The scenery of Easter this year has definitely shifted from those in the past…
And while weekends for Marc and I are typically spent resting and relaxing together at home, Easter weekend called for a change of pace. So Saturday we took a walk to the ocean to see the Hassan II Mosque, commissioned by King Hassan II and built as one of the most ambitious structures in Morocco. Remember the Mosque you can see here from our terrace? This is it!
(For any photographers reading this post – these shots were taken with an ISO of 1600 – my mistake! As a novice photographer I’m always learning and find that I’m constantly forgetting something when it comes to getting the right combination of settings for a picture. And while making these mistakes is the best way for me to grow and improve, as a result these pictures are a bit pixelated – but the memory is still captured, which is always what I strive for in my photographs anyway!)
Then Sunday morning I headed to a church service with some friends from my school to celebrate Easter at the Casablanca International Protestant Church. For those who know me well, I’ve struggled with faith and defining what it means in my life for some time. A special group of people (you know who you are!), however, have supported me in exploring this part of my life and, oddly enough, it’s all unfolded here in Morocco, of all places, a Muslim country. Easter Day seemed a good opportunity to take the leap and go to church and I’m so glad that I did. The energy, spirit, diversity, and joy in the room that Sunday morning was unique, amazing, and just what I needed.
The experience made me think…whether or not I had planned for or expected it, in this chapter of my life, I live in Africa. Never again nor in any other place will I likely have the chance to be surrounded by a culture and a people of such passion and purpose. I could focus on the complications of our life here (and many days I do), but my spirit and life are and will be much better served by breathing in and savoring the unique opportunity that I have here to live in this wonderfully spirited culture.
Marc and I know we will be living in Morocco for the next 2 years, basically since my work contract says so, and during that time I will not take for granted the warmth I’ve experienced in the Moroccan people. I’ll continue to find beauty in the way that they greet each other here saying “salaam wa-alaikum” which means, peace be with you, to which you respond “wa-alaikum salaam,” and to you peace. I will smile when I think of our apartment concierge who greets me enthusiastically every morning and likes to call Marc “Mr. Tom Cruise.” I will appreciate that many times when I take a taxi I am asked questions that eventually unfold the story of my life, which then typically leads to asking whether or not I have children. And when I tell them no, I get a confused and fervent response of “why?” since God and family are so important to the Moroccan people that they cannot understand why a 30-year-old married woman would not have had children already! In my defense, I am a proud and happy aunt of my Micah Marie, Tatum Gabriel, and soon-to-be-born baby O’Keefe. 🙂
Having been with Marc for 12 years now, we’ve learned to appreciate our tri-cultural roots and over the years have combined them all in a way that enriches our life in an incredible way. When we want simplicity and calm, we appreciate our time spent in Ohio. When we crave the countryside and the French people with their wine, cheese, and baguette in hand, we head to Valmondois, France, where Marc’s parents live. And Spain, oh how we love Barcelona with its blue sky and cafe terraces full of life late into the evening. Now with Morocco added to our list, I know that when we leave this country, our hearts will come back and we will remember the passion, the color, and the chaos that is our life here in Africa.
An odd transition, maybe, but I just can’t help myself – Shakira’s Waka Waka song comes to mind right about now. Never thought I would live in Africa, but here I am…This Time for Africa. 🙂
Coconut Lime Cauliflower Rice (by Danielle Walker from Against All Grain, http://www.againstallgrain.com) – This is my favorite version of cauliflower rice. I typically serve it with guacamole, caramelized onions, and chicken or fish to create a grain-free burrito bowl.
1 head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
2 tbsp coconut oil
¼ cup coconut milk
1 tbsp cilantro, chopped (we didn’t use it)
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp honey or coconut sugar
¼ tsp sea salt
1. Place the cauliflower in a food processor fitted with the grating attachment and process, until chopped into “rice grains.” Pick out any large pieces that passed through the grater. Alternatively, grate with a cheese grater.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.
3. Add the riced cauliflower and sauté for 5 minutes.
4. Add all the remaining ingredients and continue to cook for 20 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.