30 December 2010

New Years' Eve Eve

Things have been kind of whirling around in my head the past few weeks. As anyone still reading this may have guessed, I am not very good at updating my blog during (a) extremely busy times, and (b) extremely not-busy times. But I am great at thinking about what I would write if I were to update my blog. Today is different, I guess, and I'm not sure why.

I woke up with a start from a dream where I heard my old phone ringing with the ring tone I had assigned to my ex-boyfriend. I'm not sure why my phone was ringing in the dream, but for three seconds, I thought that it was actually ringing. Trying to open my mold-allergized eyes, I found the phone, and then remembered where I was. It's almost 2011, and although I am in my old Peace Corps site, and in my old Peace Corps site, I'm not in Peace Corps anymore.

I've worked one semester at this job, and I'm waiting waiting waiting for the next semester to start. Not because I'm that excited to work, but more because I'm that excited to go home. Something snapped in me with this bed bug battle. I know I'll be okay with not being in Morocco anymore. I know that there are bed bugs everywhere, but it was the way that many people treated me surrounding the whole debacle that just turned me off.

In a way, I am kind of ashamed to say this, because there is so much about Morocco that I absolutely adore. A few certain families, the Moroccans we work with in our organization, the variety of climates and cultures, the Tashelheet language, the Marrakech accent, the history, and the possibilities for the future. And I know that I could live here, but I think (think... llahu 3allam) that now I'll be okay with living somewhere else. Maybe I've given in, maybe I'm not as strong or as progressive as I wish I could be, but that's where I am right now.

Off for an 8 mile run...

27 December 2010

Ran 19.22 Miles Today

More emails to compel you to donate:

I am so proud of you for raising moola for the ACS … what a great cause. I’ve donated in my own Mom’s memory, as she passed away from leukemia in 1981 at the ripe old age of 56. Very unfair. And I miss her every day, especially on Christmas. So, thanks for doing such a good thing and contributing to finding a cure/a cause/more groundbreaking research. What a wonderful way to celebrate Christmas! Can’t wait to see you in Marrakech!

22 December 2010

A Letter from a Friend

A week ago I sent out this email:

Hello All!

I'm back... well, not that I ever left, but I was very busy these past few weeks, leading trips for Moroccan Exchange, and running around enjoying (finally!) Rabat. But now all my colleagues have gone home for Christmas, and I am here, filling my alone-time with self-improvement projects. One of these is, of course, the blog. I will be trying to update it with more information about Morocco, as well as personal reflections.

More importantly, in case you didn't know, I am training to run the Marrakech Marathon on Jan. 30, 2011. I've been training for this day for almost a year now, and, although the training has been going fine, I feel like there really is only benefit for ME in running this thing. So, for the past few months, I have been thinking how to raise money for a cause for this marathon.

It was hard to choose a cause, but during my run today, I realized what keeps me going on long runs is thinking of my friends and what they've gone through. In the past, cancer did not make a big impact on my life. I heard stories, but all the events were pretty much on the periphery. After I finished my Peace Corps service, however, I was affected very much by my two dear friends Rachel and Nicole, and their mothers' struggles with cancer. Back then, I wished I could do more to help, and so now I am!

So I am asking you to donate to the American Cancer Society on my behalf. If you were even close to thinking about buying me a holiday present, please donate instead! You can donate 26.2 dollars, dirhams, euros, whatever. You can donate a dollar for ever mile, or $10 for every mile, or 1 dirham for every mile. Or, if you prefer kilometers, there are 41.8 km in a marathon.

Just go to my fundraising website:


No need to send a check, or worry about getting money to Morocco.

Thanks so much, and happy holidays!


3 days ago I got this response:

Zineb -

I was in Ohio visiting relatives last weekend, and I am in DC this weekend, so I've been pretty out of touch, but I just wanted to write you and thank you for doing this (and wish you good luck, of course). When I read your email, I immediately burst into tears in my friend's apartment. Luckily, he wasn't there to witness the mess. The most recent news on my mom is this: There are no new tumors in her lungs (the 6 that were there are still there), but two tumors have grown back in her liver. That's a real pitfall after the INTENSE surgery and recovery she endured on her liver earlier this year. We're still fighting - she hasn't given up yet, but I'm still living everyday knowing my mom will never meet her grandchildren/will never see me get married/etc. I even do strange things like look at her/my cat and realize that the cat will definitely outlive my mom. It's odd - to say the least.


16 December 2010

Christmas Present

Please Donate to the American Cancer Society in honor of me running the Marrakech Marathon!

Regulated Schedule

Heroic, Female, and Muslim - Muslim women are some of the strongest ones I know, and can still be so, even while embracing their faith.

You Can Dream: Stories of Moroccan Women Who Do - RPCV shows us some AWESOME Moroccan women.

Life in Morocco is now not that much different for me than life in America would be. I live in a 2-bedroom apartment, with a roommate. I have a job, I go out to dinner and caf├ęs and bars, I run 5 days a week, and I drink a little more than I should.

But there is the call to prayer, there is the constant staring by men I don't know, there is the omnipresent sight of trash piles and cats and stray dogs, there is the overpriced phone company, and the stolen internet from a guy named Yassine downstairs.

Back to similarities, my roommate just left to go home for Christmas. I have been wishing I could go since October, and I was kind of lonely and listless last night after she left. This morning, however, I woke up and decided that I was going to take this month that she will be gone, and use all the alone time to really improve myself. That's what people say they're going to do in the Peace Corps, and I never really did it. So now's the time; I'm going to:

  • pay my rent
  • study for the GRE at least 2 hrs every day
  • train for the marathon
  • do strength training
  • clean the house
  • apply for grad school
  • spray for bedbugs (again)
  • buy a new tablecloth
  • make a list of what i need to buy back in america
  • order new contacts
  • fix the tv
  • bake zucchini bread, pumpkin pie, carrot cake, and cinnamon rolls
  • update this blog more
  • read the books i brought with me
  • wake up before 9 every day
  • not smoke, and not hang around people who do
  • drink more water than i drink alcohol

I know, that's a pretty big list, but a lot of them are small things, and most of them - besides the running part - won't take me more than 2 hrs at a time. That leaves plenty of time for still being lazy and bumming around on the internet.

Get ready, it's gonna be a great holiday season!

08 December 2010

Moroccan Mint Tea

Loose “gunpowder” tea (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunpowder_tea)
Fresh mint (or other herbs)

Big tea pot for boiling water
Other tea pot for the tea
Tea glasses
Tray for serving


  1. Boil water in a big tea pot.

  2. Find a tea pot that has a mini-strainer between the spout and the main body of the tea pot.

  3. Put a handful of loose tea in the second tea pot, just enough to cover the bottom circle. This is tricky, because if you put too much, the tea will taste metallic when you’re done, and if you put too little, it will taste watery. What I read on the internet says 1 teaspoon for every 5 oz. of water you are going to use. It all depends on the size of your tea pot.

  4. Once your water has boiled, pour a cup’s worth in through the top of the second tea pot and let it sit for a minute or two.

  5. Once this first cup has slightly steeped, pour it out into a tea cup, and set aside. The leaves will have slightly opened up, but usually not all the way. This is the “true tea” and will be used later. Don’t forget about it!

  6. Now, pour a cup’s worth of the hot water again in your second tea pot. Swirl it around a bit. This step is called washing the tea, and it gets all the impurities out and keeps the tea from being too bitter. Once you have swirled 5 or 6 times, pour the water out into the sink.

  7. Wash the tea a second time.

  8. Find your cup of “true tea” and pour it back into the tea pot. Fill the rest of the tea pot with your leftover hot water. Make sure to leave room for mint and sugar, which you will add later.

  9. Put the “tea” tea pot back on the stove, until it boils. When you see the tea leaves rise up to the top of the pot, you know it’s done. Watching for the tea leaves also prevents it from boiling over.

  10. Once your tea has boiled again, put in sprigs of fresh mint and sugar. Adding the sugar is also tricky, because it depends on the size of your tea pot. Add less, pour some of the finished tea out to taste it, and add sugar to your liking.

  11. Make sure to stir the tea in the pot so that the sugar is well mixed. Moroccans will “turn” the tea, meaning pouring it into a cup, and then back into the pot, in order to mix it, but it’s faster just to use a spoon.

  12. Arrange your tea pot and tea glasses (one more glass than number of people you are serving, a tradition in case a guest shows up) on the tray and serve. Make sure to lift the tea pot high when you serve it, both to cool off the tea, and to impress your guests!


Another (easier) method: http://www.wonderhowto.com/how-to-brew-moroccan-mint-tea-242121/

She puts the mint and sugar in first, which is strange to me. Moroccans have told me that if you do this, the tea will not taste the same, and when you put it back on the burner to heat it up, you will burn the sugar and the mint. I also saw the color of her tea when it was finished, and it looks really weak to me. This method might not get you the “MAN tea” that some of my students really enjoyed... :-)