February 21, 2007

No "Chicken" Curry Today.....

President's Day this past Monday, Ash Wednesday today, just another day in Morocco. I passed on the chicken curry from Marge and am still deciding on what I'm giving up for Lent. Not many choices since my diet currently consists of only a handful of foods.

I'll need to ponder that one a bit more today.

I get a lot of e-mails from friends and family asking me so many questions about my life in Morocco. I'm trying to tackle them one by one.

1) Food - I will post anything new or unusual as I encounter it - - -

Came across what I thought was a "HUGE" find in the Marjane the other day. Bought a box of what seemed to be Clorox Wipes I was so psyched and couldn't wait to share the news with Jess. Drove home with lightening speed, ripped off the plastic, opened the plastic box and.... they were "DRY", can you imagine! I was not the first one to be fooled by this product the same thing happened to my neighbor Maureen. I guess by the time they make it hear from France, where they are produced, they dry out. The box specifically says "In English" keep tightly closed so as to not lose moisture.

2) Social Life - Zero! It's off-season and there are only a few restaurants in the area open. There is a Hotel across from our office but it's rather expensive - Sofitel, Marina Smir and Kabila Marina which have bars and cafes are also close by but are all currently closed.

I have been out 1 night since I've been here. A few of us went to Tangier - it's a very happening city but still very Moroccan and 1 1/2 away so it's not often that people make the trip. 4 of us went to a great French restaurant "Relais de Paris" and had some excellent wine. The guys had Cubans and I got my hands on my first box of matches to start my new collection. We weren't actually supposed to take them but C'est La Vie!!

The Compass office was originally in Tangier directly below the restaurant so the directors are good friends with the owner.

I miss city life 100%. I miss being able to call up a friend and head out for dinner and drinks at a moments notice. I miss American music, live bands, concerts and sports.

The pace of my life has drastically changed.

July and August are the height of the holiday season in Northern Morocco. The area will be flooded with French Moroccans. I've been told my commute to work which currently takes approx. 15 mins can take up to 2 hours during July and August. It will be reminiscent of Route 28 on the Cape over the 4th!!

Summer 2007 should prove to be an interesting one!

The Flag of Morocco

February 17, 2007

Coffee Withdrawal -

Venti, Non-Fat, No-Whip, Xtra Hot, Cinnamon Dolce Latte -
Large DD with 4 Sweet and Lows and Skim Milk…….PLEASE!!!!

It’s Saturday morning and I’m sitting in my kitchen still without internet writing this post. I have to work this afternoon so I have a few hours to chill. I would give anything right now to go out and get a coffee!! It may sound very silly to hear me say this but “nowhere” here can you get a coffee to go. You have to head into M’diq and sit down in a cafe and get a coffee. Not a large coffee either, a small 8oz cup that takes at least 10 mins. for someone to make. This is just one of the “many” things I miss from the states.

Pretzels – I LOVE PRETZELS….."Rold Gold Mini Twists" reign supreme.
At the local Marjane they have one type of pretzel, a short thin stick item. Saltletts Sticks that come is a small non-user friendly bag. Not Fun!!

The cereal’s OK-I’ve been living on it. I can find some decent Kellogg’s brands.
Yogurts are about 4oz and not very tasty unless of course you buy the kids or full fat kind.

No cereal bars or balance bars of any type. In Spain I was able to find some Kellogg’s breakfast bars but they were awful. The guys in my office however loved them they ate all 3 boxes. They’ll eat anything though….I’ve been buying different foods to try, whatever I don’t like I bring in to the office and eat it right up.

No Dasani – all the water here is mineral water. The best brand I’ve found is Sidi Ali. I need to look for Ciel which I discovered on-line is a Coke product. I believe I have drank more “Coca Light” since I’ve been here then my entire 4 ½ years with Coke. It actually tastes different then the Diet Coke in the states. It’s sweeter almost like the fountain soda.

No Take-Out and if you do find a half-decent place it can take up to an hour to get a pizza made. No wraps, burritos or a simple tuna or turkey sandwich.
I have not eaten any sliced turkey or canned tuna since I’ve been here.

No Zip Lock Bags, Dryer Sheets, Clorox Wipes or Essie Vanity Fairest Nail Polish.

Magnets – I brought many pics of friends and family to put on my “little” fridge and can’t find a magnet to save my soul.

There are many so things we take for granted as Americans on a day to day basis that are impossible to get here.

Some positives…..OLIVES!! Before every meal they serve olives. Many different types as well as marinated olives. Delicious!
Spicy Chicken Curry with Rice homemade by “Marge” who is British and lives in the complex Jawhara Smir where our offices are. We call in our orders to her and she hand delivers the meals on proper plates to our office.
Still waiting to a try real couscous which I’m told is amazing and I’ve found a few very yummy Moroccan Salads. The downside of salad here is that they use Mayo for the dressing. No worries “Sally” has not lost her knack for ordering her meals exactly how she wants them (with a little help from my Arabic speaking friends)
I can hardly believe it's already been a month since I arrived here......

February 13, 2007

This is why I moved to Morocco......

Today is by far the most beautiful day since I've been here. The temp must have hit 70.

This afternoon as I was surfing the Internet I saw the East is about to get the worst storm of the season.

I took these pictures over the weekend so if nothing else they will warm your soul:

Entrance to my apt complex

The next 3 photos are views from my terrace from left to right

Cabo Negro at Dusk

February 11, 2007

Side Note

For those of you that may be unfamiliar with blogging there is a link at the bottom of each post to add a comment. You can send thoughts, questions or feedback on that day's post.

It was a beautiful Sunday in Northern Morocco and I ended up having the day off!!

A view overlooking Cabo Negro

February 10, 2007

What A Difference A Day Makes

I started this post Friday AM and things have changed a bit so I'm adding in as I go.......

Sales have been going well. I’ve already made “3” ;0) It goes without saying I need to make many more to survive. Each viewing trip takes anywhere from 3-4 hours so it’s difficult to do 2 a day. It’s a long and tiring trip. I need to be “on” at all times and hope they don’t ask me a question I haven’t learned the answer to yet. I’ve gotten several good reports already so I must be doing OK.

I got an unexpected call today (my 1 day off) as I was walking through the Medina in Tetouan from one of my UK clients that he is not taking his property - booooo...

My clients are mostly from the UK. We have clients that come from agents we have hired and also direct leads that we receive from Rick. The directs are the best to sell because we get the highest commission.

I still don’t have a car....GOT A CAR FRIDAY-very small make unknown!!! or a desk. I’ve been using the "edge" of Micah’s desk. I’m carrying around my files in my computer bag. It’s very frustrating but part of what I knew I was getting myself into so I need to deal with it. 2 of my co-workers have already copied my system for organizing clients so I have not lost that strength!!

I have finally moved into my apartment and hired a cleaning lady. These women are amazing. I have never in life witnessed the type of cleaning done by a Moroccan. They literally spend the whole day cleaning and will also cook upon request. They will do the grocery shopping along with the cooking. The cost is ridiculously cheap. She comes twice a week and I pay her 200DH which is the equivalent to approximately $25.00. If I decided to have her cook it would be an extra $10.00. The good part for her is that I live alone and (as most of you know) the place is never truly a mess. She's almost cleaning what is already clean. So I spoke to soon........ - the women (Nime) broke one of my new mugs and spilled bleach on my bathroom rug. - oh well.

This week I got a landline and window screens put in the apartment. Still no internet! Moroccans do not believe in screens. If you don’t have screens I’ve been told you must keep the windows closed at night during the summer or be eaten to death by the mosquitoes. My landlord was nice enough to get the screens as well as a mini dual washer, dryer. Its takes about 2 hours for a very small load of laundry to dry and it comes out a wrinkled mess. Hopefully my girl irons too ?!?!

The furniture and decor is not very nice. Nothing matches! Eventually I will get around to buying some curtains, bedding, and furniture to make it more like home but for now it will have to do - - - bought some curtains today.....got home and there was only "1" panel. It will most likely take weeks to get another panel of the same color...uugghhh.

Monday we started Arabic lessons. It’s incredibly hard. They read and write from Right to Left. Learning to write the letters makes you feel like you are back in Kindergarten. Our classes are Monday-Friday 1 hour per day either 8-9am or 5-6pm. I have chosen the night class so I can work out in the morning - hold that thought - Things constantly change here overnight - classes are now in the "morning only" so I may be dropping out because I will quickly lose my new friends if I can't work out.

The crew I watch 24 with every Wednesday night:

Erik (Morris O'Brien), Mike (Bill Buchanan), Ginger (Karen Hayes), Jessica (Chloe O'Brien)

I'll take some pics of the view from my apt soon...

February 9, 2007

Finally !!

It’s been 25 days since I arrived in Morocco – 25 days
I’ve already made 2 sales and have experienced unseasonably cold weather for this time of year. Everyday I wish I had packed my winter clothes. Thank goodness for North Face I have literally been living in my jackets on a daily basis.
Last week there was snow on top of the Riff Mountains it was a spectacular sight.

Although I have found my own apartment I am still living with Jessica and Erik. I need to buy several items before I can move in. #1 HEATERS - There are no heaters in any of the homes so we use portable heaters in our rooms at night.
The apartment is 2 bedroom, 1 Bath- 3rd floor unit with a Panoramic View of the Mediterranean overlooking the pool – Unit #33 (what a coincidence). Yllara Beach is the name of the complex. Several of my other co-workers live here as well. The area is called Cabo Negro. We are turning it into an American compound.

Things move at a snails pace here. The Moroccans say “Enshallah” (God willing); basically it will happen when it happens. It could several weeks to a month to get phone/internet installed. This is after you can find the right person to communicate to someone exactly what you need.

The language barrier is a huge obstacle right now. Arabic, French and Spanish are the 3 languages spoken in Morocco. My landlord speaks Arabic and French and our complex supervisor speaks Arabic and Spanish. Luckily a few of the Americans speak Spanish so after I tell Liza what I need in English she then will tell Khalib in Spanish who will then tell my Elhaitny my landlord in Arabic!!!
February 5th we start Arabic lesson with our teacher Sanae.

January 20th we had a company party to celebrate the Islamic New Year as well as a new year for Compass Properties. It was a traditional Moroccan party at a large hall in Tetouan. There was a traditional Moroccan band the played “shabby style” music.
The girls from our office came dressed in their very best Moroccan dress or Kaftans. They dress just as you and I do on a daily basis so it was a real treat to see this beautiful handmade clothing.

They serve desert first at the meals almost as an appetizer then a type of bread and mint tea which is the popular tea in Morocco made by a tea man. The dinner was 2 traditional Moroccan 1 which I can’t pronounce or remember the name of and beef couscous.

After dinner there was a lot of dancing by the Moroccans. However, it is not custom for men and women to dance together. The women will dance in group and it is not odd to see 2 men dancing together by themselves.

Shabby Band

Mint Tea Guy

Erik and his Angel's Fatima, Kadija, Nizzia, Rajae

Rob and Rick Knight our directors

February 5th we had an official Superbowl party. Jessica’s sister in California has a program called Slingbox. We can either watch American TV live or DVR it. We connect the computer up to the Wide Screen TV and we’re set. The picture is not perfect but it’s a great stream with almost not interruption. Jess DVR’d the game Sunday and we had a party complete with Chili, Buffalo Wings(the best we could do), & a few other American treats. We did squares for 200 Dirham each which is the equivalent to $2.00 per square. Winnings = 0. I drank my Amstels (which I can only buy in Spain) in a Red Sox coozie and enjoyed the game!!