Erika Kraus


Erika Kraus

I began this blog as a recent graduate of Benedictine College, and traveled to Benin, Africa with the Peace Corps. I was there for 27 months, and enjoyed sharing everything I did there with friends and family at home. Whatever I say within these blogs speaks for my life in Benin, and does not have any connection whatsoever with the views of the United States Peace Corps itself.

Did you like stories about Benin? Buy my travel guide book to Benin and read more about the country! check out and for sale at

The blogging continues as I glimpse other corners of the world -not on Peace Corps standards, but at least for a while. One trip is with the biology department to the Peruvian Amazon, another about beginning my studies in Arabic in East Lansing, Michigan. The next is a two-month stint in Morocco for Arabic language immersion. Who knows what will be next?

Africa » Morocco » Fès-Boulemane » Fes July 29th 2011

These are some photos that I forgot to publish with blogs, for some reason. Here they are now, anyway.... read more
Tannery Waste

North America » United States » Kansas » Scranton July 25th 2011

I finished my six week Arabic language course in Fez, Morocco, and have since returned to Kansas. However, I finished that course more than two weeks ago and covered quite a bit of Morocco during that time, quickly followed with a rapid tour of Lisbon and a re-entry into regular routes through Northeast Kansas. I began my post-class vacation in Asilah, a beach town along the Atlantic coast in Morocco. Jennifer and I wilted in the heat for the four-hour train ride from Fez, but were quickly revived by the ocean breeze once we exited. Once installed in our hotel, we found a decent little place down the street where we ate fish tagines, or stews, complete with mint tea proffered by the waiter. As we wandered through the old part of town, we appreciated the ... read more
Asilah Art
To the Beach!
Paradise Beach

Africa » Morocco » Fès-Boulemane » Fes July 4th 2011

I didn’t sleep for very long last night (Saturday night), but I slept well, and it was worth getting up early for the cool, almost cold, air, and a walk to pick figs, and watching the butchering of the ram. The butchers, after killing the ram, poked a hole to just the layer below the skin by the ankle of the ram, stuck a hollow straw in the hole, and blew, ballooned the ram with air. This helps remove the hide. After being fascinated with guts for a while, I grabbed some things and walked to the top of the nearest hill and took some pictures. I’ll be able to sleep away the afternoon again, I’m sure. We left Fez early yesterday, my host family and I, to arrive where we are now –at Baba’s childhood ... read more
Countryside View
Hillside Mosque

Africa » Morocco » Fès-Boulemane » Fes July 1st 2011

By staying with a host family during my short stay in Morocco, I have benefitted by tasting a variety of Moroccan dishes. My host Maman is a wonderful cook. With Maman for meals and the host sisters for entertainment, I am well taken care of. Shéma cleans my room when I leave for school (and when I return, I have to re-discover where my books are). My 8am class is rather rough on the typical household schedule, that would otherwise begin around 9am. I am up before 7am, which means Maman has coffee and bread on the table, and sometimes an egg, by 7:15. I feel a little guilty to make her do that, but I sure do appreciate that cup of coffee and breakfast. She goes back to bed before I even leave the house. ... read more

Africa » Morocco » Fès-Boulemane » Fes June 30th 2011

As far as the language debate goes, I’ve become satisfied with my current situation. My knowledge of French comes in handy, because there is enough French in the Moroccan dialect that I can catch a bit more of the conversation. So if I don’t know the Arabic word, I just throw in some French vocabulary, and it kind of works! It’s the Erika dialect. In my opinion, Arabic is a complex language. Knowing the standard, formal Arabic is at least less confusing to learn initially because it is only one language, rather than a dialect influenced by many languages. For instance, the Moroccan dialect says casse-croûte for a snack, which is French, and confiture for jam –in fact, many foods’ names have French-like words (obviously I have been paying attention to food). Within a month, I ... read more
Bou Nania
Bou Nania
Bou Nania

Africa » Morocco » Fès-Boulemane » Fes June 22nd 2011

My overnight trip to the Sahara was very similar to the camping trip in Peru. Obviously, in many ways different since the Sahara (in Arabic means desert) is the extreme to the Amazon, but there were many parallels. The primary parallel being that the guides had to survive us. What seemed extraordinary to us as tourists was merely quotidian for the guides –riding camels and climbing sand dunes in the desert are to Berbers what navigating waterways as streets and catching fish are to Peruvians in the Amazon. I was well taken care of in both places, and appreciated their willingness to recreate in a sheltered environment their means of living with the particular quantity of water. We rode camels to the oasis, which was most comfortable, with rugs and mattresses and tents, and a full ... read more
Convenient Electricity
Camel Gear

Africa » Morocco » Fès-Boulemane » Fes June 20th 2011

An important element of studying the Arabic language is choosing which version of Arabic to study. Each region in the Arab world has its own dialect, some more closely related than others, as well as a formal Arabic that is used as a universal Arab language. The formal Arabic most closely resembles the Qu’ran and is used in international media and in meetings of Arabs from different countries. Arab Moroccans understand at least two versions of Arabic: the daraja, or lingua franca version of Arabic spoken in homes and everyday business in Morocco, and which contains many French words and possibly others from Berber and Spanish, etc., as well as the formal Arabic spoken at mosque and on the news and taught in schools. My host family (and many other Moroccans) comprehends but doesn’t necessarily speak ... read more
Henna take 2
Drying Time
Henna Tattoo

Africa » Morocco » Fès-Boulemane » Fes June 10th 2011

The billboard on the city walls pronounces ‘Live the Music!’ for the sacred music festival in Fez. Although no human musicians are performing on the stage, Fez is pretty good at producing a musical ambience in the absence of guitars or sitars or lutes. The music that I hear comes from the Alpine swifts that fill the air and swoop into their notches in the ancient city walls, slots that were created with the birds in mind, the Arabic of students on break from classes, and the general impression of living in a very historical place. On my walk home from school I pass through three different sections of Fez. School is in the Ville Nouvelle, the colonial French-built new city, best defined as a suburb whose population now exceeds its source. As I leave the ... read more
A King's Entrance

Africa » Morocco » Fès-Boulemane » Fes June 1st 2011

Shéma, my younger host sister, and I bonded through Shakira one night. Shakira was giving a concert in Rabat, televised live throughout the country. By the end of ‘Waka waka,’ Shéma and I were ready to spend the afternoon together the next day. Shakira is attractive in many ways, and similar to my neighbor Imelda in Benin, Shéma is fascinated with her appeal –as am I. Shéma’s friend Sarah met us at the door the next afternoon. My first indication of a tour of Fez more than I had expected was our stop at the second hand market. Sarah was looking for a large bag. We searched unsuccessfully, followed the talâa saghira –small street –and continued to stop at every shop that promised bags –no buy. Sarah left us when Shéma stopped for internet. I ... read more
A View of Fez
In the Medina

Africa » Morocco » Fès-Boulemane » Fes May 27th 2011

My new home is one of the oldest Arab cities in the world, and no kidding, this home is in the oldest part. My silly two bags had to be carried through the ‘streets’ that are sometimes only one-lane; that is, one walking lane. The distance from the taxi to the home? At this moment, I can’t even estimate, but I am certain not more than a quarter of a mile. I arrived in Fez by train, having left Casablanca at 9:15am. The four-hour ride, during which I slept and read Rosemary Taylor’s amusing book called Harem Scare’m, brought me to my final destination during the three-hour lunch break. I found a taxi and waited at the language program’s campus until the housing coordinator returned. He told me how fortunate I was to have been early ... read more
Bedroom II

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