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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 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

Hay-on-Wye, book lover’s paradise

Imagine a town with bookshops on every corner. And in between every corner. And, well, everywhere. Guess what? That town exists, and it’s in Wales! Hay-on-Wye, often called “the town of books”, is the kind of place I want to go when I die. Everywhere you turn, books! New, used, antique, fiction, nonfiction, prints, maps… everything you could ever want! There are around 30 separate bookshops in Hay-on-Wye, so start planning your trip now.… Read More