Sunday, July 23, 2017

Off to Comic Con and moving my sculpture

Earlier this week Mike and Phoebe left For Comic Con in San Diego.

As I understand they've been enjoying the con, though Phoebe twisted her ankle the minute they arrived at the airbnb.

In San Diego

     I've been home teaching art to elementary school kids. Last week I had a young student who was very upset by her drawing and I had to counsel her through class. She hated it, so I told her move on and do a new one, then she was concerned that her mother wouldn't let her go on the cruise because it was so bad. She cried and cried for 45 minutes. Finally class was over and she left.  Ten minutes later she came walking in to my next class (painting!). This week though she was in a great mood and was happy the whole time. At the end of class she started begging me, for her to give a speech.
"We don't really give speeches in art class. What is the speech about?"
"Ummmm.... Yeah, we're out time, class is over."
And then I patted her shoulder and told her to have fun on her cruise.

Night Over Tétouan on the street

Meanwhile in Morocco my sculpture is getting relocated out of Green Olive Arts Arthouse. It's been moved to the Spanish School and will be on display indefinitely.   

The back of the sculpture 

They have photographed the painting I did on the back wall and will be printing it on vinyl for the display. Hopefully soon I'll have photos of the new set up!

        Anyway this week I received a big mask order for a film being shot in Luxembourg, and of course they need them shipped internationally by Monday for a Friday shoot, so shipping costs the same as if they bought me a round trip plane ticket.... Still waiting for the go ahead to ship. Not sure they're handling the sticker shock well. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Hit by a car and off to camp

Last week, Naomi went to meet her sister at a local cafe on her bicycle. We were worried because Phoenix was doing that thing where it's 114ºF (46ºC) so we peppered both kids with text messages while they were out. That didn't really do much as Naomi still got hit by a car on her way home. Just like a typical teen, she told the lady she was "fine" and came home with no information about her, so our trip to urgent care was out of pocket. She sprained her wrist and was scraped up a bit, but she was ok (thank goodness!!), and that's what's important.

2 days later, Naomi left for her film camp, where she sleeps over at Arizona State University for a week and makes movies. She was pretty excited.

This is when we dropped her off. She has a roommate this year, well she did. She wrote me yesterday to say that roommates were dropping away one by one and a stomach flu is sweeping through the camp. Hopefully it won't hit her!!

This week it's just been Mike and me and Phoebe at home. Chloe left the day before Naomi to go to be a camp counselor in the California mountains. Mike and I are back to work mostly (my teaching doesn't start till Saturday). Last week I was interviewed by Kraig Rasmussen about my work and my residency in Morocco for a series called Storycraft. You can listen in here:

Carolyn Watson-Dubisch

Also my mask orders that have been trickling in have just clicked in high gear. The costume department at "Crazy Ex Girlfriend" (a tv show on the CW) just ordered a whole bunch of my animal masks from my shop with the usual Hollywood deadline of "yesterday" so I'll be a bit busy for the next week!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Layover in Montreal and coming home

Our flight out of Casablanca was the emptiest plane I had ever been on. I can honestly say anyone who paid first class for that flight wasted a colossal amount of money. Anyone who wanted to, could have 2 to 3 seats to themselves. The flight attendants were having a lovely time, were in a great mood and all over us with extra drinks and anything we wanted. They even handed out the rental ipads free of charge. This is a photo of Naomi and Chloe watching movies on them.

The flight went quickly for one all the way across the Atlantic, and before we knew it we were over Quebec.

These are the amazing clouds we flew through on landing.

We had a 10 hour layover so we decided to go check out Montreal and have lunch while we waited for our night time flight. The taxi driver was like a tour guide and brought us to the best place he could think of, which was the old city in the downtown area. This is the first photo I took in Montreal and I think it's interesting that it has two women in headscarves right in the front. Coming from Casablanca I didn't even think twice about it then.

The taxi driver left us in front of this cathedral called Notre Dame Basilica. I'm sure he expected us to check it out, but we were hungry and there was a huge line with admission fees. 

Being in Montreal after a month in Morocco was disorienting to say the least. It's a beautiful city, but we were a bit shell shocked standing on the corner, finally we chose a direction and walked.

Everything was of course in French, which was sort of normal after Casablanca, but the climate was quite different. There was a cool breeze and the sun was shining.

Near the port we found a restaurant that was full of tourists so we clamored inside with all our carry on bags that we were dragging with us.

Mike and I at the restaurant.

We sat admired this view and ate. Then the bill came and we were hit with another shock, we were now $90 Canadian dollars poorer. A month of a really excellent exchange rate was now most certainly over.

Just as we left the shelter of the restaurant, the weather dramatically changed. This storm rolled in and we were stuck on the street.

For a while as the rain poured down we hid in a souvenir shop. Then it became uncomfortable when I obviously didn't want to buy his $15 falling apart umbrellas. So we left and found ourselves in a coffee shop where we waited out the rain. Just as we were about to give up and get a cab back to the airport the storm blew out of town as suddenly as it blew in.

So we took another walk about. The girls found it amusing that this place called Fairyland was a dilapidated and abandoned mess.

I kind of wonder what it used to be like.

This is a statue of an Englishman.

The girls are reading the plaque. It says that this is an Englishman snubbing his nose at the church (he's facing the church) which is an underlying part of the Québécouis society. He's also holding a pug that's trying to break free and run to the dog in the other statue's arms across the square.

Chloe posing like the statue
This is the other statue of the Montreal native snubbing her nose at the English financial institution (she's facing a bank), and holding a poodle that's in love with the Englishman's pug. Also trying to break free of her arms.

From here we walked around a bit more.

This is a pedestrian only area.

Dragging our luggage.

A lynx lurking on a shop sign.

We actually found some phone booths.

We decided to go check out the waterfront area again.

There we found a very nice park, with a fountain.

Phoebe actually agreed to pose for the camera.

Chloe in the park.

Soon enough our little visit to Montreal was over and we headed back to the airport where we eventually boarded our flight to Toronto. Toronto was another long overnight layover, so I had the foresight to book a hotel. We went get our luggage that night and it wasn't there, it was getting a more extended stay in Montreal. By the time we arrived in Toronto though we'd been awake for 22 hours and no longer cared about much of anything. 

We came back 5 hours early for our fight the next day to see if we could track down our luggage. 3 bags arrived (2 still missing) while we waited in baggage claim, but then we REALLY had to check in for our flight to Phoenix. This was the most confusing and epic checkin of any airline flight I'd ever experienced. We were set to 2 different lines. Then Mike and the girls checked in, but my named was spelled wrong when they checked me in in Casablanca so I was sent to 3 more lines. Finally we made our flight (after Mike found a manager and flipped out on her). 

Coming home was uneventful except that we were missing two of our oversized bags and Phoenix was having it's usual summer time temperatures. Late that night Mike picked up our dog who missed us desperately, but had a good time with other dogs at the petsitter's house.  

Now we are back and Morocco seems almost like an amazing dream, but at least I wrote it all down!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

A weekend in Tangier and leaving Morocco

     Before we left Tétouan, Green Olive Arts helped us make a departure plan. It's tricky to get a family of five with 10 pieces of luggage out of the medina through a busy morning market. No cars enter the tiny alleys where the riad is, so we felt pretty rooted in. They helped us arrange a taxi with a large trunk for luggage to meet us in the plaza, and they found a man with a cart.

There was about an hour of agonized waiting, I was so worried the man with the cart wouldn't find our door so we stood with the door open peering down the alley. At exactly 10:30am I was flooded with relief when I saw the cart man and with Rachel from the Arthouse, strolling beside him! I wish I had a photo of all our luggage on the cart as we left the medina for the last time, as it was quite a sight! He tied it all on with a thick ancient rope to a giant wheel barrow like cart, lifted the front with all our luggage and headed thru the market to the plaza at breakneck speeds. I couldn't believe after so much work he only asked for 40 dryhams ($4 USD), I think I said "Shokran" (thank you) about a million times.

This is the taxi leaving Tétouan.

The ride to Tangier was only about an hour.

There's always a lot of donkeys around once you get out of the cities.

For some reason there are also a lot of flags on this route as well.

Tangier is a much bigger city than Tétouan. This is our view from the 7th floor apartment where we stayed. The beach and boardwalk were just around the corner and THIS place had a/c in the bedrooms! We hadn't had much a/c in Morocco since we'd arrived.

This is the hawk that kept coming to the window and watching us. I think because we were close to the top floor it must have had a nest on the roof and was keeping an eye on us. It kept coming back to watch us the whole time we were there.

After we settled we took a walk around and found the beach and boardwalk.

It seemed like we were in a nice area of the city.

As usual Naomi headed straight for the water.

Going wading in the Mediterranean.

This is the view from our bedroom. As you can see the building is covered in wires. This is how it is all over Morocco.

Mike and I took some time to draw in Tangier. 

Sitting down to draw seemed to help us adjust wherever we were.

I feel I have to share this picture of a crazy wedding limo parked around the corner. 

That evening we went in search of an open restaurant, but most of the close ones were very packed with people breaking their fast with the Ifthar meal. So we went for a walk at dusk to wait for the crowds to clear up.

Sunset on the boardwalk.

Mike waiting patiently. 

Naomi reading and trying to ignore me taking her picture.

And another picture of the boardwalk at dusk... Can you tell I just took photos to kill time while we waited?

The next morning I took Chloe and Naomi to the beach to go swimming. I also went because I really wanted to swim in the Mediterranean Sea. It was awkward though. Women aren't allowed to go swimming during Ramadan, so we were the only women there who went swimming. There were little girls swimming, and women covered from head to toe not swimming, so we attracted a lot of attention in our swim suits. Chloe and Naomi are the white specks in the water in this picture.

This is one of the horses on the beach. There were also camels you could ride, but after swimming for a while we just wanted to leave.

Later that day we headed over to the mall to meet up with our friend Amira. We knew her from Tétouan, but after her school ended she moved to Tangier to stay with her brother and work in the mall.

I'm so glad we saw her before we left. 

It was also very interesting to go to a mall in Tangier. Seeing local fashions on display, and checking out the sushi in the food court seemed very normal.

The "Tanja Got a Talent" sign. :)

Before we knew it our weekend in Tangier was over and we were heading south on the train to Casablanca.

One stop on the train had several wagons like this lined up instead of taxis.

These are some of our bags on the train (before they were checked in to Air Canada and misplaced, but that's a different story)

The girls resting on the 6 hour train ride in our compartment.

The train ride back was more comfortable because Ramadan was finally over and the train was bringing around a food cart we could buy from. Also we could openly eat and drink in front of Moroccans without offense which is a huge relief.

We all managed to wrangle our bags off the train in Casablanca and into the station. Finding a taxi was also no trouble, but as we drove to the airbnb, the taxi driver called the host for us and she apparently thought we were coming an hour later, so we had some more waiting to do.

Eventually, though, we got inside, and up three flights of steps with all our bags.

The apartment was pretty huge .

With many rooms and many couches and almost enough beds.

But it was just for one night, well almost one night. We had to get to the airport by 5am so we had a 4:30am pickup.

We went out in search of dinner, and found this wire with an amazing amount of shoes!

We walked around and noticed most places were closed.

Palm tree by an open restaurant. We finally found a place and went in.

When the waiter came over we remembered that while Ramadan was over there was a new holiday called Eid-al Fitr which means that all stores close and people are home having a big feast. This restaurant was only serving drinks and ice cream. So Mike glanced at the menu and picked the banana split for us to try while we pondered what to do for dinner. Then the waiter said quickly in French, "You want four banana splits?"  Mike said "Oui." (he doesn't speak French).  As the waiter walked away my brain caught up with what the waiter just said (Have I mentioned that I'm awful at French?). So here we are (above) waiting for our many banana splits.

They were pretty good banana splits, except for one flavor of ice cream that none of us could stand. I think it's a sent used in sanitizers in public restrooms in the USA, but here the flavor doesn't have that association. (I recently read that root beer causes the same reaction for Europeans, for the same reason).

Anyway we went back down our street and found an overlooked pizza restaurant that was open.

Success, our efforts yielded the best pizza in Morocco! This pizza was fantastic. We even grabbed some pizza to go as Naomi crashed out in the apartment and was missing dinner. So we needed some for her when she woke up.

3:30am was when we rolled out of bed. 4:30am was when our airport van arrived and before we knew it we were checked into our flight at Casablanca airport. We were officially leaving Morocco....

“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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