Real time.

Friday 7am. We are back on East Coast time now approaching Norfolk. We had to pack last night. Our “checked” luggage gets lifted off the ship by crane. We carry the stuff we need today and tomorrow, plus any fragile items. We reunite with our bags after immigration and before customs.

We are allowed to bring $800 of personal purchases in without tax. Sorry for you potential gift receivers, I came in well under that.

Today we have commencement for those students who actually finished their degrees this summer. And we will still be in the lab as folks are busy trying to stuff more photos onto their already full hard drives.

The mood on the ship is a mixture of excitement about getting home, and sadness of leaving new friends. Everyone is talking about what they will be doing in  the next few days. Especially what/where they want to eat. I think the ship does a great job with the food, but after 10 weeks, we are all craving something. I’m thinking corn-on-the-cob, or perhaps a red curry with lots of crushed red pepper.

Many students purchased world maps and they are having friends sign it like a yearbook. It’s a cool idea. Up on the wall you get to see where your friends are and what they wrote. Better than a yearbook closed on a shelf.

Tomorrow morning we dock, and exit the ship in groups. We have purple tags and exit 4th. We have tickets for the airport shuttle and a 5:30 flight to BTV through Newark. We should be home by midnight.

Tuesday. Last day.

Tuesday. Last day in Morocco, last day in any foreign port. Next stop Norfolk.

I must have gotten burned out on taking pictures. We got back from a short day of shopping and I have just four. My main objective for the day was to get postage stamps and to get postcards mailed. I did get that done. We visited the main post office right on Mohammed V Square. In this post office, as in Florence, you have to take a number and wait to be called. And when you go to take a number, you have to press the right button depending on what you want to do. (buy stamps, money orders, send package…other services?). Anyway in Florence we gave up. We couldn’t figure out which line we were supposed to get in. Here I approached a guard, showed him a postcard, pointing to the missing stamp, and he waved me off the ticket machine and pointed to window 100. No line! Got stamps. Mailed postcards.

We had walked from the port to the United Nations Square, and headed east planning on visiting the central market. But it was closed by the time we got there. So we walked back a different route and got into a whole other shopping area. We bought some glasses in a covered souk and asked him where the post office was. He walked us out onto the street, down 2 blocks, and pointed out the way for us. On the way there we stopped in a shop that had stovetop espresso pots like the one we used in Radicondoli.

We were seriously needing water at this point but couldn’t find anyplace that sold any. But then just shy of the Square, just before passing out, we came upon the “new medina” shopping area and found a small store that sold us a large bottle of very cold water for 60 cents. Ahhh!

We had a very leisurely lunch in Restaurant de Fleurs. We tried two of the classic dishes. Kathy had a tangine with kefta (spicy meatballs) and I tried harira which is a soup with chick peas, lamb, coriander, lemon and other spices. Both were OK, not great. Worth a try at another restaurant.

After lunch, we returned to that artisans cooperative to get rid of (spend) our remaining Moroccan currency. Our friend there showed us pictures of Regis Philbin who visited their shop and showed a wooden puzzle box he got on his morning TV show.

Loaded with treasures, we headed to the port to catch the shuttle back to the ship well before onboard time.

Goodbye Morocco. We enjoyed our stay.

Monday. Food shopping.

On Monday we wanted to get to a grocery where we could buy a few specific food items. A “western” style grocery. Rumor had it that there was a carefour in town but I couldn’t find it on google. And if it’s not on google…. I did find a grocery via google. It was in the basement of a mall at the Twin Center. Two 28 story office buildings in a part of the city we had not yet visited. We joined up with Lois Olson who was on a similar mission, and caught a cab. The grocery was fine. Had everything we wanted. The mall was a bust. We didn’t find anything interesting. Kathy and I took our bags of groceries and caught a cab back to the ship, with chocolate, soy milk, cheese and crackers, sparkling mineral water, etc.

In the evening we went to a local family’s house for dinner. The father is Berber and Arab, the mother is from Pennsylvania. They met at a school in Morocco. At that point she spoke no Arabic and he spoke no English. They courted in French. Many (most?) people in Morocco speak both Arabic and French. Many also speak on of the three major dialects of Berber. English is not as popular, but not rare. The children in this family are tri-lingual.

We had big platters of couscous for dinner. They usually have a common serving dish but separate plates but to give us the “traditional” feel, we all ate off the common plate. Of course they brought more food than we could have eaten in two days, but we gave it our best shot.  I loaned my camera to his daughter and she took some of these pictures. After dinner, a sister and a niece offered to draw henna tattoos.