This past weekend, we took a little trip to the cultural and religious "capital" of the country. There is something ridiculous like 50+ mosques in this medina alone. It was beautiful and the Medina was an incredible, enormous maze of shops and every arab cliche you can imagine. "Come to my shop, pretty lady with pretty baby. Come I give you cheap price." Every corner brought something new, from slabs of beef hanging from hooks to live animals--donkeys, chickens, geese--wandering about. The streets are too narrow for cars, so donkeys laden with treasures trek down alleyways to keep the little stores stocked. (Check out the horse delivering coca-cola sodas...) It's like a trip back in time. Annie was a trooper and missed all naps for our day-long expeditions through the city--but she did get some shut-eye in her stroller. A wonderful taste of life here now, and a thousand years ago...
Annie has been talking a lot more lately (mostly "Bweh Bweh Bweh"). She's learning how to pull herself up on anything within reach, and she has started to clap as well! Not only does Annie bring joy to our lives with her new tricks, she makes other people happy, too. Whenever we see people out on the streets of Casablanca, Annie claps, smiles or speaks. She charms all the strangers, and has earned herself a number of kisses from cute kiddos. Everyone here loves to kiss babies (it takes some g
etting used to), but it's been great for us as we try to cross language barriers and love the people around us. It's easy to love them through our 7 month old, who seems to melt any heart.
Sweet Annie LOVES her Daddy so much. Not only does she look a whole lot like him (check out those eyes), but they get along well together. Nobody can make Annie laugh like her daddy. He sings silly songs, makes funny faces and plays with her whenever she's fussy. He even makes slings out of swaddling blankets for her to ride around on his back. He is the quintessential modern man. Below they are reading: "But Not The Hippopotomus." (An excellent read by Sandra Boynton)
One of the names we seriously considered for Annie was Amel. It means "Hope" in Arabic. While we were in the mountains, we met a little girl named Amel who lived in the house where we were staying. She was hilarious, and though a good five months older than Annie, they got along well. Annie loved watching Amel walk and talk. Amel's favorite word was "Gatto," which in French means sweet or cookie. I think she just used it to signify anything nice, which to her included all manner of bottle caps, sweet treats, cellular phones, anything she probably ought not to have...
When Jonathan was helping to rebuild her village after an earthquake, he met this little girl, Fatiha. She was mute, but striking. Now she speaks beautifully. She went with us to the beach and loved chasing the waves and playing in the water. She also loved taking pictures with our camera, but I don't think she managed to take any pictures of people's faces...just sand and ankles. Digital Cameras are tricky, though.
About 4 years ago, Jonathan lived in the North of this little N. African country and worked doing construction for some folks whose homes were destroyed in a terrible earthquake. Many of them lost family members, held their children as they died, in addition to losing their homes. They all remember Jonathan and the way he served and loved them. One lady in particular, Malika, has a special place in our hearts, because hers was the first home built when the work started.
Jonathan took Annie and me to visit Malika in her village. She came running out to meet us in her nicest clothes. Then she ushered us inside and gathered and boiled eggs for us. She made us mint tea and cracked fresh almonds for us to eat. She brought us freshly cooked bread and treated us like royalty. She asked us all about Martha (Jonathan's sister) and Jana who came to visit Jonathan in the mountains and helped Malika cook and spent time talking to her and loving her. We sat in her living room and caught up with her and talked to her husband and daughter as well.
When they started building the house for Malika, she was destitute with children to support and a husband who had gone insane. You couldn't hold a conversation with the man. Since their house was built, he has come back from insanity and is now a respected member of their community. He provides for his family and he is a good husband. One of her children attends school in a large village nearby and learns French and English. What wondrous love is this that heals the broken in such visible ways?
Eating solids at MCO! Annie has her own seat belt Sleeping in the airport
Greetings from North Africa! We are FINALLY here and connected to the internet after about a week and a half out of range. We took three planes (Orl-Atl-Paris-Africa) and arrived in the morning on July 1. Here are a few pictures from our trek across the oceans...