Monday, April 28, 2008

My Homeboys at 114

Anyone that's been to Marrakech knows abuot the great plaza and spectacle that is Djeema el-Fna.
The plaza at night
At dusk about 100 food stalls are set up, each serving the same food, each having the same exact menu and each having about 4 or 5 touts trying to get you to eat at their establishment. Last year I ate at abuot 4 different food truoghs, but stand #114 stood out the most beacause the touts there had the most charm, charisma, and dished out as much verbals shit as I dished out to them.
So now I've returned to Marrakech after one year has passed and looked for my favorite stall. When I walked by, my favorite 114 homeboy was doing a hard sell on a French tourist when I saw him. When his eyes saw mine, his eyes lit up (I guess it's true, you can always read a person by their eyes), and he yelled out a big 'HEEYYYYYYY!!'. He then grabbed me by the arm and gave me a gigantic bear hug. I couldn't believe after one year of serving a hundred or so customers a night, hundreds of thousands of people a year, that he remembered little old me. He replied 'I never forget nobody!'. I wanted to tell him that while a double negative is acceptable in Spanish, it is considered a grammatical faux pax in English. But I was too caught up in amazement and emotion to get into a discussion about semantics. A couple of the other guys came over and yelled out 'California!!' and gave me hugs. One of them showed me the west coast gang sign, but I had to correct his thumb placement since it looked more like a 4 fingered Simpsons character than Tupac's 'W'.
More 'Backstreet' looking than 'street'.
A couple of English tourists asked if I came here often. I told them I was here one year ago. I should have thought of something more profound to say like 'it's not the places you see, but the people you meet'...or maybe, 'absence makes the heart grow fonder'...but instead I just ordered some couscous, some grilled eggplant and peppers, and a bowl of harira (Moroccan soup). I then watched my homeboys pounce on tourists like vultures, flipping between 4 different languages with ease. As I ate, In noticed their sales pitch was stronger when attractive women walked by. It's good to see that my homeboys on this side of the world are the same as my homeboys back home.....stay tuned for more pics with these guys next week....
He's everyones homeboy,
Dónde está Che Pelotas?

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

As Allah Wishes

The consumption of alcohol is forbidden according to the Koran. Because of this, I'm convinced that the people in Islamic countries overdose on other vices such as caffeine and sugar. They're connected by IV to coffee drips in cafe's, and consider sugar to be one of the five major food groups.
The sweet section in a souq in the Meknes medinaMy new Moroccan friend introduced me to this glowingly purely highly superduperly concentrated sugar cookie that simultaneously made my arteries hit a traffic jam, my arms felt like I stuck my finger in an electrical socket, and my teeth started to disentegrate like a beach sand castle.
Sweet evil
But despite these minor setbacks, I'm addicted to this confectionary crack, and I'm gonna take another hit. Allah akbah.
He's twice as sweet as sugar and always fat-free, Dónde está Che Pelotas?

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

An Ass in Assilah

This had to be one of the funniest things I've seen in awhile. I'm sitting here in Assilah enjoying a cup of tea, when a lovely peasant farmer lady and her donkey look to occupy the table next to me.
The donkey scratches his forehead on the chair to claim it as his. And then he proceeds to try to systematically eat the tablecloth made of paper. It looked like that 'pull the tablecloth from under the silverware trick' only he was trying to eat his way to stardom vs. pulling it away quickly.
Here's the lady trying to stop him, but not until two plates crashed to the floor.
Speaking of dumb donkeys, Dónde está Che Pelotas?

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

asilah update

so after a week in chefchaouen, i've finally moved on. it rained here the last 2 days and i couldn't be bothered to the people watching in the plaza was too good, and many games of cribbage couldn't pull me away (thanks katie, jenais and casey).
a rare break in the sun during my last few days in chefchaouena goat with it's master
i'm now in the coastal town of asilah which also has blue doors just like chefchaouen.
another blue door in a different townit's a pretty coastal town with white washed walled buildings inside a medina originally built by the portugese. it's the off-season, so not too many tourists, but a lot of kids playing annoyingly loud video games at this internet cafe.
this guy is almost as big as this carthe tilework on this fountain is neatwhite washed alleys in the medinaa pretty white minaret at a mosque in asilah. don't let it's innocent look fool you. the 5 or 6 prayer calls a day, and especially the sunrise call, and that nasty 3 am chant has been wrecking my beauty sleep.the sunsets on the medina walls along the atlantic coastwhite walls are purtyasilah is also an artsy town with a few art festivals happening here during the year. some of the medina walls have artwork painted on them...although a lot of them are pretty bad. but then again, i'm an art snob covering my own artistic insecurity by crapping on their work.
the a love you art wallthis dude is shutting the window to show off participatory artyeah i know, this wasn't one of my better entries. but even michael jordan had an off night every once in awhile.
he never has an off night, Dónde está Che Pelotas?

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Chefchaouen Blue

Any solo traveller will tell you that the greatest part of travelling solo is the freedom, not having to live on anyone else's schedule, the freedom to go where you want, when you want, and being completely free from the menial stresses of the everyday. They'll also tell you the hardest part is dealing with occasional bouts of loneliness when out there on the long haul. I deal with the latter by sketching a lot more, writing a lot more, and of course taking a lot more photos.....
and of course, you do realize that I'm doing this all for YOU, right????
But when was the last time that you thanked me for this or at least gave me a hug.....or how about access to your bank accounts for this????......yeah...that's what I thought. No response.
Anyway, not to make you feel guilty, but here are more of MY photos for YOU,....and just to let you know, these French-Moroccan keyboards are a real bitch...putain de merde!
Blue is the theme in the blue hilltown medina of Chefchaouen
Blue alleys
Blue doors
Blue butts
Tiny blue doors for midgets
Blue door and zellig archway
spice cones
When in Morocco, there's a carpet for sale nearby

This kid, in Arabic, asked me, Dónde está Che Pelotas?

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sensory Fès

This is what Fès smells like at aroud 1pm in the medina.
Lamb kebabs smoke the air in the tiny streets of FèsThis is what Fes looks like for a vegetarian.
Fresh fruits and vegetables at the market, viewed from a cafe above
Tingly is the feeling when you see menswear at rock bottom prices with the medina fortress walls in the background.
The sunsets on the clothing market outside the Fès medina
Warm is the feeling in your loins when you think of this, Dónde está Che Pelotas?

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Fotos From Fès

After a long day of two Barcelona metros, one cross continental flight, two trains and a shared taxi (I'm not complaining though.....), I was finally thrown into the middle of the old medina of Fès ('s still better than work). I instantly had flashbacks of being in Morocco a year ago zith the smells of the souqs filled with tajines and spices mixed with fresh donkey dung wafting in the air.....and the sounds of muslim prayer call echoing of the sandstone medina walls. Fès feels like a highly concentrated, yet unfiltered version of Marrakech. The mazelike streets and alleys are tighter and harder to negotiate, and the touts are more persistent, more professional, and are always in mid-season form. But Fès isn't all about tourism. It's known as the heart of Morocco, has the self-proclaimed oldest university in the world, has 350 mosques (wonderful synchronization at sunrise to wake me up when I don't want to wake up) in a 14 km square area, and about 350 people per hour interested in selling you a tour, a carpet, a blanket, leather goods, hashish, or introduce you to a cousin who could do the same. I'm never embarassed to tell them I'm American (I'm not responsible for my government's actions), but sometimes I resort to telling them that I'm a photography explains the expensive camera, while student translates to being poor. On that note, here's some poor ass photos of Fès:
intricate zellig (tilework) at a fountain next to my room greeted by rain my first morning in Fès
they have something like 7 billion of these intricate water fountains throughout Fès
I can't enter a mosque since I'm an infidel, but remember the game 'Where's Waldo?'...see if you can find the dangling foot at the foot of the steps entering this mosque
A man in a jellebah (traditional Moroccan robe) walks past the guilded doors of this medersa (Islamic university)
these are the taxis, trucks, and all other motorized vehicles of Fès

The tiled floor of the Qaraouirine Mosque is much nicer than the rain drenched donkey-dung filled alley that I'm standing on when I took this shot
No, this Moroccan woman isn't shaking her ass to the latest in jellebah fashion, she stepped into my shot of the entry into the Andalucia Mosque
It's easy to get lost wandering the medina maze. I was rewarded with this beautiful fountain for my lack of direction
panoramic views of Fès

cemeteries are apparently good for burying the dead as well as grazing livestock he's half provider of death as well as life eternal, Dónde está Che Pelotas?

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Back on the backpacker trail

After a 10 month leave from call of duty, tomorrow I reinitiate my service in the backpacker brigade, as I head back to Morocco. I´ve enjoyed my week as a civilian in Barcelona, staying with two groups of friends and steering clear of anything resembling tourists or tourism. The last few days have been spent in the barrio of Poble Sec, which is Barcelona's version of the Borough of Queens. There's a healthy mix of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, China, India, Pakistan, etc., as well as there's the neighborhood drunk who sings in the street and gets pelted with trash and eggs by the locals. Life happens in the streets and on the balconies. When I walk out onto my friend's balcony, I'm guaranteed to see at least three old ladies on their own balconies. They look at me. I look at them. And then somehow the world keeps spinning around.
Anyway, here's some photos of everyday life as a civilian in Barcelona.
fresas fresas fresaspescado frescosweet tasteI don't know if this is a problem, but for some reason I like to take photos of laundry drying on building facades. If you followed my blog from my last journey, you'd certainly have to agree.<Did you know that Barcelona is the first city in Europe to start a recycling program? That's what those big yellow and green thingys are at the bottom right of the photo, that are also ruining this shot.An antique door next to the Design School in Barrio Gothic. I want to steal this door for myself'Bicing' is Barcelona's version of a car-share program, but different since it uses bicycles instead of automobiles in case you haven't figured this out yet.<
A bunch of boats with La Barceloneta in the backgroundBarcelona is a port town. Here is the luxury boat portthis bar must be the last stop for a few of my friendsWorse than hell, is what awaits here, Dónde está Che Pelotas?

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