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June 15th 2008
Published: June 15th 2008
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Al Maghrib - Morocco in ArabicAl Maghrib - Morocco in ArabicAl Maghrib - Morocco in Arabic

Maryam had to stop by her school for some paperwork and I caught her and Salma in front of a mural map of Morocco. Maryam teaches English at a junior high in Kelaa Sraghna.
I suppose I’m still at the starting line. I’ve spent the past few days lazing around Maryam’s house, my old home, playing with her daughter Salma, catching up on the events of the past year, talking with the neighbors who stop by and reading a travel memoir about kayaking in the Arctic. I’m not headed that far north, but in a week or so I do need to start heading north.

For now I’m content to relax, to feel like the school year is over and I really am on summer vacation, and to enjoy being back in Morocco. I joked with Maryam that I enjoyed my ten month vacation in America and now I’m back home in time for the summer heat of the Sahara.

Morocco has welcomed me back with arms wide open since I stepped off the plane. The brother of a friend works at the Marrakech airport and made sure I was whisked through customs and my bag given to me without any hassle. Maryam was waiting at the airport to drive me home. After 48 hours in transit I was so grateful to be well taken care of.

I haven’t gone far on

Salma wanted to see where her mother taught, so I got to see the classroom. Most Moroccan schools, especially out in the country, have nothing to offer students but bare walls, a roof and dilapidated desks.
the map, but any good trip needs good preparation. I’m taking this week to re-immerse myself in Moroccan culture. I’ve picked up Arabic right where I left it, am spending my days chatting with the neighborhood women and drinking tea and eating all the amazing Moroccan food I missed while I was in the US. Yesterday Maryam and I made rfisa for lunch and I drank so much mint tea I couldn’t sleep for hours after I went to bed. Then again, perhaps it was the heat that kept me up. It's going to take some time to re-adapt to the heat here.

Additional photos below
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Girls Out on the TownGirls Out on the Town
Girls Out on the Town

After the visit to Maryam's school we went to a café that has a playground so Salma could play on the slides.
Rfisa: Step 1Rfisa: Step 1
Rfisa: Step 1

To make rfisa, you first have to make milwi, which is a kind of Moroccan flat bread. Maryam made the bread dough and pinched off perfect rounds to cook on the stove top. We wrapped them in a blanket and let them cool in a traditional cone-topped bread basket. The pointed clay dish in the background is a tajine.
Rfisa: Step 2Rfisa: Step 2
Rfisa: Step 2

After all the milwi has been made we tore up enough into bite size pieces to fill the gsa'a, which is the big clay dish that Moroccan food is eaten out of.
Rfisa: Step 3Rfisa: Step 3
Rfisa: Step 3

After the milwi is ready we poured over the sauce that has been cooking at a low temperature. The sauce is boiled onions, lentils, fava beans, chicken and spices. Most people add a hot pepper for flavor. Salma kept telling Maryam to pour more sauce on her part, but we kept the pepper on my side.

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