What have you got to lose?

The other day a colleague was telling me about his mother’s request to take him on a vacation over Christmas break.  He doesn’t want to go because he thinks the family should put money towards hardwood floors.  Immediately, my jaw dropped as I gasped for air.   Well I suppose that is very practical of him, but I don’t think ideas like that have ever even entered into my brain. No no my friends, my life is about adventures.

But then I got to thinking,his reaction is probably quite typical whereas mine is probably “bizarre”.  I mean at my age, I dodge questions like: why you don’t buy a condo?  “Oh you’re off to Las Vegas, are you getting married?”  “Don’t you want kids, Mandy?” (Followed by responses like, “They give me a reason to get up in the morning.  Everything I do is for my children.”)

We live in a society where you are supposed to go to school, graduate with a degree (check), get a job (check) and then find a partner, buy a house and have a couple of kids.

Well what if you want to take a detour and follow that path later?  Or perhaps never?

Then you pack up your life and go to Morocco indefinitely and the questions shift to comments like, “You’re so brave, I could never do that”.

Now, I’m not saying that one way of living is better than other.  Rather we should all live a little.  Take a risk.  Go on an adventure.  Try something new. Do something fun!  Take a year off.  (It’s just one thing white people like to do. Oh, and record it in our Moleskin notebooks.)  Each person’s definition of risk and adventure will be different.

Perhaps heading off to a foreign country and avoiding Starbucks is too much for one person, but spending a weekend closer to home would be a big deal.  Do it! Going out to a restaurant where you don’t know what you are eating may be fun to some, yet disgusting to others.  Try it!  Or my biggest fear, heading out to a movie alone.  I know, I should go! Because really, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

The other day my friend sent me a link to a blog and the final sentence basically sums up my philosophy on life:  “You’re going to be dead soon. You might as well do something fun, in the meantime”.

Now you can  start planning your Moroccan adventure to visit me!!

Hideous Kinky

Tonight I’ve decided to kick it old school.  And by old school I mean watch a VHS that I borrowed from the library because it’s the only place that had the movie I’ve been wanting to watch over and over again.  So, tonight it’s just me and VCR.

Eleven years ago my English class in Australia took a field trip to the movies to watch Hideous Kinky, a little known Kate Winslet movie set in Morocco.  Mesmerizing, although a strange field trip to take.  At 17, I knew I had to go to Morocco one day. But Europe had to come first, then university got in the way and you know how it goes.

You can imagine my joy as I travelled across the desert, passing by kasbahs and oases, seeing places where the movie was set and passing the hotel where Kate Winslet stayed while on location.  Tonight I will relive those moments by watching a high quality VHS!

Now excuse me please while I try to figure out how to plug in a VCR.

Eid Mubarak

Eid Mubarak to all my friends in Morocco.  After several days of fasting during Ramadan, it is time to celebrate Eid el-Fitr.

My friend Abdel told me he’s celebrating with his family and friends, eating lots of delicious Moroccan cuisine.  Oh how I’d love to be there.  Perhaps next year!

Parlez-vous francais?

Air France had the pleasure of delivering me to Morocco and the flight attendants obviously wanted to serve me in French.  No way.  Not happening.  This girl doesn’t speak French while in Canada.  English, please.

However, when I arrived in Morocco my driver from the Casablanca airport to my hotel only spoke French and man did he have a lot of questions, to which I responded in French bien sur.  Encouraged by unknown fluency, I then proceeded to fill my day with speaking French to random Moroccans who were very interested in chatting with me.  I didn’t realize how much French I actually knew.  We spoke about retirement, travelling, life in Morocco, Moroccans living in Europe, until I couldn’t drink anymore coffee.  I met friends in cafes and we spoke in French. I even took a cooking class in French and my tajine was delicious!  It was splendid and I realized once again how much I love that language.

So I decided to enroll myself in a French class here in Ottawa and today I had my language assessment.  Miss Mandy will be registered in Level 7 (Level 8 is the highest), and I owe it all to my Moroccan EDUCATIONAL adventure.   I will also now be prepared for my return.

A bientot, Maroc!

The magic of Fes

If there is one place in Morocco that I’d describe as magical, it would be the ninth century Fes medina.  Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the medina is home to the world’s first university, the largest mosque in Northern Africa, markets, shops, restaurants, schools, homes, souqs, schools and residences.   It combines some of my most favourite things – architecture, food, shopping and a great place to wander/explore.  Um, how cool would it be to live there?!

The busy streets are a dangerous place for wanderers like me, people who get caught up in their surroundings and just kind of wander aimlessly.  With mules constantly passing by carrying loads of vegetables and other goods to sell in the market, chickens wandering freely (a whole new meaning to free-range chickens), and people (sometimes entire families) passing by on scooters, there was always something to look out for. Thankfully I was with a group so they could yell at me and save me from any potential accidents.

For the gourmand, this place was a tasty delight.  Street meat galore.  Tiny restaurants filled with smoke as they served up kebabs and tajines.  Bakeries with amazing snacks. Cafes serving mint tea.  Market vendors selling bags of snails.  Camel heads hanging off the butchers’ stalls.  Fresh local fruits and vegetables abounded.  Mountains of course fresh dates and roasted nuts.  Spices galore.  It was HEAVEN.  Well I didn’t exactly pick up a bag of snails and I had stopped for a camel burger in Meknes so I tried out the street food.

You can’t visit the Fes medina without speaking of the architecture and zellig.  Not only of the mosques, Koranic schools and fountains but the place in general.  The small flat-roofed buildings located in what seems like a maze of tiny streets.

At one point, as we passed through the narrow streets we could hear children counting excitedly to 15 in French.  When we peaked our heads in we were surprised to find a tiny little one-room school with the most adorable little children and a sweet teacher at the front of the room.  Now this was not a grand classroom, I could hardly stand up.  And the constant noise from the outside environment, it’s a wonder the children could even concentrate.  Though it was probably one of the sweetest little classrooms I’ve ever seen.  Who says you must have heaps of educational toys and space for children.  They seemed quite content in their classroom smaller than my tiny bachelor apartment.

Thankfully I made it out alive.  No mules to run me over.  And a guide to lead me back to my accommodations.