Friday, December 30, 2005

Woohoo! 2006 (almost)! And I'm living in a beautiful apartment!

So, a couple of days ago I moved in to an apartment in the medina with another Fulbrighter who had just gotten back form the States and was looking for a housemate. I had never met her before, and I'd never seen the apartment before.

It's beautiful in its Moroccan-ness!
It doesn't have a roof (it's on the first floor of an apartment building), which is unfortunate since the ocean is all of a block away, but, as Kristen (my roommate) reminded me, there are plenty of roofs with views in Moroccan Fulbright-dom.

I don't actually know the address of where I'm living; it's a really short street and the building doesn't have a number on it.

Another thing I'm really excited about, though, is that (and I think that I just hadn't paid enough attention to realize this before) I can receive mail (flat mail only--you know, if you're dying to burn me a cd or send me a letter or something, even though I haven't ever burnt you a cd or anything ...) through the APO Box address for the Moroccan Fulbright Commission. Among other things, this means that I'm un-suspending my New Yorker subscription immediately.

Alright, I'm off to Marrakech tomorrow to celebrate New Year's!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Here in Morocco, for some unknown reason, they sell inflatable Santa Claus dolls at the toy stores. Last year, when I was here right after Christmas, Kim (the Fulbrighter who very nicely let me stay at her place in Rabat for a couple of days) had been given one. And then when I was in Casablanca, there was a very skinny Santa (wearing a frightening clear mask) that children posed to take pictures with.

Anyhow, yesterday I went to a little pre-Christmas gathering in the casbah, and there were s'mores (with imported marshmallows), and Christmas shaped ginger snaps, and whatnot. Neither of those is a food that I particularly like, but it felt nice and American and Christmas-y. There was also a Christmas tree that was more tree-shaped than conical-tree shaped.

Today I'm not doing much of anything; I bought some tacky Christmas socks for the familyt hat I was staying with, as the son in the family had asked about stockings, as a concept. As in, the son asked, "so, on Christmas you hang socks up? ... old socks?"

It's been rainy here. Other than that, not much going on. I think that I'm going to Marrakech for New Year's with my future housemate.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Frustration at the National Library, part deux

So, Josie comments that she never actually found the Salle du Maroc (the Morocco room) in the National Library. I have the tendency to agree with her that it probably does not actually exist.

I'm in a regular reading room, and at some point I was told that this was the Salle du Maroc. That, however, is impossible, as it seems to be the only regular closed-stack reading room that there is.

So, right now I'm frustrated because I handed in the form to request some bound periodicals an hour and two minutes ago. The lady in charge of getting them is somewhere in the stacks right now, but the sheet of paper that I handed in requesting the volumes is on her desk and not in the stacks with her.

Also, the library is really, really cold.
It is colder in here than it is outside.

So, since I had been waiting for the books for over an hour, I went up to the desk and asked the library employee if they had arrived/would arrive. What she did was hand me back my request sheet, but she put Xs through the requests; apparently, the call numbers of what I want don't exist.

I know this to be impossible for at least one of the three volumes, as I successfully requested and viewed a different issue of the same yesterday.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

A Different National Library

The Bibliotheque Générale is located about two hundred meters outside of the city walls. After crossing what must be the world's worst intersection (um, it's set up so that you can only get halfway across at any given moment) and walking through the shadeless area right before the library, I can never decide which of the library doors to go into. Last time I was here, I didn't have a manual of any sort and seemed to find a few things. This time, I am armed with a manual: the Fulbright manual promises that the National Library has over 900,000 books and 30,000 manuscripts. The thing is, any given room I happen to go into happens to have, oh, say, maybe two or three hundred books (okay, maybe a thousand books.) The Fulbright manual also promises that there are a lot of different rooms (the Salle du Maroc, the Colonial Archives, and the Manuscripts rooms.)

I've asked the door people and the check-in desk people as to _where_ the Salle du Maroc actually is, and nobody actually seems to know. I'll find it eventually, I suppose. So far, I've been going to what I can only imagine must be the Colonial Archives (the manual says they're open from three to six; they're actually open from nine to four.)

They've re-arranged everything since the last time I was here. In 2003, there were two computers serving card catalog functions in one of the entry rooms, and the physical card catalogs (arranged alphabetically by author's name and by the title of the work) were in the hallways.

These two computers and the card catalog have been moved, and so now they're found in the same room. The card catalog room smells not unlike a kindergarten classroom: even though I imagine it gets cleaned on a regular basis, there are decades of grubby patina on the catalog cards. In short, I hope that I find the references for what I need soon, and can then spend my time actually reading things instead of using the catalogs.

The general holdings of the library are also in the computer-based catalog, but you need to know the author or the title; there's no way to do a subject search. Fortunately, I'm working on Morocco, and there's a Morocco computer-based catalog that does allow a subject search.

Apparently, the Bilbilotheque Générale has gotten _much_ better in the last nine years. I can't begin to imagine what it was like beforehand.

These are the things I've looked at so far that have been of any interest: a partial manuscript of the history of Tetouan, and a bunch of maps. These aren't things that I found on my own: instead, a library employee in the archival section who I'd told what it was that I needed found them for me. It's really frustrating to not be able to find what you need by yourself, and to have to depend on the mood and/or knowledge of a particular library employee to dig something up out of an unlabeled box. Alas.

Where I really need to go is to the Hasaniyya library, which is in the palace compound, and which apparently has a lot of things that are relevant to what I'm looking for, specifically, official correspondence having to do with granting/denying permission to the moriscos to live in specific places, and building documentation/building permits/property transfers. I've only been in the Hasaniyya once before. Um, it's a bit of a hike, and the palace compound intimidates me as, I imagine, it's supposed to do.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Settled in. Sort of.

So, I know that I said that I would rant about Royal Air Maroc for a bit, but I'll leave that for another day. For now, I'll just be happyt hat I've found an internet café that lets me connect my own computer so I don't have to deal with terrible foreign keyboards. Finding the colon is the worst!

I've kind of settled in in Morocco. As in, I don't exactly have a place tolive yet, but I'm staying with friends who have invited me to stay with them indefinitely. Mind you, this isn't exactly something that I want to do, since they're a Moroccan family and maybe I jsut want to go and mope in a corner by myself, but for now it's a lot of fun. They feed me couscous and make fun of me and help me to read stuff in Arabic, and I teach them They Might Be Giants songs and make fun of them back. They've got a comfortable, fairly large house in the Oudaya casbah, which is where I lived when I was here in Morocco the first time (in 2003.)

Um, there's no land line where I'm staying, though, and the decent internet café is on the other side of the medina. There's a terrible internet café in the medina, but it's slow and dirty and has loads of terrible popup windows, and you have to wait forever and a day. The internet café that I used to like when I was here before is still around, and (bonus), they let you hook up your own computer. May I never have to bother with the French keyboard layout again.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Couscous portion of the research sandwich begins

So, after the day from hell, in which my air tickets only arrived three hours before departure time, I am finally in Morocco. In Rabat now, will be in Fes tomorrow for a couple of days, and then I will be back here to settle in. I have no idea how to male an apostrophe on this keyboard. Ah, well.

My next posting will be about my disdain for Royal Air Maroc and their cavalier attituted towards ticket delivery.