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Peeking at Peaks in Py

The next stop on our European odyssey was Py, a tiny village in the Pyrenees. First, though, we had to get to France! After saying goodbye to our hosts in Girona, we hopped on the bus to Perpignan, on the French side of the mountains. The driver chatted away to me as he hauled our bags into the belly of the bus. When I explained that I grew up in the US but currently live in Morocco, he immediately shifted to darija and spent the remainder of the trip trying out various Moroccan Arabic phrases on me and watching my reaction, despite my protestations that I only spoke “shwiya, shwiya!” (A little!) So that was entertaining for one of us.… Read More

Weekend in Italy

Two months ago, I ended up in Italy for a conference. (You know, my glamorous librarian lifestyle.) In a misguided effort to save money, I flew a discount airline to Bergamo, rather than straight to Milan where the conference was. And you know what? That ended up being one of my best travel decisions ever.

The trip was off to an excellent start with the continuation of my favorite Madrid airport tradition. (Favorite tradition, not favorite airport. Madrid-Barajas is a soulless warehouse of an airport, with vast, fluorescent-lit hallways and overpriced amenities, cunningly designed to rob travelers of all hope and vigor.)… Read More

Morocco, Weeks Fifteen and Sixteen

On Saturday afternoon I was off to Spain. You might remember from my last post that Eid al-Adha, the Muslim festival which includes sheep sacrifice, was coming up. Well, rather than listen to thousands of dismayed sheep bleating across the city (and smelling them roasting later on) I opted to travel to northern Spain. My goal, San Sebastián, (Donostia in Basque) was only two flights and a three-hour bus ride away.

On the first flight I sat next to a young man who had never flown before. Through him, I remembered the wonder of seeing the tops of clouds for the first time. It was great seeing the look in his eyes in the moment when the plane lifted off the runway.… Read More

Morocco, Week Fourteen

Week fourteen began with Austrians and ended with Germans. I had two delightful Austrian house guests, Sabine and Hans-Peter, who kept me entertained on Monday and Tuesday. Both of them had quit their jobs, bought motorcycles, and embarked on an around-the-world journey. (They took crash courses in motorcycle repair before leaving.)

Next up: traveling down the western coast of Africa. Their trip ends, I suppose, when they get tired of traveling and move on to the next thing in their lives. We ate delectable Moroccan food, played with Loki, and had a long, fascinating conversation about the attitude toward the film The Sound of Music in Austria and why most Austrians have never seen it.… Read More

Morocco, Week Twelve

“The only things they trust are the racing ships
Posiedon gave, to sail the deep blue sea
like white wings in the sky, or a flashing thought.” (The Odyssey)

One of the perks of working in a school is getting to hear children say all sorts of silly things. Students at AST (especially the kindergartners) are fond of exclaiming, “Oh my God!” at the drop of a hat, for instance. Talking about volcanoes? “Oh my God!” Finding out that a dinosaur in a book is too tall to fit on the page? “Oh my God!” Explaining that a tomato is a fruit? “Oh my God!” I suppose our students just have a flair for the dramatic.… Read More

Morocco, Week Ten

My tenth week in Morocco was challenging. I had one of those workweeks where the few rewarding moments are swept away in a deluge of minor catastrophes. Despite all of that, this week I put the finishing touches on a school reading contest (with the help of my intrepid student volunteers, of course), fleshed out ideas for a few library fundraisers, and got paid.

And, of course, read one of my other favorite childhood books to the kindergarteners, In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak. Loved the amazed faces when Micky flies his dough-y airplane to get milk for the bakers. Still in store for the kindergarteners: Pierre, Just A Dream, Cautionary Tales for Children, The Adventures of Isabel, Amos & Boris, The Paper Bag Princess, Two Bad Ants.… Read More

Morocco, Week Five

It’s hard to believe I’ve been here over a month already. Sometimes I feel like I just arrived, and other times I feel as if I’ve been here for years. A strange feeling, like making a new friend who becomes close so quickly that you forget there was ever a time when you didn’t know each other.

My workweek was action-packed, and by “action-packed” I mean “hours in front of the computer preparing a pretty exciting edtech project”. More on that soon. I mostly remembered to eat food: I made harira again, ate liver by accident for the second time, and probably devoured my weight in homemade Moroccan treats.… Read More

Forty-Eight Hours in Glacier Park

Last week my camera and I took a trip into rural Montana and the mountains of Glacier National Park.

A storm rolled in as we walked down the country road.

But cleared up in time for a great sunset.

We hiked through a forest of dead trees.

Surprised a marmot.

And watched a second sunset over snow.… Read More

San Francisco 2011, Day Eight

We woke up at the crack o’ dawn on Sunday to drive down to Muir Woods as soon as the park opened, and before all the tourists arrived. Choosing the path less taken every time, we found ourselves on a beautiful two-hour hike through the woods, culminating in a spectacular view across the park. Mist was still blowing through the trees, so the landscape changed every couple of minutes.

Spotted some cute banana slugs, a gaggle of chipmunks, and a couple of hawks. I also made friends with a lizard and he allowed me to get within a few inches for some excellent reptile portraits. He was missing half his tail, so perhaps his amiable demeanor didn’t work with hungry foxes and birds.… Read More