Sunday, March 28, 2010


I traveled to a nearby city be apart of a spring camp that we put on along with the Ministry of Youth and Sports here in Morocco. I am excited to be a part of it but also a little nervous as well. As of last week we were expecting 60 kids at our camp but as of yesterday we had over 100 conformations.This means that I will have a bigger class and almost guaranteed over 25 kids. I have never taught over 15 kids at one time. I hope that I can control them! The campers are mostly in the age of 14-17 with a few that I know of that will be a little older and younger. I am teaching beginner high which means they should know like, "Hello. How are you." etc. I have a lot of activities planned. I hope they go over well. It feels like I am back at a camp that counseled at a while ago. We are singing the same songs and doing some of the same stuff. It should be great. I still have a little to plan and I need to get to it! Wish me luck on a hopefully great week!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Before I came to Morocco I assumed that everything that I would buy here would be by bargaining. Most of the guide books I have read tell you to make sure you are good at bargaining because most shop owners will jack the prices up because you are foreign. I have found that I rarely bargain (even though I would like to say that I am very good at it). Food (most of the time) has a set price when things you buy at a hanut (store). You mostly bargain at the suq (weekly market) or at side stores but to be honest I try to avoid it. I have found that I can almost find just about anything I want without the need for bargaining.

In the beginning we had to bargain for things that are bigger like our bed, ponges, (sort of make-shift couch) fridge, and other things but not so much now. Now I only do it from time to time. Most of the time in small cities if you do get overpriced it will only be by a little bit. Places like Marrakesh and Fez are notorious for the prices to go up big time because of the tourism through these cities. I have found that the Moroccans are mostly right when they say that Moroccans will get the best deals so make friends with the locals!

Main thing to remember while bargaining is that it is a game to the person whom you are bargaining with. Most of the time I have found the other person has a smile across their face because they are having a good time. The best thing to do is to smile back and stay calm and enjoy the experience.

Also it is not uncommon to be asked to drink tea with shop owners. This is all part of tactic on both ends. The nicer you are and the more time you spend with the shop keeper shows him that you are serious about the purchase you are about to make and the more time you spend in his shop the more likely you will buy something. During the tea you make small about everything.

I recommend not wasting your time over 10 drhms on big items unless you just want to get to know a Moroccan a little more. If you have tea with them, most of the time, you will become friends. I have shop keepers all over my town who every time they see me they usher me over want me to drink more tea with them. I love this about Moroccan culture.

My wife refuses to bargain because she does not have it in her to be aggressive and you do have to be too to get a good price. It is normal to say things like, “This is too much for me.” Or “Bring down the price.” Or “Give me a good price.” Also, it good to know that you should point out defects in the product (if there are any) this helps you get a better price. These things might seem a little forward or like I said aggressive but it really is not. You will soon get used to it and it will become natural. Or maybe you will be like my wife and have someone else do it for you ;)

I hope this gives you an idea what goes on in the marketplace here in Morocco. Although these things that I have shared are not universally true, I have found them to be mostly right. Every town has a different feel so explore and have fun.

Thanks for following me!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Couscous and Hospitality

Every Friday Tanie and I go over to the host family's place for couscous. Moroccans eat later than Americans most of the time so we got there about 1:15pm. We rang the door bell and waited. Then a floor above us a girl called out "Skoun?" which means who. I said well it's us and our little host sister came down and spoke to us and said, "Nobody is here." We were like okay see you later. She said, "Wait come up stairs." "Okay" we said and we skirted up stairs to sit and wait for nothing. We figured that we were not eating anything there because nobody was there but we were wrong. We waited for ten minutes and then up the stairs from next door we were presented with couscous for two. Come to find out someones uncle was sick and they were with him all day but we did not receive a call or anything to tell us not to come so we came like normal.

We thought how funny this was. This would not happen back in the States. Can you imagine going next store and saying, "Um, we have some visitors but no food can we take some of yours." They might let you but then think, "Our neighbors are a little funny." Hospitality is hard to be out matched here. Food from the next door neighbors plates just so we would have something to eat. Amazing.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Frustrations and The Baby Behind Bars

This past week has been a freak out week. It seemed like everyday I had a little bit of a breakdown. Questions like, "What in the world am I doing here?" or "What do these people expect of me?" or "What exactly is my job here again?" My language has seemed to have plateaued. Which if you heard me speak Arabic you know that is not good. My Arabic is poor or at least it seems that way. I speak about main events and I can tell people what I want and need but the details are nonexistent in the conversation. With all of these thoughts and frustrations it helps me to think about why I came in to Morocco in the first place.

To promote peace.
To get outside of my American bubble.
To learn another language.
To develop my skills with a degree that was basically worthless.
To travel to other countries.
Countless more.

All this to say that sometimes it is okay to be frustrated. Experiences like this make people stretch and grow. Frustration is life. Things like walking into your place where you work and thinking these people don't need me to be here. To travel down the street and get spoken to in four different languages and to not know any of them so I don't speak at all. To feel lost in your own hometown not recognizing any faces. To be the only white person in several kilometers feeling abnormal every time people look at me. Sometimes I think that you need to feel like a baby in the window looking out into the world wondering what world am I doing here.