Friday, July 31, 2009

Couscous ball rolling competition...

video

Here we are making couscous balls. You have to mush the veggies in with the cous cous to make it stick. You just make it bounce, then down the pipe.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

First Taste of Africa

Now I want to fly every time at 5 am...it is one of the most beautiful sights in the world to fly through the sky at sunrise...





"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts." ~Mark Twain

I've already experienced a lot of changed preconceptions of what Africa would be like. One was that Ouarzazate is called the Hollywood of Morocco, and so I thought it would be a little more developed... and it's not. Another is that a man laughed for fully two minutes when we said we were staying here for a month. "What will you do here?" he asked. Apparently it's unusual for someone to come here to live.

Another is that I feared it could be dangerous here, more dangerous than most places. Ouarzazate is the safest place we have yet to visit. Everyone here is so pleasant, friendly, and helpful, and we can't even imagine the police doing anything here or what they would be trying to break up. Arabic as a language sounds scary because it is so glottal. They say "Merha/BA!" for hello.

It is so dry and hot here that I feel like my nose is going to shrivel up off of my face. At least that means no allergies, which I suffered from occasionally in Berlin. It's so hot, in fact, that most people stay in during the day and you can go get your hair cut at 11 pm.

The equipment at Jacob's gym is functionable, just not new. I was just relieved they had a gym. It's my job to find where we're going to stay, and that means finding a place with good internet and a gym nearby.
The long bus ride. So hot and uncomfortable.

The only two colors. Brown and green.
Jacob found a basketball hoop at a rec center
A sea of taxis




No idea what this building is. All buildings in this city are pinkish.
The Moroccan King, who is married to a computer engineer

Enjoying dinner. Our apartment owners make us dinner for 100 dh per meal, and it is delicious and exotic. Something to look forward to each day. This is their home

I like this outfit! I think the way the Moroccan women dress is so cute. I'm going to have to get some dresses here, though I don't know where I'll wear them after here...The sisters who live upstairs promised to go with me to bargain for clothes. If only I spoke French!
I thought like Jacob looked like King of the Forest here



Stranded in the desert next to a broken bus...kind of a fun experience actually

Jacob talking to his new friend, Mohammed
Our view from our front door.

A vegetarian tagine. Tagines are the most common dish, with cooked olives and vegetables, a kind of stew

The mosque. The call to prayer is so funny here. It sounds like gruff speaking. In Turkey and Israel it was a haunting melody; here it's kind of scary.

It's been fun to get to talk to Muslim women via Jacob here. They are much more liberal than in Turkey, which surprises me! The women can wear what they want, and Rashida said she'd divorce her husband if he tried to marry again (Muslim men can marry 4 women). I like Morocco! Jacob does too...in fact he said he thought people here were nicer than the islands overall. Whoa, never thought I'd hear that!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Waiting for the airplane... I heart food

Why would anyone choose to make a flight at 5 am? That means you have to be there at 3 am, and if you use public transportation, which is unpredictable at night...we were here at 11:30 pm. So. Posting some pictures seems a good way to pass the time...

One thing I will remember the most about Berlin was the food. I decided that Jacob and I should splurge because who knows when we'll have another chance to eat such a variety of exotic cultures' food? Certainly not in Morocco. Since we've been in Berlin we have eaten

Thai everything, Vietnamese glass noodle salad at popular Monsieur Vuong'sChinese won ton soup, Japanese sushi rolls, Lebanese falafel, Russian meat-filled pastriesTurkish/Kurdish doeners and lentil soup, German bakery items and currywurst, Sudanese peanut sauce durum Ethiopian crepes which were strong tasting and to be eaten with fingers, Eritean spinach and cheese wraps (I'd definitely get this again)
Indonesian mango milk, Indian curry, Malaysian stuffed rolls, French ratatouille (gourmet to me only means less food for more money)


Tibetan/Nepalese momos (my favorite)

Andalusian tapas and-- no this was not a coincidence that this was so culture-varied. Jacob patiently allowed me to drag him to all these places, when he would have been equally content, more so, to eat Thai food every day for his entire life.
This is not our table, but a piece of modern art hanging on the wall.

That is the vast difference between Jacob and I's food preferences. When Jacob finds something he likes, he latches onto it. He orders the same thing every time at each Thai restaurant: Tom kha gai. He eats a doener every day and drinks his protein powder every day and consumes three bananas every day and is absolutely and thoroughly consistent with his food likes and dislikes. He has a huge sweet tooth and likes getting snacks like gummy bears out of the vending machines, and no dish is complete without some quantity of meat, according to him.

My style, on the other hand, is that I will order something on a menu that sounds less delicious to me if I have never tried it before. It is as if I am trying to squeeze all of the world's tastes into a short time frame (my life). In dinner group I never cooked the same thing twice, risking a new recipe every time. Unlike Jacob I have never been a vending machine shopper. Instead of sweets I chew gum, addictively. I also have a weakness for salty foods like pickles and chips. I avoid meat when possible, preferring fish and lentils for protein.

To mix our two styles together definitely requires some compromise. Yet we still manage to share food together all of the time! We do share a love of Thai food. Ironically, however, when it comes to cooking I feel I must follow the recipe to the dot, whereas Jacob never uses a cookbook and just throws stuff together! I don't know how, but it just works. We complement each other.

Just when we thought Berlin would be the only place we didn't get invited to dinner...we met Sarah's friend Christina, center of the photo... the LDS ward in Tiergarten was very nice, just very transient.

One of these is not like the other...

In front of the Babylonian Ishtar Gate from the times of Nebuchenezzar...how do you spell that

From Pergamon, Turkey
Berlin wallRiver Spree in Museuminsel

Last look on Berlin...only Vienna compares to you.

There is more on Morocco, but ...my computer died, I can't log into my email, and Jacob's computer is really slow. So until next time...hope you all had a good Pioneer Day! (Mentioning the holidays on the blog helps me feel like I have participated a little on the other side of the pond)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

How I would fix the economy

So we are headed to Morocco in less than two weeks. The 21 of June is our flight at 5 am...probably shouldn't go to bed that night, we sleep in too easily. We will have a huge apartment there; you can see it at http://www.zoufi.com/
More by necessity than choice, it was the only one we could find with all our requirements. It costs less than our apartment here at least. So that just means you guys will have to visit us!!! (Anyone who is reading this)

And fyi, sometimes we are told we are brave for traveling to different countries the way we do. My answer to that is--childbirth sounds a heck of a lot scarier than relaxing on a beach in Europe. I am in awe of mothers for how tough they are. My friends who are also mothers--I am amazed by you!

We've just been doing what we do. Working. Jacob goes to the gym while I explore the city and take photos...

I'm going to post some political opinions now, in honor of the 4th of July, which we didn't really celebrate, sadly. I've been thinking a lot about this stuff lately because I try to keep up with the news on the other side of the pond. I tend to have strong opinions but am influenceable if your argument makes sense. So feel free to disagree with me. If you aren't interested in my spoutings, then skip to the pretty pictures below :)

To begin, I love America. The more I travel, the more I am proud of my nationality. But I naturally don't always (or usually) agree with our government.

There is a reason why I'm not a Democrat or a Republican. No party seems to match my views exactly. Neither can see the other's point of view, or recognize that the other must have some valid points to have half the population. I voted for Obama because I liked the guy better than McCain, almost as much as I liked Palin. Here is how I think he is handling things.

The economy: Well, things have gone from bad to worse from what I hear. Obama's excuse is that "we didn't realize how bad the economy was when we arrived in office." Sure. If only he had owned a business before, he might know a little more about economics. Now that Jacob and I fit into that group called "small business owners" I understand better than ever why raising taxes on people who are successful is very demotivating. I'm with the Republicans on this one. Keeping taxes low on businesses is a fundamentable principle of successful capitalism. George Bush, although Republican, didn't always spend money like one.

Now I wouldn't mind if my taxes were raised if I got to choose where my money went. If, for example, I got to check the box that said, "Improve public transportation" I would be very pleased. But unfortunately, I don't get to choose, and I tend to feel that the government squanders my hard-earned money.

Welfare: I think we give too much money to other countries. It's money that we don't have, and unfortunately, it's money that often isn't well spent. For example, we've given tons of money to the African country of Cameroon. The people there complain they haven't seen a cent, and the money has been squandered by the corrupt government officials.

I believe Americans are the most charitable people in the world. We are generous. I base this on the fact that I know so many friends who have gone abroad to help orphans in Ghana and Romania, Guatemala and Mexico, Zambia and within the States themselves. We have the Peace Corps; we have missionaries; we have celebrities who have donated millions to charities. Given the chance, Americans would donate their own time, money, and effort to people around the globe more than any other people I know. Therefore, in most situations I believe the US government should not transfer money to another government, but individuals should serve other individuals with their own free will and choice to their own individual causes. This can be supported through tax breaks (not raises).

Health care: Obama is right that we have a system that needs to be fixed. Ironic that we spend more than any other nation and yet have such a horrible record in terms of people insured. I'm willing to pay more in taxes for this benefit BUT I don't think it's right that the richer people should pay for other people's poor health choices. I think that the overweight, the smoker, the drink-and-driver should be paying the higher taxes, not the hard working businessman. Am I biased? Maybe, and that would be a hard system to enforce, but it's the most fair way. I don't know why Republicans are so against a national health care system along with privatized. Their solution is always "give a tax credit." It's true, tax credits are the answer sometimes, but really, do you think that will solve our broken healthcare system?
[Note to readers: Do. Not. Use. Humana.]

Abortion: Obama signed into law the ability to fund overseas abortions. So we're using taxpayers' money to fund something that probably half of the US population feels is morally wrong? Why can't we use that money to provide free birth control instead? Or to cover adoption costs? We're trillions of dollars in debt and we're funding women around the world to get abortions. Brilliant. To learn why I am against abortions, visit this site to learn the disturbing manner in which abortions are performed: http://prochoice.com/abort_how.html
It's hard to read but important to know. I think my view on abortion was fundamentally changed after I read an essay by an abortion nurse on how abortions are performed. It's fairly gruesome. I believe if women were educated on what they were about to do to their bodies they would be less likely to go through with it.
PS I believe birth control should not be prescription. It's not in Turkey and I think a woman can decide as good as a gynecologist can which birth control works the best for her personally. Actually, better. And abortion rate would be greatly reduced if women didn't have to go to a doctor to obtain birth control.

Environment: Sometimes it astonishes me at how little the Republicans seem to care about the environment. It would only take a little bit more effort on America's part to become more green, but the very idea seems to shake some people to the core. To give up your SUV is like giving up your life(style).

Climate change: I don't believe it's a real problem, but I know Obama does--he and his wife donated $25,000 to the cause each. I'm more worried about pollution and cancer-causing agents.

War: I'm with Ron Paul on this one. Send the troops home. We use taxpayers money to keep people based in Germany, Korea, etc and I just think it would make more sense to build up our defense at home. I think we'd stop encouraging our reputation as the world's bully, too. I'm not sure why Republicans are always so army-hungry. They seem to be a little bit more paranoid than Democrats. Maybe that's why they're so concerned about national defense. I know since we're the most powerful nation in the world, we've got to be able to protect ourselves, but if we just lowered our budget as little as 5% on this issue, think of how much money we could use in its stead towards, for example, health care. I'm not saying that war is never justified, I'm just saying that it seems our government tends to be far too willing to jump right in. And then in hindsight, "Well, that five year war probably wasn't a good use of resources... oh well" duh, how many times must history repeat itself.

Gay marriage: Although Obama said when he was running for president that he believed marriage should be between a man and a woman, apparently he told a gay rally that their struggle for rights was similar to the civil rights movement... thus implying that he actually supported gay marriage. Oh well, I'm going to be honest. I don't think there's any stopping it now. 25 years from now it will be the total norm. I wrote a pro-gay marriage paper at BYU, which was probably the only one written there in all of history, (I got an A) but I don't think I would actually vote for it, for reasons in the previous post. But it's so fashionable these days to be pro-gay marriage, really, it's practically très chic.

Guatanamo Bay: Congratulations, Obama. You did the right thing to close this up. Torturing our enemies will put us right along side the Nazis and Communist regimes. The saddest thing is, anyone would confess anything under those conditions. Think of better ways to get people to tell you what you want to know.

And...that's enough for now. Here's some more of what we've been up to. Berlin is a wonderful city- I love it!!

Marchenbrunnen in Volksgarten (an adorable fountain with fairy tale character statues (the Brothers Grimm are buried here in Berlin)


Jacob and a communist car
Alexanderplatz
Gorgeous...Berlin is so beautiful...
We went to the zoo... biggest zoo in Europe.
Rhinos
My favorite birds...
Nice shot, eh? In Prenzlauer Burg neighborhood
I think this is the River Spree.
Former Communist Prison. That's the wire tapping on the walls. These were paranoid times.
Beautiful Potsdam. Where the Prussian kings went in the summer.
Vomiting fountain
Jacob, not given to superlatives, gave a compliment of this area, saying it was among the most beautiful places he's ever seen...

Graves of Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn. It doesn't bode likely for a person, if he or she happens to be fantastically talented, to get a lot of whistles on their tombstone. You're much more likely to have a fancy grave if you are rich. Here is Bertolt Brecht's grave. He was a popular playwright.
About as plain as you can get.
Medieval choir stalls.
Alter piece. It's official. Italy has the most beautiful religious art. (This museum had a ton of stuff from Italy.) Free museum night is Thursday, so I walk around til my feet get tired.
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