Actually, the vacation is already over and not the whole summer was vacation 😉 In the two months we spent in Germany and Switzerland, there were various things to do. Some preparations for the move to North Africa, some paperwork to rewrite, contracts to make or cancel, vaccinations to digest, another meeting with „Opticunion“, for which we will also work in Rabat and other things. Some vacations in Switzerland and Bavaria were also part of it, as well as a little time with our children and an “unround“ birthday. 85 years are already a reason to celebrate. The whole family came together and that was very nice. We really enjoyed the reunion with our children, our siblings, nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews. It’s always nice to see the next generations take up baton. It’s all in the past now, even though the memories and photos remain and warm the heart, we’re already flying back in a few days to a land where the warmth still burns from the summer sun from the sky….
But now enough words have been made. Now I let pictures speak:
From the beginning of July until just under mid-September, we will be in southern Germany again. Since we want to work abroad again longer after our working years in Germany, something has to be changed in our 30-year employment contract.But before we left we had our first „storm experience
One evening there was a really gloomy storm over our house. Thunderstorm atmosphere. The wind increased, so did the sand in the air. Closing the windows we noticed a „strange light atmosphere“ over the houses and heard the first thunder. Curious as we are, we climbed onto our roof and looked around in all directions. Not without getting our eyes full of sand. In one direction the sky was gray-black, in the other we saw swaths of sand drifting along and pushing in front of the sun. We quickly took a few photos and got off the roof, as a few first drops of rain were also falling. Much sand was blown by fierce winds through the streets and over the houses, and where the windows were open, also into the apartments. Unfortunately, it remained much more sand than rain. There was only so much precious wet from the sky that the ground was barely wetted properly, and the wind dried it away again right away. When the situation had calmed down a bit, I climbed onto the roof again. I was terribly surprised how the sky and the sunset now appeared. And I was rewarded. Sun and sand are really great artists who conjure up wonderful images in the sky:
Breakfast time on Sunday goes til….?
It was already past 12 o’clock and we wanted to fortify ourselves with a little lunch at our favorite corner eatery before heading out for our Sunday stroll into town. Our lunch order was also taken nicely, but a few minutes later the waiter came back and said, „It’s still breakfast time. Lunch won’t be served until later.“ Wide-eyed, we looked at each other and at him and asked until when was breakfast time? „Sundays, about until a little before two. Then the kitchen crew changes…“ Our conscience wouldn’t allow us to just get up and leave, so we ordered one Moroccan breakfast and one Berber breakfast. It was very tasty and the salad, we made us then for dinner at home 😉
From Casablanca we went for a day to Rabat. So quasi for the sake of completeness also visit the capital briefly, we thought. Really, we did not give much weight to this day trip. Because for us it was already almost 100% clear that we will stay in Fez. Provided that God does not send a soulquake.
When we then stepped out of the train station onto the main street in Rabat, we were really „caught off guard“. A tremor passed through our souls and hearts. Somehow we felt, „this is our city“. And the more we walked around the city, looked at the old fortress, the huge cemeteries along the city wall, the beach and just the old town, the firmer the feeling became. The calm atmosphere we felt also did us good. Somehow we felt we could move more freely here than in Fez. Whether that was perhaps only because it was Friday and on Fridays the whole life here is quieter, we did not know?
All this confused us not a little. We could make a list of pros and cons for both cities. We talked and prayed and decided to travel to Rabat for a few more days to Rabat to see the outskirts of the city and gather more facts. To walk around the city and pray on the spot…. We want to live in the city that God shows us and be open to His directives….
Rabat is one of the four royal cities. The name means „fortified place“ and dates back to the border fortress „Ribat“ of the Zanta Berbers in the 10th century. In the 12th century, the fortress was expanded into a fortified city. Rabat is the capital of Morocco, located on the Atlantic Ocean at about 20 meters above sea level.
In the five days we could roam Rabat „crisscross“ and also dive sometimes in the cool Atlantic to get a clear head again, we could gather more fakts and feelings. We like the city and the people. Rabat has some advantages over Fes, but Fes also has a few points that surpass Rabat. We have long lists of for+against and a roller coaster in our hearts, but no clarity yet. However, Rabat seemed more and more to become the place of our future, even if we still don’t have a whole certainty. But perhaps our certainty also depends a bit on the many „technical“ question marks we have. We do not yet know exactly how and what will work… where to live there, how to find housing…. But there are still a few weeks until then and still a lot of time to pray 😉
We are so grateful for the good introduction Han gave us and not only in Fez but also in Casablanca. It made it so much easier for us to settle in and find our way around.
It is also a great blessing for us that we can live so freely in his apartment, while he and his Family are not living here. We like to look after his apartment, which has already become our home. In general, we already feel „at home“ here in Fez and have found a certain routine. It seems to us as if we had already lived here „for years“. Only when we want to talk to the friendly, nice people around us, we realize again that we have not been here for long. Actually only four weeks! We are grateful for all the friends who carry us in prayer and are this way a part of our life! You make it easy for us to settle in and live here!!!
In the lessons of our French course we sometimes feel like on a roller coaster. Sometimes it goes quite well and you think you have made progress and the next day you find yourself in a dark cellar hole because overnight your head has been swept clean and you „can’t get anything together“. So the feelings go up and down and in the middle of it you get a bellyache from laughing when you realize that you just explained „that you listen with the birds“. Birds and ears sound quite similar in French… And Russian words keep tumbling into the sentences too. The language confusion of Babel sends its regards…
One day we made a trip to Meknes. We wanted to visit the small town which is about 60 km away from Fes and stroll through its old town. And since we like to be on the road early, we were at our destination shortly after ten. From the train station we walked towards the old town, but it is not as easy to find as in Fes. So we looked for a café where we thought the old town was, to drink a cup of tea and get a little orientation. We found one with a roof terrace 😉 After tea and consultation with Mr. Google, we went from there around a few corners into the alleys of the old town. We strolled along the stalls and practiced „not looking closely“ and „not asking for prices“. Because at the latest when you show interest in the goods, you can hardly get away without buying. The merchants are dependent on the tourists. Their purchases are often the only source of income. We got through quite a long time without shopping, but towards the end of our stroll, we came to a nice Berber, who invited us in German into his small store: „Just to look and chat“, he said on our „but we do not want to buy anything“. Getting involved in „just looking“ is usually already almost „the beginning of the end“. We talked and chatted and shared about the families, the difficult last years and about this and that and we then bought two small souvenirs. (Small gifts come always handy, we thought.) Then he showed us beautiful bed rugs and said we would get them for very cheap. Because the Swabians, (he had found out in the meantime that we are from the Black Forest aera), are thrifty people, therefore he would give them to us for the cheaper price. He would then simply demand a little more from the Americans and the British, he said. Besides, he said, we were his first customers today, and if the first customers bought well, it meant merchant’s luck for the whole day. We already knew this „way of thinking“ from Russia. In the meantime we had also found out that he has a family with three children and the last years had been especially hard for them because of the Corona restrictions. Since we could actually use bed rugs and he gave away the beautiful rugs so cheaply, we gave him a little extra with the words „this is for the kids“, not for business. As friends and with a joint farewell photo, we parted, each satisfied.
One thing we have learned: we no longer go to the markets in the morning, but only in the early afternoon. Because our heart can’t stand to be the first customer there and not buy anything… And we don’t buy the souvenirs „en gros“ (in large quantities at once) at bulk prices anymore, but take them one by one to give as many sellers as possible a chance and to cultivate friendships 😉
On our first Sunday in Fez, we had arranged with M for a tour through the Medina (old town). We met at half past ten in front of the main gate, the „Blue Gate“. It was built in 1913. The former main gate is to the left of it, is a few centuries (9) older and a bit smaller. The city wall has 14 gates and 17 km in length.
The Medina consists of two parts: The „Andalusian part“, built around 813 by Andalusians expelled from Spain, and the Tunisian part, built around the same time by immigrants from Tunisia. The two parts are divided by the small river Fes, but now no longer separated by walls, but connected by bridges.
Through the Medina there are two „main streets“, the „Small Slope“ and the „Big Slope“ and about 900 small cross streets… Under the Medina there are supposed to be over 60 springs, through which it is pleasantly cool in the Medina. In addition, there are over 80 public fountains where anyone can get water! In the Medina, there are three important sanctuaries and over twenty theological schools/universities. The University „al-Qarawiyin“ started in 859 as a madrasa and is the oldest educational institution in the world. It was founded by the merchant’s daughter Fatima al-Fihri. She used all her inheritance to establish this institution to provide education to the people. The university has 14 gates, one of which is especially for female students.
There was so much to discover in the Medina, so many market stalls, some of which reminded us of the markets in Russia. So many beautiful things, many hand crafts, but also delicacies. Copper smiths, carpenters, tailors, bakers, butchers with camel and goat meat. A „Pharmacie“, a place where spices for the kitchen, herbs were prepared to oils and ointments for cosmetics and also for medicine, was very impressive. And always so much historical information about the houses and squares of the Median, also about the residential streets located between the „market streets“.
We also visited a weaving mill. There are woven and processed so great, beautiful fabrics from ONLY natural „ingredients“. From tough cactus leaves fibers are obtained, these are dyed and woven together with wool and cotton. The cotton forms the warp threads (longitudinal) the wool and cactus threads form the weft threads (transverse).
The short tour of the tannery/dyeing plant, which has existed since the 11th century, was also impressive. Leather is made here from animal skins for centuries. The guide explained to us that no chemicals are used. The first thing that they do with the animal skin, is that the hides would be put into a solution with limestone. This would loosen the hairs and the remaining not usable things from the hat. Then the skins would go into a bath, that would soften the leather. Then into the „dye pots“ with only natural dyes. Poppies for red color, henna for brown, mint for green, indigo for blue (I forgot the others). The skins lie in the various solutions for 5-6 weeks and must be moved daily. Then they are hung up to dry for another 4-6 weeks….
During the tour of the tannery in the old town, it was not only the aim of the guide to explain us the process of work, but also, if possible, to sell something 😉 There were so many beautiful things made of leather. Most of it from goat and camel leather, which is to be much more durable and softer than cow or sheep leather. But since I (Fränzi) had already spent a little more than my pocket money in the weaving shop, we excused our „not buying“ by saying that we had no more money with us. „That doesn’t matter at all,“ said the nice young man, „you can arrange different kind of paying.” They would also take bank cards, or they would even bring the purchase to the hotel, then we could settle the bill through the hotel. After a few moments he said with a smile, that the best way of paying would be: „The woman buys nice things and the man goes to work for a few weeks in the tannery….“
Again and again we saw these special doors, especially on old houses. When I asked our guide „why“, I got the following explanation:
They look like keyholes, because behind the doors is paradise. Whoever has the right key, has access to paradise..… This is even more understandable when you consider that this type of house, the „Riad“, has a enclosed courtyard with a fountain and usually a small garden. In addition, „Riad“ means paradise…
Below the „blue gate“ from a the back…and there it is green 😉 To the left of it „our Medina favorite coffee place“ with pretty terrace, which we will visit only next time…
(the first four days)
Finally, the preparation time is over.
Finally everything is sorted, stored or packed to go.
Finally the goodbyes are over.
Finally the first steps towards the „new home“ and into our new phase of life are done….
With a laughing and a crying eye we take these first steps towards our new world and have more than just a tingling in our stomachs! What is waiting for us on the other side of the Mediterranean? Over which roller coaster will our feelings roll…?
Well, we arrived in the middle of the night. At night, everything is in the dark, intangible and difficult, especially when you are also quite tired. We spent the first night in a small, tiny hotel room between the airport and our co-worker’s apartment. When we finally lay in bed, we were already longing a bit for our old home and our thoughts were riding a bit of a roller coaster. The next morning Han picked us up and we first went out for a nice breakfast. The breakfast lasted three hours. Not that we ate so much, it was not the food that was important, but the fellowship, talking, listening, getting to know each other and collecting ideas for later. Then we went to the bank to change money and to Maroc Telecom for new SIM cards. That also took time, two hours. The subsequent tea time was almost as long as the breakfast. Getting to know each other and planning takes time and in the heat here (already up in the 90s) everything goes a bit slower. Also, the tea ceremony must be learned. To stir the sugar, (which they put in the pot, if you don’t tell them not to do) in the teapot, you can’t use a spoon to stir. That offends the teapot, we were taught. Pour the tea into the tea glass and back into the teapot. This process is repeated three or four times. Then pour the tea into the glass from quite a height, creating many bubbles. Because the bubbles improve the taste 😉
It was a long day at the end of which a Moroccan dinner awaited us in Han’s apartment. At the same time and afterwards we continued to talk…. So about eleven o’clock we fell dead tired into our bed, which stood at an outside wall of the apartment heated up by the sun. (90 degrees in the room) Nevertheless we slept well just the prayer call of the Minaret in the dawn woke us up for a moment, but we went back to sleep right away.
After a few more hours of sleep, we went to the cafe on our corner for breakfast. Since Han had to leave after three days, he wanted to show us as many of his favorite places and other necessary things and explain so much as possible in the short time, without having to „waste“ much time for shopping and cooking. After the delicious breakfast (with further planning discussions) we went to see three language schools, because we wanted to improuve our language skills during the few weeks in Fes. Then, before we went to visit a friend of his family, he took us to a typical Moroccan lunch in a “Riad”. The „Tajine“ is of course eaten with (clean) fingers. A „Riad“ in Morocco refers to traditional Moroccan houses with a cool incloused courtyard. In our case, the Riad was a small hotel with a covered courtyard and fountain.
The visit that followed, with very intensive discussions, stretched over five hours, so that we were not back home until shortly before twelve at night and had almost fallen asleep before we were in bed.
After breakfast on the third day, we headed to the language school where we felt we were in the best position to enroll. This enrollment is not simply filling out two forms and agreeing on the lessons. There is first talking to get to know each other a bit, to match wishes with available possibilities and a few minutes chatting with the German teacher, who just arrived for the lessons and who was very happy to speak a few sentences with „real Germans“. But then the schedule was settled and the price was also paid and we headed off to one of the tourist highlight of the city. Not yet the tour through the old town! It was the tour past the Mc Donalds (MacDo) to one of the largest shopping centers (Borj Fez) of the city. There you can have everything. Starting with frozen yogurt, Pizza Hut and Burger King to Lacoste, Adidas Yves Rocher, Nespresso, Birkenstock and others.
It was interesting to stroll through there. But I noticed again, that I feel much more comfortable at the markets and in the small street-shops.…
Today we were lucky, because there was a short gap in the late afternoon without a program. So there were two hours time for siesta. Shortly before eight pm we left to meet another friend of Han. To visit him, we went to one of the few hotels whit five stars in the city. The friend is a tour guide and just had a tour group in the hotel. So we sat with him and our drink on the terrace and chatted. Well, Klaus and I listened more than we chatted, because the guide told us some interesting things about the city. Especially since we saw the Medina (ancient town) right below us.
Of course, we ended up in the land of dreams quite late again and this morning, we didn’t even hear the call to prayer at dawn. This day was a special day. We made a short detour to the vegetable and fruit market and quickly visited Han’s mechanic friend, before we then dropped him of at the airport. Klaus was driving Han’s car and on the way home, we should stop at the gas station to get some fuel. At the gas station we just stood around a bit lost and asked ourselves, where is the diesel here? But then a friendly employee came up to us, nodded affirmatively to our „Diesel??“ and asked something. We assumed he asked „for how much“ and answered „deux cent“ (200). He asked back „deux cent?“ and we nodded. When he had already turned away, we became a bit uncertain, called him back again and asked: „liter or dirham?“ (Dirham = Moroccan currency) With a big grin, he meant „liter“ and operated the gas pump while we literally saw a thought bubble rise above his head, „Of course liter. You’re not a truck after all…“
Now there are only a few days until we fly. Not on our noses, but to Fez 😉 The time here in our temporary home passed very diversified. There was a lot to do, to prepare and again and again plans were changed and adjusted. But between all the work and thinking (canceling old contracts, signing new contracts and deciding, what is needed and what is not needed etc.) we also had time for family, visits and some trips to old favorite places.
To the Hegaublick, Schwenninger Moos, Rhine Falls and Neckar Bad (Swimming hall), to name just a few. The hours and the fellowship with family and brothers and sisters, “real relatives” and in the Lord, have enjoyed our hearts and souls…
Our „that’s what we keep pile“ was worked through again and to make it a little smaller, we passed on a few more things. Now everything left, including our bikes, fits in our seven square meter storage room.
During this time we also had a first planning meeting with the company with/for which we want to set up a business branch in Morocco.
It was challenging, that our beautiful, cozy transitional holiday apartment grew over the weeks into a shared apartment with four people. This was especially not easy for me, Franzi, since I was looking forward to some peace and stability after the packing and the moving with all the hustle and bustle and goodbyes. Then, we got to know, that once in the countra, we will not be setteling in on our place right away, but have to go on „five-city tour“ first to find out which place was the right one for us. Oh yes, and I had Corona over Easter and a few days later a stomach bug… There was no real joy coming up, only by the thought: „Better to be sick now, than two days before departure“, it got easier to live trough.
Sometime during this „crunchy“ weeks, I heard a devotional from which only one phrase stuck with me: „You have a choice to be discouraged or to be encouraged.“ That reminded me that my well-being doesn’t depend so much on a situation, but on my reaction to it. So I wanted to look more for things that encourage me or simply say thank-you again more often, because that lifts the heart up to God and that encourages. The prayer walks with Klaus in the green helped me in this. In God’s beautiful spring nature there is so much encouragement: Colorful flowers, greening trees, chirping birds and a lesson from our landlord about beekeeping.
In mid-March, the time had come: everything that seemed important to us, was packed into boxes and waiting to be moved to the storage. What was not allowed to the „come with us“ pile had been given away or had found a new owner via internet. This made our hearts happy, because only a few things ended up on the bulky waste pile. But after everything was „bagged“ and before Klaus picked up the moving truck, we still had time for a last farewell stroll on Warnemünde beach and a last coffee break in our favorite coffee location.
Then the deadline was there. And so did the helpers. They were so hard-working that in just a bit under two hours all our belongings were stacked and tied up in the truck to prevent slipping. After initial doubt that the truck would be big enough, everything had found its place.
All that still remained, was to hand over the house to the new owner and, after a somewhat restless night, to hand over the last key in the morning at 6:00 a.m. before we set off with both, a joyful and a some what sad, but thankful heart. Not only did the trip go smoothly, but God had even provided us with a third driver and fourth companion. Traffic jam-free and without any problems (except for the astronomically high fuel prices) we made it to Stuttgart, where we dropped off our fellow drivers. Shortly before that, it started to rain lightly. But not only water came from above, but a „yellow, sandy broth“. The raindrops had to pass a huge Sahara sand cloud before they landed on our (and other) cars. And since the light drizzle only smeared the dust on the windshield, I had to spray a lot of windshield wiper water, so much that I was already afraid, that I would run out of it before the reaching the new home…
In the evening shortly after six o’clock we reached the warehouse, in which we have rented a small room, well and relieved. Here, two strong helpers were already waiting for us to help us unload and stow away the boxes and crates… With some difficulties we brought everything in the small room, brought the truck back and were looking forward to our bed. „Our bed“? Well, the bed that would be our sleeping place for the next few weeks. Although we were quite exhausted and knew that in the coming week we would have to sort out some of our stuff again and part with even more things, we slept well….
First, a brief review of the Christmas season… We enjoyed it very much, the time with friends while walking, unfortunately without snow, but with good exchange, and the time together with the family. Family reunion for Christmas in Switzerland had to be canceled for well-known reasons, but there were several meetings with individual relatives, which was also very nice. As a common activity for the big celebration, the common practicing of a line-dance was planned. Well, four of us practiced it anyway. We girls had fun dancing and Klaus filming 😉
Christmas we could celebrate with our sons and their girlfriends/wives and Klaus brother with your family. It was very nice and the short plays on „life themes“ were funny 🙂
Then the family time after New Year’s was already over and as soon as we were home Klaus was sent into quarantine for two weeks: Somewhere on the way he had caught Covid. Nobody knows where and nobody but him got sick.
In the middle of January we „disposed“ of some of our furniture. We drove them to Dresden, where they are now in Manuel’s apartment. It makes us feel good that some of our still beautiful things are still needed. (Including my 16 years old cactus) the cactus survived the transport well, the pot did not, but I had a spare pot with me 😉
In February we celebrated our birthdays in Rostock for the last time (together we turned 119 years old) and hosted the last short-lived visitors. Before we then packed the guest bedding into boxes.
Now it goes very fast…. Finished packing…. Finally saying goodbye…. And on 16.3. we leave with our last belongings in „the direction of a new phase of life“…
…and after the beautiful birthday celebration with fellowship with so many dear people, when the heart was so overflowing with joy and gratitude, just two days later water dripped from the ceiling in the children’s room. There is a terrace above it from where it is leaking somewhere… as if „the worm is in it“. Now we are watching our hearts, so that no worm may poke around in it….