Thursday, November 02, 2006


Something that was in the lost post from last night but not in the re-created one - another thing people have told me about this site in addition to the natural beauty and the convenient location is that the people are friendly, relaxed, not too conservative, and welcoming. They are used to foreigners but the place is not overly touristy. In the end the people are more important or just as important as the other things. And so far I have found that to be the case. Especially my family! I have been very lucky with both of my homestays. My mom made me wear a coat this morning because it was chilly outside. Well, she didn't really MAKE me but as I was walking up the hill (and getting hot), I thought that today was the first time in decades that I could say that. I walked up and down the hill several times today - helpful considering the nightly pancakes with butter and honey that I have had this week, but also tiring so a point in favor of living in the old part of town. There are petit taxis that go up and down the hill, but I feel I should save them for a time when I am pressed for time - being tired is not enough of a reason to use them (especially for the way down). And this is good practice in case I end up in San Francisco when I come back, one of my A-list cities.

Now I am getting a little better with the French keyboard so it is not so frustrating (still want a computer with QWERTY, not one from here).

I have seen more women with veiled faces in this site visit than I had seen before. Don't know if it's the time of day when I'm out this week as opposed to seminar site breaks, or if I'm just observing different things this week now that I know I will be here for two years. Not too many bearded men here, or even men in jellabas. But again, more than I had seen before.
Yesterday at Lee's I met two Americans who work for a travel company in Boulder, Where There Be Dragons. They run experiential learning programs for high-school students - language, cities, trekking, and will be in Morocco in the new catalog (Azrou may or may not be a destination). So you parents of high-school-age children out there take note - sounds like a good company and cool trips. I also met a man from Montreal who wants to start something with the arts here in Azrou. And the PCV from the environmental sector said there is a budding weaving cooperative in her town as well as a budding cooperative of people who gather medicinal herbs and may be able to use small business development. I also had the light-bulb idea that maybe the Auberge could count as a small business in tourism and/or that we could put artisana and regional brochures in the Auberge for the guests there. Lots of possibilities! The Azrou province also includes Ifrane, the "Switzerland of Morocco," so surely I must check on the artisans there! And the delegate for my artisana is located in Meknes, site of the famed Marjane, which is either like a Target or a real supermarket, depending on who tells me about it. I think that the thing I might lack the most, food-wise, at least at the moment, is good cheese. Here there is La Vache Qui Rit, already mentioned, and something called Red Ball (which might be Edam), for which I would need (and justify) a refrigerator, but apparently Marjane has a big selection of good cheese. I will need cheese, too, because I don't know if I can bring myself to get a fresh (killed while-U-wait) chicken or meat, either (maybe ground beef, since that doesn't look like what it used to be). For chicken I will have to rely on restaurants or invitations! And we had delicious chicken for lunch too; another recipe I want! Also great sweet potatoes.

Hmm, why haven't your friends all posted comments in a few days? Where are you, folks?!? :-)

So my two cents on housing would be to live in the medina. I lived in the medina in Tunis when I was doing my dissertation research, and it was cool. It's definitely the urban way to go, none of this uptown suburban stuff! I suspect you will have friendlier neighbors in the medina, too. And it just has much more character.

I just googled Marjane for you, but their website (they are part of a French company called Auchan) doesn't show one in Azrou. Hmm. But generally French "super-markets" are neither like Target nor like a supermarket - something in between. I'd guess you'll something like a modest supermarket (by western standards) plus something like a Woolworth's. But I'd guess you'll have imported French groceries besides vache qui rit! And probably western grocery-type butchery, too, so you may feel comfortable buying meat.

BTW, I've been passing on your blog address to various folks - David Grant, who was amazed that you'd moved to Morocco, and Renata Gallagher, who has moved with her family to Denver. Where they have bought a house, which they could never have done in Palo Alto, and they sound happy. Someday you have to meet her kids, they are really cool. But obviously not for a while!
I was wondering that too, but maybe they just didn't have anything to say.

Marjane is nice but a schlep - Meknes and Fed both and hour away. If I am in the area I can pick up a few things, but I don't think I will make regular trips, and I have to decide how much I want something before I carry it.

Give blog address away as you like! I hope friends are interested!
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