Sunday, April 25, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Seville is a dream. This statement could not be truer in my life. Seville was the perfect town to escape to after abrasive Morocco. It was the last stop of our trip and one of the best cities yet. This small southern Spanish city was filled with cobblestone streets, cathedrals, friendly faces, happy people, and warm hearts.
We spent hours at Cafes, restaurants, and parks just shooting the shit and sipping coffees, indulging in tapas and good conversation.
I bought new bright blue shoes.
We sat in a square that held a play structure for children. Hours passed eating ice cream and laughing at all the beautiful kids. They were all so funny/cute/reminded me of how simple life can be.
Our last night was spent on our hostel rooftop. The most beautiful view I’ve ever seen from a rooftop. We imbibed in white wine and a homemade meal cooked by yours truly.
Seville was a dream.
The bus ride was one of those beautiful ones where the landscape keeps changing outside the window and you can literally see Morocco transform from sandy desert to lush green agriculture soil. When we got to Casablanca we had some language trouble. Bryn talked slow drawn out English with the man behind the counter ticketing our bags for the next bus. “ We are going to Taangiiersss.” She had to repeat this several times until the man said “ Ah! Tahhhngghhhaiiir” in a very snooty french accent. We all laughed our heads off over this transaction while waiting for our transfer bus. Apparently everywhere we go we sound like straight from the south hick ass Americans to the frenchified Moroccans.
Tangiers was not a pretty town. When we got off the bus men asking if we needed a taxi or a hotel bombarded us. We repeated no about one hundred times while walking away/ escaping their nagging. It was worse than Latin American when it comes to pestering of foreigners. I guess everybody’s gotta make a buck.
We dropped off our bags, ate dinner, and pranced on the beach before our 5 AM wake up call for our Ferry to Spain!
Thursday, April 15, 2010
I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I clicked the purchase button online to buy my plane ticket from Barcelona, Spain to Marrakech, Morocco. I had no picture in my head to associate with the country of Morocco let alone be able to point out Marrakech on a map. Morocco surprised me in so many ways because of this lack of background knowledge. I knew forming some sort of prediction or expectation in my head would be stupid and naïve so I tried to be as open minded and even blank minded when it came to preconceived notions about this country of northern Africa. First impressions of a place are such a rush. We stepped off the plane to a calm heat. The air was dusty and the sky grey muggy. The ground was clean and the airport deserted. At the baggage claim I shed my two layers of sweatshirts and shoved them into my bag. Then I draped a pashmina shawl over my shoulders as to try and respect local custom of modesty. Passport control was easy as the frontier control officer chatted us up. This was the beginning of unwanted attention that we would be all too familiar with by the time we left. Hopped on a bus and sped toward the main square. Pure stimulation: dirt, dust, cars, taxicabs, busses, and men on bikes, all flying in every direction. Street signs and lights served for no purpose and lines painted on concrete are a waste of time and tax money. Stepped off the bus and stood shocked and stunned. Where are we? Where am I? After the initial shock an old comfort set in. I felt the comfort of a third world country. There is something about chaos and dirt and poverty that makes me feel at home. We spotted a businessman and attempted to ask in French for the street of our hostel. He immediately answered in English (apparently we sound very American when we attempt to speak French, this happened in France as well) and pointed us in the right direction. As we walked in the heat all my senses were bombarded. Smells of spices, coconut, sweat, urine, and things I’ve never smelt before. My eyes saw cobras, water snakes, monkeys on chains, women in covered in fabric begging to give henna tattoos to tourists, children running and selling handmade coconut cookies for one Durham each, horses that looked neglected and irritated, stands full of dried fruit and nuts, tents, tarps, drums, motorcycles, and blurred bodies everywhere walking walking walking. My ears buzzed with Spanish, English, Arabic, French, traditional flutes and mandolins, and the yelling of street vendors desperately trying to get our attention. After 20 minutes of walking in front to the left and right we finally found the correct entrance of our street. A nice young boy noticed our furrowed foreheads and led us to the front door of our new home. Day one was a RUSH. Ecstasy of energy and the freshness of being in a place you never had the talent to dream of.
Day one I was in love with Morocco.
Day one I saw myself being able to spend a large chunk of time in Morocco.
Day two and three proved these premature judgments wrong.
Day two was spent walking all around the square, developing film, wandering in the market place, eating delicious couscous meals for less than 5 dollars, getting invited into two traditional medicine shops, sharing mint tea with locals, and getting shouted at in every language under the sun.
I was enchanted by Morocco: the heat, the smells, the streets, the food, the mint tea, but the men…
The men of Morocco need to have their penises chopped off.
Or at least that is one of the thoughts constantly streaming across my mind because it was so full to the brim with anger. Moroccan men do not know respect. I traveled with two of my good girl friends and we felt as though we were three pieces of prime meat the entire time. I was stared at constantly. The kind of stare that makes you feel like you are being stripped naked in an instant; the stare that screams rape.
We were asked if we wanted dicks, if we were ready for sex. We were told we had nice asses, tits, boobs, and bodies. None of these comments were flattering. We were hissed at, kissed at, grabbed at, and stared at. I wanted to yell and scream and punch and spit and fight back so many times but knew the added attention would only make the situation so much worse. I felt trapped in this country where men stare and stare and make me so full of hatred towards the opposite sex. By day three and four all three of us travelers were so fed up with men. Yes I know all you guys who are reading this may get offended but if you were in my shoes I think you would be just as angry and feel just as violated.
Besides the problem with men, Morocco was beautiful. Our breakfasts consisted of fresh baked bread that cost 10 cents and a full glass of fresh squeezed orange juice for 40 cents. The days were spent wandering around the largest square in Africa and surrounding areas. The last day in Marrakech we went to an old Palace, which was filled with intricate tile design and woodcarvings. The skies were piercing blue and the walls white. Orange trees grew in the streets. Farrell cats roamed the roads.
Morocco was amazing. My advice to future travelers… be a man or travel with many around you.
Barcelona was good to us. Sun, beach, and warmth. Walked the streets and alleyways that were filled with graffiti and soul. My skin felt vitamin D soaking into it once more and lapped it up with glee. At the end of one of the days we were bombarded by a lightning and rain pour storm that led us into a free Picasso museum. Room after room was filled with the life of this talented man. Spanish guitar blessed the ceilings of the subway and smiles graced our faces. Barcelonaaaaa
First thing to do in Paris…
Buy two baguettes, two blocks of brie cheese, and two bottles of red.
Walked to the park that sits in front of the Eiffel tower, plopped down on a park bench, and broke bread.
Sitting and looking up at the Eiffel tower was a surreal moment. This spot has been in so many pictures, so many people have been here, loved here, kissed here, cried here, and lived here. The fact that almost anyone in the world could probably recognize the large metal structure that protrudes into the Parisian skyline. Iconic.
Anywhoo… The wine and baguette were amazing.
The rest of the day was filled walking throughout the city. We sat for hours in a little café and sipped espresso while laughing at how small the cups were. We bought bulk candy from a sweet old man, walked the, Champs-Élysées and saw the Arc de Triomphe.
In the evening we bought another bottle of Red and walked up the steps to the Sacré-Cœur to see the entire city from the top of the hill. The scene was gorgeous and the sunset slowly descended as we sat and watched men play soccer and talked with new friends from all over the world. We had a conversation in Spanish, French, English, and Portuguese. It is great how somehow even though we all only speak a little big of each language we all understood each other and could laugh and joke. The day turned to night and we continued our epic day by running into a Norwegian boy who was on a 3-year world trip whilst writing a novel about it. We wandered to the Moulin Rouge where the nighttime was painted with red tinge from all of the adult sex shops. Lastly our night was finished with conversation over espresso in the café where Amelie was filmed.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
This photo doesn’t begin to capture the insane happiness that was throbbing through my body at the moment it was taken. This young boy from Estonia and young girl from Israel made my night. Tom and I were tired and trudging to Whole Foods to try and buy some bulk foods before taking the tube over to his parent’s house. When we arrived in front of Whole Foods there were workers inside but the doors locked. Sure enough they close at 9 and the hands of my watch read just that. We were just on time for closure. Right when our hearts were fluttering downward and my frustration level was rising we were asked…. “Do you want FOOD!” “Oh yes! Oh yes! They bring ze bins out, they bring glorious, wonderful, beautiful food!” The next few minutes were spent striking up conversation and sharing moments with this wonderful pair of human beings. Their smiles and willingness to share their secret was sheer kindness. Tom and I walked away with a fresh baked bread block loaded with fresh tomatoes, rocket, cheese, and sauce. Mmmmm it was the perfect dinner. We also scored a huge bag of cupcakes!!!! All organic all baked that day. What a wonderful life!