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The Caravan is Coming

The caravan is coming. I saw that on the news today and could not believe that is what some people in the United States are afraid of. Pipe bombs sent to our leaders, people gunned down as they worship, and children shot during school, but people are afraid of the caravan.

I stood in line at the airport a few weeks ago with my passport, a permesso di soggiorno from Italy, and a carte de sejour for Morocco. I have three documents that allow me to live in three different countries. In my opinion, the best education comes from traveling and experiencing other people and their cultures. In this day and age, it is easy to travel, but walls are being built, obstacles raised, and borders are being blockaded against that.

America’s mighty military is being sent to the border to prevent mostly women and children escaping from crime ridden and war torn countries from entering. They will be corralled into tent cities and treated like animals. Can you say, “Kick them when they’re down?”

I knew I would not be living in the United States all my life when George W. Bush was elected for the second time and I saw the true colors of the American people. A president waging war, lying about why, and still gaining the support of the majority was more than I could bear.

Today, with this election, we get to see the true colors of the American people again. Are they willing to be led by lies told by a racist, misogynistic, fascist, fraud, traitor, and criminal? We know who he is. He has shown us time and time again. I am forever hopeful for my country but fearful just the same. The world is watching.

A Year in Tangier

It’s been a year now since we embarked on our Moroccan adventure. We got on the ferry in Genoa and landed at Tangier med 49 hours later. It was exciting, exhilarating, scary, and stressful as big changes can be.

After a year here, I am reliving those memories of our arrival and examining how I’ve adapted (or not) to the customs and culture. The call to prayer echoes through my apartment and the city five times a day marking the passing of the day. Sometimes I am soothed by it. Sometimes it is such a normal part of the background sounds that I hardly notice.

Shop owners smile and welcome me now. Usually they know what I’ve come for and are ready to help should I decide in my schoolgirl French to ask for something different.

Still, the language continues to be my biggest challenge. I’ve studied French for a year and a half and feel confident in my reading skills. These are important since menus, instructions, products, signs, and most printed materials are in French. Speaking is another matter. My pronunciation is poor, not as many people speak French in Tangier as I had thought. Sometimes I speak a little Spanish or resort to Italian for Spanish speakers because they usually understand it. This year my goal is to learn more Darija which is the Moroccan Arabic dialect spoken throughout Morocco. I know about 70 words now but can’t string a full sentence together.

The weather is a highlight of living here. Hot summer days with cool nights, sunny winters with moderate temperatures, a short rainy season, and the time in-between with perfect 75-degree temperatures and lovely breezes.

Seeing the sea every day is now a necessity. It is easy to do, as there are glimpses almost everywhere you go and every street you are on in the Medina and in Centreville. Still, none of the views is as stunning as the one from my apartment window.

Daily life is slow and lovely here. The days start late and the shops think about opening around 10:30 or 11:00. Lunches are normally at 2-3 and dinners at 9-10.

Additionally, fresh vegetables, fruits, and lovely fresh fish appear at the market every day and on Thursday and Sunday, individual farmers make their way into the city to sell their wares. The quality, size, colors, and tastes are incredible.


I’ve learned about the necessity of the hammam experience and it is a part of my routine now. The bathing and cleansing ritual serves as a physical and emotional detoxification and releases stress, anxiety, and allows deep relaxation.

There are things that I don’t like. Some areas of the city need improvements in sanitation pickup and trash removal. Sidewalks and roads can be in a state of disrepair. Also, poor people with disabilities, injuries, or mental health issues ask for money on the street. Stray cats that are unhealthy or injured are left to fend for themselves. All of these usually found in large cities throughout the world.

Overall, the year has been full of wonder, adventure, education, and pleasure. I love living in Tangier.

Above all, we’ve had many friends and family to visit. We’ve made new friends here and settled into a social network that includes meals out with friends, dinner parties, movies, day trips, beach and pool days, volunteer work, and I’ve taken on a new part-time job teaching English.

Most importantly, I can’t wait to see what the coming years in Morocco will bring.

La Table du Marche’-Tanja Marina Bay

The restaurant La Table du Marche’ is a fabulous new restaurant located on Tanja Marina Bay. It is pricier than most places in Tangier, but the food, service, location, and atmosphere make it worth it. They have one menu whether lunch or dinner that serves something for everyone.

The restaurant opened in May with the opening of the Tanja Marina Bay facility.

The cuisine is international but there is a section for Moroccan cuisine as well. They serve fresh fish, grilled meats, pasta, and risotto. Our selections today were a tomato and mozzarella salad. It had fresh and sundried tomatoes with a pesto sauce. It was delicious.

I ordered a pasta dish with mushrooms and smoked turkey pancetta. It was a generous, rich, sultry dish that reminded me of autumn.
My husband ordered the fish of the day, which turned out to be grilled swordfish with tomato chutney and a side of mixed vegetables. We shared a bottle of white wine from Morocco, which was excellent.

This restaurant is also affiliated with the less pricey one next door, La Boutique. It makes the fresh bread that they serve in La Table with roasted garlic butter and a black olive tapenade. It is incredible.

The restaurant is located at the end of the end of the pier, which gives a nice view of the municipal beach and the Gulf of Tangier. There is one located in Marrakesh and in St. Tropez.

The décor inside is very modern with all glass windows to take in the incredible views. We went for lunch but I can’t wait to go some evening after dark to take in the beautiful Tangier skyline with all the lights flickering on the sea.

Five Challenges of Living Abroad

For me, living abroad has been the right choice. I’ve seen other people come and go from both Italy and here in Morocco. Living somewhere is not like being on vacation. While it has been the right choice for me, it hasn’t always been easy. Here are the things that I have struggled with most.

1. Missing family and friends-This one is obvious. With modern technology, the world is much smaller and it is easier to stay in touch with people. Still, there are times when you want to be with a loved one and it just isn’t feasible. Making adjustments around holidays birthdays, and times, when those you hold dear are ill or in need, is difficult from afar.

2. Language-Learning the language is a necessity if you are going to live in a place. You might be able to get by in the market or around town, but when it comes to reading contracts, opening bank accounts, filing taxes, going to the doctor, you are going to need to speak the language. In addition, it makes acclimating into your new home more pleasant in that you can speak with neighbors and locals that you meet. It isn’t easy though!

3. Finding social outlets-usually you will start with the other immigrants from your home country. That is fine, but in order to enter the society in which you chose to live, you have to learn the language and get involved. That might mean volunteer work, taking classes, or finding a job. You will be happier and feel less isolated if you integrate yourself into your local community. You can usually start with a social network online that might have regular meetups. Again this might only integrate you will other immigrants, but that network will start to grow and expand into the local community.

4. Culture Shock-You likely chose your new home because of some of the cultural differences. You will not like all of the cultural differences that you find. Adapting to the culture is difficult, but you can choose which things you take to heart and which ones you do not. Things such as opening and closing times of businesses, bureaucracy, food rules and customs, religious activities, tipping practices, social interactions, and how you dress are all things to be considered. It is best to be observant and learn what the locals do so as not to stand out like a sore thumb.

5. Food-This might not be something that you think of when you think of living in another country. My primary advice is to plan to eat like a local. In countries outside of the United States, it is common to shop daily for fresh food. Refrigerators may be smaller and freezers non- existent. Produce is available in season and not all year round, but the outstanding flavor when it arrives makes it worth it. Fast food and ethnic food might not exist and may be expensive when you find it. Learning about the recipes and foods of the country where you live can be very rewarding.

Avocado Shake

Smoothies made with milk and avocado are absolutely delicious. I have to admit, I never thought I would say that. I like milk and I like avocados, but the combination of the two did not sound inviting to me. It took me a long time to try it.

When I did, I immediately loved it! It is smooth and creamy and a touch sweet. It is filling and oh so good for you. Avocados are abundant and inexpensive here in Morocco and you can buy this drink almost everywhere.

According to this Heart Healthy article, avocados have health benefits such as:

1. They are nutritious
2. They contain more potassium than bananas
3. Avocado is Loaded With Heart-Healthy Monounsaturated Fatty Acids
4. They Are Loaded With Fiber
5. Eating Avocados Can Lower Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels
6. People Who Eat Avocados Tend to be Healthier
7. The Fat in Them Can Help You Absorb Nutrients From Plant Foods
8. Avocados Are Loaded With Powerful Antioxidants That Can Protect The Eyes
9. They May Help Prevent Cancer
10. Avocado Extract May Help Relieve Symptoms of Arthritis
11. Eating Avocado May Help You Lose Weight
12. They are Delicious and Easy to Incorporate in The Diet

They are easy to make at home and there are all kinds of recipes on line like this one from MarocMama, another Moroccan blogger.

Try it! I bet you will love it too.

Discovering Wine in Morocco

Wine in Morocco? That might surprise you given that it is 98% Muslim. They do not use wine in their religious practices. Wine has always been an important dimension in my life. That only increased while living in Italy. We’ve enjoyed and been very pleasantly surprised by the availability and quality of this luscious beverage in Morocco.

Most restaurants do not sell alcohol. You will find the more expensive, or foreign cuisine restaurants do have it. It is also available in hotel bars and sold in stores around town.

Wine has been in Morocco since the Phoenician settlers. By the time the ancient Romans were in Morocco, it was well established. The French occupation and expertise gave a boost to the industry. When Morocco gained independence, it began to die out. The high Atlas Mountains and the cooling influence of the Atlantic make is a desirable climate for the vineyards.

In the 1990’s foreign investors and know-how entered the market. At the time there was a program by the state where they rented acres of land for vineyards. Several large Bordeaux based companies entered the Moroccan market. Today, Morocco is the second largest wine producer of the Arab countries behind Algeria.

Red wine accounts for 75% of the production and rose’ and gris about 20%. There is only about 5% produced here that is white. The traditional red grapes planted in Morocco are Carignan, Alicante, Grenache, and Cinsaut. Those makeup about 40% of the crop. Plantations of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah have increased rapidly, and together makeup around 15 percent.

Morocco has five distinct wine regions. Within these five regions, there are fourteen with Appellations de Garantie (AOG) status. We drink mostly wines that are made in Meknes and Fez. We’ve had some really nice ones that go great with the Moroccan cuisine. We look forward to visiting some of the vineyards and continuing our education.

The Asilah Mural and Art Festival 2018

Since 1978, the medina walls of Asilah turn into an art gallery with colorful murals painted on the walls during July and August. It was the idea of two artist friends who wanted to transform the decaying and deteriorating alleyways. Now it has turned into a month-long arts festival.

The Centre de Hassan II Recontres is where lectures are held for artists, writers, and musicians during the festival. Throughout the medina, you will find artists working or evidence of their finished products. There are street musicians as well playing throughout and wanting to get you involved with playing an instrument or dancing.


The usually peaceful medina is alive with activity. There are always many stores here with unusual gift items of handmade shoes, jewelry, candles, baskets, and more.



This year Asilah will celebrate its 40th year of the festival, which turns its wall into the backdrop for an art gallery. Events take place throughout July and August. We visited recently and found some lovely new murals. In June, we saw them painting the walls white to provide a nice new canvas for the artists.

This sleepy little town becomes fully awake in these summer months. As you approach the Portuguese walled medina, the beaches are full. Restaurant on the beach serve fresh seafood and horse and buggies carry visitors through the streets.


Vendors sell peanuts harvested from around the local area and the sea breezes give relief to the hot Moroccan sun.

There are restaurants available at any price point. On the lower end we like Yali, and on the pricier side (and you can buy alcohol) Casa Pepe.

To hear the music and see the wonderful new contemporary frescoes on the walls of the medina visit Asilah during July and August. Shopping is great here with goods and prices that you won’t find in many other places in Morocco.

The Cinema Rif in Tangier

The Cinema Rif originally opened in 1938. It is in the Grand Socco, just outside the walls of the medina. It is a restored art deco building. The cinema shows mainstream and indie films from America, Morocco, France and Spain. The foreign films have subtitles usually in French and/or Arabic.

Owned and managed today as Cinematheque Tanger it was restored as an arts complex. It is a hub for young people, playwrights, photographers, artists, musicians, and filmmakers.

It contains two studios, two cinemas, and a bar that serves alcohol, tea, and coffee. Outside there are some tables for tea and coffee service. No alcohol is allowed outside.

Today Cinémathèque de Tanger holds more than 130 collected movies on both argentic and digitals, 37 archive donators, more than 1,200 referenced documents, a collection of 16mm, 8mm and Super 8 amateur films in its archive.

Every month they issue a newspaper with the film schedule and special events. Since we arrived, they have had an Alfred Hitchcock festival, Casblanca anniversary, films featuring Bette Davis and now a cycle with Meryl Streep.

Movies generally cost 2.50 and you can get a card stamped for a free movie after you have been 10 times.


Casablanca was free and free popcorn was available to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the film.

Although the films are older, we are enjoying seeing them, usually for the first time. The ones that we have seen were certainly not on a big screen and it is interesting to note the changes in formatting, development, special effects and film techniques. The excitement of the Grand Socco, the history of the art deco building, the comfort of the theater and excitement of the cinema makes this a nice and inexpensive night out.

Call to Prayer-Adhan

The call to prayer sounds loudly just outside my window. It is something I love to hear. It is echoing, exotic, and sounds like the voice of God reverberating through the city. Now I hear it regularly throughout my day. It is called the adhan. Adhan means to listen, to hear, to be informed.

When I was in Italy I would hear the regular chiming of the church bells. Both of these sounds from different religions and in different countries sooth the soul and give a mindful marker to the day. For me, they say “Stop for a moment. Be grateful and count your blessings.”

Five times a day, the faithful respond to the call to prayer. The sound starts out low and reaches a crescendo with “Allah Akbar”. Most of the mosques have loudspeakers and when there are many mosques, you can hear them echoing one over the other.

Prayer is one of the five pillars of Islam and it happens five times per day. Each time marks a phase of the day and the prayers have names accordingly. The person who recites the call to prayer is the muezzin.

Below is a short video of the call to prayer audible for the Mosque Mohammed V visible from my apartment. I also panned down to the medina and the sea. Enjoy!

Mzoura-The Stonehenge of North Africa

On our recent trip to Larache, I discovered a side note in my DK Eyewitness Guide for Mzoura. If you haven’t tried the DK Eyewitness Guides, you should. They are my favorite guidebook by far, particularly when you go to larger cities and can get the Top 10 guides.

Mzoura is an archeological site containing 167 monolithic stones in a circle. It’s the North African Stonehenge! I was excited to see it but finding it was quite the adventure. The drive was lovely down back roads and through fields and over hills. After stopping several times to ask for directions, we finally found the site.


Unfortunately, it was in a poor state with weeds and wildflowers overgrowing the stones. There was a locked gate, but as we approached, a man came out to let us in. There were goats grazing on the site.


Still, you could make out and walk around the distinct circle of stones. One of the stones was about 6 feet tall and stood pointing directly to the sky. The circle of 167 stones is about 55 meters in diameter and is, according to legend, the site of the tomb of the giant of Antaeus.


There is much controversy around the age of the site, but it is believed, based on some items found nearby to have been created in the 3rd or 4th century B.C. This would align with the rise of Mauretania and the first kings there.

The middle part, which is the tomb, was excavated in 1936 and no report was published, nor was the site left in good condition. I found one good aerial photo of the site from that time, which you can see here.

The site is located between Asilah and Larache towards the tiny town of Sidi el-Yamani. Be prepared to ask for directions!

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