I get really into sports every two years when the Summer and Winter Olympics roll around. All of a sudden I care about sports that I never follow otherwise – figure skating, skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, gymnastics, swimming, track – It’s all so exciting.
When I was a kid, my mom signed us up for all sorts of activities – swimming, piano, girl scouts, dance, basketball – whatever she could think of to keep us busy and out of her hair. When we weren’t outside playing, we also had a ridiculous number of toys and crafts that kept us entertained inside for hours on end. We did not have any video games, I’m pretty sure we didn’t know what those were. And we weren’t really allowed to watch TV. We would always try to say we were watching TV to improve our Spanish, and sometimes that excuse would work, but usually not. For the longest time my sister and I thought Muzzy was just a movie, not a Spanish as a second language instructional tool.
Crafts can sometimes get expensive, but one of the more economical crafts we had was knitting. Probably in third grade mom bought me a knitting book with a kit of needles and knitting accessories, and some cheap acrylic yarn and said, “Have at it.” Looking back, I’m not sure how I learned how to knit from a book. It’s so much easier now with Youtube tutorials. Once I got the hang of the knit stitch, I became a proficient knitter of squares and rectangles. It took me a REALLY long time to complete one project and somehow there would always be a hole or two in it, but I knit many scarves, doll blankets, and more scarves.
I’m a bit late to the game, but I see people are listing what they read last year, so I thought I’d join in. I say “read,” but the truth is I listened to the majority of these books. Does that still count? I know some people hate how the narrator does voices in audio books, but I actually love it.
As I’ve mentioned before, I usually try to borrow books from the library instead of buying them and fortunately the library has two excellent apps for downloading audio books – OverDrive and Hoopla – in addition to Kindle for e-books.
Here’s what I read in 2017 in no particular order. I only included books that I read (or listened to) cover to cover…and not ones that I started and then abandoned. I tried to include whether or not I liked the books, but so much of that is subjective so you’ll have to decide on your own. There are no spoilers so it’s safe to read.
Yesterday my boss received an email from BIG SOFTWARE COMPANY (let’s call them BS for short 😉) alerting us that we would be billed for a data overage in 15 days unless the situation was fixed and to contact our account executive with any questions.
My boss does not use BS so he forwarded the email to me. Naturally, I had lots of questions. Was this a scam using scare tactics trying to get us to click on a link? Who was this account executive who I have never spoken to or heard of before)? Why was the email sent to my boss whose email address is currently not associated with BS and who is not the BS Admin for our organization?
I went to investigate the email because money was on the line.
Apparently the name “Casablanca” comes from when the Spanish settled in the city and not from the Portuguese like our taxi driver told us. When it comes to historical accuracy, I believe our tour guide over a random taxi driver. The city was also called “White House” in Arabic before the Spanish came.
The Europeans who settled in Morocco abandoned the city after an earthquake destroyed it so the joke is that “Casablanca was freed by nature.”
We started off the day in New Marrakesh, the part of the city that was built by the French in the 1900s. Marrakesh has a unique look; No building is higher than 6 floors because they do not want any building towering over the minaret of the Koutoubia mosque, which is the symbol of Marrakesh. It is clearly visible from anywhere in the city. The exception is a hotel built in the new part of the city during the French occupation. Also all buildings in Marrakesh have to be painted a reddish color on the outside, which is why it is known as the Red City or the Rose City. It is actually quite nice to see the contrast of the red buildings, the greenery of the palm trees and plants, and the blue skies. Marrakesh is located at the base of the Atlas mountains. I’m told on a clear day you can see the white of the snow from the Atlas Mountains, which are only about 20 miles away.
Unlike the other cities, cars are allowed inside the Medina of Marrakesh so our bus drove us right to Jemaa el-Fnaa, the square of the Medina of Marrakesh. It’s always bustling with the food stalls selling dried fruit, skewers of meat, tangine, couscous, and other foods as well as street performers. But beware if you take their pictures (even raising your camera counts) because they will hound you for a tip. Apparently snake charmers are the worst.
“Even if you give them $100 they will follow you for $200.” – Hesham, our tour guide commenting on snake charmers.
For the most part Moroccans are Muslim so I didn’t expect to see really any Christmas decorations while in vacation. To my surprise there are Christmas trees in the airport and hotels, which I suppose are catering to international clients many who celebrate Christmas. But I was most surprised about the Christmas decorations in the mall Borj Fez (which I mentioned previously.) I asked my tour guide Hesham about this. Here’s his response.
There are four cities that once were the capital of Morocco: Fez, Rabat (the current capital), Meknes, and Marrakesh. Fez is the oldest capital and was founded by Idriss II son of Idriss I (who founded Moulay Idriss near Meknez.)
Today began with a panoramic view of Fez and where our guide provided an explanation of the city’s history and pointed out various landmarks that we would be visiting later.
Merry Christmas Eve from Fez! I wrote this post yesterday, but was having trouble with the internet. Now that it’s solved here’s the post on Rabat, Meknes, and Volubilis.
Today we began our tour in earnest. Our first stop was to see the outside of the Royal Palace in Rabat, which is surrounded by a wall. This palace is not the living quarters of the king of Morocco, but rather a ceremonial place for him to receive dignitaries and guests. The ministries of religion and military are also housed inside the walls of the royal city because they are under the domain of the king.
Rabat is much bigger than Casablanca. I suppose this makes sense because it is the capital. We arrived around lunch time and checked into the hotel which is much nicer than the one in Casablanca probably because it was booked through the tour company so it’s fancy. Because we are cheap we did not go out for lunch and instead ate the ham and cheese on baguette sandwiches that we had made from the free breakfast at the hotel.