Monday, January 30, 2006


so ive got a few more minutes to write as ive been back now doing nothing in the office for 2 hrs already. one of the things that the media centre director, bob told me before leaving was that in this country (as in most developing nations i would suspect) i would have to be one of my new roommates tried to describe in english: "dissolve"...basically go with the flow, or become a part of. last night i repeated the word "fluid" over and over to myself when the girls told me that we were going to mcdonalds for dinner--my first moroccan restaurant experience consisted of the McArabian meal...pretty much burger in a pita. "fluid" i whispered to myself as a cold breeze danced across my face while trying to fall asleep last night. "fluid" is something God is asking me to incorporate into my everyday life, however, and not just while travelling, so i guess ive got a few months to practice before going home!

moroccan life seems to be this amazing life full of contradictions. the modern and the ancient flow together like nobody`s business. hooded men in their jillabahs (floor-length hooded cloaks) herd sheep by the roadside and look like theyve walked off the set of LOTR. or they just sit around and drink mint tea all day. farmers manuevering their way through the streets atop mule-drawn carts. all this just outside their version of the local walmart called "Marjan", whose parking lot full of bmw`s and other european imports rests amid a foot of rain water (which hasn`t seeped its way down through the lot`s single drain). Inside Marjan is an 'eclectic myriad' (sorry, that`s an inside joke) of spices, child`s semiautomatic toy weapons, and local musicians....along with whatever else a superstore or walmart might carry!

oh gotta again at a moment`s notice! FLUID!!!!!

not in the desert yet!

this will be short as ive just arrived at work and this is a different keybord so dont mind my lack of grammer....which has pretty much all gone to pot anyway because m in the midst of learning 2 languages and relearning 1. after 2 days ive made some headway w/ pronouncing arabic....i have about a dozen basic phrases in my repetoire...french is interesting because ive forgotten so much since high school....coming back to me though! i live w/ 2 sisters around my age, really fun....theyve been teaching me moroccan pretty rythmically challenged as it is....its freezing here....i sleep in all my clothes plus tuque, mitts heqt plus the wind was actually shaking the apartment last night....the windows were shut but the curtains were blowing! food is good....lots of bread...i dont think girls my age buy a lot of meat in any country! but i have to run....first day taking pics! bsslama مع السلامة

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Where Life is Pork and Dogs Rule the Roads

So tomorrow I leave for Morocco for two weeks and I'm stinking excited to be on the next leg of my journey! I love all this packing and unpacking and meeting new people and traipsing around everywhere...this is definitely a calling!

I should be there for a couple of weeks but life is fairly fluid down there which means that I will have to fit into the flow of if it's the right time to leave in two weeks then I come back, but if it's earlier or later then I just adjust my schedule as my supervisors in the States, Spain, and Morocco see fit. The Arabic culture is about honor and shame, so the most important thing for me to do is not shame my hosts by leaving at a time that causes them to feel taken advantage of. Anyway, the adventure should be a blast and there will be more updates to come, however, I'm not sure how often that will be while I'm away.

As far as things in Malaga are concerned, life here is interesting. Here are just a few thoughts on what I'm experiencing...

Pork rules the nation...basically, if you are vegetarian (or Orthodox Jew) you're hooped. EVERY menu item includes pork in some shape or form and I'm pretty sure that animal fat is used to cook their meat in as much as the ubiquitous olive oil. I love this country!

And speaking of olive oil...WOW...i went to the grocery store last week (the one called Carrefour is about the size of 2 Walmart Supercentres (I think you may need to be living in the South to really understand the immensity of THOSE places) and really sells absolutely everything under the sun. Anyway, a row pretty much the length of a jetway was FILLED with various brands of olive oil. Are these people DRINKING IT???? If they are it's apparently quite the competition for the entire row of wine the next row liquor stores here...this stuff as available as milk is back home...

And why is milk not available here? I don't know, but maybe it's because you can't milk pigs. Seriously, milk here is not all that common...fresh milk that is. And most people don't buy it in the summer because it can go bad by the time you get it home if it's been sitting in a hot car (the due date is apparently just for kicks). So there's this milk in cartons that is called 'long-life milk'. I'm sorry, but those words combined really don't encourage me to Get Milk. I'm pretty wary of dairy past it's due date as it is.

Moving away from the topic of food...because we really don't want me to come back with a Spanish hind end...dogs. Everyone and their dog...well, has one. Behind gates, running loose, in the next apartment, on a leash, in the elevator....all shapes and sizes, many times clothed in sweaters...I'm surprised I haven't seen one yet in a matching track suit. And I'm totally fine with dogs, except for the fact that picking up after them doesn't seem to be the trend here and the sidewalks get quite slick with their trail markers. I'm sorry, but I'd prefer flagging tape to dog droppings if someone wants to leave a happy little trail for me to follow to and from work every day. And to top it all off, what I'm hoping was DOG excrement (and NOT HUMAN) was smeared ALL OVER our elevator buttons the other morning. I just about lost my entire breakfast and then proceeded to hurtle myself down eight flights of stairs at a very rapid speed. Needless to say I used the stairs for a couple days before venturing back into the coffin-sized elevator. It's all cleaned up, but I let someone else press the buttons now...or keep a very long fingernail on my right index finger.

Maybe I should say a bit about learning the language. If anyone has butchered Andalucian Spainsh, I have, and have almost begun speaking English in the same way: "I no good Spanish. Only English. I take photo?" Oh wow...just wait till I get to learn Arabic. Fabulous. But seriously, despite my broken Spanish, I've mastered (ie gotten to the place where my mouth will form words and I'll say them aloud) about 100 words and phrases in about a week and a half. That doesn't mean I can roll my r's properly or piece the phrases together in a way that doesn't sound like a 3-yr. old, but I'm quite proud of myself nonetheless. Oh, and I can 'lithp' like the Andalucian's and though I don't find it attractive (especially coming from men...they sound so feminine) it's the one thing I can do well!!!

Finally, as a good Canadian, and as someone who comes from a family where it seems the new default channel in our house is the weather network, I should bring up the weather. Pretty blatantly, I'm cold, but really, what else is new? I wear at least 5 lbs of clothes just during the day (double layers of socks, tights under my jeans, jacket & scarf indoors) and oh so many blankets and duvets at night. There's no central heat in most Mediterranean dwellings, and to top it off, the weather's been pretty cool. Coastal winds and rains one day and then it'll surprise us with beautiful sun for the next. Either way, the Spanish themselves seem to be cold so I am in good company. Everyone here is like, "But you're CANADIAN???!!!" and my response is that everyone back home thinks I'm crazy as well. Oh well, give it a month or so and it should be spring here...and hey, if this is winter, I'm doing all right!

Anyway, that's where I'm going to leave off! Hopefully you're all going to go home and slaughter a pig now...I'm actually going home to a rotisserie chicken picked up from a chicken place down the road from my apartment...seriously the best chickens ever!!! Don't you all just want to sink your teeth into a big chunk of juicy meat???!!! I can't wait till Morocco....lamb, kebabs....oh I'll be in heaven!

Catch ya soon!


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

In Transit...

Originally uploaded by JLauren.
Ok, so I'm gonna try posting photos using a flickr account (but this is the first photo I have on the account....give me time, give me time!). Anyway, this was at the Vancouver Airport where Jaclyn & Laura (Menno roommates) dropped me off.

Monday, January 23, 2006

finally here!

Okay! So I'm ACTUALLY here...finally...after months of planning and praying I've the land where guys are predestined to sport mullets and tracksuits, and women are genetically predisposed to having a rear the size of Texas. Considering the amount of churros eaten before 10 am, I'm not surprised. The mullets, however, have no excuse.

All surface stuff aside, it's great to be in Spain. Since arriving last weekend, I've settled in at the media centre, (where my first three days on the job were spent in a video control room as the official 'timer' during a shoot featuring an Arabic teaching series....Basically it was my job to hit the 'time' button and stare at the backwards Arabic streaming down the teleprompter, waiting to cue the camera director. For eight or nine hours a day.) made myself at 'home' in my apartment a few blocks away, (shared with an elderly British woman named Rosie) and took a trip to Cordoba this weekend. Prior to that I was in London for a couple days, staying with friends of my cousin Steph, who graciously hosted me as I blitzed around the city trying to take in as much as possible. And before THAT, I was in Vancouver for a few days, staying at Menno and wrapping things up on that end. NOW, I've got 4 days to prep for my first trip into Morocco which, if things go as planned, will be on Friday. A crazy whirlwind of sorts, so I can't wait to really sit down and dish out the details...just trying to keep my personal journal updated has been a task in itself.

Journaling is something that I really want to devote a lot of time to while I'm here, (and due to the lack of people my age around...everyone is 35+ with families looks like I won't have to cut down on my raging social life) along with some quality devotional time with God. I've already been amazed at how much God's teaching me, and without friends around, He's been my constant companion. I really don't have anyone to count on here, except for Him. Going from the craziness of dorm and Emily Carr life in Vancouver, and the comfort of friends and family back in Vernon, to the solitude and quiet of life over here has taken the most adjustment of all. Jet lag and culture shock were nothing compared to all that!

Anyway, I need to keep getting stuff done! Have a good one and if you see a mullet or a J.Lo rear--think of me!



yeah, i'm not sure why, but it seems I can't figure out how to post pics on this using a mac...the pc was fine, but now my Create section doesn't give me any options for inserting photos etc....if anyone knows how to do this...let me know!!! oh and any other tips & tricks regarding adding fun stuff to the sidebars etc. would be helpful!


Saturday, January 07, 2006

last minute stuff

so the jackster is in Guatemala and it sure is quiet around the house without her....she is our family's resident goofball and is famous for her one-liners ("how many quarters are there in a football game???"). While waiting to see her off at the Kelowna airport, Dad saw a car drive by with a Christmas tree strapped to the top and made some joke about them being Ukrainians who probably picked up the tree for free after the holidays and were going to check it onto the plane in order to bring the tree back to Manitoba in time for Ukrainian Christmas. Jac believed him. Jacqui if you're reading this, you know I couldn't keep that story to you sis and hope you're making your whole team pee their pants laughing.

anyway, travel plans are ticking along, though I can't say that my typhoid vaccination has been treating me very well...the other day I made like Mt. Vesuvius and spewed all over the place. I hardly saw it coming, but I DID see dinner a second time around...

I just got my Andalusia guidebook in the mail (bent the key trying to get it out of the box so mom hammered it flat and got it out for me later...what an idiot (me, not mom!) and am wondering how much I'm really going to love trucking these guidebooks around the countryside after four months!

Oh! I finally have a place to stay while stopping over in London...Reesa and Ben Ammadeo (friends of my cousin Steph) are putting me up for a couple nights (or maybe I should say 'putting up with me') between my arrival in London next Thursday and my departure for Malaga, Spain that Saturday. And speaking of exciting news from the UK, Mandee Bliss has recently become engaged (to Sam Beazley whom I met over Christmas and is a pretty awesome dude!)! I'm pretty stoked to be able to visit her in Dawlish (sp?) at the end of my trip!!!

hmmm...i know there's more stuff to say but I'm gonna cut her off there 'cuz i've got a buttload of stuff to do today!



Sunday, January 01, 2006

"trekking" the Grey Canal Trail...

So I finally stopped talking about breaking in my gear and actually got out there and began to determine where I'm most prone to get 'hot spots' on my feet, (precursors to blisters) and how tight I can cinch my pack's waist buckles without hearkening back to the corset days.

Mornings here are beautiful in the Okanagan Valley, and I enjoy them no matter what the weather. On this particular morning I could see from my bedroom window that the sun was just peeking over the mountains and warming up the snowy hills as I was preparing to walk the Grey Canal Trail just a few minutes down the road.

Practically in my backyard, this trail (shared by many locals and their canine friends) has always been a refuge for me; it's where I've cried, rejoiced, vented, and prayed during every season, in every sort of weather, at every time of day. It's a great place to run or dawdle along, spend time alone or with others. Some of my most meaningful times with God, conversations with friends, photographs of the landscape or of others, and effective physical activity has taken place along this trail, so it seemed only fitting that part of my trip preparation take place there as well. It is also a place where I gain mental clarity and really enjoy the fact that its pastoral setting brings me back to the reality that I truly am a country girl at heart. The soft sound of dirt beneath my feet, the smell of manure carried by the breeze from nearby farms, the views of the Okanagan's agrarian countryside, the occasional runaway black lab that comes barrelling at me along the narrow trail, and the cheerful, down to earth nature of the local folk who also call the Grey Canal their own all stir my heart in a way causes me to deeply cherish my rural upbringing. This communal backyard of sorts is a delightful treasure close to the hearts of those who live in Vernon's BX area, and along the trail's heights are vistas unmatched by any other lookout in the region. At once a visitor can take in three different lakes, an unhindered view of the whole city, and a broad scope of the northern section of the valley from Coldstream to Spallumsheen, and from Silver Star to Ellison and Kalamalka Provincial Parks.

The day I shot the pictures featured above I could see all of these things. This morning I could not as the fog had socked the trail right in, giving my familar path a strangely eerie feel. I enjoyed my time thoroughly, however, and enjoyed the pleasantries of passerbys who had also chosen to venture out into the mist. One couple, when taking note of my pack (which continues to grow each time I increase the weight) wondered if I was planning to get lost somewhere up in the foggy hills! Others must have just thought I was nuts but didn't fail to greet me with a friendly hello.

I will miss my times on the Grey Canal while I'm traveling, and already can't wait to walk her trails again with new knowledge and insight to ponder, new tears to cry, new prayers to pray, and new conversations to have. That said, I'm realising that this entire entry became WAY more sappy than I originally intended, which means I'm ending it right about now!