“Should We Park Here?”

27 02 2010

Sun shines into the underground cistern in El Jadida. Click on the picture for more shots from our trip.

Since moving here from Bucharest we have been comparing driving practices.  For example, in both cities, lanes are irrelevant and people are very aggressive.   They also have the same way of making left turns (see picture).  But one big difference between driving in Morocco and driving in Romania is parking – or, more specifically, tow trucks.

In Bucharest you can pretty much park anywhere.  There are a few rules but in general if your car can make it up onto the sidewalk, you can park there.  There are virtually no tow trucks in Bucharest so the worst that would happen is someone would put a boot on your car – easily rectified with a few lei (Romanian money).

So after an excursion to the Habous last week, we decided to stop downtown and find a good spot for lunch.  Chrissy remembered a little hole in the wall joint that had good shwarma and pizza down in the Marif section of town.  We drove around for a couple of minutes before a space was available.

“This looks like a good spot.”

She said, “Are you sure we should park here?  The curb is yellow.”

“Look at all the other cars parked here.  I’m sure it’s fine,” I responded confidently.

So we got the kids out and headed towards the lunch spot.  A policeman right next to us on the corner gave no indication that this was not a perfect place to park.  My confidence was reinforced.

As we headed back from lunch, Chrissy looked up and saw the car in front of us with its rear end in the air, ready to be towed away.  I ran towards the parking spot to find a void where our car used to be.  I asked the guys in the tow truck  where my car was.  They looked at me quizzically and shrugged.  French? Arabic?  they asked.  I shook my head and they yelled something in Arabic at me as they drove away with the Mercedes in tow.

Three trips back and forth across the city with a Moroccan friend later, having run the gauntlet of paying the fine ($12) and finding the car (impound fee: $15), we finally drove the car back home with an expanded, intimate knowledge of the parking and towing systems in Casablanca.


Explain it to a 3-year-old

2 11 2009

During dinner, one of the five-times-a-day calls to prayer rang out from a distant mosque. Gianna dropped her fork and gasped.

“Daddy! He’s calling the moths!”

Rocco the Snake Charmer and Other Stories from Marrakech

22 09 2009

Barbuscas in MarrakechSince the end of Ramadan was approaching our school had scheduled a four day weekend to incorporate the Muslim holiday Aid al-Fitr.  A group of us took advantage of the break and headed up into the Atlas mountains near Marrkech to a place called au sanglier qui fume (the smoking boar).  It was an old French Legioneer stopover and a hunting lodge run by the same French family for over 60 years.

We had a great time relaxing, swimming in the icy pool, hiking in the mountains that surrounded the lodge, and spending time together in worship and fun.

On the way back to Casablanca, we stopped in the city of Marrakech to see the spectacle everyone had told us about.  We headed to the Djemaa el Fna, which is the central square and marketplace or souq.  Snake charmers, henna artists, and boys with apes all vie for your attention.  We didn’t see the place at night, but we hear it transforms into a busy open air restaurant complete with goat heads for the eating (see this article).  We roamed the square and took pictures of our boys holding snakes and smiling.  Even Chrissy got into it and reluctantly held a snake.  I think I paid the snake charmers too much for the privilege of taking the shots, but it was well worth it.  We then headed back to Casablanaca to finish off our long weekend.  Maybe next time we will experience Marrakech at night.

Here are some more pictures form our trip.

On the Move

3 08 2009

We leave Tuesday, August 4 for adventures in North Africa. Come with us – by subscribing to our new blog at this link:  http://tinyurl.com/barbuscafamilyblog

The first post at that site will be at midnight tonight, so please stop in for a visit.