June 28, 2007

A Wedding Story

The wedding was an experience unlike any other wedding I’ve been to in my life and honestly I wasn’t expecting anything different.

The Kaftan’s were collected Saturday AM by Esther and we each got the exact dress we reserved. However my biggest fear was now a reality – THE SMELL. There is absolutely no way they cleaned that Kaftan from the night before. What to do? Remember this thing is a thick silk type material and “febreeze” exists only in the American memory banks here in Africa – “TIA”. I had no choice but to use the Palmolive (American, yeah) hand soap in my bathroom. I did my best to clean only the smelly bits but most of the dress ended up getting wet. I hung it in my window to dry for the next few hours. It didn’t matter it still smelled and was damp, not nice!

We went for pre-wedding drinks at our new spot La Ferma or The Horse as we have coined it. Not everyone “of course” just the “it” group. The others were late, as always, Compass (count on us to be late) Properties!! With a bottle of wine and vodka in the car we were off. The place was in the heart of Tetouan. Steve led the crew thru the very busy streets on a Saturday evening. He wasn’t sure he exactly remembered where it was since he had only been once and the groom was driving. He did an excellent job but along the way we lost 2 of the cars. It was tucked away literally in an alley.

It was now 8:30 and the groom was waiting for the Compass people to arrive before the wedding was in full swing. As we entered the place, hall (no clue what the name was) we were escorted to a section they had saved just for us. The room was full of women and children, various shapes and sizes wearing many colorful Kaftans. It was 95% women! Generally the men and women are put in separate rooms but they allowed all the Compass men to stay with us in what felt like our own “VIP” section. Everyone was staring as if we had just walked off the Red Carpet.

The music began and it was SO LOUD it was almost deafening. There were a group of musicians seated in a circle in the center of the room. Out of nowhere came a group of men with very unique looking instruments. The dancing started and did not stop for the rest of the night.

The bride was about to arrive. She makes several changes, 3-4, throughout the night depending on her wealth and the number of gowns she can afford. The very first time she appears she does not fully open her eyes. It is called “Hchouma” or shame. I don’t fully understand the tradition but it has something to do with her first gown being the most elaborate.

Most of us had not eaten all day awaiting a traditional Moroccan feast. Little did we know the only food we would get was pastry and some juice.

It may have been a blessing there was no open bar because the facilities were less then ideal. Imagine having to deal with the Kaftan and a hole in the floor – enough said!

It must have been over 100 degrees in that spot. No open windows and no AC. Everyone was so hot and sweaty. I now understand why those Kaftans smell the way they do. The night progressed and the dancing continued. The bride appeared in her 2nd own.

I enjoyed a dance with a few of the Moroccan children and of course with the groom. That may been against tradition but no one stopped me so I guess it was OK. That was the extent of my dancing for the evening.

Every so often we would try and sneak outside for some fresh air and to fill the “water” bottle without being too rude. The Brits all smoke so they were running outside every 30mins. My Chevy was in front of the place decorated with flowers – classic! Could that lad in the photo pass for a “Petrole”, name unknown or forgotten at this point.

Brian decided to join the band for a quick set!

Steve was able to get an early dismissal pass from Khalid - 11:00pm, before gown #3.

My camera batteries had died at that point so it was perfect timing.

The minute Carla and I hit the car the Kaftans were ripped off and thrown in a pile in the backseat. It was back to The Horse for a few Casablanca’s and some pool.

I haven’t seen the groom since and my Chevy was returned without a scratch!

The Wedding Album-enjoy the photos.

Where are Jess and Erik you may ask? In America - Seattle to be exact....visiting friends & catching a game of the best baseball team EVER!

Just another day in my on-going Moroccan adventure.

June 25, 2007

Wedding Part 2

1 Photo of the Bride and Groom.....full details soon.

June 22, 2007

Moroccan Wedding Part 1

I have been invited to my very first Moroccan wedding Saturday evening. Khalid who is the superintendent of Ylara Beach is getting married. He has invited all the Compass employees that live in the complex. Generally the weddings are an all night affair. Starting at 7:30 pm and going until the next morning. We have been told we can leave by midnight but are welcome to stay later. It’s customary for the family and “many” friends to be invited. In Khalid’s case, since he’s not a wealthy Moroccan, he has only invited his family and “Compass Staff”. We’ve come to the general consensus that the food will be amazing but the biggest concern of the group is....”no alcohol”. We’re all panicking a bit.

The beginning of the experience took place last evening. There are 8 girls going and we are required to wear traditional Moroccan Dress or a “Kaftan”. If you re-call one of my very first posts there was a photo of some of the Moroccan girls wearing Kaftans. They are very long, very colorful and decorated with jewels and designs. I was already panicking before we even headed off to the shop. Anything more then a solid, 1 color clothing item is over the edge for me.

The gals headed into Tetouan last evening after work. Mistake #1 going to Tetouan at night. It was an absolute mad house. Along the way we picked up Safia a new found Moroccan friend of Carla, who PS, – works for our #1 competition MRI.
I could write a post on this girl alone.

We arrived at the shop which is literally the size of a 12 x 12 room. It was jammed pack and very hot. We decided to simply pick a color and go from there. These dresses are made of a thick silk like material, lace and jewels so they are very heavy and warm. I would also guess the wedding location will not have AC. Kaftans basically consist of 2 layers, we found a style where the under layer was without sleeves and the top layer was lace. OK – much better then the full ones where we would have all died from heat in the 1st hour. We pointed to the colors we liked behind the counter and the owner handed them to us. Carla took Blue, Vanessa took Black and I stepped out of my comfort zone and chose RED. We went upstairs, which is smaller then the downstairs to try them on. Little did we know they are all one size, I threw mine on directly over my clothing……and then the “piece de resistance” A BELT – not just any belt but one the size of the belts a boxer receives for winning the title fight. This world boxing championship belt will give a rough idea.

The 3 of us returned downstairs with Safia chatting away 100 miles an hour in Arabic to the store owner. Apparently you are only allowed to rent the Kaftans for 24 hours @ 300 Dirhams = $36.15. Hopefully they are thoroughly cleaned after each and every use! By this time the rest of the girls showed up, we gave them the details on what to do. Everyone had their Kaftan and we were ready to pay and get out of there. All of a sudden the owner tells us several of the Kaftans we picked were already rented – HELLO, you handed them to us in the first place. Myself, Esther and Kendra had to find new ones. By now we had been there for over an hour and Carla almost passed out in the dressing room from low blood sugar. I pointed to another red one less attractive then the first one and was done with it.

Safia then got into a fight with the shop owner about the 24 hour deal. Eventually that was worked out and we put the Kaftans on hold for Esther to pick up Saturday morning. Will they be the same ones we choose or will they have been given to other Moroccan women? Will he include “THE BELTS”? If they were rented the night before will he have had a chance to clean them……YIKES!


June 2, 2007


I'm back in England for another property show.
This weekend we are in Manchester. Home of the famous Manchester United Football Team and Mr. Beckham who now lives on our side of the pond. Actually he is here this weekend to Inaugurate the new Wembley Stadium.

The weather is beautiful which is horrible for the show but I'm not complaining. We're here until Sunday and then I'm making a pit stop in Southern Spain for 2 days. Sun, Sun, Sun!!
Back to Morocco on Wednesday.