Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
When I first heard about Ceuta from my friend Brent he told me he had been and gone to the topless bars. Oops....turned out he said tappas bars. Really tappas bars sounds almost exactly like topless bars when you say it out of the blue. Seriously, try it with a friend. And while there aren't any topless bars, don't worry there is still lots of topless sunbathing. It is Spain after all. And the tasty tappas bars everywhere. So we get in at 8 pm and they are just opening. The Spanish don't eat dinner until 8pm or 9pm. So we're just in time. Bring on the rioja and delicious food. No chick peas or couscous allowed. The food is delicious, as is the wine and even the kids are scarfing it down (that's the food, we wouldn't share the wine). A wedding party meanders in for the start of their evening celebration. They are dressed impeccably sipping wine under the moonlight by the hotel's pool. I've had a glass a wine (ok....or two) and I'm fantasizing about donning an elegant dress, crashing the party, mingling with the locals unnoticed and listening to their stories and some intriguing international adult conversation. Instead I'm rounding up 4 exhausted kids and tucking them into bed listening to the drums of what must be the evenings entertainment. Their night is just beginning. Mine just ending, but wishing I was at the party. In my dreams perhaps.
Saturday starts with getting out and about town. Like in many European towns, shops shut down in the early hours of Saturday afternoon and they don't open on Sunday. The churches and their bells are somehow comfortingly familiar, much more melodic than the bellowing call to prayer in Morocco. The young Spanish men are cruising the streets of the beach town with their windows rolled down and radios blaring techno music. Jade informs me that she's going to live in Spain when she's older. Her timing couldn't be worse. I'm imagining well....Ricardo, Carlos, Manuel....sleazy greasy haired Spanish men and my beautiful innocent girl. Proof that not all fantasies are good fantasies. I'm trying to shake the image and I really hope she's not going to like Italy next month cause I'm already picturing Giovanni, Antonio and Lorenzo, but I already know the answer. We see some museums and some street dancers and get some instant gratification at Zara and in our pre-Ramadan stock up at LIDL where we get as much rioja as we can carry back to the hotel. Ah....cheap, delicious Spanish red wine. Then we head to the water park. It's not your water slides/rides kinda water park. It is a lounging kinda place with 3 intertwined saltwater pools with little islands to explore and walled waterways to get lost in. I would say that we looked local among this crowd with our caucasianess except that the girls and I weren't topless and none of us were smoking. Dead giveaways that we're tourists. The kids are enjoying just being anonymous and not the blonde celebrities that they are in Morocco.
We head back to the hotel and dinner, or lunch by Spanish terms since we were eating at 6pm. There we see them. The bridge club. A group of 8 Spanish ladies in their 80's playing cards. Some are here to socialize, but Carlita (as I have so named her) is all business. She doesn't look up from her cards and doesn't want to socialize. She wants to win. Some are spry 80 year olds, another is wheel-chair bound, one has beautiful shinny glossy gray hair and could be the cover girl on a box of hair color. Ok...all of them are coiffed. I'm pretty sure when you're that age it's all about the hair. Must get my hair done for Saturday bridge club with the ladies. Where they from Ceuta or were they vacationing? What are their life stories? I can't even imagine how long and through what events their friendship has endured. Enter fantasy number 3. Will my friends and I be hanging out playing cards and drinking sangria in our 80s? Will I have my teeth? A walker? Most importantly who gets the good old lady hair? Not me. I don't have good hair now. I would put my money on Suzanne. She's always had that perfect breck girl hair. I got dibs on teeth! I don't want to be relegated to a life of apple sauce and mashed potatoes. And who says we must play cards? I can see Eva doing still running the incline in Manitou Springs in her 80's. Maybe they'll be a chair lift up by then and we can all meet Eva at the top of the mountain. And maybe they'll be a tappas bar up there. Or a topless bar. We'll be too damn old to care which. Just as long as we can get our hair done before we go.
So the day draws to a close and so does our time in Spain. We make a quick trip to the beach the next morning to visit the quiet Mediterranean and collect shells before we load up the car. It was a relaxing weekend. Ok....as relaxing as a road trip with 4 kids can be. Wine, food, church bells, toplessness, relaxing and day dreaming. Just a little taste of the European life to hold us over until we go to Italy in 3 weeks.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Been wondering how to shed those unwanted pounds? Here are just a few secrets of Moroccan women...
1. Whatcha gonna eat?
You know how when you go through the grocery store in the states there are so many temptations in virtually every aisle? Mouth watering at those Boulder chips? Nope, don't have them here. Skittles? Nope don't have those either. Those dangerously cute brownie bites? Nope. Heath bars? Nope. Honey Combs? Pop tarts? Reese's cups? No. No. No. Lack of selection= lack of temptation. Voila!
2. Portion control
Ahhhhhh...America home to Sam's Club, Costco or BJ's and other places where things come in humongous quantities. You can buy 36 packs of "snack" size Doritos, when all you really need is one. Why not? They'll just sit innocently in the cupboard until you're ready for it. (Yeah, right.) Grocery shopping in Mococco couldn't be more different. The portions are ridiculously small. So in the opposite of the Wholesale club mentality I feel like a glutton buying two bags of chips (which is what it would take for a family of 6 to share with some sandwiches). Instead I'm guilted into believing I'm a food whore by buying so many "portions" of it. Do I have to buy each juice box individually? Really? I'm a lazy American. Are you telling me I need to figure out how many I really need and not just buy the super sized patriotic American overindulgent size? This is too much work, I'm just getting one....ahhhh....maybe I don't even need juice after all.
3. Junk food
Junk food here really is junky. Seriously. Sweet crappy foods are really sweet and really crappy in Morocco. In America we have tons of junk food that we try to disguise as health food. Here in Morocco the junk food is junky. No disguises. There are no "12 essential vitamins and minerals", "low fat", "whole grain" or any other such proclamation on the package. It is what it is. Buy it or don't, but no one is going to try to fool you into believing it's good for you. Here the junky food is so gross even my kids are turned off at alot of the snack options here, especially the junky Moroccan cereals. My kids hate them. And I think that says ALOT! Can we get a granola bar puuulllleaaaaaasse, at least maybe they get an oat with all that sugar.
4. Loss of appetite
If the lamb's head in the meat department, the bugs (and bug zappers) in the produce department, chicken poop that comes on your eggs don't make you loose your appetite....well what in the world will?
5. But where is it?
When I first moved here to Morocco I couldn't find anything in the grocery store and that stuff always seemed like it was in a different location. That's cause it is! That is Moroccan theft protection. Thieves can't steal the canned tomatoes that they can't find. And guess what? Neither can you! So are they out of canned tomatoes (this happens frequently here) or merely in a different location? Who knows! So you have a choice....do without or burn some more calories looking for them. Either way it's a win-win for you!
5. Slow food
You know how tempting it is to stop at your favorite fast food joint and grab something to go. It's quick, it's cheap, it's efficient. Nothing is quick and efficient here. And if you've ever had the Moroccan version of Mexican food....well....you won't do that twice. Nuff said.
6. Adopt a friend to help you
Just not dropping the pounds yet? Adopt a parasite. If you're still ingesting food that doesn't mean you need to digest it! Simply don't wash your produce well enough and a little friend will come induce some sweet intestinal distress.
As a last resort, camouflage. Throw on your billowy shapeless djellaba. No one knows what size you are under that thing. And when it's 90 and above and your whole body and head are covered you're gonna sweat....and as you know....water weight IS weight.
How will you know if this works? When you try to walk into the grocery store and you don't weigh enough to make the automatic doors open even while eating a sticky gooey orange croissant and you have to wait for a large man to come along with a cart to "rescue" you. Proof your Moroccan diet is working! (And you've had too much fresh organic produce and your intestines are inflicting their swift and uncomfortable justice upon you). True story.