Fes

September 13th, 2019

Our drive from Rabat to Fes was about 5 hours.  We stopped about halfway along for drinks and to visit a local souk (market).

Fes is the second largest city (after Casablanca) in Morocco.  It was founded in the 8th-9th centuries.  During the 11th century, the city gained a reputation for the religious scholarship and the mercantile activity.  Fes reached its zenith 13-15th century, regaining the status as the capital. Numerous madrasas (Arabic educational institution), mosques, zawiyas (Islamic religious schools) and city gates were constructed which survived up until today. These buildings are considered the hallmarks of Moorish and Moroccan architectural styles. During this time, the Jewish population of the city grew as well, with the Jewish quarter attracting the Jewish migrants from other North African regions. After the overthrow of the Marinid dynasty, the city largely declined and was replaced by Marrakesh for political and cultural influence.

The medina of Fes is listed as a World Heritage Site and is believed to be one of the world’s largest urban pedestrian zones.  It has the University of Al Quaraouiyine which was founded in 859 and is the oldest continuously functioning university in the world. It also has Chouara Tannery from the 11th century, one of the oldest tanneries in the world.

In Fes we are again staying in a lovely Riad.  In the afternoon we experienced a traditional Moroccan hammam, a public steam bath, similar to a Turkish bath.  The hammam are a central part of daily and religious life in Morocco.  It consists of public bath house separated between men and women with multiple dry or steamed rooms and attendants who scrub visitors with a black pigmented soap using cloth mitts that feel like sandpaper.  It was an experience!!

We had a day-long tour of the city – part by bus but most by walking.  We began at the Royal Palace and then entered the old Jewish quarter.

We traveled out of the city walls to visit a kasbah (fort) where we had a good view of the city.

We stopped at a pottery production area where they explained the making of Fes pottery.  The steady hands of those decorating the pottery and of those cutting the very small pieces to make mosaics were impressive.

We returned to the city and entered the medina.  Fascinating!

We visited the well-known tanneries.

We visited a weaving shop.  And ended our tour at the Blue Gate.

In the evening we split into small groups and were hosted by local families.  Ron and I went to different homes.  The two of us went to the roof of our Riad for one last view over the city at night.

Rabat

September 8th, 2019

Rabat is the capital of Morocco. Rabat was founded in the 12th century by the Almohad ruler.   (Almohad Caliphate is a Berber Muslim group.) The city grew steadily but went into an extended period of decline following the collapse of the Almohads. In the 17th century Rabat became a haven for Barbary pirates. The French established a protectorate over Morocco in 1912 and made Rabat its administrative center. Morocco achieved independence in 1955 and Rabat became its capital.

We loved the theme of our hotel in Rabat.  A library was painted on the wall behind the registration desk and another wall displayed many books.  Outside was a bicycle carrying books!

We only had one day in Rabat.  We saw some interesting places near our hotel and then toured several historical spots.  We visited Dâr-al-Makhzen, the primary and official residence of the king of Morocco.  It was built in 1864.

Near the Palace is the Chellah which is a medieval fortified Muslim necropolis.  The Phoenicians established a trading emporium at the site. It later became a site of an ancient Roman colony.  It was rebuilt in the 13th century.   A complex of mosque, minaret, and royal tombs was built.  There is an eel pool where barren women used to come to bathe and expect to be able to conceive.

 

The Mausoleum of Mohammed V is located on the opposite side of the Hassan Tower.  It contains the tombs of the Moroccan king (Mohammed V) and his two sons, King Hassan II and Prince Abdallah.  A reader of the Koran is often present, having his assigned seat. (Not there when we visited.)  Its construction was completed in 1971.

Hassan Tower is the minaret of an incomplete mosque in Rabat.  Commissioned in 1195, the tower was intended to be the largest minaret in the world along with the mosque, also intended to be the world’s largest.  When the caliph died in 1199, construction on the mosque stopped. The tower reached 44 m (140 ft), about half of its intended 86 m (260 ft) height. The rest of the mosque was also left incomplete, with only the beginnings of several walls and 348 columns being constructed.

Our companion at lunch!

We visited the Kasbah on the coast.  It is at the junction of the Atlantic Ocean and the Bouregreg River. Besides providing protection, it held a large slave trade – both black and white slaves.  On a street leading into the Kasbah, our guide stopped to talk with a young man repairing shoes.  He was from Senegal and had been here several months.  Senegalese do not need visas to come to Morocco.

In the evening we had our Welcoming Dinner (this is the start of the main trip).  It was held in a beautiful Riad (former home) Restaurant.  We had a fabulous meal.

Tangier

September 5th, 2019

We left Chefchaouen to drive to Tangier.  However, before we left, we just had to photo more of the beautiful sites in Chefchaouen!  Also, as we were leaving an old woman walked by.  Our guide talked with her; she said she was 100 years old.

We had another glimpse of the Mediterranean beach.  It was even foggier than the previous day!  We stopped along the road to see storks and their nests.

We saw Ceuta.  This is a 11-sq mile piece of land that belongs to Spain but is located in Africa.  We had heard about it in the 2000’s as a place which African immigrants try to enter in order to get passage to Europe.  Moroccans who live within a certain distance (40 km?) from the border of Ceuta are allowed in without visas.  These Moroccans go to buy goods cheaply to bring back to Morocco and sell.  When we stopped on a hill overlooking the area, we could see the fence built around Ceuta.  There is a Spanish garrison in Ceuta; Morocco is building one on the opposite hill.

Tangier is second largest port in Morocco.  Young boys/men wait in roundabouts to try to hitch on to a container truck and be smuggled into the port and thus into Europe.  We stopped near a roundabout and our guide talked to two young boys—one was 18 and one was 21.  It was heartbreaking to hear their stories.  They live on the streets and try to find free food.  The one had managed to hide on a container truck but the police caught him in the port.  They beat him and took him back to the entrance.  These boys feel they have no future in Morocco and all they can think about is getting to Spain.  There they would probably be hired for very little money to work in the gardens and vineyards.  However, they have no papers and could be found in Spain and sent back.  (Does this sound familiar?) Earlier in the day, our guide had asked each of us for 5 cents.  He took the money and disappeared.  Later he came back with bread, cheese, tuna.  It was this food that he gave the boys.

We visited a lovely lighthouse on Cap Spartel.  It is pictured on the 20 dirham note (Morocco money).  We visited the Hercules Caves.  The cave has two openings, one to sea and one to land. The sea opening is known as “The Map of Africa.”  According to mythology, the Roman god, Hercules, stayed and slept in the cave during his labors.  (See myth.)   According to history, it is said that Phoenicians created the sea opening.  The Berbers used part of the cave, cutting stone wheels from the walls to make millstones.  We also visited the “point” where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean Sea.

Scenes along the streets as we traveled from the coast to our hotel.  And then the view from our hotel!

Tangier has been influenced by many civilizations and cultures since before the 5th century.  It was a strategic Berber town, a Phoenician trading center, known to the Greeks, Romans, etc. etc.   Beginning in modern history (15th century!) it was administered by Portugal, England, Morocco, Spain, International, Morocco.  During 1924-56 it was considered as having international status by colonial powers and became a destination for many European and American diplomats, spies, writers and businessmen.

In the medina we visited the former sultan palace which is now a museum of Moroccan artifacts.  The museum includes some very old items from Roman times and also many mosaics.  One fascinating display was of a map from the 14th century with a south to north orientation.  Morocco is on the right side of the map while Egypt is on the left.

From the 18th century Tangier served as Morocco’s diplomatic headquarters.  The U.S. dedicated its first consulate in the 1780’s.  In 1821, the Legation Building in Tangier became the first piece of property acquired abroad by the U. S. government.  The building is now a museum which includes items about the famous author Paul Bowles.  (We did not have time to visit the museum.)

We walked through the medina.  We stopped at a bakery and bought fresh bread.  Yum!  And more interesting scenes through the medina.

It was time to travel to Rabat.  We went by bullet train which at one point reached 220 mph.  It was a fast, smooth ride.  To go by car, takes about 4 hours.  The bullet train took just over 1 hour. The U.S. has something to learn!

Tetouen

September 4th, 2019

Tetouan, nicknamed White Dove, was settled in the late 15th century by Muslims and Jews from southern Spain.  Tétouan was expanded when it became the capital of the Spanish protectorate in Morocco between 1913 and 1956.   We heard more Spanish here along with French and Arabic. Tétouan is famed for its fine craftsmanship and musical activities. Within the buildings the ceilings are often carved and painted and the tile work of the floors and columns is in Spanish Moorish designs reminding us of the Alhambra of Granada.  It is sometimes called “little Granada.”

We made a day trip from Chefchaouen to Tetouan.  We walked along a pedestrian walkway noting the Spanish influence in architecture.  On the plaza we saw the Nuestra Señora de las Victorias Catholic church along with the royal palace.  There were a number of boys carrying wooden slates with some Arabic written on them.  Our guide said they were showing that they were learning the Koran and wanted money for their work!  He talked with one boy who did quite well in reading what he had written and then recited it.

We toured the medina with all its wonderful foods and crafts and again noting the Spanish and Jewish influences.

We stopped at a technical school.  We had hoped to see the students in action, but it was their first day and they were just getting organized.  The school is free to students who have dropped out of ordinary school.  A program requires 4 years of study.  The students learn a craft and then are apprenticed to a professional worker.  We saw the classrooms for those in wood carving and talked to two students who are in their second year.

Our lunch was in a restaurant along the coast.  We picked out the fish we wanted and it was grilled and brought to the table.  Good!

Our route back to Chefchaouen was first along the coast and then through mountains and beautiful gorges.  The coast was very foggy but still nice.

A lot of “weed” is grown unofficially in northern Morocco.  We saw fields and fields of it interspersed with corn and beans.  At one place we stopped and our guide talked to the farmer.  Our guide went in the field and picked some and brought it on the bus for us all to see.  The picture many of us will remember is of the farmer doing his prayers beside his truck while our guide talks to his helper about the plant.

We gathered for an evening meal in a nearby restaurant. (Only 7 of the 9 are visible.)

Chefchaouen

September 2nd, 2019

We flew from Agadir to Casablanca and joined our group staying a large hotel.  We had a late lunch with the guide and got settled in our room.  We decided not to join the group for supper but found a small shop and bought a small piece of cheese and some bread.  The hotel had furnished us with fruit and a plate of pastries.  We enjoyed a quiet meal in our room.

We left the comforts of our grand hotel in Casablanca and took a 7-hour bus ride to Chefchaouen.  The scenery changed from urban to rural, from coastal to dry farms to mountains.  We stopped for lunch along the way.  No photos of the grilled lunch but the hanging meat at the entrance to the restaurant impressed us.

Chefchaouen is often called the “Blue City.”  It doesn’t take imagination to understand why.  The blue is prevalent throughout.  It represents “eternity” because as one looks from the buildings up to the sky, the color just goes on and on.  The city was founded in 1471.  In the 1940’s Jews moved here and started painting the houses blue.

As we entered the old part of the city, several of us tried on the traditional clothing of the area. There are steep, narrow cobbled streets lined with lovely rugs, pottery, jewelry, leather goods, etc.  The kesbah and octagonal minaret are interesting.

We are staying in a lovely “Riad” in the center of the city.  Riad refers to a guesthouse which had formerly been a home.  In fact, our Riad is two homes put together.  Our guide mentioned that  it is easy to make money from all the tourists that come by converting their homes into a Riad. There are actually fewer and fewer real residents in the old part of the city. They create a Riad from their home and then use the money to build a newer and better home outside the old city walls.

The day we arrived they were celebrating a festival of colors.  The central plaza was jammed with young people dancing to a Spanish band and powdered colors were thrown through the air.  It was quite a sight and sound.

Cats are important in Islam. They were loved by the prophet Mohamed and are admired for their cleanliness. Thus there are many roaming the streets.

One day we drove to a small home out in the country for a home-hosted meal.  Mohamed, the father, first demonstrated how to make Moroccan tea.  Put green tea in pot and add a bit of hot water.  Throw out this first water.  Add a little more hot water, set on stove to boil, and then add the mint and sage leaves and more hot water.

Some of the women helped Ihsaan, the wife, make bread and others helped Mohamed harvest some vegetables from the garden.  Several then helped cut vegetables to make a tagine.  We had a lovely meal of roasted eggplant, chicken, and vegetable tagine.  We asked a number of questions of the couple.  Too bad we cannot figure out how to add a video to our blog.  Some of the women sang and played games with the 3-year old girl – Hockey-pokey, The wheels on the bus, Old McDonald, etc!

In the evening back in town we had a meal on a balcony overlooking the kesbah square.  A beautiful sunset.

Agadir

August 30th, 2019

We are beginning our Moroccan experiences in Agadir in southern Morocco.  A classmate from high school has lived most of her life in Morocco and we were privileged to visit her.  She was an exceptional host and tour leader.

The words on the side of  hill are Allah, Al Watan, al Malik (God, Homeland, King).

According to Wikipedia, the oldest mention of Agadir is 1325 after the name of a Berber tribe. The Portuguese, Berbers, Spanish, French all have had interests in Agadir at one time or another.  At the beginning of 1900s it was very small.  In 1930 a modern city was planned and built. By 1960, Agadir numbered over 40,000 residents when at 15 minutes to midnight on 29 February 1960, it was almost totally destroyed by an earthquake of magnitude 5.7 on the Richter scale that lasted 15 seconds, burying the city and killing more than a third of the population. The death toll was estimated at 15,000. The earthquake destroyed the ancient kesbah (fort/ old city).  Today the population is over 400,000.

Agadir has beautiful long sandy beaches which have become a tourist destination. We enjoyed a walk along the promenade the first morning.

We visited the kesbah on the hill overlooking the present city.  It is hard to imagine what that night of the earthquake must have been like when this whole area was destroyed. The entire city within the walls was flattened and remains that way to this day.

We spent one day visiting Souss-Massa National Park, south of Agadir.  It is a large area established in 1991 to preserve the habitat for the bald ibis.  Unfortunately, we didn’t see any!  As we hiked 4 km along the river and over sand dunes, we did see about 24 species of birds with the help of our guide.  We were able to only photo a few of them but we had a good time.

The same day we also visited the northern part of the Souss-Massa National Park where various other animals are being protected.  We were able to see oryx, gazelle, addax, and ostrich.  These animals are being reintroduced to Morocco after becoming extinct, or nearly so, in the country.  We also saw many argan trees.  We will explain more about argan later.

Another morning we visited the Croc Park, another animal being reintroduced to the country.  This park has been open only about 4 years and is well planned.  It is nicely designed with many activities to keep children engaged.

One evening we enjoyed a Fantasia (Berber evening).   We were met by Berber horses and escorted to our dining tent by Moroccan dancers.  We were greeted with milk and dates and then a taste of bread with choice of olive oil, argan oil, and Amlou (almond butter, honey, argan oil.)  A photo shows our evening menu.  During the meal we were entertained by various musicians.  After the meal we sat around the arena and watched acrobats, fire eaters, belly dancer, and the Fantasia.  Fantasia is a traditional exhibition of horsemanship – a type of martial art.  “The performance consists of a group of horse riders, all wearing traditional clothes, who charge along a straight path at the same speed so as to form a line, and then at the end of the charge (about two hundred meters) fire into the sky using old muskets or muzzle-loading rifles. The difficulty of the performance is in synchronizing the movement of the horses during acceleration of the charge, and especially in firing the guns simultaneously so that one single shot is heard.” (Wikipedia)

We visited the large Agadir souk (market).  It is under roof and very large.  As with many markets we have seen in numerous countries, it has EVERYTHING!  It is an especially good place to discover the local fruits and vegetables and spices.  These markets are always so colorful that it is hard to stop photographing!

On our final afternoon, we took a short drive north of Agadir along the coast.

Bali again

April 24th, 2019

Bali was a time of relaxing and seeing a few new spots.  We stayed in Diwangkara Beach Hotel, one we have stayed in several times before.  It’s a lovely small hotel and we had a nice room.

Our first excursion was to Taman Ayun Temple, the royal family temple of the Mengawi Kingdom.  The temple was built in 1634.  “Taman” means “garden” and the temple area was set in a lovely garden spot surrounded by a moat.

We continued to Alas Kedeton which features hundreds of cheeky monkeys and very large bats in a forest temple area.  Guides accompanied us to protect us from the monkeys—they especially worried about glasses being taken by the monkeys.  Our guide encouraged us to feed the monkeys with food that she carried.  Evan was happy to do so and while we all watched him, a monkey jumped on to Andrea from behind completely surprising her.  And then a monkey tried to open one of Ron’s pants pockets hoping for food.

Our last stop that day was at Tanah Lot Temple on the west coast.  Tanah Lot means “Land [in the] Sea.”  The temple sits on a large offshore rock which has been shaped continuously over the years by the ocean tide but you can walk to it during low tide.  We were hoping for a spectacular sunset but the clouds came in too early.  There were some big waves as the tide was coming in.  It was a lovely spot.

Our second day we took an all-day tour to the north coast of the island.  We stopped at Bedugul, a village in the mountains where the Ulun Danu Temple is located.  Built in 1633, this temple is used for offerings ceremony to the Balinese water, lake and river goddess Dewi Danu, due to the importance of Lake Bratan as a main source of irrigation in central Bali.  We were lucky to be there on a festival day.  There were many participants and it made for an interesting and pretty site.

We continued through the mountains stopping at a point where we could see twin lakes—Buyan and Tamglingan—and on to Munduk where we hiked a steep path to the island’s highest waterfall.  We had lunch at a nice restaurant on the beach.

Then on to Brahma Vihara Arama—the largest Buddhist monastery on the island.  Brahma, Vihara and Arama, when combined, mean “a place for self-cultivation”.  The facade of the large meditation hall structure is very reminiscent of the Borobudur temple of Yogyakarta. One can see the influence of Balinese architecture in many of the statues.

We returned to our hotel along some very narrow, curvy, mountainous roads.  It was spectacular scenery with small villages scattered.  Unfortunately, the scenes are only in our memories.

Our final day in Bali was spent just relaxing at the hotel—swimming in some very big, strong waves in the ocean and in the hotel pool.  And just lazing on the beach.  We had seen a beautiful sunset the night before with an almost full moon appearing.  We got up early and witnessed a lovely sun rise.  It’s a beautiful spot!

After a walk along the beach at low tide, we had a final meal by the beach and enjoyed the light of a full moon when it got above the clouds on the horizon.

After checking out of our hotel we headed to the airport. It was then a 12:30 am departure for us and a 1:30 am departure for Andrea and Evan. About 36 hours later we met at O’Hare, Chicago, after going around the world in opposite directions!

 

Last 5 days on Java

April 23rd, 2019

We took our SST students to the airport in Bali on a Sunday night.  We returned to our hotel to spend Monday relaxing and beginning to write up final reports.  Tuesday morning we returned to Yogyakarta for final farewells there.  Thursday morning Andrea and Evan arrived and we packed in a lot of visiting, touring, and talking in the next 5 days.

We visited one of the suppliers for Ten Thousand Villages, APIKRI.  We visited the office, saw their showroom, and observed an accounting training session in process.  APIKRI has many different producers located around Yogya and they took us to visit one.  We saw a woodworking shop where women were decorating wood bowls and several men were cutting various wooden products.  The two women took us to a rural restaurant where they served traditional village chicken.  A special meal.

We also visited UKDW to introduce Andrea to various staff there that we had worked with and to say more farewells to them.

The following day we went to Borobudur and Prambanan.  These are the famous ancient Buddhist and Hindu temples.  We had earlier visited these temples with our students and more description is on that blog (https://www.goshen.edu/indonesia/2019/01/27/week-2-religion-and-interfaith-cooperation/)  It was an interesting but hot and tiring day.

On Saturday, we needed to pack up Goshen College household items which we had bought and want to save for the next leaders and MCC books which we had borrowed from the Intermenno Office.  In the evening we attended Ramayama Ballet at Prambanan.  We had attended this Ballet with the students but it had been performed inside.  This time we were lucky to see it performed outside with the Prambanan Temples as backdrop.  The setting was beautiful – and the rain held off!  More photos and info about the ballet is also on our SST blog.   (https://www.goshen.edu/indonesia/2019/02/16/week-5-environment-and-the-arts/)

Sunday morning we said goodbye to our home for 5 months and drove to Salatiga to have lunch with our MCC friends there.  We drove on to Drono to spend the next two nights with Reti.  Here again is a place we have visited with our students but also spent our Christmas here. (http://rsjwaltzing.com/?p=13833)  (https://www.goshen.edu/indonesia/2019/02/10/weeks-3-and-4-education-and-the-arts/)  It gave a good introduction of village life to Andrea and Evan.  We walked around the village and observed everyday activities.  We visited a tofu production spot and also saw rice chips drying.  Of course, the women wanted to give us some.

Tuesday we drove back to Yogya and flew to Bali.

 

 

Random

April 10th, 2019

We will soon be leaving Indonesia again.  This blog entry is really just a random, meandering mixture of photos and memories that were not included on the SST blog posts.  (We have many more photos also!!!!!)

  • Terus
  • Belok kanan di pintu
  • Belok kiri
  • Belok kanan di sana
  • Terus
  • Belok kiri
  • Rumah saya di sini

Instructions given every time we return home in a GoCar (taxi).  The common method for transportation if you don’t have your own, is GoCar or GoJek.  GoCar is on the order of Uber or Lyft and GoJek is the same except it is a motorcycle.  It has been very convenient because we may not always know exactly where we are going but we can just order a GoCar and we get there!  When coming home, we always need to give more detailed instructions when they get to our neighborhood.  The one street we enter is quite narrow.  We say

We attended the Mennonite Church most Sundays.  We realize that we did not get good photos of the outside of the church or of Ibu Yanti, the pastor; however, we did include one of Yanti and Paulus here anyway.  (It was taken in 2015.)  Yanti’s husband, Pak Paulus, sometimes preached but he was a lecturer at the university.  Both studied at AMBS.  Nearly every Sunday we ended the service saying the Apostle’s Creed.  One International Sunday, we were all encouraged to wear special clothing.  It made for a very colorful congregation.  We have included a photo that someone else took even though it is quite blurry.  One evening we were invited to present a program on our 50 years of various activities.

Speaking of religious institutions – we have numerous mosques and two churches in our immediate neighborhood.

This is the Mount Merapi Museum.  We visited it one day to see if it would be a place to recommend taking students.  We found it fascinating – and we also found it full of elementary and middle school students!  Another day we visited one of the suppliers (APIKRI) for Ten Thousand Villages which has offices in Yogya .  Andrea had sent us the contact information.  We may have more photos from there later.

We have been working with a team of about 20 people at the university.  There is a coordinating team of 12 plus others who do various jobs.  One group were the language teachers (two teachers plus the coordinator).  The overall team leader is Arida who is head of the International Education office and also teaches English.  After our SST students went on service, she asked us to speak to one of her classes about tips for working with foreigners.  On one of our last days before leaving Yogyakarta, we hosted the special group of people who helped us with the program.  We also met the Rektor (President) of the university in his office area to give our thanks.

Some photos from our immediate neighborhood.

Its always calming to return to our home.  There are trees, birds, butterflies, and quietness.  We met this father and child on the road near our house one day.

I learned that the purple flowers on the hedge near our house make tea.  One of the participants in the Saturday morning yoga/tai chi session showed me.  After we exercise, we sit down and have a cup of tea – and for some, fresh soy milk.  She said the tea from these flowers (don’t know the name) is supposed to be good for the eyes.

And Sunday evenings were spent playing Scrabble and eating Yoder’s popcorn (until we emptied the bag we brought).  Ibu Gati has come 3 mornings a week to clean and wash clothes.

We like to walk.  However, most Indonesians don’t walk in the city—and there is good reason.  The sidewalks are not built for walking.  They are used for parking, setting up shops, placing planters or street poles.  When walking one needs to be on the alert for motorcycles zooming out of tiny side streets that you may not even be aware of.  There are no photos of the most difficult places because we were concentrating on navigating the section safely!  It seems that pedestrians are the lowest peg on the traffic scale.  There are a few places where the sidewalks are pleasant.  And then there is the unexpected street crew digging holes in our route.  It made for a long detour!

 

 

 

 

 

 

SST Indonesia 2019

February 9th, 2019

We just realized that we have not said anything about our time leading the Goshen College Indonesia SST unit.  The reason being that we are posting blogs about those activities on the Goshen College blog.  If you are interested in following us there, go to the current blog for Indonesia SST.