Friday, June 30, 2017

Last Days in Tétouan

After my opening the final days in Tétouan went by at lightening speed.

With slaughtered chickens hanging from hooks and cats and kittens literally lurking around every corner and always under foot, my youngest daughter, Naomi was deeply affected by the plight of the animals of Morocco.  She decided that last week to get some footage to make her own documentary about the cats. I went with her hiking around the city to help her find as many cats as possible. The people there really do help the cats. The guys in the fish market give them fish heads all day long, and different people have set up little shelters, but there's just so many of them!

Anyway she's going to bring the footage to film camp later this summer to see if she can put the film together then.

During the final week, Mike and Chloe and Phoebe all took a ceramics class to learn some of the traditional tile making we observed over at the artisan school.

Learning about design.

This is the instructor, Ali, working on a complicated looking pattern.

Pieces drying in the studio.

Phoebe and Chloe cutting the clay.

Cut clay pieces.

The pieces fitting together.

Phoebe, Mike, Ali and Chloe on the final day of class.

They also finished up their language class. Here they are with Jamal their Darija (Moroccan Arabic) teacher.

In the mean time my installation had some more visitors and they told me it would be on view for a couple more months.

On our last night in town we had our own little celebration with this ice cream, chocolate fondue.

Just outside our house in the medina
Leaving Tétouan was harder than I'd imagined. On the one hand we were off to explore Tangier for a couple days, but Tétouan was Morocco for us and where we connected with this country. Two days before I left I made this list:

Things I will miss....
1 the call to prayer echoing into my window and on out on the streets.
2 The neighbor children who give me hugs and kisses just for stepping out my door.
3 The kindness of strangers, over and over almost every day.
4 The talented and friendly artists I have met in this country and from abroad.
5 The stunning and intricate art and design that surrounds daily life here.
6. Vendors who make sure I have chosen the best of their products, be it a melon or a carton of milk, they will not let me leave with sub standard product.
7 The storks flying over head and the cats literally everywhere (though not their poo)
8 Feeling like I could buy nearly everything because I have $20 US in my pocket.
9 Sitting on my rooftop in the evening breeze and looking out over this bustling city.

Posted on the wall at Green Olive Arts

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A day in the "Blue City"

On Thursday we finally took the journey into the Rif Mountains to see Chefchaouen. Tétouan is in the Rif Mountains and is sort of a gateway for tourists headed up to the famous "blue city".

   Our trip had a rough start. We were stuck in traffic for a long time because of paving on the only road up into the mountains. Our driver got out and yelled at various people numerous times. It was  good, as it gave us a chance to sip water and eat some snacks without doing it in front of him. When traveling it's hard to only eat and drink in private, but we always try to respect Ramadan.

This was worth a photo as they were clearly moving their whole house with a tiny car.

This nearby goat was clearly oblivious to the traffic and fumes.

Phoebe in the taxi.

Once we were going the view became pretty amazing.

Getting there was a bit nausea inducing with all the winding mountain roads and a Moroccan taxi driver at the wheel. Eventually we did get there though. This is a mural near one of the gates to the medina.

With our photocopied map from Green Olive Arts we wandered in and promptly got lost in the hot sun.

While we were lost and confused I snapped a shot of an interesting window.

After a few hot minutes, we did find the souk. Chloe still managed to smile for the camera in the heat.

We were looking for Aladdin Restaurant though to eat lunch off the street and get out of the heat. It's always a trick to find a restaurant open during the day during Ramadan, so we had some tips. Of course, it was easier in a tourism hot spot like Chefchaouen though! Anyway in the souk we met Maria (on the left) who was a Spanish lady living in this city and happy to show us around without any other motives (like an uncle's rug shop as a destination, for example).

Even with a map these old medina's are confusing so Maria was a huge help!

Eventually we found it. It's obviously themed for tourists.

When we entered hot and sweating it was, of course, up 5 flights of stairs, but we've gotten used to lots of stairs here.

The view from the window.

At 5 flights up, the view was spectacular.

Here I am waiting for the very slow waiter. During Ramadan, the wait staff is fasting at any restaurants that are even open, so often they are pretty grumpy.  Honestly, though, having spent a day with fasting Muslims I can completely understand this. Keep in mind it's not socially acceptable here to abstain, even if you're not particularly religious.

After eating I went to the balcony and snapped this picture of the Kasbah, which is right in the square in this medina, not all the way at the top like in Tétouan. This one is not abandoned. It offers tours and inside is a garden, an ethnographic museum and a gallery, but because there was a holiday they closed.

So we had to be content with just walking around it.

We stopped here and rested in the shade. This region of Morocco was so comfortable and then on June 21, the first day of summer, the temperature just shot up, (but still nothing like home, in Phoenix.)

While we rested this kitten came over and played with our backpack straps.

In fact cats and kittens were everywhere, but it's the same all over Morocco.

This place was magical though.

Every alley was more stunning archways.

Amazing architecture and doorways.

After resting we shopped for a bit.

These are pigments for sale.

This shop sold soaps and bath oils and everything you'd need for the hammam. (I don't know what's in the glowing jars).

Naomi in the soap shop.

Another little goat in town.

Rugs for sale.

Eventually we stopped at a little cafe for coffee. This city was more aggressive with sales and calling out to us as we passed, but it's full of travelers. In fact, my kids who've been struggling with dressing not to offend and hiding when eating or drinking to respect locals were appalled by the tourists from the U.S.A. and China, walking around in half shirts and swigging from water bottles. Of course we've been trying to live here this last month and these tourists are just drifting through from place to place. If they offend someone they never have to see them again. 

After we ran out of dirhams for the day we hunted down a taxi and headed back down the mountain at break neck speeds to our place in Tétouan. Chefchaouen was worth the trip and I'm so glad we saw this beautiful city. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Opening Night, Henna and a photo shoot

Chat conversation end
"When I first conceived of this project, my hope was to create something that related in way to my visit to Tétouan, Morocco. I had no idea how much this amazing place would change me. As I studied the city, met the people and began sketching, for me it was coming into a new world of sights, and smells and learning. Everyday I could see that my project needed more depth and dimension as I struggled to create an impression of this incredible place. I only hope that the people here can enjoy my vision of their city. As I return to my country Tétouan will travel with me in my heart."-Artist Statement for "Night Over Tétouan"

The last few days before my opening were an intense amount of work while I finished the painting on my installation. While I worked on it, some girls from the art school took Chloe, Phoebe and Naomi over to the hammam which is a Moroccan bath house. I'm so glad they went and tried it! They have been pushing to go back, I hope we have time.

A lot of hours later, I did of course finish.

Here it is in standard lighting, but not what I had planned. I packed a couple of black lights with me to activate all my glow paint. 

Unfortunately the small ones I brought weren't working so well so the very first night we showed in in low light with the black light.

Then Jeff went out and found me a large black light that worked!!!

Children at the exhibit
It worked so well!

In fact they decided to extend the opening an extra day!

My poster (in English and Arabic!!)

I met so many incredible artists and people here, including Abdel Karim El Kamli, a very talented photographer who asked to do a photo shoot in front of my installation. On Wednesday he took these wonderful photos of this adorable kid.

This is in low light.

She's wearing a traditional costume called "Chadda Tetouania" made by Ziana Malika El Hadri. This costume is worn on the "Night of Power". A special night of Ramadan when sky opens and god will hear and answer all your prayers or send you a dream vision. Both are really good..

This is a photo in black light.

Because of Ramadan, my sculpture really spoke to the people of Tétouan. Every day they wait for the night when they can eat, and celebrate with their families.

After my show was up I had a minute to relax as well so the girls and I had some henna done.

Chloe's design stained very dark and fabulous.

This young woman came all the way from the mountains to work on our hands.

I wish this wasn't blurry but Phoebe's design was incredible!

And Naomi, brave girl had 2 hands done! 

Here's all of us together. I have my ring on but she worked around it.

My mint tea from a local cafe

Fortunately I had almost five more days of Tétouan after my show to enjoy this fabulous city!
“As my artist’s statement explains, my work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance”-Calvin (Calvin and Hobbs)


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