Sunday, 27 May 2007

An Australian in Fez

Thanks to The View from Fez, I have found out that an Australian women owns and runs a riad in Fez, Dar El Hana. This riad has 3 rooms and can sleep up to 8 and from the website appears to be tastefully decorated with a Moroccan theme but not over-powering as some riads are. Josephine also offers to organise massages and cooking classes. The thought of learning how to make tagines, harira and pastilla, the traditional Moroccan way sounds good. So now both a stay at Dar El Hana and a 1 day cooking class are on my agenda for a weekend later this year as I was already planning to go back to Fez since I haven't been since 2000. I don't think I have any hope of recognising the place, well maybe the medina.

Saturday, 26 May 2007

YouTube - What's happening?

Thanks to the Moroccan Report, it seems that we can no longer access You
Tube in Morocco. I am not a frequent user of YouTube but I know some teenagers that will be very upset. But I did have plans for future use, educational ones at that.
Is this a glitch in the system? I doubt it. Could it instead have more to do with the blocking of Google Earth and even problems getting world maps into Morocco. What will be next?

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Roll On Holidays

One good thing about having holidays coming up is the researching and deciding what to do. Guidebooks, maps, the internet have all come in useful and filled in many an hour. With a two month break over Summer, I decided not to go back to Australia - well it is Winter there, it takes at least 30 hours to get there and it costs lots of money. Instead I decided to head to eastern Europe as I have never been there, and the decision is made - Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania with a few days in London at the end. I am really looking forward to the change of scenery after 5 or 6 months in Morocco with only one short weekend out of the country for work, but even more I am looking forward to travelling around, being on the move, experiencing new places and people, taking photographs and the list goes on and on . . . Only 4 weeks to go, and about 300 exam papers to mark.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

A Rabat Meandering

Since so many of my posts have related to books, I thought I'd keep up the theme. This afternoon after work, I went meandering in downtown Rabat with a friend to try and find the English bookshop. I have read about it on a website, and after checking, found it in the latest Lonely Planet. Happening to choose the hottest day so far this year, we were fortunate to find it just a minute or two after getting out of a taxi near the Rabat Train Station. Down a side street, the shop was packed with books in English, boxes on top of boxes with barely room to move. There was novels, books on Morocco, feminism, Islam, literature, textbooks, books of plays, language books and books of short stories. The majority of books were used copies, but who cares, although there were a number of new books that had been printed in Morocco. One of these was Edith Wharton's book "In Morocco", legally printed in Morocco and a bargain at 50D, which just happens to be the first book I need for next years bookgroup.
Although the selection is limited, the bookshop certainly provides an option for those who are desperate for something to read. Other books I saw but didn't buy included Walter Harris's "Morocco that Was", Peter Mayne's "A Year in Marrakesh" and "Valley of the Kasbahs" by Jeffery Taylor.
The hot weather was a good excuse to stop at nearby Cafe Lina for a drink - yes a nice healthy orange juice. It was a shame about the chocolate tart that also captured my eye, but enjoy it I did.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Round the World in Words

One of the pleasures I miss most in Morocco, is perusing a good book shop. A look at the new releases, then the crime fiction section followed by a stop in the travel section focusing on the travel narratives then maybe biographies, Australian fiction . . . . . . No English bookshops here unfortunately but London is looking good in a couple of months.

No bookshops, so the next best thing is bookclubs or bookgroups. After initially starting in one, somehow it has now multiplied to two. As long as it doesn't continue to expand like the Caterpillars in Australia

Last weekend a group of us got together to select the books for next year for one group, and it is an opportunity to take a trip around the world without leaving your lounge room chair. We always aim to get a mixture of fiction and non-fiction with a variety of styles, genres and settings. The choices:
  • In Morocco by Edith Wharton for an historical perspective on Morocco
  • Ines of my Soul by Isabel Allende for some Chilean history, which is also a book I started and was enjoying but didn't have the time to finish it before leaving Australia and the library copy behind.
  • Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Meehan about three sisters who escape Iran and set up a cafe in Ireland.
  • Among the Righteous by Robert Satloff looks at the role of north African Arabs and Jews in the Holocaust
  • Plum Wine by Angela Davis-Gardner a fiction novel set Japan where the mystery is in rice paper wrappings
  • Slaughterhouse-five by Kurt Vonnegut, who recently died. This is centred on American prisoners of war in Dresden during WWII.
These books should make for an interesting year, and some interesting discussions (and a quick trip around the world).

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

The Beach

Since today is a holiday in Morocco, last night I went out to a friend's place at the beach. The beach refers to Temara, a beach-side "suburb" of Rabat. From their rooftop terrace there were splendid views of the sunset across the Atlantic Ocean. Did we sight the "green flash" at the moment of sunset? No and I don't know that I believe it exists although some of the beachside residents claim to have seen it.
With many friends and workmates living at the beach, it got me thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of living there compared to here in Agdal, the city. So here's my list -:
  • Nice views, if you are close to the beach
  • Within walking distance of the beach for swimming
  • Cooler breeze in summer
  • A sense of community among my workmates that live out there
  • Must have a car, whereas I can walk to work, restaurants, shops etc.
  • Driving 20 minutes to and from work and getting stressed by the crazy Moroccan roads and drivers
  • Higher humidity means mould and dampness
  • Salt means all metals, including cars, rust faster
  • Have to drive to get to most places
  • Mosquitoes
Although in many ways I think it would be good to live at the beach, I am glad I live in downtown Agdal. Must get a photo of the sunset next time.