prince charming.

One of my best friends was Hassan Benjadi from Casablanca Morocco, I named my cat after him.  He was much younger than me but we had a great friendship stemming back 8 years now.  Also I met Assif who was from Pakistan, he had wonderful English and worked in a call center.  Both of these guys eventually got girlfriends and got married but we still talked.  I met Bihi Desert man, Abraham was his name, he was from Morocco however he was looking for a way out, charming guy, great friend.  I was sad to learn in October that he lost his life to a tragic accident.  I finally met someone in the US in New Jersey and really thought I was in love.  I went to visit with him and had a wonderful time.  But when I got home I found out he had bought his ex wife a Christmas present and a birthday present, then spent some time with her on her birthday and after that I ended it.  I couldn’t be done like that hell!  So in all honesty we weren’t suited for one another in many ways but my trip to New York was a blast so I thank him for that.

I guess I had been working at the petroleum company for a year and a half and I got a message one night from a guy in Morocco.  I didn’t pay too much attention to this because many men from Morocco wrote me and well to be honest there are warnings all over warning women of the scams from Moroccan men.  Many of them want to marry a woman from the US so they can get a green card.  I just know that you will find this in any country really not just Morocco.  One warning for all the single ladies out there wanting to meet someone… watch out for the Turkish men, the Saudi men, the men from the UAE, they are nasty men.. just down right nasty.  They have a lot of money and aren’t afraid to try to buy you so be careful, they can ruin your life.  I’ve read a few things since I’ve been here in Morocco, we get the news from Dubai, it’s shocking about how the men extort money from familes of women over the internet.  Please be careful with any internet dating.  So back to my message, it was from Mbarek.  So I had about 150 messages a day and didn’t really read most of them but something struck me about his profile.  I was on a site called Tagged.  Tagged was a social media site when I first signed up but over the years it became a meeting site for singles.  Whatever works right?  Mbarek and I messaged each other for about a month and what I noticed is that he was very sweet.  VERY VERY SWEET!  You could tell there was something behind how nice he was.  He was respectful and just very down to earth there was nothing pressing about his words and letters.  Our conversation just flowed.  I remember one week where I didn’t hear from him and then finally he wrote me and I just was upset because I enjoyed speaking to him.  Finally one night I asked him if he’d like to skype and he said, “If you are ready then yes but I don’t want to pressure you to Skype”.  I thought how sweet.  So we skyped the first time and all I remember is hearing his voice, seeing his face and smile and discovering that he was really as intelligent as he was while writing just blew me away.  He could hold conversations with me as if we were right there and it wasn’t an empty conversation.  We talked about history, world events, books, movies, music, fashion, religion, food, animals, just everything.  I remember spending hours with him just chatting.  At the time I worked every day and he would stay up all night talking to me when I got home from work.  We had a 7 hour time difference so he must have liked me a lot.  Things were going great I was happy.

Then on Monday April 19, 2015 I went to work and received the tragic news.  My best friend and co-worker Bob Mesch had committed suicide taking his own life the day before.  I was devastated. it was about an hour after the news that I decided my life was going to change.  Life was too short to be alone and live without love. I wanted the love my mother and dad had for 43 years and I was going to find it.  Bob and I had shared the same condition, major depression and had seen doctors and doctors, been on medications and medications and nothing was working.  Depression had ruined our lives and was ruling our lives.  I know I’ve contemplated suicide several times and just wondered how close I had to get to doing it before I actually killed myself.  Could a person finally do it after living in hell.  How much hell does one endure, I asked.  Bob and I had many discussions about our depression and I could see him getting worse I knew it and I spoke up but I did all I could do.  I still lost him.  I went home that night and talked to Mbarek all night long.  he must have loved me then because to put up with my drunk ass that night was not fun I’m sure.

10 days after Bob took his life Mbarek asked me to marry him.  He said, “I want to ask you to marry me because I love you, but I know you won’t”.  I replied, “Just ask me”.  He asked, “Will you marry me?” and I said YES YES YES!  I bet he didn’t think that the end result would be me being here in Morocco today and his whole life changing in 8 months.  So in the following days we began planning our life.  He volunteered to come to the US but he asked me if I’d like to come to live with him and his family in Morocco.  I decided that I’d move anywhere to be with him even if it was on an iceberg in the Antartic.  As long as I was with him I could do this life.  So I told him I’d move to Khemisset because his life was there and it made sense, plus I wanted to see the world.  The time spent getting here was the hardest of my life and I remember there was one time I just didn’t know if I was going to make it.  Having happiness with the person you love in the future when you are dying inside from depression seems impossible to reach.  The roadblocks started to appear one right after another.  I was behind 3 payments on my house, when I went to pay it up they had already filed foreclosure papers on me and wouldn’t take my money. So literally I did everything I could to just make it in my house till the end of the year.  I had no idea when they were going to come and set me out, then where was I going to go.  So I filed bankruptcy to prolong the foreclosure and buy me some time.   The airline wouldn’t let me bring all of my animals so I was going to have to part with them and find them homes.  I lost my job because I had become a Muslim and had the Quran on my desk.  I didn’t get my unemployment because I couldn’t prove that’s why they fired me but the EEOC believed me.  I’m still battling that one.  I had a part time job but they only were working me 10 hours a week, no one can make it on that.  I didn’t have anything but my plane ticket paid for and was trying to save money.  After 2 months of working this petty part time job I finally found a $9.00 an hour job that gave me 40 hours a week.  My mom came and got my dogs, I sold everything I owned.  Having people come to your house to take things was hard because they didn’t want to take things and I just wanted them gone.  People fell through on buying things from me and to tell the truth I was catatonic for a while.  I was deeply concerned for myself as was Mbarek.  It was early November and I remember not knowing how I was gonna make it another day.  Finally at the end December I had enough money so I quit my job 2 days early and said the hell with it I’m done.  The last roadblock I had was a snow storm that hit New Mexico on Christmas.  I had to leave for Denver two days early and stay in a hotel to ensure I would get to the airport because my life, literally, depended on boarding this plane.  To tell you the truth I was never so happy to leave Albuquerque.  Leaving has saved my life.  Even if I didn’t have the money I had planned on having I still had my life.  Losing my job really put a damper on the house we were going to build on the farm, it was going to be paid for had I worked my job through the end of the year.  I just kept praying Allah would see me through this.. and he did.  Alhamdulillah!

So the man who you all are getting to know is Mbarek Harcharas.  He is 40 years old and has never been married nor does he have any children.  He has a store where he works on electronics and just about anything that you give him he can fix.  He loves to toy around with things and make them work.  He grew up just like many of us in the 80’s with teen crushes on celebrities, rap music, parties where you get wasted, smoking cigarettes and maybe a little hash.  He was a bad boy so to say.. raising hell with the boys just like us in the states.  He grew up on a farm just west of Meknes in a small village near the mountain town of El Hajeb.  He was one of 7 children, his mother, Zarhe, took care of the children and the farm and his father Mohammed was in the Moroccan Military.  When Mbarek was young they moved to Khemisset where we live now.  He is tall and thin, momma says that he would have had a career in basketball if he lived in Kentucky, but don’t they all say that.  He’s 6ft 4 or 5 and studied kickboxing for 9 years in his teenage years.  He lost his father to health difficulties after a stroke in 1992.  He and his brother Mohammed were the men of the family because at that time they were the only males left.  The family lost 3 children.  Two of them died early on and then the last sibling passed a few years back her name was Malika, she was 33 and a genius at needlepoint. She spent most of her life in a wheelchair but that didn’t stop her from being creative you should see the work she’s done it’s beautiful.  I will share that in another post.

My life here is very different than in the states.  I have to say every day I wake up I praise God for my life.  Being without him would be like being without air to breath.  I often times tell him he saved my life.  I think God put him in my life just in time  not one minute too late.  So below are some photos of my Mbarek.  We are going to wait to have our wedding because my mother has decided in the last few days that she want’s to visit this year.  We are going to wait for her to come.  There is nothing in the world I want more than to have my mother at my wedding.  For those of you who wonder what she thinks about this….  She loves him and spends time talking to him every evening.  She is thrilled that I’m happy and realizes that I didn’t move to the moon.  She’s just a plane ride away.  She was talking to Mbarek the other night about where she will stay when she comes and the things we will do.  She expected that I would leave New Mexico and not go back to Kentucky.  She expected one day I’d leave the United States so she wasn’t as shocked like many of you were. Ok so enjoy the photos!5401_10206555438178365_6595046208420208344_n12410586_10206555449218641_1572078469109240076_n12410570_10206555449098638_420618766588355205_n859_10206555434098263_8044726872408790661_n12438960_10206555451778705_875384199159527414_n12439055_10206555485739554_4016627236129782096_n12509048_10206555451058687_1863576695232014610_n12509078_10206555446538574_243869218051485501_n12510479_10206555435138289_7619746183856327093_n12512708_10206555487739604_5437476669862613023_n12540628_10206555487019586_4991859262242932038_n12540782_10206555433738254_7523568300176409894_n12540859_10206555490139664_2404463503604021900_n12541057_10206555449738654_7472484830992634620_n (1)12540859_10206555490139664_2404463503604021900_n12541057_10206555449738654_7472484830992634620_n (1)12541166_10206555441018436_1160960136853190762_n12548859_10206555448418621_1447127238039724111_n12548885_10206555488019611_3161204807337535419_n12552909_10206555435978310_8332401260485293946_n12552933_10206555488579625_1417795909914698748_n12552968_10206555437098338_7479412879625838544_n12573747_10206555435578300_1121629360392425757_n12573811_10206555483659502_3493214179815016148_n12573975_10206555489539649_5853152291485026739_n12592542_10206555486059562_8111392096666443842_n12592706_10206555485419546_6493282242660803062_nmbarek 3mbarek 5mbarekme n mbarek 2me n mbarek 3me n mbarek 4me n mbarek 5me n mbarek 6me n mbarek 7

Let’s talk about food baby!

I am very excited to write this entry because it’s about one of my favorite subjects and things….FOOD!  As many of you know I am very conscious of what I eat, reading labels, researching food additives, knowing the origin of my food and mostly researching huge agri-giants like Monsanto.  It’s true that Monsanto and other agri-giants do sell here in Morocco, sadly enough.  However in the area that I’m in the farmers cannot afford to buy their toxic GMO seeds nor can they afford their harmful pesticides, such as Roundup.  This is a win win situation for all and it excites me to know that all of the wheat that is used to make the bread I eat here at home is completely 100% natural as well as the vegetables I’m eating.  My mother in law, Zahre, even saves the bread rinds that we don’t eat and gives them back to Mbareks uncle at the farm for feed for the animals.  Zahre takes the wheat, washes it then drys it outside.  Mbarek just called and told me to go tell her “Stah”, which means the rain is coming get the wheat inside.  So here she is outside scooping the wheat.  I asked her if she wanted help but she won’t let me help.  I wish she would at 79 she’s been doing this all her life and she has a system, any help would screw it all up.  I’m not gonna take no for an answer though.  I’ll let her scoop but I’ll bring in the rug and the bag. 12565343_10206555042888483_4336436102470932971_n12507222_10206555043448497_2508261265263121946_n  Is a matter of fact many of the animals on the farms here eat the left over food that people don’t eat.  It’s amazing how the cycle of food goes full circle.  There is very little food waste, even the cores of the apples are saved for the farm animals and orange rinds are used for room deodorizers, as well as to keep the insects away.  Now I cant’ say that all families are like mine but it makes me feel good to know that there is little food waste.  To be honest there is little waste at all even in solid goods.  The trash cans we have a very small and we only fill one up once a week.  I however have more trash than anyone in the household including Mbarek.  How could that be?  I attribute it to being American.

We have one grocery store here and it’s called the Carrefour market.  it’s a typical grocery that is based out of France.  All of the products that I’ve found there are mainly made in Morocco but there are French and Belgian products as well.  Anytime you see a UPC code starting with 611 you know that the item was made in Morocco.  I’ve found that at the local Bodegas there are many food items made in Morocco.  There are few items that you buy in a can.  I know this is a change for me because everything we buy in the US is normally in a can of some kind.  You can buy things in a can here but they are more expensive than buying them fresh on the streets.  Mainly the items at the grocery that are in a can are things like vegetables, the ones not in season.  There are no pre-made soups on the shelves.  You don’t just go and pick up Campbells Chunky soup..lol.  there are no mini-raviolis or spahetti o’s on the shelves.  Mostly what you find other than vegetables is canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and pasta sauce.  Pasta sauce here is expensive!  For a small jar of pasta sauce it’s $3.00.  This is the time when I wished my  mother would have made this from scratch so I could have learned.  Anyone with a good sauce recipe hit me up I can use it.

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Taking about making things from scratch….  you have to make all of your cooking powders from scratch here.  When you go to the store you can find garlic powder, salt and pepper.  There are some kinds of other powders but only a couple, it’s not like in Walmart or Kroger where you have a whole 1/2 an isle of seasonings.  You must buy all of your things from the Souk.  (A souq or souk (Arabic: سوق‎, Hindi: सूक Hebrew: שוקsūq, also spelled shuk, shooq, soq, souk, esouk, suk, sooq, souq, or suq) is an open-air marketplace or commercial quarter in Western Asian and North African cities.[1][2] The equivalentPersian term is “bazaar“.)  The Souk is where we buy all of our vegetables kind of like our Farmers Markets in the US.  The one thing that is different from the farmer’s markets and the Souk is that the Souk is open every day from sunrise to late in the night.  There is always a wonderful selection of fresh vegetables, meats, fruits, candy, baked goods, even shoes and clothes can be found at the souk.  One of the most wonderful things I’ve had here is the fresh peanuts that have been roasted and salted.  They make this wonderful pastry with this peanut paste and honey wrapped in a hard philo dough.  It’s wonderful.  With all of the sugar here you’d expect the pastries to be very sweet but they aren’t.  They are rather mild in sugar and many of them are made with honey.  Here are some photos of the souk, I know everyone is like post photos post photos.. so here they are.

souk

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A variety of pastas and rice… all of which are very very cheap and wonderful.

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These are live birds with their legs tied.. and yes they are for sale, it doesn’t get much fresher than this.

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Farmers bringing the sheep to the meat markets to sell.  They herd them right down the street to the market where the butcher buys them right there.

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Neighborhood bodega where they sell a variety of goods.

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Fresh olives

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Our favorite meat market across from Mbarek’s store

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The beef counter

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A restaurant where we had the most amazing lamb and beef.

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At the souk where shoes are sold.

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This is across from Mbarek’s store. It’s a wonderful meat market that has a great selection of turkey, rabbit, and beef.

Many of you have asked about the tajine, the cone shaped pottery that I’ve posted photos of.  Well the idea of it is to cook a one pot meal.  Morocco has bath houses where you can go to take a bath since, here in Khemisset many do not have hot running water.  People will go to the bath houses to bathe and then sit in the sauna.  Many times the coals from the sauna are used to cook the tajine.  12522929_10206474225868108_5701754742883406556_n

My sister in law, Habiba, makes many things using the tajine.  However she uses gas from the stove to cook the food.  She makes amazing things like this spicy tomato turkey and you basically eat it with bread and your hands.  The only time you use an eating utinsle is when you eat soup (Sharba).  There is hardly ever a need for a fork.  I however still eat with my spoon and fork because eating your food with your hands and the bread is an art that I have not yet mastered.  Mbarek takes his bread in his right hand and manages to pinch off a piece with one hand then mash and scoop the food with it.  I just can’t do it without covering myself in a towel because I manage to get the shit everywhere.

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Eggs, cheese, turkey tajine

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Turkey tajine

Tea is another thing that is huge here.  Just like in England you take time out to have tea and rest.  The tea is loose leaf and is made with sugar, a sweet hot tea.  If you’ve ever seen the people pouring tea way up from the cup, the long pour, they do it to cool the tea so that it’s drinkable.  My mother will love it here because all of the food is served scorching hot.

Here are some photos of the food I’ve had since I’ve been here…12439496_10206554965606551_9171463363810374159_n12507191_10206554964126514_1083321136069174279_n

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Chicken and vegetables.  Potatoes, carrots, peas.

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Couscous is eaten on every freeday.  Freedays are like Sundays for Christians, a religious holiday.  Chicken, zucchini, some kind of pumpkin red squash and turnip roots with a tomato sauce.  It’s delicious.

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Sugar cane to drink right on the street.  They put the big stalks in the juicer right there and you come out with a very great juice, very sweet, good for many ailments.

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The cauliflower and cabbage are the size of human heads I kid you not.

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This is the most common cheese, it comes in many flavors and is eaten mostly with tea with bread and olive oil.  Each wedge is $0.10

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Sea Salt… it’s wet actually not dry like we are use to

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Tajine eggs, orange juice and coffee…  yummy breakfast at Cafe Caeser

 

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lunch

Turkey in some kind of tomato sauce, with roasted green peppers and bread. ummm yum yum.

And as you’d guess…..  it’s all gone!

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The fruit here is amazing and it’s winter here.  There hasn’t been much rain this year but we still have oranges.

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The first night I got here we stopped at a restaurant and got a turkey sandwich with french fries.  Two turkey sandwiches and fries was $3.00.  Most of the vegetables are very very cheap.  We bought a kilo of 4 kinds of peppers, mint, potatoes, carrots, onions, oranges, olives, and some other things for less than $10.00.  For those who don’t know a kilo is 2.2 pounds.  So that was alot of food.  What is expensive here are things like Pringles, chips, and cheese.  For a small block of mozarella it’s about $4.00 so we try not to buy much of that but pizza is hard for me to do without.  The pringles that I bought were $3.00 for one can.  Holy shit I couldn’t believe it but I just had to have them.  I’ve managed to find tortilla chips and for a small bag, not the family size, it was $1.79.  Anything in a can is expensive.  Tomato paste is $0.50 in the can and well canned corn for the small can not even 12 oz is about $0.70.  So you see why we won’t be eating out of a can here.   My next venture will be learning how to make my own spices.  Powdered garlic and onion.  We went to the Souk and asked the spice man if he had powdered garlic and onion, he looked at us and said we only have natural things here.  LOL well it is natural I’m thinking.  No wonder I see little chop chop grinders and mortar and pestals here, BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO MAKE YOUR OWN!  LOL…  So I’ve cooked some things in the small kitchen in our room.  I’ve made turkey burgers, stuffed mushrooms, roasted vegetables, and fried chicken.  The fried chicken was a disaster.  We stopped at the chicken store and bought a chicken, a fresh one.  1935816_10206418415472883_7646685026466901051_n941020_10206417735655888_4796809170042723898_n

I brought it home after having a traumatic experience of hearing is squeal and I thought damn I’ve gotta eat this thing now.  I am seriously consider becoming vegetarian again I swear.  So I get this chicken home in the bag after the butcher had done his job and then I go to fry it.  Everything seemed normal and it smelled wonderful but when we bit into it it was the toughest piece of meat I’d ever tasted.  I can say after all of that and it being the worst dinner I’ve ever made I think I will stick to what I know best and not fry chicken here.  Could it have been something to do with the fact that it was so fresh?  I think one of the factors was that I don’t have a cast iron skillet to fry the bird in.  So last night I made chili with ground turkey.  I thought it was wonderful but when Mbarek and Habiba tried it they almost died.  I suppose living in the land of enchantment with all the firey hot green chile I have gotten so use to eating hot things.  It’s like I told Mbarek this is a learning experience for us both.  We are learning what each others likes and dislikes, it’s frustrating and funny at the same time.  I fixed macaroni and cheese from scratch the other night and he went wild.  He had never had it before and by the time he was finished eating he had it all over his face.  I made my homemade cheesy potato soup and he went wild over that too.  It’s all trial and error but so far it’s all much fun and delicious.  I know many of you are wondering how I met him.  Well I’m going to talk about that in my next post.  It’s time for a tell all on that subject.

OH OH I can’t forget the other kind of food they have here….

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My House in Khemisset

I live in Khemisset, Morocco.  It’s a small town between two major cities, Rabat and Meknes.  We are about 45 minutes from each city so we are in a good position to visit anywhere in Eastern Morocco.  Many people have said that Marrakesh is the place to live but I beg to differ.  I think that it would be very touristy and I really like getting to know the meat and bones of a place rather than be blinded by tourist attractions.  We live in a small house with my husbands family.  His mother is Zahre who Mbarek just discovered that she was actually 80 years old.  He thought she was in her early 70’s until we actually looked at the family book.  Zahre grew up in the country on a farm and spent alot of her life there.  Mbareks father was Mohammed, but he is no longer with us due to a stroke and many other complications.  Mohammed passed away in the early 90’s when Mbarek was barely 19 years old.  He spent his life working in the Royal Moroccan Military.  Zahre is a very strong woman, she’s had 7 children and only 4 of them are still living.  Mbarek has 3 siblings, Habiba – his sister in her 50’s, Abdul-Waled in his early 30’s, Hamid in his late 50’s.

Every morning Zahre gets up and starts to make fresh bread and food.  She’s a tiny woman who you can tell has worked hard all of her life.  Here the women keep the house very clean and tidy, unlike what I’m use to doing which is throwing my shit everywhere.  Not here!  I think this will be some great discipline for me.  Since I do not work I am responsible for keeping our home and room tidy.  Although right now the ladies will not even let me wash my dishes when I cook.  That’s not fair because I want to contribute.  Habiba works every day cleaning the police station.  She never got a chance to go to school because she took care of Mbarek and Abudl-Waled also their sister Malika who was very sick.  Malika passed a few years ago from a disease.  All of the women here are very shy so getting their photos is hard.  But I will try to get some eventually when their shyness wears off.

Zahre is native Berber.  Remember the Berbers of of Morocco from history, they use to go and conquer Spain all the time? Berbers are indigenous to Northern Africa and they span all the way from Morocco to Egypt.  Zahre has tattoos from when she got married to Mohammed it’s a Berber tradition as well as decorating women with Henna.  Her tattoos are on her face, her forehead and chin, as well as around her ankles. This is a photo I found online that reminds me of my mother in law.  She is a tiny little woman and so cute.  She constantly is on me about wearing my sandals in the house on the tile floor.  She’s cute.  Yesterday I bought her an oven so she can bake bread. They had an oven but it broke and they just never got it fixed, so I bought them another one.

berber tattoos

Berbers speak the Amazigh languages which are all from pre-Arab times around 2000 BC.  Here in Morocco traditional Arabic is ok to use but they have a dialect that is much older than Arabic and is derived from the Amzigh languages it’s called Maghrebi the dialect is Darija.  Darija is a mix of Arabic, French and the ancient languages.  Very interesting.  Many say that the Darija or Moroccan Arabic is the most difficult to learn.  I have to say I’m picking up quickly but don’t let me fool you it’s hard!

Our kitchen is small so with 3 women in the kitchen it’s tight.  I try to do what I need to do and let the other ladies have their space.  Zahre loves to cook so I’m gonna let her do her thing, lol.  Habiba works very hard everyday.  When she is not working she is working in our home.  She and Zahre sleep on the floor, which most country folks have done for many years, so they like to clean all the time in the living room.  Since Mbarek is the man of the house he gets the bigger room.  I have to say I feel bad that they don’t have an actual bed but he assures me that he’s offered a bed to them but they love sleeping on the floor.  Zahre sleeps on wooly sheeps skin for cushion and warmth.  Habiba sleeps on small thin mattresses which she puts up each night.  Here are some photos of our living room.  You can see the little pallet on the floor under the window.

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So now that we’ve talked about the living room let’s go to the kitchen!

This is our small kitchen!

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There is a refrigerator but you can’t see it because Habiba is blocking it.  The cook top sits on the floor because Zahre’s back has her bent over and she does everything squatting or on the floor.  She can’t stand straight up because all of her life she has spent bending over so she has a hard time with tall things like the kitchen counter top.  This is the outdoor room off the kitchen and our view from my room.  The blue bags are the wheat straight from our farm.  They make the bread directly from the wheat.  They wash it and grind it and make the bread daily.  Here in this photo Zahre is washing dishes because she can’t wash them at the sink like the rest of us do.  Washing clothes is fun, we wash them by hand!  Yes I said by HAND, then we hang them to dry out here and on the front of the house.  Let’s put it this way… you wash things every couple of days so you don’t have a ton of things.  We wash clothes in the bathroom.  I’m not sure that you would call it a bathroom.  The bathroom is like a room for everything.  You go to the bathroom and shower all in the same room.  This was very different for me but it is what I expected, I just hadn’t encountered it before so it’s a tad bit different.  There isn’t a hot water heater like in the US.  All of the hot water comes from a gas heater on the wall.  Basically it’s heated as it comes out.  OH wait people in the US pay alot of money to have that with the heated water, it’s the same concept as in new houses.  Then there is the Turkish toilet, which I have not used yet.  I could see my fat butt trying to use that I’d fall over.  I’ve read that it’s the natural way to use the toilet, to squat, eventually I will try it but for now I have the toilet.  Before I got here Mbarek put a toilet seat on the toilet and it’s pink.  He told me that he knows my ass loves pink.  LOL  I was cracking up because that day I was wondering if I’d ever make it here I was having a really bad day.  But my “ass” made it to sit on the toilette.  12417690_10206499280174450_8637108658797560524_n10411348_10206499279214426_2713667780510068457_n

There is a big squeegee that we use to clean the bathroom.  You just throw water on the floor and use the squeegee to put the water down the drain.  We wear our shoes in the bathroom even though it’s clean we don’t want to slip and fall, that’s what the marks on the floor are they are from our shoes.

Our room is as big as the living room.  It’s small but it’s nice.  Keep in mind that we are making a little kitchen in our room so we have things sitting everywhere and Butch still has his kennel assembled because he sleeps in that at night.

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What was a shock to my new reality, and I knew this, was the electrical sockets and plugs.  I’m not sure they are European but they are not like we are use to.  So to just plug in your phone you need a converter.  That’s why I left things in the US because I knew they just weren’t worth bringing with me.

So every day Mbarek comes home from his store for lunch.  Normally his sister or mother will fix food and tea.  Usually it’s some kind of vegetables and meat, it’s very simple things like potatoes, carrots, and some other vegetables.  It’s very good though to be so simple.  I’ve noticed that the pepper here is much different than the table pepper we use in the US it’s got a different flavor and I love it.  I can use it by the sack full.  The salt here is a wet salt, I assume that it comes directly from the sea and is still wet because of that.  We are only 45 minutes from the ocean and 2 hours from the Mediterranean.  Here is the link using google maps.  Check it out.  https://www.google.com/maps/place/Khemisset,+Morocco/@33.823825,-6.1080167,13z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0xda0c2a78e1ee797:0x98ae5731fdd6c45c

So now I must go, Habiba has fixed us lunch.  Ciao!

lunch

Turkey in some kind of tomato sauce, with roasted green peppers and bread. ummm yum yum.

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Julie Shay Basey Harcharas

First I’d like to say welcome  to my blog as the man sings the call to prayer this afternoon.  This is officially my first post so it may be short.  Recently I moved to Khemisset, Morocco from the United States so I have many many things to talk about.  I’ve been her for two weeks and I have to say I still cannot believe this is my life.  For the first time in my life I just have to enjoy life and take care of my family.  My family consists of my soon to be husband Mbarek Harcharas, my Chi-weenie dog, Butch, my Siamese cat, Bhakdi Chai, and Mbareks’ cat Mish Mish (Arabic for Cat Cat), she’s an tiny little girl who is an alley cat.  For now we are living with his family until we can get our house on our land in the country.  Mbarek and his siblings have a plot of farm land that has been handed down from generation to generation so we plan to take his part of the land and make a small farm.  We’d like to have chickens, roosters, lamb, sheep and maybe a cow or two.  I actually would like to have a donkey and a horse too.

But first, we have to get  legally married here in Morocco.  This is quite a task, just to get married.  There is so much paperwork that we both need to have then mine has to be translated into Arabic.  We have to visit the US Embassy because I need their permission to marry him.  Just when you think you’ve left the US I assure you, you haven’t.

To be continued…….