Thursday, March 27, 2008


What to even say? Where to even begin?

Well, in Spain, Easter is a really big deal, due to the overwhelming Catholic influence. The week before Easter, or Resurrection Day is called 'Semana Santa' or 'Holy 'Week' and the entire country is put on hold. There are processions everyday that parade through every street of every city. Huge ornate images of the Easter story carved in brass silver and gold are hauled through the streets, often requiring 50-80 men that could start as NFL linemen to bare the weight of the monument. The processions are accompanied by band music and incense and crowds of emotional observers weeping and screaming. In the major cities, almost all roads are closed and moving transit throughout the city becomes virtually impossible. School and many jobs are dismissed the entire week and the entire life of the town is transformed and fixated on this rich, intense cultural tradition. Well, so I hear.

The Friday before Semana Santa even began, I was on a plane from Madrid to Casablanca in Morocco, Africa. It only struck me later, that on a day designed for the remembrance of the very act that I base my entire faith upon, I left a country who dedicates a week to this event with all focus and passion to be in a country which does not even recognize, as a nation and culture, the very God I serve. But with this abandonment, I was witness to more that taught me about my faith's role in my life. It was a truly special week in so many ways, but specifically as a most unique way to remember the most generous act of mankind.

Firstly, I was traveling with 4 others--Audrey, Beth (Americanas) and then Reda and Salah, both flatmates of Beth and native Moroquis. We arrived in Casablanca, we went directly to the beach for an over-due date with a plate. We then headed for the train station to take us in to Marrakesh, a city known for its wild labyrinth of open-air markets and snake-charmers and spices. It was absolutely wild! The first day, we went to observe the markets, to set sights on our potential purchases; it was absolutely too overwhelming to even consider buying anything! At the outskirts of the market, it a huge plaza, probably close to 5 acres (I am really bad at estimates like this--could have been really from 1 to 20!) but anyhow... it was FILLED with people and snake charmers and people with monkeys in clothes and horse drawn-carriages and motorbikes trailing crates of fruit and goods as the weight balanced awkwardly over make-due trailers. It was a swarm of activity and sounds, and my memory of it now is somewhat of a hazy image, only sharpened by the still-life pictures I have to return to. Nightfall, and the shops begin to close, and as we leave the winding row of retail and emerge to the same circus-like plaza we left earlier in the day, a completely new scene awaited out arrival. The snake charmers and monkeys were all gone, only to be replaced by an open-air food court constructed temporarily for dinner each evening! Accompanied by the aroma of a thousand smells that my nose has never known are the sounds of groups of night performers gathered to share their music or stories with the world. Groups of 30-40 people would gather by soft lantern-light around a small band of hand drums and singers and sitars to enjoy the warm evening air and incredibly cultural cuisine! We walked through the now maze of food options passing eager chefs at every step throwing out assortments of languages and phrases and menus all vying for our bodies to fill the diminishing space at their tent restaurant. The aspiring linguists were oozing with charisma and witty English phrases such as "See you later alligator!", the lyrics to the famous Top Gun song, "You've Lost that Lovin' Feelin" and even an extensive and impressive vocabulary and speaking structure I would be overjoyed to witness in my English classes back in Linares! And besides this impressive display, they were similarly familiar with at least 7 other languages that I witnessed-- Dutch, French, Japanese, Arabic, Spanish, German and Italian!

The next night in Marrakesh, we went to s "Spectacular," which most similarly translates into an Arabian form of Medieval Times. It really was phenomenal! We drove about an hour out of town to the unsuspecting countryside and pulled down a seemingly insignificant road until in the faint distance emerged a brilliantly and colorfully lit Arabian-style castle! At the entrance, two rows of men with Arabian desert garb mounted on camels lined out pathway to the castle doors. Dinner was held in huge, lush tents that seated around 200 each. The tables were set with fine dinner ware indicating a minimum of 5 courses by the stack of plates and forks waiting in front of me! Dish after dish (no less than 2 feet in diameter) were set before us 5 in and in true-Arabic fashion, we all dug in with fingers and bread, with complete disregard to the more modern western customs of manners and knives and forks! We had couscous, chicken asada, a beef dish topped with vegetables, typical Moroccan soup, an incredible pastry of sweet sheets of bread and a pudding-like cheese filling, and the obligatory fruit dish with Moroccan Tea! After dinner, we rolled our stuffed selves over to the arena at the center of the castle to find seats and blankets to watch the show. There were dancers, and men doing tricks on camels and horses and fire works! It was a completely invented, but incredibly special way to really dive into the ancient traditions of this rich culture.

Well, I have to get going for now, but there is still more to come of the adventures in Rabat (the capitol) and Tetuan! Talk soon and thanks for reading! *britt


  1. love you soooo much! it was TREMENDOUSLY awesome to get to hear your voice earlier today!!!!!!!!

    can't wait to see you in a few months! :)

  2. Hey, BOO BOO! Loved to hear about your trip to Africa...what seems to be an amazing cultural experience! Can't wait to hear Part II. Miss you and love you bunches...Mom & Dad

  3. When are you going to write some more? What have you been up to? Miss you love!