25 05 2010

I recently went to Morocco with another friend from ECM. We caught the ferry across from Algeciras – and it just so happened to be the first day they opened the new port on the other side,  having not yet worked how to disembark the passengers, leading to a half hour wait.

On the ferry filling in the documentation we were a bit stumped by ‘date of delivery’ but we managed to complete the document; what we didn’t manage was to hear the announcement that police were processing papers on board (in English or Spanish)– so when everyone else disembarked we got left behind to wait for the police to return.

On the way out of the boat through the bowels of the garage we stopped to help a Moroccan woman with her mountain of bags. We’d been told we could catch a train from just by the side of the port, which in theory would have been really helpful had the opening of the railway coincided with the opening of the wharf. We ended up on her bus with a group of Moroccans – leaving the crew on the Terry Hills Golf Club tour (Hi guys!) to catch their own bus.

After the bus dropped us off at the train station we noticed that the woman really had too much for just her and the 2 other with whom she now seemed to be travelling – so we offered to help again. By the time we got into the station lounge we had been adopted and fed OJs, croissants and chicken pasties by this ragtag bunch of Moroccans who had only met each other on the train… They negotiated our tickets – a second class berth for us all on the train. The train ride was really a 5hr battle with hay fever. The offending blind was vital to keep the sun out of our eyes and the heat out of the cabin but I doubted that it had been cleaned since they first put the train on the tracks. The two of us sneezed and snuffled for 5 straight hours. – And I’d been excited to leave hay fever behind in Spain!

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The people we were initially going to stay with further to the west got a visit the week before and he was given 2 days to leave the country. She has a few months to pack up their life after 10 years, and their kids… Instead, we visited a single girl working in another city who had room for us to stay with her. That was really great because we did less sight seeing but we spent a day at the place she works with kids with significant disabilities and got to have lunch with a group of the other girls who also work there.

We sat in the back yard of the director of the centre and listened to him share his insight on the state of Morocco and some more interesting theories. A man who is not afraid to sit in his back yard and talk at the top of his voice in a neighborhood of police, lawyers and professionals in a country that is throwing out workers at every turn i.e. ether incredibly brave or as mad as a hatter – jury is still out 🙂

The best was going to the home of a family who attend the centre for a meal. It was fantastic experiencing their hospitality being welcomed into a home. The father didn’t eat with us, but he’s the Imam of the mosque and they live almost in the wall of the mosque in a flat.

What was really full on though was that their son was really sick. His injury occurred 7 years earlier and the day we were there, he way breathing through a fair bit of fluid, propped up, but only his head, so his chest was flat and when we arrived he was so hot that one of the girls asked if she could sponge bath him and change his clothes. I was itching the whole time to change his positioning or give him water, clear out his mouth – but knowing you aren’t there to change their thinking, and doing anything might make today better, but tomorrow will be the same. It was hard to watch and left me with a lot of food for thought.

The most impacting thing though was that we emailed the friend to say thanks, and she let us know that the next day, he passed away. And who knows if that family will have any further contact with people that could be the only ones bringing the Light in their lives…

Making of a Movie

13 05 2010

This week I starred in a movie – well, co-wrote, co-directed and co-produced a short film. After a few tragic word plays and some not so clever stories inspired by Iron Man 2, our teacher decided that Iain and I should put our creativity to the test and record our cortemetraje. So today our props included burning a short with an iron and filming random members of the faculty as dead people. And tomorrow – the opening of Iron Man 3: La Revancha de la Plancha. Bring your popcorn!


12 05 2010

Today, I put my friend, Fi on the bus (at 1am in the morning – only for her to have to wait hours for a delayed flight due to the recurring Volcano cloud). Then I fare welled Tiffany onto her bus beginning her journey home to the States before she starts her next missionary career teaching in PNG. The after class I joined BJ and Rach for Mexican to farewell them as they move house to Castellon. It’s been a big day of farewells.

Los Patios

11 05 2010

The Patio contest is nearly 100 years old. Since the weather gets so hot and dry it is in Córdoba, many houses have central patios filled with plants and water features forming makes a cool haven. Along with the narrow streets, the Patios ar the result of Arabic influence. But the decoration of these patios have taken on a life of their own. Most of the year you can’t see in behind the heavy gates and high walls – but for a couple of weeks in May, they fling open the gates and you can take a wonder through. These are a few photos I took – and some better ones from Fiona and Tiffany (cheers girls! Thanks for joining me in the fun!)

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Chiclet for change

10 05 2010

Being a giri means people try on the funniest things. Yesterday buying packets of chips, the lady said she didn’t have change so gave us our change in chiclet (chewy). The new currency of the giri…

Las Cruzes

2 05 2010

It’s a funny festival. Outside churches in plazas you find large crosses with a cover of flowers, standing over incredible displays of flowers and plants. There’s always a bar alongside the cross often playing Sevillanas which later in the night switches to include some more contemporary music as people chill out, chat and dance. Some of the crosses are beautiful and the plazas festive, the atmosphere incredible. But the whole thing is so surreal and discordant it’s hard to make sense of people gathering to drink and dance beneath the cross.

Chatting with Marina about the changes in churches, she mentioned how here generation left the Catholic church and set themselves apart from the Catholic society in identifying themselves as the protestant church. That meant that a lot of the traditions that came with the Catholic culture weren’t appropriate for the protestant Christians – especially the more evidently ‘religious’ ones like the crosses. But over the last few years that has left the church a little on the back foot with these huge events that mark the cultural and festive calendar of Córdoba. I felt this was especially unfortunate over Easter – when we haven’t a public claim on our own holidays. But it also means that we miss opportunities to get people thinking and present an alternative.

It was interesting to hear Marina comment that she sees that things have changed. The protestant church isn’t any longer the ‘non-Catholics’ and most of the people who are celebrating these things aren’t catholic. The game has shifted. The dominant thoughts include hedonism, agnosticism and materialism. So the necessity isn’t to distance ourselves from the Catholic traditions but to have a voice in a market place so packed with options.

What would it look like to be on the front foot? I’ve been thinking about the ‘Cruzes’. I have a few corny ideas about a cross outside the Baptist church with a bar that doesn’t serve alcohol but a sign that speaks of the John 4:14 water that satisfies. The reality is I’m neither that quick witted but more so, nowhere near informed enough o know what works best in this context. But I’d love to be part of getting people thinking – developing that next step forward onto the front foot…