Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I've just come back from the most amazing holiday.

I feel lucky. So incredibly lucky. I often think this. I mean, do I seriously get to go on these wonderful holidays and visit these places some people could only dream about? This is my life and I love it.

So Morocco was mind blowing. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it far surpassed my expectations. Africa is intoxicating. Life there is simple, hard and somehow makes you feel ashamed for being Western. By no means would I want to be a woman there. I can't tell you how many men we drove past in the country who were either lazing around in groups on the street or sitting around cafes while the women lugged bundles of produce on their backs. I can only imagine how many women get raped there. Perhaps it is only towards Western women, but it seems if you're a female, you're basically a piece of meat and men are therefore entitled to act like animals toward you. It's wrong and uncomfortable, but it's a society where everyone's roles have been played out for centuries and somehow, it works.

I can only wonder what they think of us Westerners. While their way of life is by no means enviable, I kept on thinking how ridiculous they would think my life is. Rushing around constantly, never having time and don't get me started on how meaningless my job is. Western life is so vacuous. We obsess about the most superficial bullshit it makes me feel ashamed and stupid. The more time I spend in poorer countries, the more I think they have it right. All the money in the world can't make your life richer. What right does the Western world have to throw their weight around in countries such as Africa and the Middle East when, by comparison, our values are often inferior to those of these countries?

Anyway, enough ranting.

So on the first day Skinner and I lay on the rooftop of our riad and listened to the afternoon prayers which are broadcasted out over speakers all over the city. Having the sun on my face was amazing. I think I actually announced how amazing it was at least 6 times in 15 minutes. Anyway, after that we went exploring around the Djemaa el-Fna which is Marrakesh's main square. Skinner and I downed a couscous, tagine, pot of mint tea and half a kilo of biscuits in about half an hour. It was a good start to the holiday. After wandering around the souks we then decided it was time to eat more at the food stalls they had started setting up for the night in the middle of the square. I can't begin to tell you how amazing the square is. Imagine the most amazing smells, the sound of snake charmer flutes and Berber drummers set under an open air eating area.

I found myself wishing I had spent way more time paying attention to my numbers during French lessons at school. Perhaps remembering which was left and right would have been helpful too. While I was quite good at making small talk and asking how much things were, and even asking for directions, I had problems putting the information I got into practice as I only know my numbers up to 30. Here's an example:

Me: (in French) How much?
Stall owner: (in French) Blah blah blah
Me: (in French) That's too much!
Stall owner: How much then?
Me (can't think of any numbers) No thanks, bye!
Skinner: How much was it?
Me: Um, I don't know

Mum would be so proud.

So we then found a safari company and decided to go on a 3 day trek into the countryside. The next day we headed by mini van to the Sahara via Ait Benhaddou, Ouarzazate, Erfoud and into the desert by camel for a night of camping. It was amazing. Trekking through the Sahara is one of the most incredible things I've ever done. It was stunning. Mind blowing. Breathtaking. When we got to the campsite we climbed up a sand dune just in time to watch the sun set over the Sahara. We stayed the night with our Berber hosts and sat around in a tent made of local rugs singing songs and telling riddles. Sounds naf as, but it was really cool. I even got up and did some Berber dancing with one of them. We then retired to our rug tents which were, to put it simply, freezing. We slept on our rugs that we had for our camel ride with another blanket on top for 'added warmth'. That and having to wear all the clothes I brought with me! Anyway, I loved it. We go up in time to get on our camels again and watch the sun rise before heading back for a 10 hour car ride back to Marrakesh. I realised during the trip back that I had left my underwear in the tent. It was so dark I couldn't see anything, so since then I've been getting flashes of the Berber dudes sitting around playing their drums with my underwear on their head. At least they were clean.

When we got back we decided to try another riad that some people we met had stayed in. Anyway, to cut a long story short, we ended up staying in the most beautiful riad for a dirt cheap price. It was stunning. There was a small pool in the middle of the courtyard with an open air roof looking out to the stars. Our last day in Marrakesh was spent visiting the tannery and have the ins and outs of pigeon shit by some random dude and watching the goat carcasses still with hoofs carted in and out. We then got hasseled by the local dude who had taken us there and got a bit freaked out by him following us. So we found a Hamman to hide in, and what a great place to hide. I got my arse cheeks seriously scrubbed by this Hamman dude. Because of my inadequate French I wasn't entirely sure what we were in for, but it was fantastic. We were in this stone room where we got scrubbed, bathed and rubbed in mud.Comparing notes after, Skinner's cheeks didn't seem to get the same scrubbing as mine which was slightly concerning, but still, mine were all the better for it. We then had an amazing couscous for lunch, went to the Majorelle Gardens tried to go a museum but the taxi dude took us to a completely random place instead, sat in the square and soaked in the ambiance over a coffee and then had our final meal at the night markets followed by another half kilo of biscuits. Mmm.

Then I got totally felt up by a female security officer at the airport. It was really weird in a slightly violating way.

Anyway, back now, feeling slightly depressed and having my wisdom teeth out tomorrow. Ugh.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

P's and Q's

What does that mean anyway? Thank poo? Pank Q?

So I had a really interesting conversation with a friend today which prompted a debate on how we were both raised. The differences were pretty small, but seemed quite significant in relation to our conversation. My mum raised me with the 'proper', largely old school English set of manners. It's wrong to assume, but I kind of thought they were the universal code that most kids were brought up on in 80's Australia. Now, for the most part, they are a little stiff and don't necessarily need to be used every day, but they are there and I kind of like them. For a country that has little tradition and a society that seems to be repelled against it, I think they are important and I'm starting to feel a little protective of them.

This led to another conversation about being a 'gentleman'. A part of me feels indignant, of course I can open the door myself, but for all the feminist shit I dish out, it's really nice when a male opens the door for me. It's not about not being able to open the door myself, it's about someone wanting to do it for you. Again, it comes down to holding onto something that has been done for years and preserving a small part of tradition.

When I was little, having to ask to leave the table, not being able to watch tv at dinner and finishing my meal by putting my knife and fork together EVERY TIME annoyed the hell out of me. Now, it feels important. It's the little thing I can pass onto my kids because what will happen to society without good manners? I mean this in all seriousness. We already live in a largely self absorbed and non traditional society, what is going to become of us if no one gives a shit about preserving little things like manners?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Sooooo, what do you do?

So I've been doing some thinking. Fear not, I haven't exerted myself too much, nor will a theory be named after me, but I've been wondering how many people actually think like me. On more than one occasion I've been called 'strange, weird, eccentric'. Sometimes I'm ok with it, other times it pisses me off. I figure, to some extent, most people think like me, but just don't say it. Other times the things I unearth from the dark, very dirty crevasses of my mind are probably privy to me and mostly shouldn't be said. But all that aside, lately, I've met more people who think like me and I like it. So how many more are there?

I don't do small talk. I suck at it. I would rather just meet someone one and say 'fart' and then take it from there. None of this 'what do you do' bullshit. My lack of enthusiasm for chit chat usually makes people think I'm stuck up, rude, a bitch - the list is kind of endless. But the older I get, the less inclined I am to do forced conversations. I guess living over here as given me a lower tolerance for hanging out with dumbasses and a greater thirst for finding interesting people.

I wonder what the ratio is for how many people actually know us. Not in a 'if Joe had the choice to be a river or the sea, which would he be' kind of way. But more like how many of our friends and family really know us? There are different levels of our personality we chose to share with others. To begin with, we only reveal the part that we think the person would best relate to. Then hopefully you move on. But for the most part, we find a level of understanding and mutual interest and the relationship grows. However, how many people can you say confidently really know and understand all of the different layers that make up who you are?

Can I just finish off by saying there was a newspaper article in the paper about a woman who sat on the toilet for 2 years cause she got stuck. Her skin ended up growing around the toilet seat. Luckily, her caring boyfriend brought her food and water. I guess it's kind of like one of those potatoes you grow in a jar.