Monday, July 8, 2013

Eurocco: Fez Week 3: Wednesday-Sunday


This was supposed to be our glorious moving day, but I was tired from staying up the night before Skyping and then blog reading (I've faithfully kept up on everybody's blog who comments regularly here, even if I am terrible at leaving comments myself). I was also sunburnt from our day at the pool, somehow assuming that my back that hasn't seen the sun in 11 months could take even a small portion of the sun that my arms, legs and face do every day without sunscreen. Add to that the soon learned fact that the previous tenants' weekly housekeeper (who we have kept on as our own) was still cleaning the house and we had to stay away for a few hours again. And, finally, the all-too-common letdown of getting whatever it is that you've been looking forward to, and I was just a grumpy guy this day. We somehow imagined that our kids would just settle into life in a real house and start behaving and entertaining themselves at a more pre-trip level, but that wasn't happening, at least right from the start. The kids were used to a "go, go, go all day long" schedule. Things have gotten better, with the kids adjusting to regular but less-frequent trips outside, which is nice, because the heat has really settled in at hot.

The apartment is really nice. Honestly. A lot more spacious and aesthetically pleasing (especially if you life Arab motifs, as I do) that our apartment in Wisconsin. Some of the furniture is subpar (although the couches and their tables are really nice), as are most of the cooking utensils. We have benefited from the residents before us (who, if you'll remember are a Finnish/French-Louisianan couple, the latter of whom was a student at Cait's school until their sick baby pushed them back to Switzerland early) investing in two nice twin sized mattresses pushed into one king-sized bed on the floor of the master bedroom. Cait and Tallulah sleep in there and Atticus and I share the two beds in the other bedroom, although I tend to move between rooms like I did in Wisconsin. We also benefit from both the residents before us, as well as other people from Cait's program, leaving us with lots of good food as they depart. No internet or AC are the two main drags, but I'm also freed from the distactions of the World Wide Web, and we don't have to pay for the cost of running AC, so there are positives too. We can mostly keep the heat at bay with fans and if not, just do some good old-fashioned sweating. I plan on writing in length about the details of the apartment as things start to get boring on the blog in the next few weeks.

Dirty dishes. This sink, set back far and deep under the cabinets, forces me to lean over uncomfortably every time I wash the dishes, so I procrastinate.


Things get boring at exactly this point, unfortunately for you as a reader, and fortunately for us as the people who are actually living here. I feel like we all had more than our fill of life on the go, and were ready to settle down some. Things are still pretty busy, especially for Cait with school, but also just the regular business of having two kids and a house to keep up. Even with a weekly housekeeper, how long does a perfectly clean house stay clean with two kids? Answer: until dinner time.

So our days are full, if repetitive. We usually get up fairly early. I try to keep Atticus quiet until Cait wakes up. She and Tallulah usually wake up right before Cait has to go to school. We have coffee (on our first coffee maker, which the previous residents also left, along with coffee, filters and cubed sugar, which is all the rage here) and breakfast and say goodbye to mom.

Then we usually have some TV/play time. TV in Morocco, which seems similar to TV in the Middle East in general in my limited experience, deserves it's own post, but lets just say we are a lot less selective about what our kids watch here, not that we don't still have limits (Spongebob and violence are pretty much it). We figure that what is lost in strict educational value is made up for by most of the shows being in Arabic. We have a fair number of toys, and we seem to find something new left by old residents or the owner everyday that keeps the kids interest for a while (leaving an apartment stripped of all signs of life when you leave is not as big a deal here, apparently, which has positives and negatives).

Cait comes home, and we do lunch, homework and nap-time and maybe a trip out with one of the kids to a store or something. We've also added swimming in the hotel pool during this period, but that doesn't come until Monday of Week 4, so hold your horses. Atticus and I play during Cait's nap, and then we all play until Cait comes home for dinner, although we have been known to take early trips out. We have so far split the cooking, although Cait has done more, which obviously isn't fair, but also gives her a chance to feel connected to home life in a way that she finds enjoyable most of the time (except for the heat of cooking over a gas stove in the summer).

Then we either go out together or in a parent-kid pair at night, or just all stay in until bedtime. Atticus still has a hard time going to sleep on his own, but we have made the discovery that our public library back in Wisconsin will let us check out children's audiobooks on the iPad, which is awesome and astounding. So Atticus often falls asleep to a combination of Fancy Nancy, Bearenstein Bears and "Hugo Cabret" (you should hear him say Hugo Cabret, it's great). There's a limit of 10 items out at a time, that he shares with my own audiobooks (that I admittedly rarely listen to) and kindle books (which we do go through regularly). We are limited by lack of internet access, but we are still able to rotate through the audio books often enough, because the checkout process is fairly quick. The wonders of technology. For real. Tallulah also has gotten to the point that she can be distracted and sleepified by technology, especially Signing Time on the iPad, but not as much as Atticus was able to at this age. Oh well, we'll get her addicted eventually.

We try to get out on a fairly consistent basis, with trips to our mainstays, like Central Park and the Playground, as well as Burj Fez and McDonalds occasionally, as well as adding the nice tiled area in front of our house where the kids can scoot around in relative safety, and general exploration of our corner of the city.

This would have been a great family picture at Central Park if Atticus has smiled and I held him in a more comfortable position
Fruit salad, pretty delicious
At McD with some news shoes that Atticus got from a family that was leaving
Egg sandwich, a hipper version of what we got in the old city

We did have a playdate Thursday night. It was at the apartmentr right below us, belonging, at the time to a professor who was leading a study abroad at the same school Cait is going to. She and her family had to leave the next day, so it was a little too chaotic for a sustained visit, but it was nice to get out of the house for a while.

Our other big thing of note: Tallulah got a scoot. It was, like Atticus's, a little expensive, especially for Morocco, and brings us added guilt as we haul around our kids in a nice backpack, stroller and toting a scooter and a scoot to the park where we let them run around for hours. Also, unlike Atticus's scooter, we have no illusions about taking it home with us. But both the kids love it, it can be ridden around on the tile floors of our house, isn't too cumbersome to haul around and will make a nice present to some Moroccan kid when we leave. I did feel like an idiot putting it together right outside of the checkout lane in Carrefour, having to ask one of the workers for a screwdriver, but it came in a big box that I had no way of getting home, whereas put together I could drape the back handle over one of the handles of the stroller and get around fine.

We are also lucky that Cait's school has a small library with an even smaller collection of kids books that we can check out four at a time. They all seem to have belonged to a US military base sometime in the 70s or 80s and are all marked "salvage." I imagine they've had a pretty intersting life so far. They also have a movie selection, but the copies of the originals that they made specifically to work on Moroccan DVD players don't seem to work on the DVD player that came with the apartment. Maybe someone brought it from the US? And they won't let us check out the original, so no movies unfortunately, but the books are nice, if dated.

Friday: This was the day of the failed attempt to have Aisha's family over for dinner, which I promise is coming in its own blog post very soon.


I had a great morning at the cafe downstairs miking one of the tiny cups of coffee that they serve here and getting blog posts queed up. It's hard not having internet in the apartment, but the excuse to get away to a cafe to blog every once in a while is really nice.

In the afternoon, we decided to make our second attempt at getting membership at a hotel pool, which is a thing you can do here, reportedly. After a failed attempt at taking Atticus to what I thought was the right pool, we checked in with Cait and found the right pool. So far it has been a lifesaver, even if neither of our kids are really big on swimming, it gets them out of the house, gets us somewhat reliabe wifi (I'm here now) and cools us down. The pool itself is nice, with a shelf in the middle that the kids can walk across. There is a shallower pool on one side, which is good for playing with the kids, although Atticus can't quite touch, and a deeper and bigger section on on the other side which is nice for bigger swimming. We bought a float for Tallulah and an inflatable basketball hoop for Atticus the first day, and although Tallulah hates the float, the hoop has seen some good use.

There are so many things that are really different about our schedule here than in the US, and just about our lives in general (although there is a surprising amount of sameness) but it is hard to get them all down at once. So hopefully they will come as we talk about other specific aspects of our time here. I know how everyone is dying to know the minutae of our lives.


  1. Thanks for the vivid updates and pictures. I feel like I'm right there with you--hot, tired, frustrated--but having a grand adventure. I sure hope things calm down and you are able to enjoy the rest of your time there.

  2. I need all of your ebook and awesome-tablet-apps-for-kids wisdom. Preferably things that are free. Or things that are cheap, but that are worth the $0.99. Long flights to and from NC, and a long drive to the coast are in our near future, and we just got a Kindle Fire. I have no idea what I'm doing.

  3. That family picture is still really cute.