Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Ramadan and the medina tour

     There it goes, the call to prayer echoing again in through the window and around the city, filling our house with musical chanting and song. Just a couple of hours ago the cannon blasted while I was on the roof taking down the laundry (we hang it on the clothes line, just like everyone else around here) and as usual it shook the house and made me jump. I saw the puff of smoke this time, and the prayers started up again right after. The cannon blast means the end of the day's fast for Ramadan. They decide when to blast the cannon, not based on the "sun down" defined by a google search, they decide by holding up a black string and a white string and when it's dark enough that they can't see the difference, they set it off. They do the same at dawn, as soon as they see the difference another blast, and the fast begins.

The market
Yesterday we went with Jeff McRobbie, the director of Green Olive Arts, on a tour of the medina.



We started over near the King's Palace.


These are toothbrush sticks. Apparently people here buy these and chew the end. Then when it's frayed they brush their teeth with it. My stitches from my oral surgery had just fallen out yesterday and my mouth was hurting again, so these things kind of wigged me out.


The same vendor sold these. There are little rocks inside that crumble up and you can wash your hair with them.


Some beautiful decorated pumice stones.


      Jeff encouraged this vendor to dress Chloe like one of the traditional mountain women from this region.


Chloe already looking fabulous!



And here she is!!


Jeff showing us the leather workers shop. They had some beautiful purses they were handcrafting right there.


This craftsman was creating inlaid pearl boxes.


Some samples of his work.


      From here we entered the tannery. Deep breath and hold it!! (The tannery reeks beyond anything I can remember smelling in my life).


These are the vats where they treat the hides.


     One of these vats is full of pigeon poo. Apparently this is part of the process, it's also part of why it reeks.


This man is scraping down the plaster he applied to the back of the treated hides. Looks like an intense and exhausting job!


This is Mike in the narrowest alley of the whole medina!


And me in the same spot!

     Anyway, our life here seems to have started feeling more normal. I've started my project in my studio and the girls made it out to their first Arabic lesson today. I think it went well. For my part, today I learned to say "Thank you" it's "shokran".  One thing's for sure, though, I have so much more to learn!


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"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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