So it's been a while since I've posted anything...thanks to all of you faithful blog watchers who've been patiently waiting for an update!!! The last 8 days have been full of excitement, fun, stress, tears, exhaustion, relief...but NEVER boredom!!! Thank goodness, because while I can handle the other things, boredom I believe I cannot!
Let me start in chronological order so I don't forget things! Okay...so healthwise things picked up and eating routines went back to normal...though no more cow's feet or eating from the market. One evening the girls and I went to a Moroccan movie (no French subtitles even) which was a really artful film, very beautifully done...and because there was a lot of physical comedy in it, I was able to enjoy the movie and understand the storyline. It was awesome just to spend the evening at the theatre w/ chips and pop...I felt like I was back home...until I had to pay for toilet paper in the ladies' room!
One major highlight towards the end of the week was a trip out to one of the villages where I had some of the most awesome photography experiences! First of all, it was such a blessing just to get out into the country and hear nothing but horses trotting up the road and sheep in the fields...the smell of manure, the barns and rickety windmills...I thought I was in heaven!!! And when we went into the village souq I was more than surprised to find that the townspeople were eager to have their photos taken!!! What a switch from the city!!! We visited one small shanty for tea and the woman who ran it allowed me to photograph the whole mint tea-making process....oh my goodness, the people here are so beautiful....often worn and weathered, but very noble and exotic looking...one woman i photographed nearby had these absolutely amazing eyes and these beautifully henna-painted hands which were sifting couscous...the men in the village were much more respectful of me than in the city and some of the older men sitting next to us at lunch allowed me to photograph them as they sipped their tea...only in exchange for a picture of them with me though!!! For lunch we had horse again and I really wanted to buy one of those cooking tools (called a 'shuia'...probably spelling that all wrong but it's an arabic word anyway so not like there are english letters to spell it with) but instead they guys at the bbq gave me one to take home. I have it in my room here and spain and after a week it still smells like horsemeat!!!! mmmmm!!!!!!!!
That weekend I said goodbye to everyone at the office, hung out around downtown a bit more, visited with friends on Sunday and packed everything up. Monday morning I was dropped off at the train station and was really quite amazed at how attached to Rabat I'd become...Rabat probably isn't the most amazing travel destination in Morocco, but it certainly was home to some of the most amazing people I've met, and therefore it became a bit like home. But only a bit!
Travel back to Malaga was an adventure all on its own. For the first time I was alone in Morocco and a little hesitant making the trip on my own as a girl. The five hour train ride took me to Tangier where the lady I shared a car with on the train helped me get a taxi, which then took me to the port. During this time I was trying to get a grip on the language issue because without a translator and being so close to Spain, it was possible to use any number of languages, but which one(s) any particular person knew was a complete guessing game. Basically I was like, "Habla Ingles? ou, est-ce que tu parle en Francais? English!? Oh fantastic....Shukran, Bslemmah!" Flip, I was struggling so bad especially as any Spanish I'd picked up in Spain had completely wandered off while I was in Rabat.
While waiting for the ferry in the port at Tangier I met a Swedish man sitting next to me who turned out to be the father of Goran Kropp--the adventurer who'd biked to Everest, hiked it, and biked back to Sweden (among many other amazing feats, including a 2nd climb up everest). Unfortunately only a few years ago Goran (who'd moved to Seattle) was killed when he fell while climbing. There's a book out about his everest trek i think and his adventures have been featured in the banff film festival. Anyway, his dad seemed like a really neat guy and gave me a bunch of travel tips and ideas for when I head down to the south of Morocco towards then end of my stay here.
As I was waiting in line for the ferry, I began growing anxious about how I was going to get back to Malaga after landing in Tarifa. I'd experienced delays all day so far and was now incredibly set back, so I just started praying that God would work everything out. And as always, He did...MARVELOUSLY!!!!! I had begun chatting with these four British ladies who were holidaying down in southern Spain and were just returning for a day trip into Tangier. These women were hilarious and friendly and it was really nice to speak English w/ some English-speaking women so I wound up sitting w/ them on the ferry. As they became aware of my increasingly desperate situation (as time passed the chances of connecting to the next two buses grew more and more slim, and the possibility of catching the malaga city bus home once arriving in Malaga became impossible) they began insisting I spend the night with them at the one woman's condo. I accepted very willingly!!! Not only did these women have a hoot trying to set me up with their sons, but they filled me with food and wine and laughter and gave up one of the rooms for me!!! As I sank into the most amazing bed I've EVER slept in I realised that I'd never have met them had I not been traveling alone. Over the last few years I've felt so alone when I've traveled but for the first time that night I told God that I'd no longer keep asking for friends to travel with. He was enough, and He always provided good company along the way!!! The next morning I had the most amazing shower and finally got to shower long enough to shave the hairy forest my legs had become! One of the women packed me a lunch for the bus, we all took photos (the condo overlooks one of Spain's top golf courses) and then we headed down to La Linea where they set me up with the bus and bus money so that I could return safe and sound to Malaga! Oh, and the women are mostly from Devon area (one from London) and want to visit when I go up to visit Mandee at the end of April!!! The bus station in La Linea is in Spain, but still pretty much in the shadow of the giant Rock of Gibraltar which was really amazing to see. So much history and geography all rolled into one gigantic tip of land!!! From there I took the bus to malaga and then the city bus home...2 days of travel and I was exhausted!!! I really didn't think my apartment in malaga would feel as much like home as it did but it was really comforting to feel like I'd arrived 'home'!
Since then I've been able to catch up on some sleep and try and get things going at work. Today was a really destressing day as I lost 4 gigs worth of some of the best photos I took when a computer program went haywire and decided to just erase a bunch of stuff. Due to some other complications the images hadn't been backed up yet so I was really, really upset. The computer guys were in the room and all day long they've been working to retrieve it but no luck yet (I do have 3/4 of my images from Morocco saved to cd so not all is lost, but my experience in the medina and the village are gone). They're going to try some more stuff tomorrow and I'm hoping but am not counting on getting it back. I'm amazed though at how God kept me from really cracking at that point. I went for a walk just to get some air and as I began walking I started praying. I surprised myself by praising God for all that He HAD given me and just trusting that He would work all things out. I thought I'd be like, "God WHY!!!!!!??????" and just get all mad etc., but the Lord just washed over me with an inner peace that swept away all potential anger and frustration. I knew that, just as with Job, God would provide better images and experiences for me if He decided to take these ones away and if I steadily put my faith in Him. I am SO excited to see how He will come through!!! And if the images are gone for good, then I have to remember that it was God who inspired me years ago to become a photographer, and this is really all for Him and His glory, not for me and mine!!! "The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away...blessed be the name of the Lord." Besides, there are worse things that could happen right!!!
On a much, much lighter note, one of the new girls here (who is very close to my age!) actually found me the closest thing to tortilla chips (which do not exist here...I came expecting a lot of Mexican-style food...apparently everyone does, but things like Guacamole and nachos aren't a part of the diet here...and if you want mexican type food it's in the foreign food section...and quite frankly i don't want to be buying Old El Paso fajitas in a box)....PLAIN Dorritos!!! Do they even HAVE plain dorritos in north america!? they're great!!! so today i had that with salsa (also hard to find) chicken, and mashed avacados with lime (having a hard time finding cilantro for guac)...SO GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!
anyway, i really should go! thanks so much for your prayers and please pray that my images can all be fully restored! and if not, pray that I handle the disappointment with grace!!!!
OH! one more thing, we have this interesting laundry line system that is shared between all the apartments and today was the first time i actually used it (before i kept hanging things up around the apartment cuz i was too scared to hang it 8 storeys above ground!!!) and i'm very proud to say that i put my laundry out and brought it in all without losing so much as a single sock!!! It's amazing, I'd never considered the delicate art of hanging the wash before...nor had I contemplated the strength and quality of clothespins...despite the fact that they've been used forEVER, I found myself eyeing them warily wondering if they could indeed handle the weight of my jeans!!!
ok, i'm off! love u all, have a fantastic day, evening, whatever...in canada, the States, New Zealand, australia, guatemala, europe, asia, africa...crazy...i can hardly keep track of all your time zones!!!
i'm going home to eat now!