Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Swimming Downstream

I've been assigned to try and sum up my trip. I don't really know how to summarize what feels like three months of chaos and insanity. So here's my attempt.

I loved. I fell into life in that village and was surrounded by warmth and childish fun and LOVE. I wove in and out of concern and devotion, and I learned that no amount of flies, colds, or heat would ever keep me away. I cooked, I giggled, I blew kisses on the naked, plump stomach of a three year old. I played dress up. I sat still and blinked profusely while kohl was applied to my eyes and tried not to cry it all off as it burned and my Moroccan mother laughed.

But most of all, I was adored and I adored back. I was dragged willingly into a life that wasn't mine, but felt like it was. Because there, I was loved. And I loved in spades.

I recharged. I stood in the rain in the too expensive dress I had bought because I couldn't resist, and thanked God for umbrellas. I scanned yellow lit streets that reflected light from puddles and held my breath, even though I was early. I clutched a small Starbucks cup to my hands for warmth and finished the contents.

Everything looked British. No matter where I went in London, it always looked the way I imagined it. Its one of the only places I've ever been that has that quality.

I turned towards the tube stop and forgot my umbrella and my carefully straightened hair, and rushed foreword into one of my favorite people in the entire world.

One of the hardest parts of traveling for me is missing the people I love. I've always felt close to my family, and that connection helps me thrive. While I think being alone is a blessing for me, that doesn't always dull the ache of homesickness I sometimes get in the pit of my stomach.

Seeing Ethan was like a breath of fresh air for me. I didn't care what we did, despite how incredible London is, and I didn't care about missing him. Because I got to see him, and that was one of the highlights of my time abroad. It helped me reboot- helped me remember why I was there, and plugged me back into my family. I was zapped back into alignment with my life.

And then, I enjoyed. I met nice people, drank nice drinks, and mostly, ATE nice food. I will forever remember and crave those little pizza shops that had giant square pizzas. They would, upon my order, cut slices into rectangles and fold them over so that cheese met cheese, and I had makeshift pizza sandwiches. Its one of the best things I've ever eaten.

I had a lot of mishaps in Rome. I decided to do a cheesy tour bus around the city and picked the company with only six busses running on a Friday. This meant that I hardly got off the bus because if I did, I would wait forever and not even get a seat when the next bus did come. I went to museum after museum just to be disappointed by decayed frescos, no paintings, or oddly enough, a futuristic art museum with art aiming at contemporary, I think, but mostly achieving nothing of interest (okay, so I'm not really a contemporary art person anyway, but this belonged firmly in the category of crap). I've never spent so little time in a museum, but I've learned from now on, if I'm not sure of what lays inside the museum, I should check out the gift shop BEFORE I buy the ticket. Good lesson.

I went to the Vatican on a Saturday and became claustrophobic by the number of tourists and cameras (there were more cameras than tourists). I basically ran through the Vatican museums in an effort to escape being trampled.

But I still enjoyed. I enjoyed because I found the best chocolate mouse of my life, and promptly called my Mother to discuss specifics. I enjoyed because I had great conversations with interesting people, including a Canadian soldier who discussed government errors (read: stupidity) with me and struck me as a cowboy. And I enjoyed because when I walked to my little pizza shop on the corner, I wasn't alone. AND I got pizza.

Then in Barcelona, I connected. Not just in a superficial way, but in a way I've never felt before. I went on my first pub crawl, just to get out and because I was alone, not expecting to have anything really happen, but to maybe make some friends. I befriended almost everyone on the pub crawl, including a group of seven awesome girls on break from studying in Madrid. I made friends with two Spanish girls who spoke little English, but told me my Spanish was good, because I complimented one of them on their truly adorable dress.

And I met this guy, and we talked all night, until past six in the morning, and I felt concocted. I felt great. I know, without a doubt, that having that kind of connection with someone was the next stage in my development towards being (wanting to be) in a romantic relationship with someone for more than a few weeks at a time. What a good lesson, to know that I could desire it, feel connected enough to actually want to share myself. To understand even a little that it could happen for me, not just in stories. While I am an overtly open person, when it comes to romance I guard myself quite closely. I always thought that was a problem. I contemplated the idea that maybe I did that because I was never with the right men. I considered that sometime soon, I might be open to a relationship in a way I never have been before.

Next, I healed. France was all in all a sort of non-experience for me. I slept. I read. I watched television. I didn't tour. I avoided busy areas and cities. I tried to rejuvenate myself.

All of that effort was somewhat moot when I had an allergic reaction that sent me to the hospital in Paris in the middle of the night. After some of the worst hours of my life, I had medicine and no doctor's bill (go France!).

And I healed. Quickly. Before I knew it, the welt like bumps were gone, along with the itching and my discomfort. My mood improved, and I healed in a quiet village in the southwest of Turkey. There, I slept and cooked and attended a village wedding, where I somehow managed to miss the ceremony because I had no idea what was going on, and I was doing my best to make myself invisible. It's harder than you'd think.

But mostly, I healed. I caught my breath. By the time I got to Cappadocia, I was ready to soar.

I discovered. With my face firmly planted underwater, my eyes hardly blinked as they stayed glued to every detail of the underwater kingdom I had found before me. Even sporting dysentery (the latest fashion, in my life anyway), I lost all thoughts of the outside world as I stared at grass, coral, and fish darting in and out of their mazes.

Some of the coral were bright yellow trees and branches. Some were white plants with highlighter green, purple, pink, and blue tips. My favorite was probably the array of pinks, purples, and whites that covered entire walls and reminded me of exquisite wedding centerpieces.

I was also fascinated by the patterns on much of the coral and reefs. I didn't know why humans even tried to make symmetry and pattern when nature had already perfected it. I wondered if I hovered if I could pick out the symmetry group. I know, I'm a geek.

I saw the most spectacular fish. Deep purple with midnight blue spots and yellow accents, and a foot long. Vivid, multicolored stripes. Moray eels. I swam with a sea turtle I approximated at four to five feet long while diving. I touched a foot long blowfish and felt the spikes, and I saw it expand into a comical balloon (those things are hilarious- I didn't know it was possible to giggle underwater, but I managed it).

I saw rainbow fish and Dora and Nemo from Finding Nemo (incidentally, my dive school's name was Nemo Dive Center). I saw something in the crocodile family, barracudas, and three foot long fish in quads. I swam around a sunken tank. Basically, I discovered not only a world unto its own, but that I could participate in that world.

I reveled. I reveled at Petra, old stone masterpieces, and at life. I experienced gratitude in spades and listened to affirmations until I truly felt them, and felt hurt, anger and fear melt away. I grew up a little, both when I didn't cry upon getting an IV and shots, and when I recognized that I was going to take responsibility for my own feelings and turn them into a positive direction, despite conflict and health.

And lastly, I loved again. As cheesy as it sounds, this time I was the recipient of that love. I recognized my accomplishment- three months of somewhat rough travel, and two months of it alone. I didn't just survive, I learned from it and adjusted to become a better traveller. I finally recognized that this is not something everyone is capable of, which means that I am good at something. I'm allowing myself to take every hiccup, supposed failure, and setback and view them as excellent indicators that will help guide me towards what I want in the second half, so that it might go more smoothly than the first.

So now I sit in Cairo, where I will be in a month's time, but under such different circumstances. I don't know what the next trip will bring, but I know what this one brought: love, recharge, enjoyment, connection, healing, discovery, revelation, and love all over again.

It brought insight and truth and blessings and gratitude. I don't really know what more can be asked of any experience. I always planned on learning. I always planned on self-discovery. I didn't quite expect the crazed ups and downs.

I've read that this life is just a flowing river. We can either fight the current, or ride it towards bliss. Conflict arises when we fight it, and joy when we let go and follow the stream. When you live an intense life, your stream flows faster. Therefore, you have to fight it harder and when you relax, you go faster into happiness. This accounts for intense emotional ups and downs. So the biggest thing I've learned is simple.

My stream is rushing.

My stream is thundering.

My stream is flowing even faster than my imagination.

And I don't need to keep up with it.

I need to remove my clasping fingers from the rock I'm clutching, and allow myself to be swept along into the currents of my rapid-filled, steaming, whirling life.

Note: As is probably obvious, this post is extremely personal and as such I was hesitant to post it. I have done so in the spirit of neglecting fear and swimming downstream (I.e. I'm not quite floating because I am actively participating in my path downstream, hope that came through). So anyway, I hope someone enjoyed it, and I think it adequately, if not completely thoroughly, sums up the first half of my experience abroad.
Much love,

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Lessons from the Middle East

Things I've learned in Jordan:

1) The Red Sea is awesome. There is noting quite like swimming amongst coral of red, yellow, and purple and watching schools of multicolored fish cruise by. It is truly a crazy experience and even better since you can swim to the reefs from the beach (they are only about ten to fifteen meters out!).

2) I like to dive. My first diving experience happened about a week and a half ago, and I've gone twice since then. While I was initially nervous about this (read: terrified) I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I saw a moray eel, which looks like a big old snake, and something that was apparently in the crocodile family (which I only learned after I had left the water, thank God). I swam a lap around a sunken tank with coral growing on it, and fish nipping at the algae. Basically, it was out of this world, literally, because it felt like another world altogether under there!

3) Petra deserves to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World, so go team! The facade of the Treasury, the best known building in Petra, is spectacular, and I couldn't believe that the red rock carving was two thousand years old.

4) I don't like dysentery, or IVs. I left to write a book on food and I'm starting to think that I should really be writing it on hospitals and doctor's offices. While dysentery really sucks (I didn't eat properly for a week) I still can't deny the fact that I'm grateful for antibiotics, anti fever pills, and IV fluids. I've become a walking pharmacy, but hey, I'm not stuck in bed anymore!

5) Jordanians are incredibly friendly! While I've often had trouble deciphering whether Jordanian people (read:men; I have had basically no interaction with the women, they just aren't around) are hitting on me or are just being friendly, I've discovered that the majority of them are very hospitable. When I went shopping, I received a magnet, a postcard, a sand bottle, Fanta and water for free, and was invited to tea twice in the six shop stretch.

6) Shopping with a local gets you crazy discounts. Running around Aqaba trying to finish the last of my shopping, a necklace that was originally 40 dinars (the dinar is about equivalent to the euro) was reduced to 10 dinars for me, and the shop owner would have made no profit, but he still offered me tea! Basically, I hardly had to negotiate, because the shop owners immediately reduced their prices to their 'last price' price. Awesome.

7) Magluba is delicious. Called 'upside-down' because the chicken is cooked on the bottom and the rice on top, but the rice is served on bottom, the rice and vegetables are so flavorful I ate about four plates of it (this was before eating became a force of will). While I was not able to get as many recipes about Jordanian food as I would have liked due to the fact that cooking is out of the question when I can't eat (duh, why else do I like to cook?), I did get the recipe for this. It takes about two hours to make, and is quite involved, but it is amazing.

8) I like to lay by the pool or beach and fry. I never considered myself to be one of those people who was particularly good at this. I tend to get bored and find it a waste of time. However, I'm discovering that after three months of travel I am more than happy to lay by the pool or sea for a good couple of hours and roast. I expect to return with a killer tan, and then quickly become pasty due to the amount of snow I hear we're getting.

9) There is something truly unsavory about seeing meat in other countries. I know what you're thinking: I should already know this, and I did to some extent. But three days ago I saw an entire cow body, tail still furry , hanging from a hook. Next to it was the cow's fully furred, black and white cute little head. Cut off. Now I don't consider myself particularly squeamish, but if I ate beef I think that would've been my cue to become a vegetarian. In fact, the more hooked, partially skinned animals I see, the more I consider giving up meat altogether, but I just enjoy chicken parmesan, chicken tikka masala, and my crazy stuffed pesto chicken too much. Not to mention southwest-chicken sandwiches from The Lodge where I work. Mmmm. Sandwich.

10) The tobacco industry's main target is Jordan. It must be because I've never seen people smoke like Jordanians do. The men generally chain smoke cigarettes. I've seen men literally just light one after the other. And more surprising to me, the women smoke. In a restaurant in Amman I saw hoards of women smoking hookah pipes for hours. Even on the bus the passengers and bus driver alike smoke the entire way to the destination. It seems to me that this is the country's main pastime, and has served to make me never want to touch a cigarette for the rest of my life.

Cheers to finding new things. It is there that I am discovering, in my Dad's words, other cultures from the inside and mine from the outside. So thanks for the lessons!

(The first two pictures are from the internet. I will be posting some of my own that I took with an underwater disposable camera, but first it has to get developed. Just wanted to give you all an idea of what it looks like down there!)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Aqaba, Jordan

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thank You Notes to God

Dear God,

I would like to say a big resounding thank you for placing a Starbucks, several in fact, into the middle of Istanbul. I've thoroughly enjoyed the meeting of new and old, as I often walk through the Grand Bazaar with my oversized Starbucks cup and a smile on my face.

Furthermore, you've done a great job of making them all look exactly the same. For all I know, I'm actually at home and the world outside of trams and Mosques and kebab stands is just an illusion. The drinks taste exactly the same too; it really takes talent.

Which brings me to my next point: thank you for shish kebabs. That truly took talent, to make the things and to lead me to the local infested hole in the wall where I go everyday for my injection of oven baked chicken, homemade bread and couscous, salsa, and charred chili pepper that burns my mouth off but I can't stop eating.

The fact that you placed it in the Grand Bazaar is further appreciated- it just gives me an excuse to wander over and do a little shopping with too much money. And yet, every time I find something great I get a little twinge of happiness and I think how much I need to send you more thank you cards.

And thank you for people. The more people I meet the more friends I have, and the less alone I feel, despite the fact that you and I both know that it's good that I'm traveling alone; its good for my character. Its good because it scares me and I never want to live on fear.

Which of course reminds me of the day recently where I threw caution to the wind and fear out the window. I've heard the sang 'the higher the hair, the closer to Jesus' and I have to say, in my case, I think its 'the higher in air, the closer to God' because that hot air ballooning in Cappadocia was awe-some.

I'm pretty sure I heard you laughing when I took all of those pictures of your incredibly phallic rock formations, then got distracted by the ones that looked like noses.

And thank you for that beautiful sunrise on the balloon; it's always reassuring to see it appear without fail. Right now, I feel like in my daily life there is really not so much I can count on, but the sun always rises, just like me.

So thank you for the opportunity to count on me. To be beautifully surrounded but by all means, alone. Because I'm learning what I want and don't want in life. I'm discovering that qualities I have in myself not everyone shares, which might actually mean that I AM good at something in particular. I'm finding that certain things annoy me beyond all belief, and that I can choose not to deal with them, to look past and move on.

So, God, thanks for the cup in my hand, the clarity in my eyes, and the burning in my soul- they all propel me further into a life that is coming head on, and sweeping me with it.

Someone asked me yesterday what my hopes and dreams were that I hadn't yet fulfilled, and it took me a long time to come up with anything because I am living them. And isn't that what you want from us? To live them?

So again, thanks God, because I know you're holding me with you, and that someday I'm going to find exactly what I'm looking for, and right now, I'm getting exactly what I need. I don't know what tomorrow will bring, but I know that for now, I'm living with thank you.


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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Stuffed Eggplant

This is a delicious recipe even for those who aren't eggplant lovers!


2-3 large eggplant
3 small white onions
4 cloves of garlic
3 tomatoes
2-3 bell peppers
1/4 bunch parsley
1 tbsp tomato paste
8 tbsp olive oil
2-3 cups water


Add 3 tbsp olive oil to a pan on medium heat. Add the onions and peppers and saute for three minutes. Then add the tomato paste, garlic, and parsley. Stir for fifteen minutes and remove from heat.


Cut the eggplant into fourths or into strips about an inch wide (you are going to stuff them so you don't want them to be too thin). Soak the cut eggplant in salt water for about five minutes. Then, add 5 tbsp of olive oil to a hot pan on medium to high heat and fry the eggplant until golden brown on both sides (about 3 minutes per side).

Next, cut down the center of each eggplant and fill with the stuffing. Pour water into the pan so that the eggplant are surrounded, but not covered. Place on medium heat, cover, and cook for 25-30 minutes.

Enjoy! I am personally not a fan of eggplant, but I loved this. It goes great with rice or bread.

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Location:Gopkinar, Turkey

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

London Was...

London was not what I expected. I adamantly dislike the rain, and London has a lot of it. I expected to walk around resembling a wet dog for the majority of my stay, and I was shocked when instead of disliking the place (minus the hideous rain, of course) I absolutely, positively loved it.

We stayed a little outside of the main city, but the hostel was great and the price was right. After mistakenly buying a bus pass instead of a bus and metro pass (I'm really a genius), I of course realized the necessity of a metro pass and took the metro almost everywhere. And everywhere we did go.

I went to the National Portrait Gallery and discovered that I like to draw portraits. I was especially excited by the portrait of Isaac Newton (I'm a dork, I know). I went to the British Museum where I found that if given the time, I could stay there for days and days. I saw the Rosetta stone. I saw shriveled mummies and the tomb and supposed mummy of Cleopatra. My favorite item was probably the small glass prism in the room on the Enlightenment, which, though probably generally passed by, was super exciting for me because it was used to explain Newton's theory of refracting light. I had read all about it in a paper, written in proper old English where the s's resembled p's, by Newton himself, explaining about light refraction and basically describing (inventing!) calculus.

I went and saw the outside of Westminster Abbey and Big Ben, along with the Houses of Parliament. At the Tower of London, after being convinced to walk, in the rain, across the London Bridge, I drooled as I stared at the Crown Jewels and a 500 carat diamond.

Perhaps best of all, I got to see my brother, and while together, we took what has to be my new favorite picture:

Most importantly of all, I learned when in London...

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Morality musings in Barcelona


I have a family that I love in Morocco, but I can't bring myself to call them. Why? I don't really know, but I have a feeling it has to do with my house mother. Mama Malika saw a doctor while I was in Fez. He told her that in a month, she needs surgery for the inflammation in her stomach, or she might die. The surgery costs three to five thousand dollars, about forty thousand dirhams. If they pool all their assets, they maybe have two thousand dollars.

Except that I'm an asset, too.

They would never ask me for money. In fact, when I gave them some while I was in Morocco, they carefully explained that I am the same as any of their other children, and that they don't need money from me.

But I'm not the same.

Flattered as I am that they want to think of me that way (I wouldn't want it to be any different), I'm not the same because I have money and they don't. I'm American. They live in rural Morocco. I'm white, they're not. As much as I wish these things didn't matter, they do.

They matter because they all add up to the fact that I could afford to pay to save her life. And how can I not do it? It is a lot of money, for me, so it will seem exponentially more to them. I'm scared. I know that kind of gift changes things. It strongly tells them that I'm not part of their family, not really, no matter how much we pretend.

But what it comes down to, too, is whether I'm willing to put a thousand dollar price on someone I love. Would I ever be able to forgive myself if she dies while I do nothing? How could her life not be worth my money?

They already think of me as rich. Do I want to further separate myself from them, and further flaunt my wealth? I don't want them thanking me when I see them. I don't want gratitude. I don't want them thinking of me that way. I don't want to pick up the phone, and hear that she's died.

What is the right move? Am I asking 'whose place in the family do I care about more'?

And how do I pick up the phone?

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Favorites Of Fez

My Top Three Favorite Things About Fez

Cafe Clock

Located in the heart of the medina, Cafe Clock appears a beacon of Western reason and customs in the surroundings realities of the bustling city of Fez. While their produce and flour is delivered by donkey, they cook sandwiches, burgers, and pancakes that will have any foreigner dying for a taste of home drooling.

Furthermore, the Cafe offers cooking classes, Moroccan cultural classes, yoga classes, and concerts, along with free wifi. Perhaps the best part are the mochas, which, instead of being over sweet like in the rest of Morocco, are unsweetened!

The Craft Capital

The second best thing about Fez is undoubtedly the fact that it is the craft capital of Morocco, and therefore has unbelievable ceramics, leather goods (and tanneries!), and wood carvings, along with weavings and metal ware. This is best expressed through pictures, honestly; there is just no way to convey the masses of handmade treasures!

Winding Mazes

My third favorite thing about Fez: the winding maze that operate as its streets. Sometimes while walking on the busy, winding paths, it would appear dark in the middle of the day because the buildings were so tall and the streets so narrow. Most buildings are very old, and look like they have been thrown up and stay up on prayers alone. If I managed to figure out where I was at any point, I was immediately again distracted by weaving people, negotiating shopkeepers, and yells of 'balak,' watch out, as men herding donkeys and mules rushed by and I slammed myself into high walls and attempted to become flat.

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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Lightning Games

Zhor and I discovered a new game while dancing. The heat had finally died down, and I smiled as rain drops began to fall on my shoulders. Having tea and sitting just outside the overhand of the roof of the house, I was the first to notice. But it didn't take them long.

Soon I was laughing beneath Baba's jacket as Mama covered her and a sleeping Huda with a scarf, and Hiba, upon our comment to her that it was raining (the wandering two year old had not noticed) covered herself haphazardly with the towel.

And so we went outside, and Zhor and I danced. She spun, I dipped, and we trotted around in slow circles between galls of laughter (Hiba had decided to place her towel on the ground, and sit alone in the rain).

And then... Lightning.

I saw it first.
I jumped up and down as I saw it again and willed Zhor to look. When the bolt crashed, she shrieked and jumped back and I roared with laughter.

And then the game was formed.


She was better than I was, probably more attuned to timing of strikes. Yet every time the lightning struck on the three, we cheered. We laughed, screamed, shrieked with delight. We probably woke the whole damn village.

But the game was ours.

I've often wished that for a few minutes, my brain would just stop. Its always seemed like something out of my control, like spinning wheels or ever distancing horizons that you just can't grasp.

I've found few things in my life that put my mind at ease, that hit my analytical off switch.

Playing with Zhor is one of them. Whether we're cooking, dancing, dressing up, or just chatting, our laughter generally drowns out the dialogue of my mind. With her I find peace. With her, I make lightning games.

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Location:The village of Fariat

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I was smothered in mud today. Okay, so not exactly smothered and not exactly mud, but I still had henna literally covering both my feet and both my hands. It is surprisingly immobilizing. It made me feel that I was smothered in mud.

In Marrakech, the woman who applied mediocre henna that burned my skin slightly told me that she would give us a good price: 400 dirhams, reduced from 500. I thought she had lost her mind. The small design atop my hand and forearm was nice, but nowhere near worth close to fifty dollars. I thought maybe it was worth fifty dirhams. I couldn't believe my ears.

Obviously, I didn't pay it.

My next henna experience was better. Surrounded by babies and women in leggings, dresses, and head scarves tied to have a braid, I was given two pillows in a concrete room and had my feet jerked over them.

And she started.

I was unsure at first, then distracted by the surrounding chaos. Children screamed and women chattered. Mothers indiscriminately popped out their breasts for a child to waddle over to and drink from. When I finally looked back down, it was beautiful.

It took a long time. One foot was a masterpiece unto itself, but after that she did the other, and both hands. Before I knew it, I looked like a Moroccan bride.

The most unpleasant part of getting henna is the removal, which unfortunately does not involve water. To help the henna stay longer, instead of satisfyingly washing it way, it is chipped off with a knife, which apart from being mildly terrifying, left me feeling dirty and muddy for hours.

However, when it was off, I was left with a beautiful maze of flowers, petals, and zig zags that would tell every Moroccan who saw me the same thing: either I paid a lot, or somebody loves me.

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Location:The village of Fariat

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Moroccan Couscous


Cooking Time: One and a half Hours

One box of couscous
Half a chicken or three chicken breasts
Half a cup of milk
Four onions
Three tomatoes
One eggplant
Four zucchini
Four potatoes
Half bunch parsley
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp saffron
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp pepper

Cooking Instructions

Begin by placing the chicken and spices in a medium sized pot. Cut the onion in fourths, and rough chop one quarter bunch of parsley. Tie the rest of the parsley into a bunch and place in pot.

Peel the tomato and quarter it. Put it in the pot and place on stove
on high. Pour water over the ingredients until they are just barely covered. Cook for twenty minutes. Then, add quartered zucchini and eggplant to the pot, along with a teaspoon of vegetable oil. All the vegetables should be chunky and large. Allow to cook for approximately an hour and a half.

For the couscous:

Spread the dry couscous on a large platter and sprinkle one and a half teaspoons of oil and about a half a cup of water. Make sure to sprinkle it slowly and to rub it between the hands periodically to avoid clumping. Place the couscous in a metal colander or sifter over the pot containing the cooking meat and vegetables so that the couscous steams.

The water will hold together the couscous so that it does not fall into the cooking vegetables. This is the Moroccan way of cooking couscous. Alternatively, you may boil it as suggested by the box, but cooking it this way is authentically Moroccan and the flavor and texture will justify the effort!
After approximately fifteen minutes (once the couscous has absorbed e water and puffed up) remove it from the pot and dump it onto the platter. Again, using about a cup of water, rub it between your hands to work out the clumps so that the morsels of couscous are all separated. When the couscous has cooled slightly and is no longer clumpy, put it back in the colander and steam it. Repeat this process two more times, and then dump it back in the pot (it might be necessary to add more water to the pot for steaming). Then, add half a cup of milk to the pot of vegetables, chicken, and broth, and pour over the couscous.

Note: Cooking couscous is not a precise science. Any vegetables can be used, along with any amount of couscous. This is the perfect recipe for experimentation!

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Location:The village of Fariat

Friday, September 17, 2010

What color of nothing would you like?


The random man on the street summed up the majority of my experience in Marrakech. He asked, insightfully so, "What color of nothing would you like?" Through the shockingly vibrant, winding souks of the medina of Marrakech, I found the most stunningly beautiful, fascinating things in what i guess to be the entire world.

But I also found what any tourist in Marrakech will tell you is the biggest annoyance: constant badgering, harassment, and abrasive behavior.

It came to the point where Rebecca and I became shocked when for even a moment, in her words, there wasn't someone who wanted to take our money. There is nothing quite like walking around as either a sexual object or a dollar sign. Despite my new appearance, I found that Marrakech was just as enticing as I remembered it. Perhaps the best part was the food stalls, constructed with full tables and fuller stands up uncooked food every night.

They sell delicious, cheap, authentic Moroccan food. I will never forget gulping large quantities of Harira (Moroccan soup) with the giant wooden spoon, or the woman who enticed us into the place, and must've spoken at least five languages. Not to mention her amazing ability to spot which tourist spoke which language.

When it came down to it, though the streets were exhausting, there was nothing like going to a spa-hammam and being soaped up, scrubbed, and slathered in clay by a Moroccan woman to heighten my spirits and reboot me for the adventure ahead.

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