Thursday, September 24, 2015

EId Mubarak!

So, today is Eid. It's about 5:00pm as I write this blog post, and our traditional sacrifice and meal is over.
Me (left) and my roomate (right)
I'll take you guys through an hourly explanation of my day.

(WARNING! IT'S GRAPHIC- photos at the bottom)

7:30am: Alarm goes off... but I get up after about 3 hits of my snooze button. Family is arriving at about 9 for breakfast. Breakfast includes myself, my program roomate, my host parents, brother and sister, cousins, aunts, grandparents; basically a lot of people.

 9:30: We eat outside on the rooftop like balcony. The villa I live in is two floors, and there is a door in my room as well as the kitchen that leads to the outside area. For breakfast we ate this fried (AMAZING) dough called rief with cheese, jam, olives, and of course, tea! It is my favorite breakfast here.

10:00-11:00am: After breakfast was over and cleared, we started to cook a little. My roomate and I helped peel tomatoes to make this eggplant, tomato, red pepper spread that we eat with bread, and we diced carrots to put in a potato-tuna salad. After all that was done, the butcher and his helpers arrived!

11:15+: It's time! Our family bought three sheep that we kept in the downstairs open compound of the home. I had my phone out to record the process so I could send to my family back home in the U.S. We took the first sheep, and shielded the others with a sheet so they couldn't see the process. That's when it all began. There were about 5 men who came to the home, all of which held down the sheep while my host father said a very short prayer, took the knife, and slit the sheep's throat. I was about four feet away when the knife left the sheep's throat and it began to bleed out. Alas, it did not make it.

Once the sheep was fully "gone", the butcher decapitated the animal, skinned one of the legs, cut the bone a little so he could break it, and tied the achilles tendon to a rope hanging from the ceiling; this way the sheep was upside down. Boy was that tendon strong. It was holding this hundred and something pound sheep upside down, and it didn't even rip. After the sheep was hanging there, the butcher continued to skin the whole sheep with a knife. Once the animal had no skin, the butcher cut open the torso to get out all of the insides. The liver, lungs, small intestines, bladder, everything. The liver and edible organs were kept, but those that were not were discarded. The last intestine to be removed was the bowel. For this process, the butcher and his men poured water into the sheep's anus, blew into it, and we watched the water clean everything out. Basically, it was an enema but instead of coming back out of the anus, it came out a slit the men made in its bowel.

This was repeated two more times.

1:00pm: After all the sheep have been sacrificed and hanging from the ceiling, we cooked! The sheep "hang out" (no pun intended) for 24hrs, so for today, we eat the livers, They were cut into cubes, marinated, individually wrapped in the sheep's fat, put onto skewers and put onto a charcoal grill. This created so much smoke I felt like I was in a burning home. My eyes were red, red, and my roomate could't even stay it was that thick. There seemed to be about 50 skewers. We all sat down, ate the spread we made earlier that day with homemade fries, bread, and potato-tuna salad. I took the fat off of the cubes of liver (you can eat them with or without the fat) and ate it. UMMMM, it's not really for me. It was good, but had a particular taste that I could not eat in large sums. Nonetheless, I ate the bread (obvi) with the paste, olives and tea. One's essentials. After I ate half a skewer and my roomate ate a full one, we went to get away from the smoke and just sit down upstairs we were so full. After two hours of mingling, talking with family, sitting, we went back downstairs.... and people were still eating! Pravo to them, but I don't think I could take that much liver and food. I was so full I thought I was going to explode. After another hour or so, we cleaned up, changed into our pjs and are just hanging out :)

5:00pm: There are still so many skewers left, and I don't even know if we are going to eat dinner, that's how much food everybody has had. Nevertheless, after this exciting, culture filled day, I am happy to just be sitting in my bed writing this blog post.

Happy Eid Mubarak everyone!




Our flight coming in was a bit late so we landed an hour behind schedule. Then, our driver was not there to pick us up at the airport (it was 1am). 

Foreshadow: Here in Morocco it is the norm to tell people what they want to hear even if it is not the truth. 

We called the driver and he said he was very close. Okay. 30 minutes pass and we call again. He is almost here. Okay. 30 minutes pass, he is five minutes away. Okay. An hour passes and we call him. "I'm here but don't come outside". Oh yea, like we are supposed to believe that. Anyway, we are all sitting at a cafe in the airport, talking, waiting for him to show. When he finally does, it's four in the morning. 

We go outside, and I have so much luggage that I end up tripping over my own carry-on and falling in the middle of the street. Ooops. The Americans have arrived. 

We get to the hotel at around 6am and have to be up at 10. Yay. 

We get up, eat, and go meet our host families. 

*fast forward a couple hours, days... I don't know, I lost count*

It's super fun here. I love my host family and my roomie, I love taking taxis, talking to them in arabic (the little arabic I know) and just putting my "Resting Bitch Face" on when random people in the street want to talk. So much fun :). 

I have been in class for a week now. Standard Arabic from 9-11:45, and then an hour of Darija which is "Moroccan Arabic". It's great. The people here expect me to be European, so when I start speaking Darija (which only Moroccan's speak) they are super surprised. GOTCHA MF'S! 

I still have so much to see of Rabat. I also have to make friends outside of NSLIY. I hung out with a Moroccan girl I met the other day, and I played tennis with a guy from America yesterday. Tomorrow I am going to the American School in Rabat with my friends to see who we meet and also.... make friends.

This Wednesday I am going to a horse stable in Rabat with a Moroccan guy friend of mine (who rides everyday and has been riding since he was four) to look at the stables and decide whether I want to ride there. 

OH! I almost forgot! Thursday is Eid Kabir which is the sacrificing of a goat/cow for Allah and those who can't afford the meat. Our family is getting three sheep!!!!!! Tomorrow our host dad is getting one, and the in-laws will be getting there's relatively soon. I think we are keeping it downstairs (outside) but I'm not so sure. I also think that my host mom said her mother-in-law walks her sheep around the area when she gets hers... but that may have been a language misunderstanding because that doesn't seem right. But if it is, I love her for it. 

We will go to a slaughter house ( I think ) and watch a butcher kill all our sheep, then we will cook them! Again, some details may not be accurate as their Arabic is not as concrete as mine... hehe

(P.S. My host father's mother is sooo amazing! She is older so I really have to bang on the door and say hi. She invited my roomie and I over the other day for cous cous, and it was delish. She thought it could be better, but that's because she has obvi had some amazing food. Also, there was a cow hoof in our cous cous.... just saying.)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Almost There!

Well, I'm off! 

I am currently sitting in the Frankfurt airport during my 10 HOUR layover (ugh.), and could not be more excited. I have been here along with the five other NSLIY girls for about five hours, so we are half way done. 

I officially left for the start of NSLIY the 9th of September and flew to DC. There, we had a PDO (Pre-Departure Orientation) that lasted two days where we learned about Morocco, the program, safety tips, everything! I learned so much that I honestly couldn't think of one question by the end! 

The other NSLIY with are soooo amazing; I could not have asked for better travel buddies. From Frankfurt we fly to Casablanca (about a four hour flight), get our luggage and arrive at a hotel in Rabat at appx four in the morning (again, ugh). There we get about four hours of sleep as we have to be up at 11am that morning to go to school and again be introduced to the program, but this time in Morocco. After the "mini-orientation" we will sit down for some pastries and orange juice and meet our families!!! 

I am living in a Villa- which is pretty rare, most kids get apartments- along with my roomie from Brooklyn. There are five members of our host family...

Mother: Housewife
Father: Bazaar owner
Sister: 7yrs old
Brother: 3yrs old
Brother: 1yr old


I am currently sitting down on possible the most uncomfortable seat in the world, so I'm going to move and find something better/I really want to watch Netflix. 

I'll keep you all updated!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Clothes... Hair... What Else?


Yup, they are back! I knew I said that I was going to only online shop, but I changed my mind. In the end, I only bought two pairs of pants online, and just went to the mall and Marshalls for the rest! I first went to Forever 21 where I mainly bought loose linen pants and a couple of shirts. Man do I love shopping. After about three hours of shopping, lugging the clothes around the store- resulting in a dead arm- I left happy as a clam. I love love love what I got, and think that it will be very cool (weather wise) and fashionable for Rabat! 

After Forever 21, mom and I got hungry so obvi we stopped at one of northern NJ's finest diners :), and after, headed to Marshalls *gospel sounds play as the heavens open*. 

Yes, I LOVE Marshalls. 

Like always, I found so many amazing things. I bought about six or seven tops, all of which are flowy, thin and designed with vibrant colors! Everything I need for the Middle East. 

Clothes: CHECK!
Toiletries: CHECK!
Luggage: CHECK
Random Goodies: CHECK!
Mindset: CHECK! 
Hair: ....... soon!

Yup, I'm changing my hair. It's already shoulder length which will be just fine for the heat, but I'm not just getting a trim, I'm changing the color. Currently I have dark roots, and about four inches down my head, it turns blonde. But get ready, because after Wednesday at 12pm I will officially be a "brunette". I put that in quotes because it pains me to get rid of my blonde. I love my blonde. We have the most fun! However, I don't want the unwated attention that I believe may come with my hair. I mean, nobody there is really blonde, so I don't think it could do any good. A blonde, blue eyed, white girl... I'd stick out like a sore thumb. 

But don't worry, I can never fully get rid of my blonde. I just can't do that to myself. I plan on dying my hair light brown with a blonde undertone. 

Boy oh boy I hope its cute. 

I was thinking something like this. The length is just right, and even though my hair is not naturally wavy like that, I think it will be just fine. 

Here is a before and after of my hair! As you can see, my hair on the left has a very distinct cut off between blonde and brown which I was just not feeling anymore. Now my new hair (on the right) is mostly brown, with a little blonde to it. My hair is naturally straight, the it was just curled in the salon. Also, I think my hair looks a little darker in person. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A New Addition

It was at 3:18 p.m. on April 13th when I pronounced my- now former- laptop dead. Yes, I was very sad, almost cried actually. My computer really stuck with me throughout the years, especially after all the unintentional abuse I inflicted upon it. For example, when I studied at Georgetown University in DC last summer, the bed in my dorm was lifted to the highest level, probably four to five feet off the ground. If I wanted to get into bed, I would have to step on a table in order to prop myself up. One day I was laying down using my computer- watching Netflix of course- and as I reached for the trail mix that I was practically shoving in my mouth, my computer went flying off my lap and fell onto the floor. Yup. I just watched as my beloved computer fell five feet towards the ugly carpeted, hard floor. Luckily it still worked... barley though :/. Needless to say, a year later, it was time for a new addition into the 'Florise technology collection'.

Last Friday my mother and I went to Best Buy looking for a sturdy laptop that would survive... me, in Morocco. We didn't want anything too expensive because Georgetown provides me a laptop (or so I've been told), so really we were just looking for a computer that would Skype and type. Easy. After about thirty minutes of looking, and eventually deciding we needed help, I bought my new laptop!

It's an ASUS, easy to use and dependable (or at least that's what the IT guy told me. He could have just been saying that so I would buy it... and I did. So either he is true to his word or a good liar. Eh, what's done is done).

Anyway, as my departure date creeps up, I can't help but feel I will not be ready in time. In reality though, I'll be fine. I've bought most of the toiletries I need, have yet to buy the clothes (but that takes 2.5), and then all I have to do is pack. Easy(ish).

Meh, I'll just wing it and hope for the best :)!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Clothes, Oh Clothes


Oh yes, the word deserves its own period, own line, own space in this blog, that's how powerful it is.

The ultimate question in life: "What should I pack?".

Morocco's climate varies by month, just like the United States. One day it could rain and be 82 degrees, another day there could be clear skies but it could be 50 degrees; it all just depends on the day. I recently read that it snowed this past year; I don't want to pack clothes for snow! I don't want there to be snow! I live on the east coast, I get plenty of that already.

It's time for change... hopefully.

My packing situation is not going to be as easy as I would like it to be. Since I am going to the Middle East, I practically have to buy a whole new wardrobe as there are different modesty standards for those living there. However, I have to buy clothes for both Morocco and Qatar. The only problem is, Qatar's weather practically stays the same throughout the year; HOT! This means that when I buy the clothes for Morocco, I am also buying clothes for Qatar.

I have an online shopping cart filled with all types of clothing. Mainly short sleeve shirts, some long sleeve (peasant like), and jogger/flowy pants-- classic Middle Eastern clothes. My main worries are that I will have too much of the same type of clothing, or I would not have packed accordingly for the weather. Basically it's a hit or miss.

My grandmother is a travel junkie, so she taught be how to pack efficiently. I once went to England for two weeks and literally packed my whole closet. Two checked bags, and I was nowhere close to wearing everything in my suitcases. To make matters worse, I went with a friend of mine and mainly wore what she had brought. I was waaaayyy over packed and would have been just fine with a few shorts, shirts and undergarments.

Since that trip, and after my grandmother had taught me her ways, I can now pack for a three week trip into a single carry on! It's great!

Nonetheless, I am leaving for another country for nine months and will be forced to pack a little too much. Shortly I am going to start making a packing list (clothes, toiletries, etc) and get everything I need :) !!

So in the end, when you hear the words "clothes" and "travel" in the same sentence, don't get too worried. Just be strategic when packing, and everything will be just fine.

shirts like these; simple but cute
pants like these

pants like these

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Getting the Vaccinations For Morocco

Uggghhhhhhhh-- shots! Probably one of my greatest fears in life- crazy, I know. For some reason the thought of  watching a person stick a needle into my arm doesn't a appeal to me; weird.

The shots I need for Morocco are...
1. Hepatitis A
2. Hepatitis B
3. Rabies
4. Typhoid (capsules; picking up at my local pharmacy)

I walked into the doctors office today at 11 a.m., filled out the necessary paperwork, and was escorted to my room. The nurse comes in to tell my mother and I that our insurance did not pay for my shots (when the insurance clearly told me they did). We complained, the nurse left, another woman came in, she then left, and another person came in. I thought, "what is this? Am I just to meet every worker in the doctors office today?".  I waited, and waited, and waited, and waited-- oh, did I mention I waited? Yup, about an hour had passed- even with my mother yelling at the staff about time- and still nobody showed up. Soon after (finally), a doctor came to see me.

I don't think I have ever met a doctor as fun and kind as he! We spoke about my upcoming travels, about Morocco and Georgetown, and the heat in Qatar (my friend Maya told me that when she visited, it reached 135 degrees Fahrenheit :( ); all-around, it was a pleasure to have this conversation after all the hostility between my agitated mother, the nurses and I.

After the doctor had finished the standard check-up, he told me that a nurse would be back to give me the Hepatitis A shot. I had already received the Hepatitis B shot in grade school, the Typhoid "shot" comes in capsule form, so of course I picked that, and the Rabies shot needed to be specially ordered; so I was left with Hep A.

So then guess what... I waited, and waited, and waited, and waited. By this time it was 1 p.m. (two hours after I had arrived, with only a check-up done), and was laying on the exam table for this shot that I now believed would never come. In the midst of my waiting, my mom had to leave because she was taking my little brother to soccer and was running out of time.

I kid you not, three minutes after my mom left, the nurses came in with the shot. As they came in they asked where my mom went. I told them to my little brother's soccer, and then they said............. "Oh, we need a parent here to sign the consent form and to oversee the giving of the shot". 

Okay, now I was pissed.

I called my mom, who then said call my dad, who then rushed out of the house to get to the doctor's office so I could be done.

My dad arrived 15 minutes later, signed what he needed to sign, and now the nurse was finally able to give me the shot. So, after hours of waiting, I got my shot which took all of 5 seconds; yay.

Even though I arrived at 11 a.m and left at 2:15 p.m., it was all worth it because this means I am one step closer to leaving for Morocco!

P.S: I overcame my fear of shots :). So at least two good things came out of this visit.