Sunday, August 12, 2012

Breakfast at the Nursing Home-al-Fitr

I was asked if I would like to participate in providing a breakfast for 40-50 people at a local nursing home.  My counterpart put together sponsors to pay for the tables, chairs, china, food and music.  During Ramadan it is your duty to feed the less fortunate.

We checked on the nursing home about 4 weeks ago and they were receptive to providing space for an al-Fitr meal for the old and disabled people living at the home.  About 15 people live permanently in the home serviced by appx 10 workers.  Everyone from the home would be invited as well as some of the local dignitaries. 
Hayat and another PCV arrived at 10:00 to start getting the furniture set up, food prepped, dishes washed.  I showed up later and helped with the food prep and table settings. 
People started arriving about 7:00. 
The menu usually consists of the same break fast food no matter where you go, from dates to harrira, a Moroccan soup.
The sign in table was set up at the entrance to the dining room. 

Everyone waited to hear the local mosque broadcast the OK to Eat signal then commenced to eat a date and drink a glass of water to begin the Breakfast.  Milk and juice were passed around and consumed quickly.  Treavor a PCV from Seattle serving with me in Midelt made egg rolls.  These are not a typical Ramadan food but everyone seemed to like them.

After Breakfast a music ensemble began to play, violin, keyboard and tambourine.  Several of the older guests joined in the clapping and singing of traditional Moroccan songs.  Henna, a temporary tattoo, was applied to the women.

After festivities, photos were taken of the group.  I was the defacto official photographer.

Another event successfully completed.  With my service winding down I will only have a few more of these opportunities.  The joy in the peoples faces is a reward I will remember. 

Enjoy Life.  Until Next Post, Bislama.  Time for Bed.  Opps, that's right it is Ramadan so you do not go to bed until 4 AM after you have last meal and drink BBBZZZAAAFF before the sun comes up.

Monday, July 23, 2012

My Last Ramadan and Making Chabekia

Eat, eat eat, drink,drink,drink.  This years Ramadan started on Saturday.  It will be my last before I leave in October for home.  In preparation we had a seminar for the Boumia women at the rug school on making Chebeckia, which is a traditional treat made during Ramadan.  You see mounds of it in the markets a week before the holiday.  Everyone has some for the first Break Fast meat on Saturday.  Some is much better than others.  A well made Chebeckia can cost 50 DH a kilo.
The class at the rug school was well received.
You start with a dough, roll it out then hand shape it into an oval flower looking piece.

There is a real trick to making the little chabeckies.  I did not do so good and ended up with a ball of dough.  Practice makes perfect.  We made trays full of the little dough things.  After all the dough was formed the oil was boiled and the chabeckies dropped into the oil.  In a second bowl is the Native honey spiced with cinnamon bark and fruit then sifted to remove the solids.  After frying the Checkies are dropped into the honey mixture and allowed to soak.

After soaking in the honey, the pieces are drained, paced on a plate and sprinkled with sesame seeds.  Let stand for a couple minutes to cool off then it is time to eat. 
WOW are they good.  Sweet but tasty.

Back to Fitur, First Meal, everything starts with a date.  You eat one date then you can dig in.

Our meal included Fruit juice, figs, dates, nuts, eggs, a pancake like item, hobst, dates, tea, coffee, a triangular eggroll like treat, harerra soup. 
Everything was awesome and I look forward to my next invite.
Fun was had by all.  Bishmeala

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ash and Eze Visit Madrid to Merzouga

Ashlyn and Eze came for a visit the end of May, beginning of June.  After traveling to Tangier and taking Ryan Air, I met them in Madrid during the big Barcelona-Bilboa football game.  The game was sold out but after meeting Ash and Eze at the airport in the morning we were able to celebrate with the fans all day and party.
I did do some cultural site seeing the day before I met them.  I went to the Prado museum, free from 6 to 8 every evening, and saw Goya, Raphael, Murillo, Rubens,  El Greco, Rembrandt and many other classic artists.  It is quite the collection.

The night before, I went out with  few people I met at the Equity Point Hostel to see the football fans in action.  We got swept up in the festivities and did not make it back till early the next morning.  It was hard to get up the next morning and race to the airport to meet A&E.  Their plane was due in at 8:30, way to early after being out all night at the 3 euro bucket of beer and 5 euro for 6 Heineken's establishment.  The Bilboa fans were certainly excited to play Barcelona.  I did make it to the airport and met up with Ash and Eze after they cleared customs and were already walking toward the Metro.
We spent the day enjoying the parks and tapa bars, later returning to the 5 beers for 3 euros pub to watch the game.  Barcelona won 3-1 much to the disappointment of the Bilboa fans and Eze who had so much fun the night before.  The hit for the day was the Ham Museum.  The Iberian Ham was for sale at over 350 euros a kilo.  We opted for something a little less exotic.

Our hotel on game night was out of Madrid about 20 kilometers.  Everything we tried to book for the night of the game was full.  We took the last train of the night at 11:30 to the Que Hotel.  Next morning we missed breakfast because our plane left early and you have to be at the airport 2 hours before flight time.  We flew to Tangier, hopped a bus to Chef Chaouen and spent the night at Riad Baraka.

Next day we hiked up to the mosque on the hill and into the mountains beyond.
It was a vertical climb through a dry creek bed blazoned with flowers.  We saw sheperds high in the his and two other hikers who passed us and went off into the canyon.

Up there is where we went.  We climber higher and higher trying to get to the top of the ridge which was always just a little bit farther.  It was dry and we sucked up the water.  Dustin would love doing some technical climbing in this area.  Chef Chaouen was not open to Westerners till the 1950s.  It was a religious city restricted to non-muslims.  The Blue City is now one of the favorite destinations for tourists looking for adventure.  The Rif mountains are spectacular and several hydro projects are presently being built in the region.  There is  lot of money in this area but you need to be cautious as this is also where the Pot is grown for hash exports to Europe. 

After Chef Chaouen it was off in the CTM bus to Fez.  The CTM is a first class bus.  The air conditioning works, the seats have more room, it is clean and has less stops.  We had an hour layover in Fez and took a quick tour of the old Medina, a world heritage site.  Next was a souk bus to Midelt, more crowded, more stops and if you want you can take your goat in the baggage compartment.
After a good nights sleep in Casa Kahler Midelt we visited the carpet souk and the Berrem Canyon.

A visit to the Boumia rug school, lunch there and the ride back in Christina, Hayat's car, got us back to Midelt

Off to the Sahara, Merzoug, for a camel trek.  We had 12 people in our group, including Hayat and her sister SuSu, Hichem and my step daughter from the Canadian Nurses wedding a few months ago and of course Abdel Wahed who sang the whole way from the hotel to the desert camp.