Jan 18, 2008 Morocco:

One Chapter Completed and Onto the Next

We ended our European and African experience by returning to Seville,
Spain on December 6. We picked up our bikes and bags that were stored
at a hostel while we were on our 3 week trip in Rwanda. From Seville
we re-engaged our self-contained biker mentality and headed off to
Tarifa Spain (the southern tip). From there we took a ferry to
Tanger, Morocco. Yes, back to Africa we went. However, this African
experience was very different than our Rwandan experience. Once we
got off of the ferry we were welcomed by many locals that were eager
to be our tour guides. After 45 minutes of saying "no thank you" and
not getting anywhere I had to get a little firm and say, "No Thank
you! Would you please quit following us?!" That actually worked. As
we walked through the city of Tanger we observed the beautiful mosques
and the scarves, dresses and cloaks that many of the Muslims were
wearing. The streets were lined with a variety of vendors and open
markets. They were everywhere! Items sold ranged from scarves,
designer jeans, shoes, etc to pastries, fruit, veggies and meat. As a
dietitian, I found it very interesting to see how they displayed their
meat. Raw meat and poultry hung from the booths with no refrigeration
or protection from flies. I asked one meat vendor if I could take a
picture. I was afraid that he would be offended, but instead he took
it as a compliment. He indicated he wanted me in the picture behind
the booth. I had to crawl back through a dirty, blood spattered
cubby hole. There I stood, holding a butcher knife. This did not
deter me from trying traditional Moroccan food in the future. It just
ensured that all my food would be cooked from now on. In fact, we
stopped at an outside stand that had two large pots of soup cooking.
One was Moroccan and the other was pea. We decided we needed more
Moroccan culture so we ordered a bowl of each. We climbed up a
rickety set of stairs to the dining area which consisted of 2 very
small tables. We took a seat next to a local man and observed the
proper way to eat soup. You don´t use a spoon. You use your bread
and dip it. So, we adapted. On each table there was a big bottle of
water with 2 plastic glasses. These 2 glasses remain on the table
throughout the day. Everyone keeps reusing them (no washing in
between). If there is some water left in a glass from the previous
person well, then you just add more to it. We passed on the water.

We did have a chance to have a drink in a bar. We each ordered a beer
and we got 3 complimentary side dishes; salad, stew and fried fish.
Then Ward ordered a second beer for himself and they gave us 2 little
veggie burgers and a relish tray. All that food for only 3 beers!
You never have to worry about getting a buzz because you get full too

Morocco rates #1 for smoking (according to our observations).
Establishments have a lingering cloud at all times. At one point it
was so thick that it made me choke.

As we walked through the residential areas of Tangere it was difficult
not to notice the poverty. The sidewalks and streets were very narrow
and many of the homes were in disrepair. The public phones were
numerous. Land line and cell phones were a luxury. However, every
home had a satellite dish!

Unfortunately we didn´t have the opportunity to personally talk to a
local to get their perspective. These were strictly our observations.
We did have a wonderful and interesting time in Morocco and the
people were very friendly to us.

Back to Spain we went to start our trek to Lisbon, Portugal. The
temperatures were still okay ranging in the 40s-70 during the day and
30s-40s at night. The campgrounds were all closed and the nights were
quite chilly so we were staying in hostels and hotels. In a hotel in
Portugal we paid $45 a night for a room with no heat. When I asked
how to turn the heat on the owner said, "We don´t have a heater. The
sun heats the room." Well, the tiny window in the room didn´t allow
many rays to shine through. We turned on the shower to create some
heat and we got it up to a whopping 55 degrees.

One night we were trying to find a place to stay in Setabul, Portugal.
It was dark and every place we went to was full or closed. We
stopped outside a shady looking hotel on the main square. Ward went
to check it out while I guarded the bikes. At this point we were
desparate. Out of no where a little old lady appeared from across the
square. She started talking to me in Portugese. I don´t know
Portugese but was able to discern that she was telling us that we
couldn´t stay there. I thought that she owned the hotel and probably
didn´t want to rent to us because we are foreigners (that happened to
us a couple of times before) but in actuality she was very concerned
about our safety and said we needed to get off the street because of
the drug dealers in that area. It was very unsafe. She adamantly told
us that we must follow her. She led us about 6 blocks away to a
hotel. She went inside with Ward while I again guarded the bikes. No
vacancy. The little old lady insisted that the receptionist keep
calling hotel after hotel until she found us a room. She would not
leave until she knew we were taken care of. After forty-five minutes
the little lady came out, looked at me and said, "Merry Christmas" and
walked away. That morning I had asked Ward if he ever talks to his
mother in heaven. When he came out of the hotel he looked at me and
said, "that was my mother." We truely believe in guardian angels and
we know we have many of them traveling with us.

From Lisbon, Portugal we returned to the Midwest for our son, John´s
wedding. We spent Christmas in Medford, WI with my family (Spreens).
Then we headed to Decorah to start the wedding festivities. It was
so good to see our boys,
John (21) and Ross (18). The wedding took place on Saturday,
December 29 without a hitch. Molly Lynch (our new daughter-in-law)
had a beautiful white and red wedding dress and the bridesmaids´
dresses were apple red...perfect for a Christmas wedding. The
candles, strung lights and poinsettas in the church along with the
Marine presentation welcoming Molly into the Marine Corp family was
the perfect combination for a very beautiful and moving ceremony. Ward
and I are very happy to have Molly a part of our family. We would also
like to thank the Budwegs (all the Budwegs made it to roll call), the
Spreens and our friends for sharing this special moment with us.

Still no time for zzzs. We celebrated bringing in the new year with
the Putnams, Schweinefuses and Rockweilers. I learnt that wine is out
and martinis are now in.

The next morning about 10 of us crazy soulmates participated in the
annual New Years´ Day bike ride to Bluffton. Unfortunately the
temperatures decided to drop below zero windchill which made "warm
skin" cream accompanied with insanity a must. We still had a great
time and brought the new year in right.

Off to warmer weather and to rest up! On January 3 we flew to Costa
Rica to start the next chapter of our trip. On January 26th we will
be meeting Pastor Bryan and a group from the Decorah Lutheran Church
in Boca del Torres, Panama. This mission trip will involve working on
a water catchment system so they can have clean water. Our next
e-group on Costa Rica and Panama will be coming in about 3 weeks
(after we finish the project).

Three new blogs were entered on the website yesterday. Photos will be
updated in a week or so. Kay, webmaster, will notify you.

Please send us a quick reply back to so that we know who is able to
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Gracias and Adios!
Jacky and Ward