Wednesday, March 4, 2015

In the Grip of the Griep (Flu)

We have been back in The Netherlands since Sunday evening. 

We are still "enjoying" our Moroccan vacation "souvenirs," but are getting better by the day. Hub just told me he read in the news online that 10 million Germans have had the griep/ flu this winter. Normally that number is around 2 million. 

And we were cooped up with a bus full of sick Germans for almost a week! Besides having a constant headache from listening to a language I almost understood, we picked up the infections. 

Bummer!!

Today our plumber is coming to install a new water heater in the Beltway apartment. Coffee pot and cookies are ready. 

Now bring on the mess/men!!!


Monday, March 2, 2015

Flippin' Jerk

We have called Flip lots of names in the last 4 years. 

Last night he ate our son's chicken lunches ( for some of the week!) before our son even noticed Flip had reached the plate on the kitchen cabinet.



Guess I would have called Flip a "jerk," too.




Vacation Souvenirs (or "silven ears")

 My youngest brother always asked my father to stop for "silven ear" shopping when we went on family vacations to Texas, Arkansas, and even California back in the early 1960's. 

Our trip to Morocco last week was filled with shopping places and vendors that sometimes got right into your face (and space), but our guide was so demanding and pushing us to keep moving that we never really had an opportunity to souvenir shop.

Finally at the Marrakech airport yesterday morning before our flight back to Germany, I bought a "silven ear."

This cute miniature tahine in blue and white. And the price was right. The vendor asked for 4 Euros or 50 Moroccan Dirham. When I showed her my last 40 Dirham, she said, "OK." Bought!

Due to the glaze, it isn't suitable for cooking use, but it will be a nice addition to my blue and white pottery souvenir collection back at Wetcreek.

And we are still trying to get rid of the real souvenirs of the trip: Hub's Flu and my chest cold!
They were free and are highly unwelcome!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

What I Did On My Vacation?

Temps have been in the 70's F our last two days in Morocco. Not bad for the final days of February, but definitely not warm enough for me to get any closer than this to the swimming pool at our resort on our Moroccan vacation.

Notice the empty chair? Hub is still recovering from the "bus plague." He says he might actually want to go sit in that seat later today. Let's hope so!

Retired citizens are always on vacation. Right?

Since we retired, we have probably worked harder physically than we ever did when we were "working." When we are at home in the States, we are our own gardeners, our own mechanics, our own plumbers, our own cleaning personnel, our own handy persons,  and our own jack-of-all-trades persons. We don't work for pay or by the hour, but we do the " tuff stuff." The jobs that most people who live in our area of the world either hire out or just let slide.

But we choose our work times. My times are usually early in the morning after I let Flip out to do whatever he does. In the summer, those early hours are most of the time still cool enough to endure the outside temperature. Inside jobs do not matter, since airco can make physical labor at least comfortable.

Hub, on the other hand, is a late to bed and late to rise person. So his jobs do not even begin until the late morning. And if there are outside jobs in summer, he usually waits until the late afternoon or early evening.

By the end of each day of "retirement," we are tired.

Not while you are on vacation!

(Someone around 5:40 am CST will be my 50,000th reader! Congrats!)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Behind Closed Doors

We are getting near to the end of our bus tour of Morocco. The countryside is lush and green and as near to a paradise as I have ever seen. Some homes and buildings are modern and luxurious on the outside, while others are very crude and primitive.

While walking through the streets of Casablanca yesterday, we were assured that behind the closed doors of the decrepit and ruinlike city buildings we would find beautiful, well-kept and super clean homes. It is almost difficult to believe, since still too many streets and highways are littered with plastic and other debris.

Plastic bottles, plastic bags, plastic wrap, plastic trash!
Our guide Abdel said that 30 years ago you would not have seen such garbage. As I remember, 30 years ago the whole world did not use as much plastic as we do today. Can you remember when you first began buying plastic bottled water? Does using plastic packaging give us the right to pollute our environment?

Sorry, I digress from my topic of "behind closed doors." 

On this tour of Morocco, we have seen the insides of mosques. Yesterday we entered on our sock feet the second largest mosque in the world in Casablanca. The structure is large enough to accommodate 50,000 people and is interesting, but not as beautiful as the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. 

We saw the outside of the Hassan II Mosque lit up with lights night before last, and that was a bit more impressive. 
Source of next two photos
Mosque Hassan II, from outside in photo above and inside in photo below.

We have seen the inside of several hotels this week, and most have had charming reception areas but less impressive rooms and restaurants. So what you see is not always what you get.
(We are here at Atlas Targa Resort for the last two days. Our bus has been plagued by illness. At present, I am blogging from the reception area. Hub is sleeping off whatever has infected our German bus companions and him. Hopefully he can enjoy the beautiful sunny weather under the palm trees tomorrow before we head back to winter in north Europe.)

As we are not on a family visit nor will we get to peek beyond the real "doors" of this culture, I guess we will never really know what we are missing.

Oh, by the way, we did have a short stop at a Catholic (there is religious freedom in Morocco) church in Casablanca (Notre Dame de Lourdes church). It is quite modern (1956) with a cement roof with tall vertical cement square wall braces separated by lovely Murano glass beams. And the stations of the cross were all done in more spectaular Murano glass. Lovely structure with the brilliant sun shining through the glass! 
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Catholicism_in_Morocco#/media/File:Eglise_N.D._de_Lourdes,_Casablanca,_Dioc├Ęse_de_Rabat,_Maroc.jpg

Far more transparent than anything else I have seen!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Who Is Following Us While We Are On Vacation?

Yesterday we were photographed while visiting Volubilis, Morocco. Now we have been asked to do an interview by the Media. 

They will just have to read my Wetcreek Blog for details.

Who would have thought that they could have recognized us, since we were definitely incognito.

We visited the grounds of the official palace of King Mohammed VI today and the Mausoleum of his grandfather and father in Rabat. 

View of the golden ceiling in the Mausoleum.

A bored guard inside.

A guard outside the Mausoleum.

View of the minaret and the city of Rabat with the Atlantic Ocean in the distance.

Beautiful hibiscus hedges in bloom.

Check back tomorrow for Casablanca.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How to Say No and Mean It

We are in Meknes, Morocco tonight and had a tiring day today. 

For those who know that I am "counting my steps," today was a 10,000 (or more) steps day. 

We first made our way on foot through a labrynth path through the souk (market stalls)in Fes. We saw everything from live chickens ready to be slaughtered on the spot to a cart full of fresh aromatic strawberries and raspberries to gold and silver trim for kaftans for rich Moroccan ladies to mule drawn rustic carts transporting goods through the 4 foot wide souk passageways. And not one pickpocket during the two hour walk!

Then we climbed up to the Roman ruins in Volubilis.
I have no idea who these folks are, but the guy with the camera followed our group around taking photos of all of us. Our guide said he was the "paparazzi." We didn't ask more questions. Even when he followed us to a mosque in Meknes. You know how I can't stand "paparazzi."

Lovely tile (ruins) floors in the ancient Roman baths in Volubilis. Shame they are not covered and protected from the elements.

Another shot of the ruins (and folks I do not know).

The main street of this ancient city of 60,000 inhabitants. 

Now the "saying No" story:
Everything I have read has warned me to just say "No" to any Moroccan who tries to sell me anything I do not want. Well, so far that simple word has worked with no problem. But today in Meknes, "No" was not enough. 

This afternoon late, my hub and I entered a souvenir shop on a city square. I was freezing, since I had forgotten to wear my sweater when I left the bus. So browsing in a shop seemed like a way to keep warm. The shopkeeper immediately began a conversation about his goods, an uncle who married an American and lived in Ohio, and how special his embroidered rugs were. 

When I asked the price of a nice large red one hanging on the wall, he told us that our tour guide would take us to a textile factory and the price would be way more expensive than what he was asking for his rug. When I said that the rug was nice but that it was too big to carry home in my suitcase, he said he could roll it up very tightly and small to transport. Then his "uncle" appeared out of nowhere and blocked our exit of the shop. The uncle proceeded to lower the price (several times), but I said, "No, I don't have time for this and it is too large." Then the uncle said I was being as stubborn as a "Berber." I said NO again and tried to leave the shop. Finally I said, "We are going to be late for our tour bus!" I said, "No!" Then the uncle let us pass but grabbed a ladder to remove the rug. We escaped the shop, and I am sure the uncle and his nephew were amazed that this old Berber (barbarian) American lady just turned down their great deal on that red rug.

Whew! 

Then my hub asked me if I had really wanted that rug. 
Of course not! I just wanted to keep warm and get an idea of what to expect at the textile factory with our tour group tomorrow!!!