21 December 2013

Reverse culture shock

I can't really claim to have been away long enough to be experiencing reverse culture shock. I have, however, been surprised at my heightened awareness of normal life experiences in the UK since returning;

Brushing my teeth with tap water

Overhearing people talking in English

Eating a meal with a fork, rather than fingers

Pavements you can walk on

Getting into a taxi with £2.40 already on the clock

Toilet paper as standard!!

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Cereal nights

Everyone knows a bowl of cereal for dinner at quarter past eleven p.m cancels out a day of eating junk food, right?

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17 December 2013

Day 2 in town

The fox socks were reunited for two days in London!

We found more quirky joints to hang out, drink coffee, eat cake and chew the cud in Angel

Later we continued making a dent in the Christmas shopping (not at the Sainsbury's in the background!!)

then upped yesterday's wood pigeon and quail with elk in Kensington.

Not too shabby

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16 December 2013

Down to the smoke

Cake I didn't have but looked spectacular.

Thank you Hummingbird Bakery, South Ken.

Then on to a place I've wanted to go to for years!!! MOMO!

I don't think it's too hard to see why

Fabulous lighting casting Moroccan patterns everywhere

Wood pigeon Pastilla (not had wood pigeon before)

And the Momo grill with another first; roast honey quail

Grand day out with Sarah :)

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9 December 2013

Landmark moment!

I'm allowed into a local kitchen to cook!! This really is a special moment as I sit with one of my sisters preparing 'lardus' (lentils) and fish.

I prepped the lentil part of the meal with interjections about how to do it properly :)

Lentils, 'madness & kuspoor' (parsley & coriander), skingerbeer (ginger), kimown (cumin), bsla (onions), madisha (tomatoes), thm (garlic) bubbles away on a single ring gas bottle.

The fish steams with onion and potatoes and a salad is prepared.
Grated cucumber, peeled tomatoes...and we chatter away in a unique combination of French and Arabic!

Later I'm given the job of finishing off some embroidery she's never got round to finishing

I was given a typically Berber item to wear for the task!

Next I was taught how to make one of my favourite types of bread here; msmn.
Kneading in a traditional bread plate

Rolled into balls, flattened into pancakes, folded into squares then fried until they look like this;

The saucer on the left is amlou. A pretty good day in my book!

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...which means 'bracelets'

I've been up cycling random objects and makin' pretty fings!

Looks like I may have a market in the next town (4hours away) with a friend who is opening a boutique

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2 December 2013


Went out to buy dates and some thread.

Came back having wandered into an interesting looking shop, where i drew a picture and put a deposit down...

...on a tent. It will be ready on Friday!!

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27 November 2013

All creatures great and small

Two rather splendid ginger kits at a service station

(Where you pay a dirham for no loo paper, no soap, no lock on the door, a hold on the ground and a small bucket of water!)

A silver slick of fish caught in the Laguna

(Where the coast is unspoilt and the beach is small but private)

A stunning hummingbird moth-hawk with a long proboscis and wings that beat to a blur

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24 November 2013

On another planet

Never have I felt less Christmasy. It's weird.
This afternoon, friends took me out on their sail dinghy. The weather was great and it was a warm, sunny day.

Coming back and seeing people's comments on FB about Christmas was just odd. It was like someone telling me in June that they were putting up their decorations!

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18 November 2013


What's the difference between laying an egg, painting something white and lightening up a dark picture?


In Arabic it's the same verb.

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8 November 2013

The very hungry caterpillar

In four days I ate;

2 apples
3 bananas
2 portions of plain rice
Some bread
3 yoghurts

...and on the 5th day I turned into someone with rather wobbly legs and an intolerance to light!

I have been ill. I am 99% better. Thanks for p's. got hands henna-ed for a wedding I missed!

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1 November 2013

One evening

Hung out with H (not from Steps just to clarify). Had dinner of half a bread each, stuffed with chopped sausages (lamb), onions and chilli sauce for 75p. For both. Not each :)

Looked round the fish market and saw some stunning beasties from the deep!

Looked at and resisted buying some serious local bling for a 'monasaba' (wedding party) I'm invited to on Monday.

Negotiated the art of buying mlhfa (local dress) with a degree of success. Of course it's not as simple as seeing piles of material and choosing which you like.

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30 October 2013

I can tile a rainbow...

I gather, clean and clip tiles left all over the ground;

I form a picture;

I put it on wood and grout;

Moderately pleased with a first attempt but already plenty I will change for next time

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29 October 2013

A typical scene;

A street completely blocked off by a huge tent. Usually fora wedding or perhaps a naming ceremony. Drivers can find another route!

Strange places I've found Kitty Malone in my apartment;

In the bath, in the drying up rack...

And in other news;

My friend's dog has had puppies!

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27 October 2013

The inexplicable;

Snails sold on the street for immediate consumption.

Taxi drivers stopping to chat to mates.

Camel in a cul de sac.

Car stopping and reversing back up street to shout at me in Spanish.

Drivers indicating the way they intend to turn.

Stray dog trotting the wrong way down a dual carriageway.

The fun;

Offered a puppy if the meeting of two pure white dogs goes well (one purebred Siberian husky)

Cleaners blitzing the house

Getting grout to holdup


Getting my mate back from Eastern Europe

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23 October 2013


TWENTY degrees hotter here than Britain

FORTY FOUR words of vocab to learn tonight

TWO dhiram increase in taxi fares for longer distance rides taking the price from THIRTY EIGHT pence to FIFTY THREE pence

THREE HUNDRED AND THIRTY FIVE miles travelled last week

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11 October 2013

It improved

Bus driver checking his phone as we go along a dual carriageway.

Dead rat on the pavement.

Group of 6 young lads pulling things out of my bag, trying to grab stuff from my friends hands, going for my purse, shouting then kicking front door.


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Run of the mill

Learning two words in class today that don't exist in English, have very complex rules for when they are used, explained by a teacher who only speaks Arabic and Spanish

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7 October 2013

Tales of the unexpected

Remembering to shut the windows to a) keep out the heat b) stop the sand coming in and getting into your electrical goods

Having a neighbour explain how to remove the air bubbles from your water system every morning while you're more interested in the little lizard you've just caught in your stairwell

Having your homestay family tell your mate that the song about God being great is the one you always sing in the shower

Having a fan on all night but still tumble drying your clothes

Brushing your teeth in bottled water

Looking perplexed when someone asks for a plate with their meal

Starting a sentence in one language and finishing it in another

Having the cat drink the water you were planning on using for your paints

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29 September 2013

I've seen it all...

...only I doubt I have.

It just two weeks in (happy anniversary me) and I'm still shocked by a man selling dead hedgehogs on the side of the road. I know, I just need to toughen up but it was the same day I learnt that people drink camel urine for health purposes.

The barley porridge face mask barely registered on my radar.
The dead kitten on the pavement produced a minor shudder.
Being told off by a taxi driver for putting ON my seatbelt just raised an eyebrow. But the dead hedgehogs sold to help single women who want to marry? Yup, that got me.

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28 September 2013

Not cricket!

Enjoying some reminders that this just isn't Blighty;

Paying 37.5p for a taxi anywhere in town

Paying 22.5p for a bus anywhere in town

Catching myself taking the bus to save money!!!

Going out for a walk at half one a.m and by no means being the only ones

Seeing camel spam on sale in the supermarket

Noticing trees

Waking in the middle of the night and thinking oh it's just the goats next door

Walking on the road of a dual carriageway because the pavements are in such a state of disrepair

Agreeing to put a porridge of barley on my face and call it a beauty treatment

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26 September 2013

Seriously now...

...how fantastic are my mates?
I've been here less than a fortnight and I've had so many encouraging emails and texts.
A couple of things must be shouted out.
A superbly funny Voxer message from four girls singing together just to cheer me up for a few seconds and a group of friends who printed off a FB picture....well, let me show you;

A picture nabbed from FB of me this week.
These gestures mean a phenomenal amount and the thought and laughter they bring me last way beyond the moment. I am proud to have you as mates.
There are a lot of other examples of friendship of those helping me through my first few days. You rock.
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23 September 2013

Couscous by hand

Get a wadging great pile of flour.
Add a mixture of water, salt & cumin but not enough to make a dough.

Sieve twice

Lay on big tray & cover with some clean material like a mlhfa.
Stick on the roof for a couple of days if the sun is really hot, stirring from time to time.
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21 September 2013

The seemly side

Sitting round a low table of sticky rice and hunks of fish piled high with friends.

Running into local people in the street you vaguely know and being invited back for tea (a good two hour affair)

Coffee out

Home-made, squishy flat bread with friends who are delighted to see you again.

Trying out Arabic and being both understood and laughed at!

Blue skies.

A town that comes alive after dark and the temperature is manageable, heaving with markets, shops spilling into the streets and scores of little street sellers with their wares laid out on the ground.

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The unseemly side

A pile of fish heads & a severed goat's trotter in the street.

Children throwing stones at us.

Being stared at, shouted at, honked at and leered over.

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17 September 2013

Nothing unusual about that!

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Today's funniest moment that is hard to translate but I will try anyway;...
H and I are going through some basic Arabic, testing each other and she asks me; 'what's taul' or so it sounded to me. So I think well it must begin with ط because of the somewhat swallowed vowel that sounds somewhere between a T and a D. It must be followed by و which is like a W sound and probably finishes with ل, an L sound. طول. I have no idea what this word is. I give up.
Then I see what she's looking at.
A towel.
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16 September 2013

Classic Joy

Walking down the street this evening with a couple of local friends and I jokingly wolf whistle at the girl and ask if that's the same here as in England. Suddenly everyone is laughing. I'm like 'wha..?' There's a guy just off the pavement in some waste ground kneeling down. He's not praying. It's what they do here when they relieve themselves in public. Yup. And I just wolf whistled him!
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Oh yeah, I remember...

* the early call to prayer
* walking in the road more than the pavement because of the stuff everywhere
* the dryness desiccating your feet in minutes
* the 'koba' lorry making a right racket coming round with water
* 'draa' shops (traditional male dress)
* being stared at
* 'American? French?'
* chicken necks

New since last time;

* a bus service
* lots more building work
* a fountain on the roundabout by Las Dunas

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