Friday, May 26, 2017

Flying to Africa

"I feel like we've put our bodies through some sort of terrible shock" 

These are the stunned words of my daughter, Chloe, tonight as we sit groggily in our airbnb rental in downtown Casblanca. Everyone else is sleeping (I think....I hope).

Lisbon airport by the lounge

      The night we spent sleep torturing ourselves in Lisbon airport was one one the worst I can remember. Of course having it come after a night flight over the Atlantic in coach make it misery. We came to hate that airport, with it's lack of reasonable places for one to lie down, and of course the relentless fatigue that comes with staying in public places for more than 36 hours.

After 22 hours of waiting we were finally boarding our flight to Africa. It was a very small propeller plane and it looked at least as old as me.

We took a shuttle bus out and boarded from the tarmac. We were so tired it's hard to think about how I was feeling then, but I was really glad to be leaving Lisbon.

Phoebe finding her seat onboard our final flight.

We all immediately fell asleep in the air. Unfortunately it was a short flight, and I woke again near the end to peer out the window as we flew over Africa.

Passport control was epic at the Casablanca airport, the line extended on and on, but our luggage was still waiting for us (unlike in Lisbon where they locked it away and hid it). Even better our driver was waiting for us as we stepped outside.

We all waited by the curb as he brought the van around, while we pondered the nice apartment I had booked, with actual beds!

Then our driver got lost trying to find the place. The address was confusing and he spent 15 minutes on the phone talking to the owner's brother in kind of a loud voice. We were all sort of drifting in and out of wakefulness. There was adrenaline arriving in a foreign city, but it was fighting with more urgent needs to sleep and eat. Casablanca in it's center is a mad place to drive to say the least. 

All of us waiting on the street

Finally he pulled over. We stood waiting on the street for the woman who had the keys to the flat.
She had a very sweet baby in her arms who waddled about on unsteady feet as she brought us from room to room.
The patio
After a surprisingly organized effort to get everyone showered and sort out the wifi. Mike, Naomi and I discovered we were awake enough to try to find some food and get some cash, so we wandered up the street and tried to procure some simple food. The bakery was the most successful, we found fresh bread and cookies for our train journey tomorrow and some special treats that are only available for Ramadan. We also learned from her that Ramadan is starting either tomorrow or the next day depending on the size of the moon (it must be the smallest sliver after the new moon). We also bought some very expensive mangoes from a street vendor (like New York prices, we were too out of it to try to bargain) and some juice and water and street corn on the cob.

As Mike and Naomi brought the food in the kitchen, I sat down on this couch. I then slept for quite sometime until I fell off it and Mike brought me to our bedroom to lie down.

       I awoke at 11pm. Alone in a strange place. Prayers in Arabic were echoing through the city, and into my window. I stumbled around the strange place and finally found Mike sleeping on the patio, the room was too hot.  I wish we were done with our travel for now. Or that we had two nights in this apartment like I'd first planned, but tomorrow, we will try the train and head into the mountains to Tétouan.  

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Planes, Airports and stuck in Lisbon

   Tuesday was a flurry of final moments, including getting our dog Oscar to his petsitter for five weeks. I had thought about bringing him, but we decided the trip would be pretty hard on him and considering how the trip's gone I'm glad he's safely in Scottsdale.

On Wednesday morning our big day had finally arrived and here is Mike and Phoebe waiting outside for our airport shuttle.

This is a blurry picture of the rest of us.

Because it's an international flight we had to be at the airport 4 hours early. On Wednesday morning the airport seemed abandoned so we zipped through security and found ourselves with 3 hours to wait.

                                  So I killed time by annoying my kids with the camera.

Naomi ignoring me. 

The first flight was extremely easy. We boarded a bit early we arrived smoothly in Toronto and got to our next gate for the flight to Lisbon, the night flight over the Atlantic. While we waited we had a nice dinner and boarded on time.

The girls toasting our trip on the plane
Then everything went crazy. We took off and were in the air over the ocean when the plane turned around !!  A generator blew and our troubles began.  We came back to Toronto for a few hours, then took off again and arrived ten hours later in Lisbon, Portugal having missed our flight to Casablanca, Morocco. Since we missed it I did not know that we needed to grab our luggage now as it would not be checked through. When we finally after 2 hours and many lines found the place that would book our new flight we discovered we needed to get our luggage. It took them an hour to find it and by then we missed the new flight to Casablanca. 

Yes, all that luggage is ours.

So now our new, new flight is tomorrow at noon. Unfortunately every hotel in this city is booked. So after a night on the plane. Tonight we sleep on the floor of the airport....

Good night all, and I'll see you tomorrow Casablanca!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Final frenzy

Prepping to go away for 5 weeks is, shall we say a bit intense. Prepping for an exterminator to come in and out while we're away is nuts. Half of our stuff is going into storage and the other half is wrapped in plastic....  We're just not there yet.

On top of that our airbnb host in Casablanca cancelled yesterday, so for over an hour I was sure we'd be sleeping on the streets when we arrived (ok, maybe not, but I'd made that reservation months ago!)... Anyway we've rented a different fabulous place on airbnb. Fingers crossed this one works out!

This is a not so great picture of Phoebe last week at her induction ceremony for the honor society (we took a bunch and this was the best one!). Anyway the kids have wrapped up at school and are getting ready to go as well. I have one more class to teach on Monday and I'll be done too!

Right now I'm in recovery. My tooth that hurts on and off got very painful on Monday and I had to get it extracted yesterday. After the dentist looked he said I needed a root canal on a different tooth as well. So yesterday I had oral surgery for 4 hours then stumbled off to teach my class with a swollen face. Mike came and helped me and he is awesome!

Today is packing, cleaning and moving more into storage..... Have an excellent weekend!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Older me, fashion shoot pics and a green rabbit

©Azur Mele
A few months ago my masks were part of a fashion photo shoot in Tucson, Arizona.

©Azur Mele

The photos were taken at the famous "Congress Hotel"
©Azur Mele

This one I particularly like for all the ghosts.

©Azur Mele
Anyway I thought the photographer, Azur Mele, made some intriguing images, and they clearly had a lot of fun doing it!

A couple weeks ago I was hired to make this green rabbit mask based on a Star Wars character called Jaxxon.

Just recently the customer was kind enough to send me this! It's him cos playing Jaxxon using my mask. He did such an excellent job!

In the last week, Chloe has made it back from college (one year down 3 to go!), and I turned older. Now I'm 46.  Anyway my amazing husband got me these...

Aren't they pretty?  We'll be celebrating more this weekend. Unfortunately, though, for the past 12 days Naomi has been incredibly sick. She had a fever for a week and didn't go to school at all. Next week is the last week of school for her and I want her to go, even if she's still run down. I also want her to get better fast as we leave for Morocco in less than 2 weeks!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Morp, The Moon Cat and what passes for Jury Duty

So you're thinking what's a morp?
It's "Prom" spelled backwards and the name of the middle school dance that Naomi headed off to last weekend.

She decided last minute to go and had a really good time!

On Thursday of last week I had jury duty. For the first time I couldn't excuse myself, because my kids are older now and that childcare excuse just doesn't fly.....So I was a bit nervous. I notified my boss that I couldn't teach, and shortly after that, lost the postcard that was my summons. Then in a panic that morning I called in without my juror number. They said it was all ok as I wasn't needed in the morning and to call again later to see if they need me this afternoon. Then they didn't and told me I was done with jury duty! Here I was, all ready to go with my sketchbook.  I could pretend I felt rejected, but no, I didn't.

Saturday was my first chalk festival of the year. Usually one of my daughters helps me, but this year Phoebe made other plans, Naomi woke up sicker than I'd seen her in a long time, with a fever and such a sore throat she wasn't talking, so Mike stepped up to help out even though he hates drawing on the ground!

As you can see I'm working in pastels on a large canvas. Someone marketing the festival though it'd be great if the public could vote and win their favorite mural! (Keep in mind these things are 6 foot x 6 foot and covered in chalk pastel) Anyway this mural will be around a while.

Fortunately the weather was great on Saturday. It was breezy and 83ºF, which means we lucked out for Phoenix (today it's 99ºF)

This is an almost done photo (the right side is still in progress).

Here's a close up (with a lot of shadows)

A side shot.

And a completed one. After we finished we took a walk around to view some others...

This artist was featuring bees and pollen.

The artist running the kid's zone was the only one who got to draw on the sidewalk. I have to say I was a little jealous. The sidewalk is so much more fun to draw on.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Dance Show and the Science March

This last week Naomi has been going to rehearsal after rehearsal for the Spring Dance Show put on by all the dancers at her school. As it's an arts school there are a lot them, so this was a big event!

Here's Phoebe waiting for the show to start.... After this cameras had to go away till the end.

The performances were actually fabulous and the kids are really talented. It was a really entertaining night out! This is Naomi after she had changed from her costume. She had to turn it in backstage.

Yesterday while the girls were busy at their shows (Naomi dancing for the second show and Phoebe working crew at the Secret Garden again). Mike and I decided to check out the March For Science down by city hall. Because it was Earth Day we took the light rail.

Since we needed to drive our kids to various activities in the morning we missed the actual march, but we made it to the rally and festival.

There were a lot of tents with science displays and info.

This one was encouraging young people to try some science experiments.

Unfortunately this is Phoenix in April so the temperature is already 95ºF and after about 40 minutes of the rally/festival we were wiped out and hot! So we got some warm water from the "free water" truck and made our way home.  I'm glad we went out though, I need to acclimate to the hot weather, as next weekend I'm drawing at the Phoenix Chalk Art Festival!

In other news Mike's new comic, Mystery Meat, is now on sale in Japan! Here it is on the rack. YAY!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The list

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine

I have a list tacked to the wall in the kitchen that says "Things to do before we leave for Morocco". It's really quite long and it seems every time I cross something off I add two more things to the bottom.

I did manage however to get some things done. Most of us have gotten our vaccines (except Phoebe who never seems to have any time).  Unfortunately Mike and I had to get hep A and B jabs. These vaccines weren't available when we were kids and every night since my arms have been throbbing (though last night was much better). The typhoid we'll be taking some pills for 2 weeks prior to departure.

Also I confirmed our "riad" where we're staying in  Tétouan (see the gorgeous photo above). Phoebe studies architecture and fell in love with the photos of this place. It's right in the medina so we can go wandering through every day!

Anyway I'm trying to cross off a few things each week on my list as we're down to just 5 weeks till we leave! In the meantime Phoenix is doing it's usual warm up. We're hitting temps in the 90's again. Believe it or not it will be cooler in North Africa when we leave than it will be here.

Today I have a class to teach about painting surreal images and masks to complete for clients here and abroad. Have a fabulous week!
"People are willing to take these extraordinary chances to become writers, musicians, or painters, and because of them, we have a culture. If this ever stops, our culture will die, because most of our culture, in fact, has been created by people that got paid nothing for it--people like Edgar Allan Poe, Vincent Van Gogh or Mozart."-Kurt Vonnegut


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