Saturday, May 27, 2006

Black Lung, Two Flats

location: Casablanca
distance: 57 miles

The ride between Mohammedia and Casablanca is disgusting. I think I've cut my life expectancy down by a couple of years.

I got a flat in Mohammedia; the valve stem of the inner tube leaked.
I had it fixed, and then I got a pinch flat in Casablanca. Grumble.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Franciscans, Franciscans, Franciscans!

(I wrote this in Tetouan, but I didn't have internet access there and just remembered that I hadn't posted it now.)

I got back from Spain on Sunday and I’m currently in Tetouan, where I really should have been spending more time all along because Tetouan is one of the case study cities for my dissertation. The library here (the public one, anyway) is none too user friendly: other Moroccan libraries have, if nothing else, printed catalogs of their collections that, believe it or not other libraries actually have. So, while in Rabat, I am actually able to look up some of the books and manuscripts that I might need that are in Fez. Granted, the Qarawiyyin library’s catalogs do break down after volume four. But I digress.

Tetouan has no such thing; what Tetouan has is a single spiral-bound typed copy of their different sets of holdings (there is a different volume of the Spanish rare books collections—which is actually printed, but not actually really available anywhere but the library itself—and another volume of the manuscripts collections.) The catalogs are located in the actual room where those particular pieces are (granted, there are all of three rooms in the library.)

The manuscripts and rare books room has strange hours (they close from one to four) and so, during those long hours in the middle of the day, it is impossible to look through the catalogs. Not that looking at the catalog is that useful anyway, being as the catalog information is limited to the title, the category of work (fiqh, tarikh, etc.) and the catalog number. The Qarawiyyin catalog, while I’m certain it’s incomplete, and while it isn’t the most user-friendly thing in the world, has a description of each of the items listed (number of pages, dimensions, date.) The Tetouan library catalog lacks all three of those descriptors; the one that I’m particularly interested in is the date, since what I’d like to read are things produced during that specific time period.

Anyhow, I did actually read a couple of things yesterday, and one of them was an account, written by an expelled morisco, of how his brother organized a group of twenty-four expelled moriscos to go back to Spain to recover some of the worldly possessions that they had buried when they were being expelled. Once they reached the shores of Spain, they discarded their clothes and changed into the robes of Franciscans (for one of the people involved in this enterprise, before they were expelled his brother had been a manufacturer of such garments.) They all then proceeded to the place on the road between Madrid and Alcalá de Henares, where the organizers of the expedition had buried their jewels and cash.

They get caught, and the organizer, who was the letter writer’s brother, was torn to bits, or somehow otherwise killed, to serve as an example to everyone (it was something graphic involving disemboweling.)
One Day Later

We're still in Rabat. I hadn't figured in the potential (definite) jet lag of my visitor.

It was lucky, though, since it stormed in the afternoon. It hadn't rained in weeks, and it's not supposed to rain again until Tuesday (but that's supposed to be a light rain, and not where we'll be then.)

We leave early tomorrow! We'll just have to ride faster. Or not as far. Eh.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Same Coast, Different Ocean

So, I'm super-excited because tomorrow begins West Coast Bike Trip 2K6!
I am going with Sarah Syed, whom you might recall from West Coast Bike Trip 2K1 (although, you probably don't, unless you were in Berkeley at the time, and abreast of the minutiae of my circle of friends.) The trip in 2K1 was 1161.1 miles long (for me; Sarah had begun in Vancouver before meeting up with two of us near Bainbridge Island) and took 17 days. This one is much shorter, and will take about five days. (You will note that I am only really using two days during which I would otherwise be in the library, as I tend to write Fridays off as non-productive days during which people are away from the office eating couscous and praying and napping after the couscous. Yes, yes, I am trying to justify to myself taking these days off when my research time here is almost over.)

The trip is alternately known as Rabat-Casablanca-El-Jadida-Oualidia-Safi-Essaouira

Here's the tentative itinerary, the May 25th part of which is already over:
May 25th--Sarah arrives Casablanca
Sarah gets to AV's place by some ridiculous time of the night

May 26th--
brief tour of Rabat (Oudaya, Chellah, Hassan Tower)
couscous lunch
depart Rabat
goal: Casablanca. Hang out at Camilo's.

May 27th--
depart Casablanca, am. optional stop at the Hassan II mosque.
goal: El-Jadida

May 28th--Sam arrives Marrakech
Depart el-Jadida am.
Goal: lunch in Oualidia, night in Safi

May 29th--
Try to meet up with Sam? If he wants?
Noodle around Safi.
(alternate plans for the 28th and 29th are to get to Oualidia one day and Safi the next.)

May 30th--
ride from Safi to Essaouira
Pimp my Ride

Since I know you've been wondering all along, this is the build that's on my bikle (in not too organized an order.) The bikle is my Surly Long Haul Trucker (42cm), and the long haul starts tomorrow.

handlebar: TTT forma SL 42 cm
stem: Roox Danny Junior (in orange, FYI)
headset: Cane Creek S2 1 1/8" aheadset
seatpost: Kalloy Uno Susp. Al. 27.2
shifters: Shimano STI Tiagra
brakes: Tektro cantilever (I should have sprung for something a little nicer, but eh.)
brake shoes: Kool Stop
saddle: Selle Italia Lady Trans Am (which is more comfortable than the Terry Liberator that's on the Giant that's in storage in California, and which was, until it wore out, on the Trek)
wheels: Mavic XC 117
tires: Ritchey Tom Slicks 26 x 1" (I would have gotten Continental Gator Skins if I'd gotten my act together. I switched to those on the Giant a while back, but don't even know if they have them ina 26" and I already had the Ritcheys.)
derailleur: Tiagra Abraz 28.6mm
shifters: Tiagra

Shimano LX:
crankset: M-580 170 mm 44/32/22
chain: HG73 9-speed
hubs: 570
cassette: HG70 9-speed 32/11
rear derailleur: M570

Did I forget anything?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Mais c'est une rumeur!

So, Moroccans (and I generalize grossly here) have heard that a tsunami is going to hit here, oh, sometime tomorrow. I hadn't heard this at all, and then two days ago Hind (from, as you may remember, across the alley) comes over and wants to look on the internet for tsunami information. She was saying something about its being for a school presentation, but also about its being because she had heard that a tsunami was going to hit on Thursday.

I dismissed that, but then yesterday I came home and the Moroccan kid the new housemate Jessica was tutoring was talking about the tsunami as well ...

I tried to convince both of them that tsunamis, as far as I'm aware, having taken an entire semester of a class about seismic retrofitting at the UC Berkeley campus, require an earthquake, and that earthquakes can't be predicted like that.

They didn't believe me.

Then this evening, I went and visited my host family, and my host mom asked me if I was worried at all.
About what, I asked her.
Don't you know?
No, what?
The tsunami.


So I left, and I went and watched the fireworks display over the Oudaya today that they put on to celebrate the ending of a music festival. It was pretty spectacular, with lasers pointing at the ground, and at us, and with fireworks going off both over the river and over the ocean.

The waves did seem somewhat high tonight, come to think of it ...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Aw, sick!

I got back from Tetouan on Sunday night, and didn't do much on Monday. I tried to get some work done, but that was not to be as I didn't feel so hot. I hadn't felt well on Sunday, either, but I did make it home from Tetouan (an hour on the bus and five and a half more hours on the train) before being violently ill.

As it is, I've managed to eat all of two bananas, some popcorn, and a slice of bread today. Yesterday I ate a sandwich but I'm not counting it because I didn't retain any of its caloric value.

The employee at the Ministry of Culture office where the archives are kept gave me some tea (this is the employee I've been told to ask for tea and photocopies and blueprints and paper clips) and told me that the reason that I was sick was because I didn't wear warm enough clothes (I was wearing a t-shirt; it was maybe 75 degrees out.)

I didn't ride my bike over to the Ministry, but took the bus instead, because I don't think I can handle heavy machinery at this point. Although I need to be ready to, because on Friday starts West Coast Bike Tour 2K6.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Snacks in Spain

I went for rounds of tapas with a bunch of archaeologists here in Granada. I had three (!) rounds of tinto de verano, and the tapas that we had were as follows:
round one: pulpo, with a nice pickled salad
round two: croquetas
round three (at a different place): fried fish and eggplant

This all came out to five euros, for such is the quantity of money that we each put in at the beginning. It was a decent amount of food, too.

Have I mentioned that octopus is one of my favorite things to eat? It wins points for texture, shape, and flavor.

A couple of Christmases ago, an octopus was the centerpiece of one of the dishes. I've forgotten where we went that Christmas, and all of the other details, but the octopus was delicious.

Also, speaking of the food in Spain, I am in Granada now but I was previously at a conference in Seville, attended largely by Moroccans. At dinner the first night of the conference, one of the courses served was gazpacho.

"They forgot to cook this," one of the Moroccans said.
Another smelled it, and made a revolted face.
"Really, they should cook it for a while and then put it on top of pasta," said a third.

I managed to convince a couple of them to try it, and one of them liked it, but for the most part Moroccans (to generalize) do not appreciate the refreshing qualities of cold, uncooked soup.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Hiatus, again

I'm off to Tetouan and Spain for research and a coupla conferences, so I'll not be bloggin' it up so much for the next two weeks.