Archives for 2013

Thanksgiving in the Atlas Mountains

Truly grateful.

Oh my goodness. It’s really been quite difficult to pay attention to this space the past few months. If anyone is still out there, thanks for sticking around! Since Christmas is only a few days away, I thought I should sneak in a little post about how I spent Thanksgiving this year…

Thanksgiving proper was fairly uneventful. Our school decided to adjust the holiday schedule this year, which meant we were working on that Thursday. I’ve had to do it before, so it wasn’t terrible. I did get a little teary-eyed though when discussing what we are thankful for with my students. I shared that I am thankful to have such an understanding family and went on to explain how much I appreciate that my parents (and sister)  support me living abroad. When one of them called out, “Are you going to cry?” I decided it was time to switch subjects. That evening Mike was away with friends in Agadir and I ended up eating Pizza Hut at the mall. Not super cozy.

However, I didn’t mind too much because the real event in my eyes fell upon the following Saturday. As part of the Outreach Program at my school, I joined a group of high schoolers and a few other teachers delivering supplies to Douser Imsker, a rural village in the Atlas Mountains. During the month of October the school held a food and clothing drive, and on this particular day we went and delivered the goods. It was a wonderful experience.

We met up at the school in the morning to load up the supplies, and then drove up into the mountains. The village isn’t easily accessed by vehicle so we had to hike in for the final hour. Once we arrived at the community center the students got to work organizing the supplies and setting up shop. When everything was set to go, the villagers were invited in and the high school students helped the children select properly sized clothing.

After the supplies were distributed, we enjoyed a lovely tagine lunch, played with the children, and took a quick tour of the village. Then, it was time to hike back out and head home to Marrakech.

The experience was beneficial for me in several ways. First, I was able to see a different side of Morocco and meet lovely villagers. Second, as a primary school teacher I rarely interact with students in the upper school. It was nice to see that this particular group of high schoolers are capable, caring, and polite. And lastly, I enjoyed spending time with my co-workers and getting to know them better. For some reason you just can’t have the same conversations waiting for the photocopy machine as you can on an hour long hike.

To really top off the day, our little community had planned a Thanksgiving dinner for that evening. There’s nothing like spending an active day in the mountains and coming home to a fantastic meal shared by colleagues and friends.

That’s another great Thanksgiving under my belt.

xo, jill


Kiva Loan: November/December

6 down, 0 to go!

My Kiva loan for the months of November and December goes to Adelaida in the Philippines. As I’ve likely said before, I’ve met so many lovely Filipino people over the past several years that the country has a special place in my heart. With the recent terrible supertyphoon, I feel for the Philippines even more so.

I was initially drawn to Adelaida’s listing when I saw the scraps of fabric on the table in her photograph. I always love to support people at their craft. And then when I realized her name was Adelaida and connected that to my favorite Australian city… well, the loan was a done deal. Adelaida has requested a loan to help buy more materials for her rug making business.

And so ends another successful year of Kiva loans. I really do love this tradition. I’m considering switching back to monthly loans instead of lending every other month. We’ll see how long it takes for my Kiva coffers to dry up. If you’re racking your brain for a meaningful Christmas give, I hope you’ll consider giving a Kiva card this year.

xo, jill

Baby Kitties of Essaouira

And a few pups too.

It wasn’t hard to pinpoint my favorite aspect of visiting Essaouira: the cats! In general there are cats all over Morocco, but Essaouria has the most of any city I’ve visited thus far. The best part is that because Essaouira is a coastal town, the cats are well fed on fresh seafood. Their coats are shiny and glossy and their bellies full. I wish I could say the same for the cats hanging out in Marrakech but they are skinny, scruffy, and dusty in comparasion. Maybe I can run a kitty relocation scheme and transport these poor city cats to the coast.

The following is a lot of cat photos with a few puppies tossed in too.

You can see why I was excited to return to Essaouria just a few weeks later.

To see my other cat posts… Laos, Thailand, Kuwait, Jordan, Azerbaijan.

xo, jill

Essaouira Part 2

A quiet morning.

The next morning in Essaouria we took advantage of an early start to walk about the medina. People seem to sleep late in Morocco. Even at 9am only a few shopkeepers were ready to open their shops. It was pleasant to experience the medina without crowds of people, motorbikes, or carts competing for the narrow lane ways. Friends joined us on our walk and we were actually able to hold a conversation while walking, something that’s nearly impossible in the Marrakech medina. Should you ever visit Essaouira, I highly recommend an early morning walk.

Here are a few photos from ours:

Mike and I returned to Essaouria a few weeks later when my mom came for a visit. Unfortunately, my camera battery died before I could snap any photos. I had brought along the charger but totally forgot the plug adaptor. Classic travel fail.

xo, jill

Essaouira Part 1


Back in September, Mike and I headed out to Essaouira with a group of friends. Essaouria is a popular beachside getaway only a few hours from Marrakech. We hopped on a morning bus and had arrived at the beach by midday. There are enough tourist sights in Essaouria to keep you entertained for a day or two, if you meander at a leisurely pace. We enjoyed walking through the medina, exploring the ramparts, and visiting the (pretty gross) fish market. However, I think I’ll save my very favorite part of Essaouria for a different post on a different day. Essaouira was also the filming location for Orson Welles’ 1950s classic, Othello. Knowing that information almost makes me want to watch the movie, but I don’t think I’ve fully recovered yet from Citizen Kane.

xo, jill

A Moroccan Melon Halloween

Creepier than pumpkins.

Mike and I just returned home from a week spent in northern Morocco. It was quite the adventure through some very different terrain. But before I get into that (or my trip a few weeks ago to Spain), I want to share our jack-o-laterns before Halloween is too far gone.

Halloween fell in a pretty busy week for me. Not only was it the evening of a friend’s birthday dinner, it was also the night before parent-teacher conferences. Boo! Scary indeed. In order to fit it all in, we decided to postpone our celebrating until the evening after Halloween (and only a few hours before our train departed for the north!).

Mike and I invited a few friends over for some pumpkin carving, except that pumpkins are quite expensive here. In fact, at the supermarket you don’t actually buy a whole pumpkin, you just take a knife and slice off the amount you want. We were in need of an alternate. When someone suggested carving melons instead, it sounded like a good idea.

Left to right: Mine, Mike’s, Ritchee’s, Katie and Adam’s

Turns out, it was a great idea. The melons were the perfect size for carving so you don’t get bored or tired midway through scooping out the goop. Also, the flesh was easy to pierce and carve. But perhaps the most perfect element of carving melons was that they are so much creepier than pumpkins. Although it’s hard to tell in these photos, the glow of the melons was an eerie yellow-green. In addition, they are the size and shape of human heads! When the first candle was lit we were all genuinely creeped out for a few moments. Bingo!

We were supposed to be making creepy faces.

Adding even more to the evening, for two of our friends it was their very first “pumpkin carving” experience. I think it’s safe to say it was a positive one for both of them. Ritchee has already vowed to bring pumpkin/melon carving back to her friends and family in the Philippines.

Unfortunately, because we were off to the train station later in the evening, our melons went straight in the dumpster. They were fun (and spooky) while they lasted!

xo, jill

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...