Archive for the 'Fez' Category

More on Morocco

Posted by len on 22nd January 2007

Before we shift entirely to blogging about our new home in Cairo I wanted to get a few final comments in about Morocco.
For one, during our last week there I had the opportunity to shoot a music video for a Moroccan rap group called Fez City Clan. They’re a nice bunch of guys that you can see pictured here.

I met their manager Nabil (not pictured) on the train returning from Meknes, a city not far from Fez.
The shoot lasted about a week. Two nights we met at midnight at a local cafe/club to shoot. Other days we shot in the medina of Fez and around other parts of town.
Now I have a hard drive full of footage of these guys dancing and rapping that’s waiting for me to edit it and add some special effects (like graffiti sprouting all around the city). We had one shop light as our ‘lighting kit’ and two mini-dv cameras. But we did the best we could! I need to get it done by late May since there’s a big concert and competition happening for rap music in Morocco in June.

Here is also a photo of a REAL MOROCCAN FAMILY. This was taken during New Years eve. Nabil invited Sue and me over for dinner and celebrations. This is (part of) his family in Fez. New Years eve coincides with what Muslims call Aid Kabir, which is their biggest holiday of the year. They served us much great food including pastilla, my favorite Moroccan dish which is chicken (or pigeon) baked into a pastry with cinnamon, sugar, nuts, and other exotic spices.


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Things I like about Morocco, having spent time in Spain

Posted by sue on 7th January 2007

We left Fez this morning, and we’re in Casablanca for the next day and a half, preparing for our flight to Cairo on Tuesday. I’ve been sick for over a week (a succession of colds/flus, I think, because just when I think I might get better, I get worse again), so I’m ready to get the heck out of this country. Still, there are some warm and fuzzy thoughts about Morocco:

•Cheap taxis. We found that in Marrakesh, Casablanca, and Tangier, you have to argue with cab drivers to get them not to overcharge you too much, but even their “gouging” prices end up less than the metered pricing in Spanish cities. In Fez we’re particularly fortunate in that the cab drivers almost always just use their meters and charge you what the meter says, so most cab rides cost under $1.

•Non-alcoholic beverages. I’ve come to love Moroccan mint tea, which is a blend of green tea, fresh mint and a lot of sugar. We drink it in cafes in Fez all the time. (I didn’t have any really good mint tea in Marrakesh, though—there’s something else to appreciate about Fez.) Another cafe favorite is the orange juice, which is usually fresh-squeezed from really fresh mandarin oranges, which Morocco grows tons of. And I really like Morocco’s sparkling mineral water, called “Oulmes,” better than European fizzy waters—I’m not sure why, except maybe it’s that Oulmes is more lightly carbonated, or just has a mineral taste that I happen to like.

•Some Moroccan food. We’ve ragged a bit on Moroccan food in the past because we’ve had a good deal of uninspired Moroccan restaurant food. But we also had our share of uninspired, or just plain bad, Spanish food. So I appreciate the good meals I’ve had in Morocco more, like a lamb, onion and raisin couscous I had a couple of weeks ago, or some really excellent veal kebobs, or homemade tagines we’ve been fortunate enough to partake in a few times. Did I learn to cook Moroccan food? No. It was hard to get excited about cooking anything in our sparsely-equipped apartment kitchen, and much traditional Moroccan food is pretty time-consuming to prepare. Maybe someday when I have a better kitchen again.

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Back in Fez

Posted by sue on 29th December 2006

Just a quick post to let y’all know that we made it safely back to Fez yesterday at 3:20 a.m. We had a great time in Spain (Seville, Granada, and Barcelona) and after a fairly challenging train ride from Tangier, we’re back home. This weekend is the biggest holiday of the Muslim year, Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice, commemorating Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to God), so the trains in Morocco were overloaded with Moroccans traveling to be with their families for the holiday, so we were particularly relieved when our standing-room-only train arrived in Fez.

More photos on the way from our vacation and final scenes of Fez before we leave. We have our (cold, cold, cold) apartment rented through January 4, at which time we need to go somewhere. We’re moving to Egypt, but trying to find the cheapest way there, so we may go to a coastal town in Morocco like El-Jadida (south of Casablanca) or Asilah (just south of Tangier) for a week or so before flying to Cairo.

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In Memoriam: Bill Means

Posted by len on 18th December 2006

On Dec. 7th our dear friend Gary’s father passed away.
A true Californian; raised his family there and in the Sheriff’s department for many years.
He was a funny guy and a nice man.
He will be missed.

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Night Train to Tangier

Posted by len on 18th December 2006

Where have we been?!
Sandra Chilazi, the first Hero of the Voyage ™ arrived last week (Wednesday).
We started a round-Morocco trip that has taken us from Fez to Marrakesh then on to Casablanca and we’re now in Tangier for a few more hours. We cross the Straits of Gibraltar later this afternoon and enter Spain! We take a 3 hour bus to Seville and stay the night. Two days later we head to Granada for a night. Sandra leaves on the 21st. Sue and I then head to Barcelona for Christmas! (which you’d otherwise have no idea is coming up when living in a Muslim country).
Lots of pictures to put up but as usual we’re on the run and don’t have enough time to do it right now. Plus this internet cafe is freezing!
If Spain has good internet cafes then we’ll be getting some cool photos and video up before Xmas so check back! Have a wonderful white Christmas!

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Observations of Fez in our waning days–Clothes

Posted by sue on 7th December 2006

One thing that’s interesting about Morocco is the great variety in what women wear (and some men) wear.

The traditional garment that people wear on the street is the jellaba, a long wizard robe. It’s a simple garment, all one color (any color), with a hood. It goes over your head and over your clothes (shirt and pants for men and women, usually), and it comes down to about your ankles. Many women wear it when they are out of the house, and some men too, especially on Fridays, which is the day Muslims go pray at the mosques.

The interesting thing about women’s wear, though, is that although it is traditional to wear the jellaba with a scarf that covers a woman’s hair and neck (no matter how hot the weather), some women wear the jellaba without a headscarf. And some women wear headscarves but not jellabas, but instead wear some other modest long shirt or coat with pants. And some wear headscarves with tight-fitting, very Western style clothes. And some don’t wear a headscarf at all, but still wear a jellaba or long shirt or coat, or some other more Western style outfit. The point is, you can dress however you want here and still blend in with the great variety of dress as long as you don’t wear shorts or short skirts.

These days, dress is dictated by the weather, which has turned rather cold, and most Moroccan buildings are not heated. Our apartment is COLD! It’s bearable because the sun usually comes out enough during the day to warm things up a little, but these days I’m piling on layers and layers of clothes, and that’s just to stay warm while I study at home.

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Last Week of Classes

Posted by sue on 5th December 2006

Sorry that the blogging output isn’t what we’d imagined when we started it. I dreamed of gobs of free time and blogging creativity and trouble-free internet access, but days seem to disappear and the internet access can be spotty.

Anyway, I’m in the home stretch of my studies at ALIF. I’m still not thrilled with my classes, but I’ve managed to wring what value I can out of them, and I have learned a lot. I hadn’t been studying Arabic with any consistency for several months before I arrived here, so this 6 weeks of full-time study has certainly whipped me back into shape and given me some good learning momentum.

Looks like we’re only going to be based in Fes for a couple more weeks or so. We’re probably going to Cairo– we’ll let you know.

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What is this place?

Posted by len on 5th December 2006

This is a Fez hot spot.
Nice interior, nice roof. Very stylish.
Where could this be?
Click on the image to find out.

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It’s the Little Things…

Posted by len on 29th November 2006

Hmm…I think this image speaks for itself: CLICK HERE FOR THE MAGIC OF MOROCCO

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More About Those Cats

Posted by len on 29th November 2006

So what was with that “shrine” where I was covered with cats a few posts ago? Well here’s a photo tour of the Chellah, where that Islamic shrine was. The shrine itself is actually a shallow pool, like a fountain, that contains eels (we saw only one). Supposedly it is a holy place to Moroccans. Women who are hoping to get pregnant bring a hard boiled egg to feed to the eels. This promotes a fertile future, so the lore goes. The Chellah is a Roman and Islamic ruin that has stood next to Rabat for centuries. It has been uninhabited since the 12th century! It’s pretty amazing.

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