waterfallAs I promised, here it is. The official update on my life here in Tamraght, Morocco. If any of you follow my personal Facebook page you will at least know this. 3 Wednesdays ago at the souk in Aourir, my iPhone 6 disappeared. I’m pretty sure it was stolen…pick pocketed out of the front pocket of my zip up hoodie. It was hard to hide there with its otterbox case, I guess. The zipper of the jacket kept the phone from sliding into the middle, like in a pullover hoodie.

The night before I was warned that it would happen. It wasnt the first time Id heard these words. I felt like saying, stop saying it …your going to make it happen. Well, as safe as I was in the souk every other week, this week, the words got in my head. While I was getting ready to leave that day, I just felt like it was going to happen…even though I had made a game plan of sorts. I was going to keep it in the front pocket of my jeans. Cant grab it from there. But, once I arrived at the souk, it was chilly and I threw on my jacket and, yes, the phone went in the pocket. It wasnt until the last few minutes I was there that it had disappeared. I checked the time no more than 5-10 minutes before I left the souk. That day I took the road most travelled. The area of the souk that was the most crowded, I usually avoided. Not today. Well, all of it led to the loss of my phone. Live and learn I guess… I replaced my phone with an Iphone 5s…not my 6 but oh well. Honestly, it’s just as good.

Also, 3 weeks ago I started a Darija class. I’ve since decided that maybe I would be better off just using the book and learning on my own… as of now, I’m non-committal on either learning vehicle. Although, I am leaning toward the self-taught method. There are plenty of videos and classes online that actually follow the same book I purchased from the class. I’m remembering words and their translation but, putting them to use still hasn’t taken effect. I think it’s a confidence thing. The words are hard to pronounce and, well, I don’t want to sound like an idiot. Honestly, at this point, why bother if no one is going to know what the hell Im saying? Besides that, why entice a conversation of any kind when my vocabulary still leaves a lot to be desired? The toughest part of the learning curve, I think, is that there is no direct translation to an English spelling of the words. It seems that everywhere I look the words written in English are spelled differently. This is because people are trying to write it phonetically so that English-speaking people can pronounce the word better. if that’s not confusing enough, in Darija, numbers are used in stead of letters to show sounds in words. Heres an example…Salam alikum is a greeting here, like “HI” but literally means peace be upon you. Moroccans will write that as assalamu 3likum. The 3= the sound of “aaa”. So,  you see it gets a bit confusing for me. Truth be told, though, I think Im actually learning. That is a good thing… considering any form of Arabic is the hardest language to learn.

Also, over the past weeks, we visited  Vallee des Oiseaux (Valley of Birds) in Agadir twice. It is a lovely free park that runs from the beach area, under the main road, back to a secondary road just before you get the city center. They have more than birds there. There are llamas, goats and these mountain rams there too. fullsizerenderAll of wich we found, love popcorn! On our second visit, we were sure to purchase bags of popcorn before we entered the park. Needles to say, we had a great time making friends with the popcorn eating animals, especially the llamas. They  were the cutest with their 2 upper lips that moved independently, grabbing for popcorn like fingers.

Under the main road they built a waterfall that’s really cool, too. Its kind of a shame that the entrance area by the secondary road is a bit run down. I’m sure in its heyday it was something to see. I’m not sure if its free to get in because parts of the park need care or if pars of the park need care because its free. I do know, a while back there was an earthquake that destroyed the medina (the old city) in Agadir. I also know that where i live in Tamraght is still trying to rebuild from it….maybe this is what is going on with the park, but I really don’t know. I have to say, Vallee des Ouseaux is a little ray of sunshine and very much a treasure hidden under the roads in Agadir.

I guess the most enlightening thing that has happened over the past weeks, is that I have realized, that no matter how much I’ve changed thus far on my journey here in Morocco…I’m still a Jersey girl. Someone I thought I left so far behind at 18. What is a Jersey girl?, you may be asking…. Heres an excerpt form the urban dictionary:

“She’s humble, but ambitious. She’s independent, but family oriented.
She’s the Jersey Girl, and she’s one of the Garden State’s most enduring icons a readily identifiable personality, as much a part of America’s cultural landscape as that other great Jerseyans, Frank Sinatra.
So who is a Jersey Girl? There’s a chance you’re one but residency isn’t all it takes. The Girl has a specific character, both in pop culture and in the hearts and minds of Jerseyans.
First there are the surface qualities: A love of an unpretentious good time, and a certain sense of style. Jersey Girls are about attitude. They’re about eating pizza, drinking beer, having great hair and enjoying it all. She’s got a mouth on her. She says what she means. And she’s got a nice, cheerful laugh. She’s spunky and witty, and she handles competition very well. She’s got that confidence everyone from New Jersey has that confidence. The most down to earth girl you’ll ever meet! Can be the sweetest thing ever, but if you cross her will tell you off! Has an attitude, which isn’t always a bad thing.
A Jersey Girl is crunchy on the outside, and soft in the center. A Jersey Girl has the tenacity and drive of a New Yorker, but with the beauty of warmth and humility that being from Jersey is all about. Don’t mistake her toughness as a lack of refinement. Don’t misjudge her sometimes “brash” manners as a lack of ‘classiness.’
A Jersey Girl doesn’t have to have a high-powered career, but whatever work she does, she gives it her all and she takes care of her family at the same time. The overall makeup, if you will, of a true Jersey Girl: hard-working, family oriented, spirited, one of a kind. And if you’re lucky, she’s your wife.
Bottom line, all of them are sexy as hell.”
– excerpted from The Star-Ledger

Having said that, leaving New Jersey doesn’t change who I am at my core. You know, like they say… you can take the girl outta Jersey but, you can’t take the Jersey out of the girl. As much as I am trying to consciously change for the better. I’m learning that becoming more “zen” is easier said then done for this Jersey girl. Now, don’t get me wrong, change has occurred. I am not the stressed out maniac that I was a year ago… but there’s still work to be done. I still find myself reacting to things in ways that make me seem like a crazy person. Anxiety still reigns some days. I know that it takes a conscious effort everyday to overcome the deeply instilled character traits and attitude that I find most counter productive to me becoming the best me I can be. I want to learn to let things go, don’t stress out over small things and see that nothing is that big of a deal. Easier said than done lol. I have gotten better, that’s for sure. Im sleeping better most nights and for me, thats huge. My mind is turning off, somewhat, and allowing me to sleep more than a couple of hours. Im still not waking up refreshed but its all a part of my healing process. My body still struggles with pain but not to the degree it did in the past. My spine, having the injuries it does, will always be a struggle for me here. There are no chiropractors in Morocco. So, I do my best with yoga to get back some alignment and give myself some relief. I have lost weight…maybe about 20 pounds. so far. My diet is clean, mostly fresh veggies, some fruit and grains. I do yoga and walk the steep hill almost everyday….plus my weekly walks to the souk. My down fall…BREAD. Yup, another stuggle of this Italian Jersey girl. The bread here is delivered fresh to the shop at the bottom of the hill twice a day. Oh and yes, I eat it. For all the weight I’ve lost, I still have a little pouchy belly. ARGH! Having said that, yesterday we both made the decision to give up bread for a month. Mostly, because we both are struggling with some aches and pains…and for me my belly, too. So we are going to give it a try. I have done it before but damn… I eat no junk food here… no chips… no candy… rarely eat a french fry or pizza….shit I dont even drink. So bread has been my vice. I got this, though… giving up bread should be easier than learning to completely let go… Aaahhh, the plight of the Jersey girl… and Sicilian Italian one, at that.

So, over the next 3 months, I want to learn to be less Jersey and be more Moroccan. Learn the language, give up on more on my high anxiety, stressed out, everything is the end of the world mentality… oh yeah, and for at least the next month give up bread. I will keep you posted on my progress… xo