Saturday, February 13, 2016
This scene of a man tirelessly twisting metal into curls reminded me of a photo I took nearly three years ago in Şanlıurfa of two metalsmiths cutting rods with a hammer and clippers:
A dusty hole in the wall, the smell of metal, the force of muscle. I am drawn to all things made by hand, no matter the material— but there is something about the twisting of metal that has always intrigued me.
Saturday, February 6, 2016
There's this marvellous thing that happens on Fridays in Morocco: couscous. A staple of kitchens across the Maghreb, couscous is crushed semolina that is steamed to a delightfully fluffy consistency and served with a stew of meat and veggies. Highly labour intensive, couscous typically happens on Fridays, the holy day in Muslim tradition, when families get together after prayers to enjoy a meal together. Pedro says it's very much like Sunday lunches with the family in Portugal, which no doubt is Christian in origin.
During the past six months in Morocco, I've been sampling couscous when I can get it, and what I have noticed is that it can vary considerably in flavour depending on who is making it. It can be bland or overly buttery, and it might be served with cinnamony caramelised onions (my favourite), or dried fruit— a happy discovery made at a restaurant in Meknès.
Couscous is often served with a glass of leben, a sour-tasting buttermilk. The idea is that drinking water will expand the couscous in your stomach and cause you unwanted distress, whereas the leben will aid in the digestion of all that goodness you just ate. Whether it expands or not, you are guaranteed to feel full and slip into what is lovingly referred to by my colleagues as the Couscous Coma. Try teaching a classroom of eighteen sleepy kids after a couscous lunch on a Friday, when you yourself could just curl up for a nap!
Well at least there's always a glass of mint tea to help wake you up.
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Sunday, January 31, 2016
Friday, January 29, 2016
In the same amount of time that it used to take us to drive from Büyükçekmece to Taksim, we drove from Rabat to Meknès, one of Morocco's four imperial cities (the cities being Rabat, Fes, Marrakesh, and Meknès). The tight, labyrinthine alleys of the old medina remind me of Urfa, though more colourful— with more yellow and pink, specifically.
Though it's so close to Rabat, Meknès feels like a world away...
Sunday, January 24, 2016
There's a cumin-scented treasure trove of herbs, spices, clays, and various other earthy goodies in a musty basement off one of the main alleys in the medina. Nutmeg and pumice stones, indigo dye and rose tea—
I wanted to take it all home!
But my eye caught something sparkly—was it graphite? No, it was for the eyes of women, I was told. The shopkeeper placed a little glass vial of the powdered stone in my hand, and explained that it needed to mixed with liquid for eyeliner.
I bought two, but I won't be putting any of it on my eyes— I have a different purpose for it in mind...
Saturday, January 23, 2016
I've been down lately. There's a pit inside my chest, and it has been difficult to know what to do to get rid of it. So I started feeding some pushy little buntings on my balcony, which made me feel better. I tore apart my classroom and reorganised it to open up more space, which my students seem to appreciate, and that felt good. I bought some rose tea, and orange oil for my incense burner, which has been soothing. I painted a picture with some new watercolours, and that sparked some creativity.
I took a walk.
Beauty is everywhere in Rabat— from intricate geometric architectural elements, to the cascades of bougainvillea that never cease to bloom, there's a lot of loveliness to get lost in on a walk.
I ended up at the Jardin Botanique d'Essais, a green, shady strip of tranquility that feels worlds away from the motorbikes and beeping taxis.
The scent of leaves and layers of birdsong lifted my spirit, and I began to feel like a girl again, inspecting beetles and examining owl pellets under trees. The last couple of days have been brighter— lighter.