Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Pencil Sharpener and Moroccan Wine

Today, my life had two parts to it; the school part of the day, and the after school part of the day. This was the last day of planning before our students arrive. I worked feverishly on all kinds of organizational strategies. Artists have to work feverishly on organizational strategies, or at least it feels like that, because artists are not organized by nature. We are squiggly lines by nature. Think jumping bean in a cubicle. 

OK, so I spent hours on my bulletin boards after I poured over my rules for the classroom. Decorating my bulletin boards was so much more fun! I thought you might like to see my art room before everything begins. While I was decorating and designing, I played classical music being piped through iTunes via Venice. Yep, classics from Venice. I think the Moroccans trying to put in my classroom sinks just before school starts liked the music. Maybe?
There were lots of smiles.

Of course, the music came and went depending on whether the satellite was lined up properly with Morocco, but we heard most of it this morning. It got more spotty by the afternoon, so I changed to Jazz tunes from France. When not fiddling with my iTunes, I nailed down 3x5 cards so I could make cards with my students' names. By nailing down, I mean, I had to ask, beg, borrow and almost steal 3x5 flashcards from other teachers. The librarian saved the day when she came up to me with 100 3x5 flashcards from a teacher who did not come back this year. I sat with her a while basking in the glory.

Back in my classroom, I found my plan book, and I made a xerox copy of the first 4 weeks of my year - all planned out - yes, by me. I handed it in to the assistant to the elementary principal, and she said I was the first one to hand in my plan book pages. I was almost radiant when I returned to my room and saw a few men with all sorts of power tools. They did not speak a word, made huge amounts of noise, and when the dust settled, there was a real, live pencil sharpener on my art room wall! Miracle of Miracles!

Almost immediately after this miracle, another teacher ran in with an important looking document and said I needed to bring that to some finance guy, and I'd get paid. How kind of her to think of me and get that paper for me. I ran down to that office, well, walked quickly in this heat, and found him. He was enjoying some AC, and was happy to take my paper. He said I'd have direct deposit  next month; this month I get a check. 

The check was in another office. I raced calmly over to that office, signed my check and was told a currier would return in a day or so with cash for my check.  I am  hopeful I will see the cash because so many miracles occurred today. I'll let you know. When I returned, 2 freshly made chocolate chip cookies were on my desk from a fellow teacher, along with an encouraging note. Amazing! I popped them in my petite cuisine in my file drawer.

After school, Jill and I were determined to find some wine. We went to Label Vie, which is pronounced La Belle Vie, and I ran up to the first official looking guy I saw and asked, "Ou est le vin?" (Where is the wine?)  He said it was at another Belle Vie. Right. Well, as we finished up our shopping, we bumped into someone from HR who has been wonderfully kind to us. He said he'd drive to the store where we'd find some wine. (It is Ramadan and they don't sell it as a general rule. Muslims don't drink anyway.)

Our HR friend got us to the next grocery store, and I bolted in there as slowly as I could. I asked, "Ou est le vin, s'il vous plait?" They said it is Ramadan. I said I am American. (I wasn't going to quibble about whether all Americans drink or not or mention I had not had wine in a month.) One man took my passport, and another man led me to the back of the store, into a locked area...dark, wine spilled on the floor, and hard to read labels. I wondered if I'd ever see my passport again, and if wine was worth all this hassle. I quickly grabbed 2 different Moroccan red wines. I had no idea what I was getting, but I wanted to head back to my passport.

Yes, I got my passport back, and Jill and I got home and toasted another great and interesting day in Morocco. Salute! Of course, we dashed into our dear bakery right before it closed, so we had yummy things to eat with wine and couscous while the BBC came in and out on the TV.  I am well fed and safe. Tonight, I am thankful for a pencil sharpener and Moroccan wine, and much more. Yes, odd, bizarre stuff happens here every day, but Miracles are happening, too!
Cactus flowering outside our apartment

Monday, August 30, 2010

These Are The People In My Neighborhood (ala Mr. Rogers)

The bakery and cafe across from us.
Oh, these are the people in my neighborhood, in my neighborhood, in my neighborhood! I can just hear Mr. Rogers faintly singing that song as I think about our afternoon walk here today. 

Let me backtrack a little to the beginning of our day. We drove into school very early; most people were snuggled in their beds since they were up all night. After setting up some things with our car insurance, which is a story unto itself(didn't realize we needed insurance until someone said, Hey if the police stop you ; they will tow your car if you have no insurance.....our car doesn't have insurance? No, you need to get some. Oh.).....

As I was saying, after getting car insurance, we headed back home to let the sweet cleaning ladies into our place for the day. We also asked them to make us dinner, and we gave them the supplies. They really brightened up when we said we wanted the traditional moroccan couscous. They were all over that.

Now, you may think we are living high on the hog with cleaning ladies, but it is a big help to this economy to hire these gals for a few dollars each week. ($8.00 each) We are blessing the ladies, and they are blessing us with a dust/sand free house and a meal that will last a couple of days.  Please see the pictures of the cool pot for cooking the entire meal! The top part has the couscous in a steamer, and the bottom part has the veggies and chicken. We hope to hire them every 10 to 14 days.

After having our delicious, authentic Moroccan dinner, we decided to walk the neighborhood. It's a BIG decision to walk around here with Ramadan in full swing. None of the women are about because they are cooking their little hearts out for the men and kiddies. 
So, Jill and I walked the streets of our little corner of the world. In one hnoot(shop) I tried to get my cell phone working. All of a sudden about 8 guys decided it was time to frequent that hnoot and pack in there with me. Hmmm. No one bats an eye when I walk into a tiny T-mobile kiosk in the USA.

Well, I plowed my way out of that shop and we came upon the pillow shop. Three guys were sewing pillows in there. They gave us permission to take their pictures. They are really colorful, swanky pillows for just a hole in the wall shop. We were finally realizing that we were walking down our main street with lots of little shops! 

Mixed in with all this frivolity was a lovely, new bakery with amazing french pastries and those triangular shaped pockets of dough filled with meats or veggies. I admit the pastry and coffee i had back at home after the walk was out of this world....well out of this part of the world! After the pastry shop, we headed to the pharmacy just to see it for future reference. It was next door to a dry-cleaners. Yep, we even have  a dry-cleaners here, and who would know?

On the return home, we did see the usual empty lots with garbage, rocks and gross, emaciated cats. It is jarring and hard to find such beauty one minute and then ugliness the next in our neighborhood. One easily sees fantastic, bright hibiscus flowers along with cactus near the areas of garbage.

The hibiscus beauty reminds me of God's faithfulness for all time in all places. He is steadfast, certain and His love is steadfast as well. Even here in my neighborhood.

The call to worship began just as we returned home, all praise to God, and we saw the men rushing to pray in the tent below our bedroom windows. This time, I tried to catch a picture of the men's shoes. It is fascinating to watch the men show reverence just like in the Old Testament when Moses took off His sandals when he was speaking with God.  When seeing the long gowns the men wear, I feel like I am in Bible times sometimes. 
Well, that's my neighborhood!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sick in Morocco

Yep, I caught a cold and that calls for soup. Now, to read the directions on the box, you must read right to left. (You try it!) My brother, Marc, probably would love that. Being left-handed, he might like all the right to left writing and reading. However, the left hand is unclean. Left handed folks are just asked to do everything with their right hand while in Morocco. Greet to the right, shake to the right, eat with the right hand only. Sorry, Marc!

Since I was feeling poorly, I rested in bed this morning. Jill and I then trudged into work to spend more time in preparation. The learning curve is huge. We did bump into some sheep at the gate to our school....here are a couple of shots of the local herd.

While I was typing up the course description for middle school art and filling in my plan book, I listened to a variety of speakers online as well as music. Because the signal comes and goes, so does everything I listen to online. One might get excited about a building key point, then the speaker goes away in cyberspace! Life is different here.

After logging 5 hours at work, for which only teachers understand why, Jill and I drove home and greeted our three beggar ladies we enjoy each evening. They are always happy to see us. We drop a dirham in their tired, wrinkled palms, and we say, "Salaam al lay koom!" They greet us cheerfully in return. A dirham is about 1.2 cents. We try to do it about every day. 

We are also usually hit up by the crazy beggar who urinates in public, but I am just saying, "La, La!" to him at the moment. (La means "No".) We retreat to our favorite spot in the square - the bakery. After we leave the bakery, you know we had to go, I snapped a pretty picture of an archway with flowering hibiscus peeking through. If only I could sit and paint. It will be easier after Ramadan because more women will be out.

I love thinking about art curriculum. It is so nice that curriculum development is part of my job. I would also love to sit in Italy and paint as part of my job description. Hmmm. I'll have to work on that.

I had the BBC on TV for a few minutes with an excellent interview going with General Pretraus or Petraius, but of course I lost the signal. He's not coming back anytime soon. 

Two of our beggar lady friends are heading for home, wherever that is.......so I catch them out of the corner of my eye and pray for them.

Another day has come and gone in Morocco, but the night is young, and "Ramadan Nights" is about to begin. Well, after the dinner to break the fast. And remember, they begin with Harira, the very soup I ate today!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Good Morning, Morocco!

Our fruit seller below our apartment
Today, we are going into the city to see a different part of the visual hubbub and cacophony of sounds. There is supposed to be a good grocery store where we are going along with a fruit market, different shops for bread and jellabas (their gown women throw over any outfit to go outside)and a nice french cafe to visit when Ramadan is not happening. We are taking a slow start to our day, which is fine with me. When I awoke early, the fog had enveloped our sleepy little town like a pale wet, gray glove. Now, the sun has burned that off, and we have blue skies above. 

I have already killed a cockroach, please let it be the only one, and have my french press by my side filled with warm "Cafe Noir" coffee. I'll probably go back to sleep because I am still achey and tired. After eight hours of sleep, my body and brain are still comatose from the week's events in Morocco. Today, I hope to draw one thing...when I wake up! But, right now, the town is sleepy from 4 AM prayer service, and so am I. Here is a picture from our rooftop patio space/clothes drying area and viewing deck on the Atlantic ocean. It's a great spot to have morning coffee or unwind in the evening!

I am certain there will be many adventures today. It's Morocco, after all! Stay tuned!......It has been about 9 hours since my morning coffee. I did go back to sleep for 3 hours! After awakening for the second time, Jill and I met Robin and headed for downtown. Robin drove because she knew the area better. We went to a little, tiny, outdoor market that many French go to. The venders spoke French, Arabic and English, and they were very nice. I got some fresh basil to go with my fresh mozzarella(oh happy day!). I also got peaches, walnuts and a bag of lavender to put in my closet to keep bugs and humidity away. You can find lavender in North Africa, no problem!

We then headed into a grocery store called O'Self. Not O'Leary or O'Donald, but O'Self. Go Figure. It was an insane mash of people and wobbly carts. A woman spoke in French with me saying we needed a police officer in the store for traffic. We both laughed. It was fun to understand the joke. I guess the French like to shop at O'Self for some special French foods, but otherwise, I don't see why anyone goes there when there are more sane options.

After a return to Robin's house to stash perishables, we headed to the medina in town so Jill could look for long tops or shirts. Women are supposed to cover their bums because they are eye-catching to men. Men can run around in shorts and a T-shirts, but that is another story. Every country has their culture, and it is kind of nice to see women covered more than they often are in other places. However, the jellaba seems so hot!

I stopped in a shop in the medina and had a great experience buying a watch for me and a clock for Jill. The vender said he had nice Rolex, Guess, and all kinds of very expensive brands for great prices. OK, so I have never had a Guess watch, but now I do for a mere $10. I asked if it was from China, and he assured me it was the real deal, totally legit. Jill got pictures of us shaking hands on the deal which I will post soon. Here is the watch.

The cool thing is that I told the vender I was an art teacher and an artist, and then he gave me an invitation to a show of art work done by a friend of his. It was a really slick invitation, and the show is until the 31st, so maybe I will get to it. The watch vender also gave me his card and told me to introduce myself as someone who knows him when I get to the show. How cool is that? I love it!

Be my Guide right here, God of Abraham, lead me by Your Hand, You are strong and wise...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Total Exhaustion In Morocco

English muffins, whatzamagig, corn English muffins
Well, there is no where but up from here. Jill and I stayed at school till after 6 PM working on our classrooms and curriculum. I was pouring over books on the why of teaching art in the elementary classroom when Jill jarred me from my world of ideas. I was reading a book called "Art Matters". I had to read part of it online because my second box of books has not come - shipped 6 weeks ago. 

We slowly crawled into the car knowing we didn't really have any food for dinner. We didn't really care. Tomorrow we go food shopping in town. The bakery was our hope for something good to eat. They were just about out of everything, but here is what I got for dinner. It cost about $1.30.

Morocco really is on the other side of the world than Seattle in more ways than one! Say you want a ride up the street. No real hitch-hiking here. Rides are always for sale. So many are so poor, they try to make money any way they can. Men sell boxes of tissues on the street when you are at a stoplight. The boy in this photo gave friends a ride up the street. It is all part of the economy and ebb and flow of life here.

I thought you might like to see my apartment for a change. I have a good bed with a quilt and shams I brought in my suitcase. The fan is the second most important piece of equipment in my room. It was over 100 degrees again today. You can also see the pictures of family and friends next to the fan. So, this is where I will call home for one year. The folks who rent this place (we sub-let) come back in a year.

Jill and I did get our walk on the beach again tonight; it was dark when we finished it up and we heard wild dogs on the beach nearby. I picked up a rock just in case they attacked. ( I did read Call of the Wild in English class.) But, we made it back safe and sound. The house is quiet; the evening service has begun below our windows. We thought they might want to take the night off, but I guess not.
a new beggar at the fruit stand
Life in Morocco continues!   
An artist paints with his brains, not with his hands! - Michelangelo

Thursday, August 26, 2010

117 Degrees Here in Morocco!

We broke down and had pizza tonight at a local tennis and swim club. It has a small restaurant non-members can go to. Four of us "older women" went and relaxed on the veranda of the outdoor part of the restaurant. The veranda overlooks the tennis courts and beyond to a lovely expanse of golden fields and gray goats. We laughed and talked, and de-briefed about the days events. This adventure is really new to all of us. It was so nice to eat something familiar and tasty.

I wondered why I was dragging today, and then I heard it was 117 degrees here. Why I wasn't lazing about at the beach is beyond me! Oh, right, I had meetings, and I was trying to find a pencil sharpener for my room. I asked my friend (Abduljalila?)  in the copy room for a classroom pencil sharpener, and he mentioned someone I needed to see about that. I went to the office of said pencil sharpener person, and she handed me a tiny silver sharpener and said I had to use it in her office.

I said I had 25 pencils to sharpen, and didn't she have a classroom sharpener. Nope. I had to fill out a maintenance form for that at a completely different office and then return the form to another office across campus. I mentioned my predicament to a passerby, and she suggested I buy one for the class. I thought, "Which hut hnoot would I buy it at???" But, I quietly kept going to the appropriate places to try to get the ball rolling for a pencil sharpener in my art room. I'll keep you posted. The current efforts took a good 20 minutes.

I walked back to my classroom, somewhat deflated and overheated, and I pulled out my file cabinet drawer and had a bite to eat in there. I took a few swigs of water. I'm still trying to be respectful of those who are keeping Ramadan. Ramadan is 3 and 1/2 weeks too long for me. I'm sure there is something I am not understanding about it all, although I do love the food associated with it.

I thought you might like to see our little tent mosque below our bedroom windows. Here it is. They just announced the call to the evening service which will take place in about a half hour.

Good news! Jills bed frame was at the bottom of our stairs, so she might have a proper frame under her mattress if we can lug that thing up the stairs in the next day or two. We have 65 stairs to the roof where we do wash, but I think it is about 25 to our door. Beautiful marble stairs. I can just see crashing the bed frame up those stairs. I hope it works out.

My school at sunset.
We have another try at setting up our classrooms tomorrow. I really like the size of my room and the view of the ocean from my room windows. It is going to be a pretty space in which to work. I'm just so exhausted, and I haven't even begun my first day of teaching. Everything is hard here. I just pray it gets easier eventually. Ta Bark Allah! (God bless you!)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Construction Papier est Ici!

Yes, I did find a little construction paper today, and I have pictures to prove it. I was so excited when I signed out with the nice man in the paper supply room!  I said it was for art and dashed out of there. I also found out he laminates whatever we need laminated, but only on Fridays. I gave him a big stack of things to laminate, and I filled out the proper form to have it requested. I still feel like a visitor at school and long for a map that will tell me where rooms, people and offices are. I also long for a map that shows me what is expected, how I should greet the maids in head scarves, and who among the men I may make eye contact with.

Other good news from today: I did receive a stapler, a 4 hole punch (they do 4 holes for binders here), a nice pair of scissors, but no tape holder. Maybe on the next ship in a couple of months? I might go on a hunt for an office supply store this weekend...but I have my doubts. I also ordered art supplies locally, maybe.
Everything is a maybe, yes, maybe no, maybe I don't know around here.

The other highlights of my day were when I snuck drinks of water in the girl's bathroom and in my purse because men were working in my art room, so out of respect for them, I did not eat or drink in front of them. I also set up a petite cuisine in my file cabinet drawer and ate in there as I could, without them noticing.

We had another beautiful walk on the beach after several meetings, both small and large gatherings. As I was walking along, I marveled that I was to give letter grades in art. I have decided to grade on care for materials , effort and attitude. The last thing they need is to feel they are not creative when they are 5 or 6 years old.

Jill and I continue to be amazed that there are only children and men on the beach at 4 in the afternoon because all the women and teen-aged girls are home cooking the meal that breaks the Ramadan fast. We slip past striped tents set up on the beach with sofas and TVs inside. We have to avoid fast-paced soccer games, four-wheelers, men swimming in their underwear (is that their underwear?), and men running with stray dogs following them.

We go to the local Bim which is like a very small 7-11, and we buy fairly fresh milk and snacks. Jill stops and buys fresh fruit and veggies from a hnoot. Earlier we had gotten cactus fruit at a cart drawn by a donkey. Cactus fruit is pleasantly mild and refreshing. One just has to swallow the little lumpy things mixed in with the flesh and not ask questions. Trust me on this.

As we try to pull away from the Bim, we notice the car behind us and the motorcycle in front of us has us jammed in place. I get out and try to move the motorcycle, ending up laying it on the curb and zipping into the car as fast as I can while Jill pulls away.

We have homework tonight and lesson planning; the evening service is going on down below us. Tonight's service has no fire and brimstone preaching like last night. We did ask our landlord about last night's yelling on the part of the Oman. It seems he is a traveling, guest speaker, the landlord didn't like his style, lots of don't do this, don't do that, and is glad that guy is speaking only once, and, God be blessed, left town!

I am going to begin a book tonight by Francine Rivers, just for a change. A full moon is shining above our house again tonight, we are well fed and happy for modern beds, flush toilets and electricity. (Except for that loud electric speaker down below!) I wonder where that is plugged in.
OK, I'll pray up here instead.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pas de Papier Construction Ici!

OK, so they don't have or make any construction paper in Morocco? That is what I was told today. Hmmm. I'm creative. I'll have to think of something. Tomorrow. By about 2 PM this afternoon I was physically shot from lack of water and sketchy food eaten inside my file cabinet. I can take a picture of myself eating in my file cabinet drawer tomorrow, if you'd like.

I'd love to go to Costco and get some construction paper or have my old school adopt this school and air drop piles of construction paper in front of my art room. Pinch me; I was dreaming for a moment. I can see the cabinet with all the construction paper in the aide room right now. I will never take packs of construction paper for granted ever again.

After about 3 hours of wandering around trying to get my class schedule, a roll of scotch tape and staples, I gave up on getting a stapler and tape roll dispenser. And scissors are just a faint memory. Never take for granted all those supplies you have in desk drawers all across America! Get in touch with me, and I'll give you my address so you can send 1/16th of all you have to me!

While heading for home, I thought you might like to see our neighbor's complex.

We left school tired and frustrated, so we headed to a hnoot that sells cheap jellabas and Moroccan PJs. We ended up buying 2 dish towels, but caused a good stir in the hnoot (shack that sells anything and everything). Then, we comforted ourselves with fresh goodies from the bakery across from the apartment we call home. After plopping down on our sofas, Jill and I turned on CNN and relaxed with our fresh goodies. (We learned Somalia was in chaos.)

We then went on another lovely walk along the surf's edge of our beautiful beach nearby. These walks prove to be wonderfully restorative, and we vow to quit our jobs and just live at the beach and eat pastries. Reality sets in as we think who will foot the bill for our lolli-gagging at the beach. And, how will we pay for those daily puffs filled with chicken and cumin and lentils?

Fresh fruit vender. We got some plum like fruit.
We came home from our walk and ate a lovely dinner on the roof of our apartment. It even got cold as we laughed about all the crazy things that had happened or that we saw. Here are a couple of pictures from our wanderings this afternoon. 

It is 8:30 PM and the call/singing to the men to come to the 9:00 PM service has just begun. Reality is really setting in! The praying has begun in earnest outside my apartment and inside as well. Life is so amazing every day no matter where you live!
Night falls at the bakery across from the apartment.

Monday, August 23, 2010

First Day of Meetings

OK, so I think I am really settled here; I just saw my "favorite" (see previous blog) beggar man urinate in public...right in front of the bakery I love so much. Nice arch, I thought to myself, the grandkids would love it. My roommate completely missed it, oblivious as I was jabbing her.Yes, I did go to faculty meetings, but what happens after the meetings becomes what I remember from today.

I spent a good part of the day trying to figure out information about art supplies for my classes. It turns out that the ship hasn't even left from the US bound for North Africa. So, I eventually found the room with computer paper and grabbed myself a package of paper to use for drawing with children. I am going to put in an order for some art supplies locally; hopefully some will be delivered before school begins. 

When we returned home, our fantastic landlord had repaired so much! My night screen was repaired, down and ready for me to go to bed. The fridge door looked better, and the TV seemed to have CNN. I say "seemed to" because once the landlord left, we couldn't get it back again on the TV.

Jill, my roommate, and I had a lovely walk on the beach after the incident at the bakery. It was nice to get away from everything and enjoy God's beauty once again. We found some pretty sea green shells to dry on our balcony and remember our walk. At the beach, one can walk and walk and walk while time fades and slips away. The Atlantic is restorative and calming.

As I sit and write, the pungent smell of hashish fills the air, wafting up into our apartment windows. I think the bakery is closed, and it must be time for pipes, right before the Ramadan fast is broken? Wow, it is strong. I wonder about secondhand smoke . Am I feeling woozy? Oh, well. En sha allah.

While on our walk, we saw a beautiful horse being exercised on the beach. The rider seemed to be making the horse stop and start on cue. I got a little video of the horse, and I will try to post something - a picture or video. We also got photos of the local flea-ridden wild and stray dogs slumbering away on the beach; they're just part of the whole scene.

It's not even 7 PM and I am ready for bed. I did sketch during a meeting, but I left that drawing at school. This was done during the library meeting - a little ceramic dish was in front of me. This is a tiny bowl with a tall cone shaped lid. Very quick drawing..

I wasn't very successful in decorating my classroom, although I was able to wipe down my keyboard for my computer. Maybe I'll have more success setting up my classroom tomorrow now that I have my paper. I am bringing cleaning supplies; the dust settles on everything daily. The phrase "wait until the dust settles" isn't usable here; it is always settled on everything.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Settling In Casablanca

A first for today: I was drinking from my water bottle with my head inside my purse(it's a big purse) so I would not offend those keeping Ramadan. :-)

It is a lovely, hot, sunny day in Casablanca. I am almost through unpacking at my second apartment. It is a good feeling. I've put up pictures of my family and friends. I have found my books to teach art. I have killed a baby cockroach. All in a day in the life here. Here is a view out my bedroom window.

The bakery has opened across the way, and I am hopeful to find some Moroccan pizza for lunch or dinner. It's hard to know what time it is around here. Lunch begins at two in the afternoon, and the breaking of the fast begins at seven PM. The muslims break fast with a very delicious soup, so I hope to get invited to one of the evening meals!

I have a packaged version of this good soup that Knorr makes so you can see what the name of it is. I hope to learn how to make it from scratch. 

I feel like I am making cultural mistakes right and left. When I was in the Marjan, a Walmart type store, people kept circling me, stopping and staring. I think the word was spread quickly that I was in the store as more and more people suddenly started coming down my aisle. I didn't know whether to be friendly; I can't make eye contact with the men unless it is a service person, and even then, it can't be for too long. 

My roommate, Jill, and I did have fun talking with a clerk that checked our receipt on the microwaves we bought. He said he liked "Beel Cleentin". Bill Clinton is good. I asked what he thought of Barak Obama, and he said, "Comsi, Comsa" which means OK, but he wasn't too enthusiastic. We then asked how old the king of Morocco was as it was his birthday. He is 63 yesterday. I sang a little "Happy Birthday" in french to the roi (king) and the clerk smiled a lot.

I found out a beggar that comes up to me asking for a set amount of money is not a legit beggar. This did happen to me a couple of days ago, and I kept saying, "La!, la!, la!" which means no. Fortunately, that was the right thing to do, but I wasn't sure until I read about beggars. There are all types:-) Even then, I could have given that beggar something and it could have been OK. Maybe. Just don't know. 

I thought you might like to see a building that is being constructed right around the corner. I am fascinated by the creative ideas of the people here. They must be able to think outside my little American box of how things are done. I am trying to take in so much all at once. It's exciting and overwhelming at the same time. Well, time for another shower! Yep, it's HOT here!