Monday, May 31, 2010

25th of April Bridge

What's this?  The Golden Gate Bridge, but wth Lisboa printed in the upper right corner?

In fact, this is the Ponte 25 de Abril, or 25th of April Bridge in Lisbon, Portugal.  According to the Wiki, "Because of its similar coloring, it is often compared to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, USA. In fact, it was built by the same company (American Bridge Company) that constructed the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and not the Golden Gate, also explaining its similarity in design."  However, according to our tour guide, there is more than one monument/structure/building in Lisbon that takes as its "inspiration" another monument/structure/building somewhere in the world, and when Salazar was running the show in Portugal from 1932 to 1974, he was known for looking around and "borrowing" ideas from other places.   I imagine there are elements of truth in both versions.  [Note:  other examples in Lisbon include a Champs Elysees (Avenida da Liberdade), an Arc d'Triomphe (Arco do Triunfo), and a Corcovado (Cristo Rei).] 

One of ways travel gets the synapses in my brain firing is the history you either learn, or are reminded you once knew.  I don't know that I was very aware of, or even knew about, Salazar, who was the authoritarian dictator in Portugal at the same time Franco was in charge in Spain.  The dictatorship was overthrown in what's referred to as the "Carnation Revolution", which began on the 25th of April, thus the name.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Milan, Italy 1903

I hadn't posted any postcards from my Grandfather's scrapbook in quite some time.   It's not an easy task to choose a postcard, as there are pages and pages of them sent by an Aunt somebody (possibly Laura?) from what must have been a grand voyage (accent on second syllable) throughout Europe in 1903-1905.

These are from Milan, July 26, 1903.  The first shows the Hall of Cariatidi, destroyed during WWII, in the Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace).   The sender writes, "Palace of the King - Ball room, 18 chandeliers, 3000 candles".  It must have been spectacular. 

The second shows Queen Margherita, who the writer appears to  have seen.  Queen Margherita was queen from 1878 until 1900 when her husband, King Umberto I, was assasinated.  The Pizza Margherita, whose "whose red tomatoes, green basil, and white cheese represent the Italian flag", was named after her.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Saturday Night

Somehow this seems appropriate for a Saturday night...................

Friday, May 28, 2010

Cromeleque dos Almendras, Portugal

Cromeleque dos Almendra, or Almendres Cromlech, is a megalith complex outside of Evora, Portugal.  During our recent trip, my mom and my sister and I searched and finally found this place, promptly renaming it "Doan-henge".   [For anyone who doesn't know, my last name is "Doan"].

Undiscovered until 1964 (because it was so damn hard to find!), archaeologists don't know who built it or why, but think it may  have served some sort of religious purpose and functioned as a primitive astronomical observatory.  There are a few other sites like this in the area, one of which features a single large megalith (Menhir Almendres) , and another with a long passageway leading to an underground "room". 

It's not clear to me the difference between the term "megalith" (from the Wiki:  "a large stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones" and a "menhir" (also from the Wiki:"a large upright standing stone. Menhirs may be found singly as monoliths, or as part of a group of similar stones. Their size can vary considerably; but their shape is generally uneven and squared, often tapering towards the top."   Whatever these rocks are called, there are groupings or singlets of them all over Europe and the rest of the world, some possibly as old as 6,000 or 7,000 years, but definitely as old as 3,000 years.

And to think I had only heard of  Stonehenge (bucket list)!

P.S.  It's Postcard Friendship Friday.  There are a variety of postcard blogs to check out, if you're interested.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Author Series V - Mark Twain

There's not much most of us don't already know about Mark Twain, "the father of American literature".  I've read many of his books, and some of his short stories.

I did manage to dredge up one thing I didn't know:  he pretty much predicted the timing of his own death, and/or defied the adage "If only wishes made it so".  According to the Wiki, " 1909, Twain is quoted as saying:  'I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don't go out with Halley's Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: 'Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.'  His prediction was accurate – Twain died of a heart attack in 1910, one day after the comet's closest approach to Earth."

To close, two Mark Twain quotes:

"The lack of money is the root of all evil."

"Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

I particularly like that last one.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Charles Bukowski - Author Series IV

Charles Bukowski.   He's one of those authors whose name invokes thoughts of "I think I know who he is," or "I should know who he is," or "I've heard of him before and probably read something of his."  According to, "Henry Charles Bukowski was a drunken loafer and prolific writer known best for writing the autobiographical screenplay for 'Barfly'"  and who wrote about "characteristic themes of desolation among society's misfits and outcasts and the absurdity of life". It appears he's best known for drinking, and writing about drinking and drinkers.

Many authors (and artists and personalities and performers) who fall into the category of "underground celebrity", so attractive to college students and 20-somethings and hipsters (myself included at one of these phases or another), feel more tawdry than cool when looked back on at a later date.  Bukowski is of the William S. Burroughs (Naked Lunch) or Hunter S. Thompson (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) school of writers, focused on bringing to life the underbelly  of and degenerates in the world,  with the intent of commenting on modern society and justifying their own alcohol and/or drug abuse.  Not that they didn't do a brilliant job with all of this, and have an impact on contemporary literature and journalism and film, in one way or another.  However, at this point in my life, I'm not so sure I would get as much enjoyment out of them now as I once did. 

Confession:  I was always a bit partial to Dr. Benway.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Author Series III - Fernando Pessoa

Have you ever heard of Fernando Pessoa? I hadn’t. He died before he was 50, in 1935, and at least one critic considers him one of the most representative poets of the 20th century. This postcard shows a sculpture of Pessoa, seated in front of a famous coffee house in Lisbon, "A Brasileira". When we were in Lisbon , our tour guide walked us by this place, describing Pessoa as one of the most famous and revered of Portuguese writers, known for writing in a variety of different styles.

In fact, Pessoa is known for inventing the concept of “heteronyms”, which he used throughout his life.  More than 70 heteronyms are attibuted to him, some of whom “knew” each other and criticized and translated each other’s works. (Sounds like Sybil to me.)

From the Wiki:

The literary concept of heteronym, invented by Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa, refers to one or more imaginary character(s) created by a writer to write in different styles. Heteronyms differ from nom de plumes (or pseudonyms, from the Greek "False Name") in that the latter are just false names, while the former are characters having their own supposed physiques, biographies and writing styles.

These heteronyms sometimes intervened in Pessoa's social life: during Pessoa's only known romance, a jealous Campos (one of his heteronyms) wrote letters to the girl, who, enjoying the game, wrote back.

Now I know what the tour guide meant.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ernest Hemingway

Second in a short series of writer postcards, short because I only have three.  This postcard of Ernest Hemingway's Florida (Key West) home, was sent to me by Sandy and Duke, at the beginning of their trip throughout the US and Canada.  Sandy is one of my loyal postcard senders, and I'm looking forward to following their adventures through the postcards they send.

Postcard collecting is often serendipitous, as was the case with this one.  As Sandy mentions above, "...I stopped into the museum and they had just found some old postcards."  I love that!  Not clear exactly when this postcard was made, but I'm guessing 60s.  Ernest Hemingway committed suicide in 1961.  By that time, he was living in Idaho, having left Cuba (and Key West?) in 1959.

I thought a lot about Hemingway and his novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls, when I was in Spain.  I got the feeling that the Spanish Civil War and the subsequent 40 year (FORTY YEAR!) Franco dictatorship are two things the Spaniards don't really want to talk about much.  Not that I spent a lot of time talking about this with Spaniards, or even asked the questions.  It's just a feeling one gets.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Kurt Vonnegut

Do college students still read and revere Kurt Vonnegut like we did in the 70s at Berkeley?  Perhaps we were enamored with him because the anti-war opinions from Slaughterhouse Five were particularly meaningful to us then, but I don't know.  As I recall, one of my friend Jared's favorite lines from Slaughterhouse Five (maybe the movie and not the book) was "Are you mating now?"  He used this line, always with great comedic effect, at the most random times.  Like "A dingo ate my baby" (see here for reference to use of this line in popular culture), it may have been inculcated into the vernacular of the day, or it was just a shared experience for a small group of friends. If he used it today, most of us would know exactly what he was referring to, and laugh.

I remember being enamored with both Cat's Cradle and Slaughterhouse Five, and reading Breakfast of Champions at a later date.  It's interesting to me that when I looked the three books up, I recalled Slaughterhouse Five ("Schlachthof Fünf") vividly but remembered very little about either of the other two books. 

My friend, Steve, sent me this postcard, which appeared to have been tacked to a bulletin board.  I assume, given that we went to high school together and are therefore the same age, that he was a fan of the author at the same time as well.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Okay, this isn't really a postcard.  But I received this in an email today from a photographer and couldn't resist.

Pelicans are my favorite bird.  I love how they skim over the water, just over the tips of the waves, sometimes right before the wave breaks.  In my next life, if I'm not destined for human endeavors, I would like to come back as a pelican.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The San Andreas Fault

I've been thinking a lot about "cause and effect".

Cause and effect. 

The San Andreas Fault is a perfect example of cause and effect.  When the "big one" happens in California, it will most likely be centered on this fault.  [Chorus:  Whose fault is that?]  When you fly in a small plane from north to south, or south to north, in California, it is very visible from the sky. 

It's big. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Eiffel Tower

Today while deciding which postcard to post, I was surprised to realize I had never posted one of the Eiffel Tower, or le Tour Eiffel. It is one of my favorite places in the world, and given that there are probably 20 Eiffel Tower postcards in my collection, each with a different view or perspective, I could post an Eiffel Tower every day for a couple of weeks, and never get bored.

Not to say that you all wouldn't get bored.  But I wouldn't.

I was thinking about the Eiffel Tower because my oldest son is going to Oxford for a summer program, and he'll be visiting one of his dorm friends in Paris.  Ahhh, to be in 20 in Paris.  I'd be crazy jealous if I weren't so psyched for him.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Picasso Museum, Barcelona

While this postcard is not from there, the Picasso Museum in Barcelona was a high point of my recent trip to Spain. The setting itself, located in a medieval palace in the gothic quarter in Barcelona, complete with marble stairs worn in the center of each riser from years of people walking up and down, was spectacular.

What I found most fascinating about this museum was two rooms full of paintings focused on the Velazquez masterpiece "Las Meninas".   From the Wiki, "...(in) 1957, Pablo Picasso painted a series of 58 interpretations of Las Meninas, and figures from it, which currently fill the Las Meninas .... Picasso did not vary the characters within the series, but largely retained the naturalness of the scene; according to the museum, his works constitute an 'exhaustive study of form, rhythm, colour and movement'."   In addition, there was a particularly compelling video juxtaposing the original Velazquez painting with Picasso's work.  As I've never had any training in art history or evaluation, seeing Picasso's interpretations gave me a glimmer of understanding about Picasso's art.   Sophisticated readers may scoff at my school girl's enthusiasm, but I  had just seen "Las Meninas" at the Prado, and was excited to feel my brain learning something new.

Turns out there are seven Picasso-specific museums in the world, two in France, two in Germany and three in Spain, including this one in Barcelona. I have only visited one other - the one in Paris.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Stockholm, Sweden

Not much to say about this picture today, except that I love the light.  I wonder if it is one of those 1 AM summer nights in the northern countries, when there isn't much darkness.  Or whether it is simply sunset some other time of year. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Everybody Loves a Panda

As the Postcrosser who sent this from China said, "Everybody loves a panda".

From the Wiki, a couple things I didn't know about pandas:

1.  Their name is "Giant Panda", not "just plain panda".
2.  There is a "Red Panda", which looks more like a cat.
3.  The giant panda has the second longest tail in the bear family.
4.  Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. was the first Westerner to shoot a giant panda, on an expedition in the 1920s funded by the Field Museum of Natural History.
5.  The first giant panda in a US zoo was brought to the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago in 1936.

Now you know!

Sunday, May 16, 2010


For the size of its population, it seems as if the Finnish are particularly active Postcrossing people.  Per my Postcrossing stats (one of the features of the project), I've sent 32 postcards to randomly generated participants, eight of which have been to addresses in Finland and have received two postcards from there.  The above is one of those.  The other is here.

On both cards, the stamps have been particularly interesting or beautiful, so I tried to find out a bit more about Finnish stamps.   I didn't look that hard, but I did find out that the Finnish postoffice has a program in which you can upload your own images and for an additional fee on top of the postage, create your own stamps. 

I love the stamp of the Aurora Borealis on the above postcard but perhaps that's also because seeing the Aurora Borealis is on my bucket list. [I did see it once from the window of a plane flying over the pole from San Francisco to London, but I'm not sure that totally counts.] Other beautiful Finnish stamps can be found on-line for purchase but examples are stamps of fairies, and a booklet of stamps featuring sculptures in Finland.  [In looking at these stamps, I at first thought "Suomi" was a Finnish artist who had created the sculptures.  Turns out "Suomi" is "Finland" in Finnish.]

Finland is also a bucket list place for me for a couple reasons: 

1)  My husband is 50% Finnish, which makes my kids part Finnish.  Seems like we should all visit there at some point, just to feel it. 

2)  The Finnish language is one of only a few languages in the world (Basque being one of the others) that were originally considered to be  unrelated to any other language in the world.  This is known as a "language isolate".   At least I remember hearing that about Finnish when I studied linguistics in the 1970s; in looking up the term, either the current thinking has changed or I've been mistaken all these years.  (The shock!)  Turns out Finnish is classified as "... the eponymous member of the Finno-Ugric language family and is typologically between fusional and agglutinative languages".  [How's that for a mouthful on a Sunday morning?]  In any case, I've always been curious about the language, and would like to hear it in its own location.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Arcos de la Frontera, Spain

The southern part of Spain is replete with sparkling white hill towns, including Arcos de La Frontera, above.  These towns are remnants of the Moorish rule in Spain, and traces of their influence is seen the local architecture.

We stayed in the parador at the top of the hill on the Plaza del Cabildo, although it looks more like a parking lot than a plaza.  You can see a corner of the parador in the postcard  to the left above.  The tower of the Iglesia de Santa Maria in this same postcard can be seen in the postcard to the right, but from a distance.  You can't tell from the picture, but the church and the parador are perched on the edge of a cliff, looking out over the valley.  It is quite beautiful. 

Rick Steves has this to say about Arcos de la Frontera:  ..."the romantic queen of the white towns, Arcos de la Frontera. Towns with "de la Frontera" in their names were established on the front line of the Christians' centuries-long fight to recapture Spain from the Moors."  Another more well known "de la Frontera" town is Jerez de la Frontera, famous as the center of the sherry making region of Spain.

I had not heard of paradores, but the Spanish government saw them as a way to promote tourism and use the funds to help protect the national and artisitic heritage of Spain, and established a this large network of higher end accomodations in castles, palaces, fortresses, convents, monasteries and more throughout the country.  The first one opened in 1928!

Tulum Beach, Mexico

Oops.  Did it again. Had the postcard picked and inserted into the blog, then totally forgot to write and post it.

In any case.  Here is the beach at Tulum in Mexico.  If you look past the ruins and down the beach, you'll see a narrow strip of beach.  That beach has got to be among the best beaches in the world - the sand, the color of the water, the lack of people (although the numbers of people increase every year).

I'd like to be there now.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


We were pretty jetlagged when we were in Madrid, and probably didn't get quite as much out of this fabulous city as we might have.  But I loved Madrid - the food was incredible, the plazas vast, clean and entertaining, and the Prado was a delight. 

We had tapas one night with some friends living in Madrid, visiting their two favorite neighborhood places, and every plate was better than the last.  We visited the Mercado de San Miguel for appetizers one evening (where we bought just a bite of caviar at one booth, a couple bite size pieces of different types of cheese at another, and a few paper thin slices of jamon at a third) and had breakfast there again the next morning because we liked it so much.

Perhaps costumed street performers with the express purpose of "surprising" and then posing with tourists for pictures is found throughout Europe these days, but until I wandered the plazas of Madrid (Plaza Mayor, Plaza del Sol or Puerto del Sol) I hadn't seen a table set up with three heads, only one of them real, and/or three men dressed like Neanderthals, all waiting to grab the attention of unsuspecting tourists with movement or loud noises or bad jokes. 

Finally, I am not always a fan of huge museums but I am glad I didn't let that stop me from visiting the Prado.  We didn't explore every room, but made a point of seeking out the Goyas, the El Grecos,  and the Velazquez, especially "Las Meninas", considered by some to be the most perfect painting ever painted.  It was also very cool to see Hieronymus Bosch's "The Garden of Earthly Delights" live, after having seen posters and pictures and a variety of other reproductions of it  more than enough times.

Madrid is fantastic, and I hope to go back some day.  Bucket list!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

El Rocio, Spain

Spain is a country of festivals and pilgrimages, including "La Tomatina" (the massive, annual, late August ripe tomato fight in Bunol near Valencia - Bucket List!) to the "Camino de Santiago de Compostela" (an on-going pilgrimage route running through the northern part of the country, a postcard of which was posted previously in this blog).

One pilgrimage you may not have heard of is "La Romeria de El Rocio", occurring in the province of Huelva, in the southwesternmost part of the country. It occurs every Pentecost , seven Sundays after Easter.

 While we were not there during the pilgrimage, we did visit the town. What a surprise, after the cobblestone streets and narrow lanes of the Spanish white hill towns.

For most of the year, El Rocio is an empty village, described as "a strange outpost of the Wild West, with wide, sandy streets lined with houses complete with broad verandahs and wooden rails for tying up horses". There might be less than 1000 people living there, the streets empty and wind blown and better suited for four-wheel drive than a compact rental car. However, during the pilgrimage the population swells to 1,000,000 (that's one MILLION) every year.  
It was wild to be there when the town was empty and try to imagine it filled with people.

The pilgrims in groups of "hermandades" or Catholic brotherhoods, travel for up to seven days to reach El Rocio on horseback, in ox-drawn carts, in four-wheel drive vehicles, and dress in the typical dress of historic Andalucia - the men in wide hats and cropped jackets; the women in flamenco dresses, or at least flounced skirts.

It is a huge moveable party, with flamenco singing and dancing, and much wine and frivolity.  When they reach the town, they gather around the chapels of each "hermandade" , and sing and dance and party all night long. While there are streets lines with little houses, there is not even close to enough room for everybody, and mattresses are strewn around the streets, with people sleeping anywhere they can.

The culmination of the celebration is the veneration of the Virgin of El Rocio or La Paloma Blanca ("white dove").  The hermandade which considers itself the protectors of La Paloma Blanca remove her from the church, and parade  her through the streets.  Much commotion ensues as each hermandade grapples to bring the Virgin to their chapel, and other try simply to touch her.  Eventually, she visits all the chapels, is returned to the church and the revelry continues.

By Monday night, the pilgrims are beginning their return voyages home.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Perpignan, France

One of my college students friends sent me this card on one of her many excursions around Europe while she is spending a semester in Copenhagen.  I truly appreciate the efforts she made to find a location and a postcard of said location that she could be pretty sure I didn't already have  She was right on that score.  What she might not know is what a huge rugby town Perpignan is, and she's a rugby player herself! 

Monday, May 10, 2010

Gila Monster

Everytime I look at a picture of a biggish lizard (like this Gila Monster), I realize why the word "reptilian" is a little creepy, and why being thrown in a pit of lizards, snakes and toads is among the worst of punishments in many fairy tales.

This postcard is from the Mystery Sender, from a "Wild Life Exhibit" in Blalock, Oregon, a town now considered a ghost town, as it is completely covered by water, with the building of the John Day Dam on the Columbia River, completed in the early 1970s.  I guess that's one way to figure out the age of a postcard!

Sunday, May 9, 2010


There's a whole genre of linen postcard comics from the 1940s and 1950s.  Much of the humor would be considered completely polictically incorrect today.  There are entire blogs devoted to this type of postcard (see Postcard Funnies, as one example).  The themes range from male/female relations to life in the military, from hillbillys to fat people, and a whole range of subjects in between. The Mystery Sender sent these two, and often sends these types of cards (along with several featuring Mt. Hood).

One of the recurring themes I've noticed is the outhouse and all its attendant history and complications.  I suppose outhouses still exist, but they've mostly been replaced by port-a-potties and a variety of fancier buildings.  For a history of the outhouse, click here.  For more funny outhouse postcards, click here.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Zippy the Pinhead

I've posted a Zippy postcard before (see here); the Mystery Sender is fond of Zippy, too, and has sent a couple Zippy cards in the past.  This Zippy card comes from my friend Steve, who sends me packets of cards when he's cleaning out his office, or attending a book or comic/cartoon trade show.

Something about this card cracks me up.  Perhaps it's the headline, perhaps it's the random mention of Belgium.  It could even be the subtle nod to the surrealist artist Dali, with the melting clock on Zippy's shoulder.

Cafe Clock

This is the water clock on Tala'a Kbira in the Fez Medina, after which Cafe Clock is named.  No one seems to know how it works; all that is known is that it is/was a clock.

I found a map of the Medina, and Cafe Clock is marked with a "5".  My friend Evelyn's "dar" ("house") is on Derb Bensalem, two "blocks" from Cafe Clock.  Note location of the Bab Boujloud, shown in this post from a couple of days ago.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


I really love this card received today through Postcrossing from Haana in Estonia.  The picture shows the Song Festival Grounds in Tallinn.  Haana writes about the song festival:  "Song Festival is an Estonia tradition.  The first song festival took place in 1869.  After that Estonia was under Russian occupation for almost 50 years till Estonians could sing their songs again.  :)  We sang ourselves free."

How cool is that?!?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Moroccan Mosaic

The first day we were in Fes, Hassan took us to a tile/mosaic "factory" where we saw how Moroccan tiles and mosaics were designed and created.  The amazing thing was watching men chip pices of tile into precise shapes for mosaics (and being paid by the piece to do so), then taking those chips, and building a mosaic upside down, with only the shapes to fit together, not the colors.  I think I could work 20 years attempting to build these mosaics, and not do so successfully.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Morocco is a lot bigger than one might think. 

Notice on the map the distance between Marrakesh and Fes, in the northern half of the country.  That's about ten hours by bus, through Casablanca.  A loooooooong ten  hours on a bus with no bathroom, no explanation of the program (We're stopping?  Is this for a bathroom break, a meal?  What's that - you've got your prayer rug out and are praying toward Mecca?), and an old man hocking loogies into a handkerchief in the seat across the aisle. 

We were on the plane from Spain to Fes, happy to be up in the air due to all the cancelled flights resulting from the Icelandic volcano.  As we were about to land in Fes, the pilot announced that due to a thundershower parked over Fes, the plane would be rerouted to Marrakesh and we would be bussed back to Fes. 

The bad - the 10 hour bus ride.  The good - I went riding on the Marrakesh express.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Back in the Saddle with a Postcard from the Bab Boujloud in Fez, Morocco

Just returned from three+ weeks traveling in Morocco, Spain and Portugal, and am trying to get back into the swing of writing my daily post.  I have to admit it was nice having the break, but breaks are often hard to break themselves.  I bought tons of postcards, mailed as many as I could and now have the task of sorting what I've purchased, and posting some of them on line.

The above is the Bab Boujloud, or "Blue Gate" in Fez, Morocco.  It is one of the entrances to the Medina, or old walled city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The Medina is considered the largest car free urban area in the world, and possibly among the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world as well.

For a week, we went to and from this gate daily, as it is the closest entrance to the location of our friend's house where we stayed, about a five to ten minutes walk into the Medina. (See: Evelyn in Morocco for more views of her house - she rents the ocassional room to tourists if you are so inclined.)  

Directly outside the door to her house is the neighborhood communal fountain (not all houses have running water), and as we came and went, we might see a woman washing dishes, a boy filling up containers with water, or a man washing his feet.  Her "street" runs into one of the main food shopping streets in the Medina, Talaa Kbira, and we passed small shops selling everything from rose petals and medicinal herbs to camel meat and live chickens.  One shopkeeper hung a camel head on a hook over his wares, either to communicate what was being sold, or to tweak the tourists, or both.

Staying in the Medina and experiencing daily life (although for a very short time, to be sure) is a completely different travel experience to staying in a fancy hotel and dipping into the Medina as part of a tour.   Our daily life experience included lunch in the home of a Moroccan couple and tea in the home of our friend's husband's family, hanging out with a fun-loving and culture-promoting bunch of ex-pats and locals centered around Cafe Clock (where we had a day-long cooking lesson), awakening to the daily 5:30 AM calls to prayer, a visit to two police stations and a jail, drinking copious amounts of mint tea in Zacharia's cafe, singing and dancing while we sampled a variety of local music cd's in the cd shop (friend of our friend and her Moroccan husband), dodging the nightly garbage, avoiding the constant hustling for dollars, slogging through a lot of muck on a rainy day, and and and.

To be continued.....