Tuesday, July 25, 2017

declarations of love

I often wonder about the outcome of these declarations of love on walls, doors, and trees. I imagine one of the two scrawling or carving away in secret, unveiling their feelings to the other, hoping for approval... Were they impressed by this act of vandalism? Did they shy away in embarrassment?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

the yellows of fès

Somehow I thought lugging my eighth month swollen belly around a medieval city under the bright North African sun was something that I would enjoy— and I did, mostly. I say mostly because after a morning of sightseeing my feet and ankles had swollen to an uncomfortable degree, and the heat had me nearly seeing stars. We had been saving the large, popular tourist cities like Fès and Marrakech for when we had visitors, and with Pedro's family in town at the time, Fès became our first stop.

Apparently the medina of Fès is the largest pedestrianized urban area in the world. I had been warned that you can lose yourself in its labyrinthine alleys without a guide, but to be honest, we had a guide for a morning and I not only found him to be a bore, I thought a good map would do just fine. Fès is one of Morocco's four imperial cities (the other three being Meknès, Rabat, and Marrakech), and served as the country's capital from the 9th Century until 1912, when it was Rabat's turn.

Part of me dreaded going to Fès— I expected a noisy, smelly tourist trap where I'd be hassled at every turn, but I was happy to find stunning architecture, nice people, and so many shades of yellow. Yes, the amount of tourists clogged some of the smaller alleys to a standstill, but it was April. Perhaps a return in November would be a quieter (and cooler) experience— the next time however, will be with Baby being carried on the outside of me!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

back into the belly

The first month of motherhood has been a surreal blur of dirty diapers, tears, sleepless nights, and the wonder of having a little one that was once poking around in your belly staring up at you with big, curious eyes. I doubt I'll find much time to blog in the next while, but as I have a moment right now (and don't need to eat, shower, go to the bathroom, or sleep), I thought I'd take you back to a time when Baby was eight months inside me, and the three of us were wandering around in a sweltering Fes. So, if you are ready and patient, I've got some things to show you!

Friday, June 16, 2017

between naps and nappy changes

So this has been my little secret for the past nine months. I was torn between writing about my pregnancy and keeping it for myself, and though I was thrilled to be growing this tiny human in my belly, I decided to revel in it privately. I was lucky to have had an easy and joyful pregnancy, all the way up until the last couple of weeks (which were admittedly much tougher on the body). It didn't stop Pedro and I from travelling across Morocco— eating seafood in Tangier, birding in the Western Sahara, sketching palm trees in Figuig, riding camels in Merzouga, and visiting the tanneries in Fes.

I still intend to keep posting about my adventures (and eventually some of the drawings I've been working on), but it will now have to happen between naps and nappy changes. There's still so much to share...

A heartfelt thank you for all the kind words and well wishes!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

the humble mule

With the steep and rocky terrain, mules are the preferred form of transport in and around Imlil, and goats the chosen livestock. Some of the mules were decked out in colourful harnesses and striped blankets, while others were a bit less flashy— all seemed well looked after and healthy, which made me happy.

Monday, May 29, 2017

etched into stone

On the way to Oukaïmeden in Jabal Toubkal National Park, there's a fairly large rocky area surrounded by grazing pastures that has some curious etchings. The sign at the site claims that the etchings were created 2000–3000 years ago by the original inhabitants of the area. As the etchings are not marked with any sort of roping or protection, you have to resort to walking on the rocks to find them. We were able to find a female figure, a make with a bull, another bull, and a shield of sorts with a bird.

Erosion from snow, wind and water also left some interesting marks of its own:

Sunday, May 28, 2017

tajine and tea

As we wandered around Imlil in search of food, we were confronted with two options at that particular time of day: a touristy restaurant with a bunch of excited Europeans, or a local joint that seemed to be attached to a butcher shop. The latter had an enticing row of steaming tajine pots cooking their contents away on braziers, and a fair amount of locals dining away. Needless to say, we greeted the friendly gent manning the coals, and climbed upstairs to the terrace where we ordered a chicken tajine to share, mint tea, and a Coke for Pedro.

Chicken tajines from what I have experienced so far, are mainly composed of various chicken parts layered underneath a pile of potatoes and various vegetables, flavoured with preserved salted lemons and olives. The acid from the lemons is cut by the earthy potatoes, and overall, it's a pretty nice dish (though I prefer the meatball tajines). There's usually a good amount of drippings left behind for your bread to soak up— my favourite part.

I had to include this last photo— I love the way Coca-Cola is written in Arabic!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

stone villages

The stone villages we hiked through around Imlil reminded me of some of the Nepali villages I've seen. Humble rectangles, earthen-coloured, with bits of pink, blue, and red from clothes drying on a line. Goats braying, shy eyes peering behind windows, some shuttered, some barred.

As in Nepal, it seems as though cement is quickly replacing stone and wood.

taking a hike

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

into the atlas

Back in September, Pedro and I took advantage of a long weekend for a roadtrip into the Atlas Mountains. The green valleys of the imposing Atlas were dotted with Berber villages made of stone and mud, the same red as the surrounding rocks, which almost served to camouflage the humble, rectangular buildings. The air was fresh, and the valleys echoed with the calls of choughs. Light faded quickly, as the sun sank behind the mountains in the late afternoon, casting a faint orange glow before we were all immersed in blues and violets.

it's in the details

little moments

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

the grand socco market

I love markets— the smell of spices, the colourful displays of fruit, vegetables, and fish— and of course, the often humorous and musical shouts and calls of vendors. The best part of visiting a local market is the discovery of something new, something unique to a place. For instance, the goat cheese artfully wrapped in palm fronds that I was told is typical of the Rif region:

We were so charmed by the above gentleman that we bought a jar of flowery, creamy honey as our souvenir of Tangier. It didn't take long for that jar to empty itself!