Capping the Loose Stool Count at 70, First Thoughts on Morocco, and Camel Drawing in Bamako

by phil on November 26, 2010

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The loose stool count is at 61. A conservative 61 due to negligent bookkeeping in Timbuktu. Also, pooping blood should probably count double. But let’s pretend it’s 61. My goal for the remainder of this trip? Keep it under 70. In Mali, Cote D’Ivoire, and Ghana that might have been too ambitious. Here in Morocco, I don’t think I’ll have a problem. Morocco. Let’s talk about it.

1. Morocco is not Africa.

Nor does it want to be. What’s the only African country that’s not part of the African Union? Egypt? No, it’s Morocco. In fact, Morocco seems to have more in common with Europe than it does with the rest of Africa. This makes sense. You can see Spain from Tangier, but a little thing called the Sahara Desert separates Morocco from countries like Mali, Senegal, and Ghana. Culturally, Morocco may be more in line with the Middle East, but it’s impossible to say it’s one thing or another. The French and Spanish were both meddling here, Islam made its mark, and the Berbers have their own long-standing cultural traditions.

2. The seagulls are speaking Arabic

I have spent a reasonable amount of time around seagulls. I am more or less familiar with their ways. The seagulls I have come to know make only one sound. In the world of bird calls, it is on the more obnoxious end of the spectrum. Here, the seagulls have figured out how to make more sophisticated sounds with varied tones. I’m convinced Moroccan seagulls are communicating with each other, and perhaps other animals. Bad news, if you ask me.

3. Moroccans are friendly.

I am of the belief that there are friendly people everywhere. I am also of the belief that some cultures are more welcoming than others. Morocco is a welcoming place. The culture is not as open as West Africa, sure, but I’ve been warmly received by almost everyone I’ve talked to.

4. There are tourists here

Lots of them. I’ve been in the beachside town of Agadir for two days. I now know that it is something of a retreat for Europe’s senior citizens. Far too often my eyes have settled on the sweating, bouncing tits of old European men who have decided to take up jogging here, in Morocco, where the chances of me seeing the sweating, bouncing tits of a nubile Moroccan woman are slim to nil. Yes, most of the women are covered. Except in hammams, the Moroccan bathhouses, some of which are mixed gender? I may have to investigate.

5. Everyone in Morocco sells hash

Not really. But it is easy to come by. For the record, I will not sample the local party favors from anyone that approaches me on the street.

6. Fresh squeezed orange juice is EVERYWHERE.

For 40-60 cents you can get a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice on the side of the road. Blessed with a mediterranean climate, Morocco is rich in fruits and vegetables. Not to mention almonds and something called argan oil. They also have mint tea, which is making me a diabetic. I will be writing a stand alone post on food and drink in Morocco, because it is mostly delicious.

7. Speaking of drink, it’s hard to find one.

But not impossible. Bars are discreet. There are no flashing heineken signs. Once inside, you will find mostly men and maybe a handful of prostitutes. I did manage to get a beer outdoors at a beachside cafe here in Agadir. In any case, life can in fact be enjoyed without alcohol.

8. Public transportation is on point.

Trains and buses are cheap and efficient here. The bus from Casablanca to Agadir was eight hours. It was comfortable and entirely on time. The other day, on the terrace of the hotel, an older British couple asked me why I chose to sit in a bus for eight hours when I could have taken a short flight. There were a lot of things I wanted to say to them. I wanted to tell them about the nonsense that happened between Abidjan and Bamako. I wanted to tell them eight hours is really not that long. I wanted to tell them that there is something very pleasant about actually seeing the place you are traveling through. But before I could respond, they were already talking about a trip they had taken to Hawaii. I’m sorry, can you excuse me, I need to make a phone call.

9. Inshallah is a beautiful expression.

No one says “see you tomorrow.” They say “see you tomorrow, inshallah.” See you tomorrow, God willing. Besides acknowledging the real possibility that we might not see each other tomorrow, this expression elegantly directs attention to the present, and to the fact that we are mostly insignificant – true whether you believe in God or not.

This picture

hassan II mosque casablanca morocco

gives me vertigo. That is the Hasssan II Mosque in Casablanca, the third largest mosque in the world.

And here is some camel drawing in Bamako. Laura, the woman drawing the camel is Ewe and she is from Ghana. I have now met Ewe people everywhere. In a village in Cote D’Ivoire, in Western Ghana, in Mali, and of course in Accra. If I seem patronizing in the video, understand that Laura gave me shit for EVERYTHING, so I took whatever chance I could to return the favor. Ibrahim, off camera, remarks that what she is drawing looks like a chicken. Indeed. He also advises her that camels do have tails, but “not very long.” Laura then goes on to draw the tail of a bronchiasaurus.

Till next time…

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

kim November 27, 2010 at 1:25 pm

i like the part about man-boobs, phil… That sucks. i want to hear more about the food! Sounds a lot like turkish food but what do i know? I drank apple tea, pomegranate tea, and all sorts of amazing tea and chai and espresso everywhere in turkey :) I look forward to your blog about food and drinks. Good luck on keeping your loose stool count low.

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phil November 28, 2010 at 3:59 pm

apple tea… so good. loose stool count is holding so far :)

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Andi November 27, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Loved this post! I had such a wonderful time in Morocco. It was my 1st foray into Africa. I didn’t realize that the seagulls speak Arabic. I will have to pay attention next time I’m there…inshallah ;-)

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phil November 28, 2010 at 4:03 pm

If there are any left when you return. I plan on exterminating them.. inshallah.

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andy November 28, 2010 at 9:17 pm

inshallah! I totally agree. great most of the time, reminding you that the ways of the universe are always present, however, awful when uttered by a super or landlord. So will I have that hole in my roof fixed tomorrow?… inshallah. How ’bout the hot water? …inshallah I’m an uncertain individual myself, so i guess i can understand.

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Maureen Brady Johnson November 28, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Phil, I talked to Megan and Katrina at LRA and they said that I should follow your BLOG!!! Great stuff, Phil. I LOVED the dancing graduates…
Good Luck and Great adventures inshallah…
Mrs. J (Maureen)

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phil November 29, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Hey Mrs. J! Thanks for reading!

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McRoommate November 29, 2010 at 3:29 pm

i think you should add another counter to your blog: number of camels drawn.

also, i miss you. and i forget how to draw camels. i think you should come back and show me.

much love across the atlantic!!

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phil November 29, 2010 at 6:16 pm

YES. I like it. I miss you too. Have you winterized the house yet?

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Matt December 3, 2010 at 12:16 am

Great read! Looking forward to hearing about the food. We have a Moroccan restaurant in town and I want to make sure they are serving the real deal.

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phil December 3, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Sounds good, I will be giving the full report soon enough. B well, Phil

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Sreejesh December 12, 2010 at 9:47 am

hey your design is just mind blowing! Are you using thesis? Awesome customization

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phil December 14, 2010 at 10:58 am

Yeah, it’s with thesis. Thanks.

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Katrina January 9, 2011 at 6:34 am

I’m heading to Morocco for the first time in March. Considering your love for camels, or at least squiggly representations thereof, do you have any advice for finding a good (read: cheap, but not deadly) trekking guide? I’m hoping to do a 3 day camel and sand extravaganza (inshallah, of course)!

Cheers! :^D

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phil January 9, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Hey Katrina, a cheap but good trek is definitely possible. I sent you a message on twitter – if you pass along your email, we will talk desert treks!!! B well, Phil

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Katrina January 9, 2011 at 5:52 pm

Can’t DM you on Twitter unless you are following me, I’m afraid. I think you should see my email address from these comments, since I had to enter it. Might need to be in admin mode.

Look forward to your input!

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