Saturday, August 7, 2010

Final post from Morocco

First off,

The chicken place has no name, and no menu.  You can order a salad (egg, potato, beet, onion, tomato) if you're particularly hungry, but otherwise the plate with 1/4 of a chicken, rice with coriander, french fries and soup will probably tide you over.  It costs two dollars, is served within 1 minute of ordering (which just involves holding up the appropriate number of fingers and nodding enthusiastically), and is always, always fantastic. 

After a bloody handshake and an enthusiastic tea offering in a blood-spattered glass (which we are all too happy to accept, of course), he'll hook us up with anything from minced beef to sausage to a side of lamb (pictured here).  If he doesn't have what you want, he can find you someone who does.  The man on the right sells turkey and chicken in the stall next door, and I can't recall ever meeting anyone who smiles so much.

Every baked good we get is baked within a few feet of where we buy it.  The sweetest items are usually covered in bees, and require a few knocks on the counter before they are quickly placed in a box.  I went to the bakery in town at least twice a day (once before work, once after) for my entire time here.  Essential Moroccan vocabulary:  "Khoobz" = bread. 

These tiny shops ("Hanoots") really are amazing in the amount of things they manage to cram into a single space.  I once saw a man disappear behind the counter and reappear holding 5 birthday hats.  This man, known to us only as "Olive guy" for his vast selection of said item, was fond of giving us figs or olives to snack on while perusing his selection, which tended to make communicating what we wanted twice as difficult (but also twice as delicious...yum).

This will probably be my last entry from Morocco.  I leave Azrou tomorrow for Casablanca, where I'll spend the night in the airport before flying out on Monday, Boston bound and half-crazed from anticipation + lack of sleep.  I'm planning on posting a few more updates before I actually get back to Texas, including some sort of reflection and summation of this wacky adventure, and some credit where credit is due to the Green group and the Rakas family, so keep checking back.

Otherwise, I'll see you all soon (but not soon enough).

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Last day in Ain Kalla

It was my last day with the Scarlet group in Ain Kalla today.

This is the group who, when we started working with them in February, we couldn't get within 30 feet of.

Now I can take pictures like this:

The habituating process was difficult to say the least.  Whenever we finally felt like we were getting somewhere they would surround us and start screaming, or alarm call at us and run up trees, but the whole point is that you get through those rough patches and stick around.  Eventually (I suppose) they just get tired of caring, and you get to tiptoe around largely unnoticed.  In the end it felt damn cool to be among the first people to ever get to know this particular group (the Greens had been habituated before we arrived, we just had to re-habituate them).  They also live in an amazing place.

A large part of the Scarlet group home range sits right on top of an area the Berber shepherds herd their sheep through daily.  In the beginning, I think I mistook their innate shyness for resentment (likewise, no doubt).  But by now, my Arabic has gotten decent enough to make small talk, and in recent months, during the long days of searching on my own, I've been going out of my way to run into them and have a chat (and not only because they sometimes have seen the monkeys).  They have always been eager to help us out, and are always curious about what the hell we do all day.  Alas, the conversation normally runs beyond my skill range, and they start throwing in Tamazigh words, and their sheep start moving off, so we part ways, me normally in the direction they've pointed me in, and with a little boost of energy from the much needed social contact.  Unfortunately my plans to photograph some of the normal guys were foiled by the Scarlet's ranging patterns today, so the only photo I managed to grab was out the car window on the way home:

I'm going to miss driving through herds of sheep on the way out and back.  I'm going to miss exploring new parts of Ain Kalla, good (and bad) days with the Scarlets, and laughing with the shepherds about my ignorance of commonly known Tamazigh words.

I'm NOT going to miss this look: 

"Who are you and what are you doing here?  I'm leaving."

More tomorrow, ensh'allah.  It's my last day with the Greens.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

One week (wahed ssimanna)

Grooming lessons:  sometimes, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself

Kerry taking advantage of a rare summer puddle.


With a week left, I'm hoping to take a bunch of pictures around the town I've been too proud or shy to take so far.  The people that I've been fortunate enough to meet here have contributed so much to this experience that it would be unfair not to give them proper recognition for being hands down some of the kindest, most welcoming folks I've ever met.  

I've just got to get over feeling like a creeper asking for a picture.  

As a preview...

We go through hiking boots at an alarming rate.  I suppose boot manufacturers don't count on people actually using their footwear more than two weeks a year.  As a result, every couple weeks there's a new split seam, or the sole comes unglued, or some combination of the two (and then some...).  This man ('shoe guy', or 'Assaan' as I'm sure he prefers to be called) fixes whatever is ailing our fatigued footwear, and for the flat rate of about 2 bucks a pair.  He also tuts while he gives them a much needed polish.     

He's also just a really, really nice guy. 

At last, an article about primatology EVERYONE can appreciate.  I give you:  Monkeys vs. Flying Squirrels

(monkey annoyance experts?  advanced methods in enraging monkeys?  is this a joke?  either way, thanks to boingboing for digging this one up) 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Monkeys are superior to men in this:

when a monkey looks into a mirror, he sees a monkey.
-Malcolm de Chazal

Someone got too close to Larssen's mushroom patch

Grooming is serious f&*(!@ business, alright?

Ben in black and white.

Noddy tends to have an infant around most of the time.  He's a very nervous fellow. 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

It starts to look easy after a while

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The head really isn't the best place to rest for an infant, but it must be the most fun.

It's wedding season in Morocco.   Drums, drums, drums.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ben chilling out

(quick note on previous post, as blogger won't let me add a caption for some reason:  the photo is of krissy, the one year old daughter of kerry.  there's been some sort of black grass pollen in part of the forest over the past couple months, and it was turning all the yungin's faces black when they walked through it. )

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The first picture reminds me of someone, but I have no idea who...

Storms have been rolling through the mountains every afternoon lately.  Sometimes we get rain, sometimes just clouds and distant thunder.  Either way, it's a nice break after the heat of the day.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

they've lost their winter coats, and some of them look kind of scrawny now.

except nick, of course.

b-movie bad guyhe emerges from the shadows, revealing his hideously deformed face.  cue music and maniacal laughter.  the hero struggles to free himself.

one of the berbers in ain kalla has a new puppy.  it's adorable.  i really, really miss pets.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

It's getting hotter

Helen got angry with me todayMy bad.

The constant drone of flies in a pretty strong sedative, though I don't think that's what's gotten into Lewis. 

For a few weeks now they've been climbing trees in groups and playing their favorite game:  push the other monkey off of the branch.  Surprisingly no one ever seems to get hurt.  Though sometimes the bigger juveniles can get in trouble for playing too rough.

And Bryan came to visit!  It was epic, but I'll let him fill you in on the details...

I asked him to send my love to all of you when he gets back, but just in case he misses anyone...

Miss y'all.
Lots of love.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

There are times, dear friends....

...when I don't know whether to shit or go blind. 

In my mind, this phrase is said with an Irish accent.  I can't say why.  It's been on constant loop in my head lately, along with these songs:

"your life is over! your life is over! your life is over! your life is over!"  you can even clap along.

this band has a blog. it has arson and yuppies and and happiness abounding.  seriously, it's delightful.

River May Come from Matt Goldman on Vimeo.

 everything is right with the world. 

it's the ending 'yeeeeeoooow ::crash::' that gets me.  watch it.  you'll see what i mean.

Hypnotic hair.  I've listened to this album more than any other while I've been here.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Today, alone in Ain Kalla:

  I wonder what's behind that rock...

Neat!  I wonder what it's like inside...

 Cool!  I wonder how deep it goes...

Oh wow, it goes all the way through the hill!  I wonder if I can crawl through it...


Spontaneously went spelunking today.

Good day.