Friday, March 24, 2006

Costs of Livin'

A few weeks ago, when I actually looked up the currency exchange rate, it was $1 = 9.17448 Moroccan Dirhams. I intended to post this at that point, but my get-around-tuitness is still that which you know and tolerate. So, here we are, pretending that the exchange rate is just the same. It likely isn't far off.

One Moroccan Dirham (Dh) is broken up into 100 Centimes (just like the US Dollar into 100 Cents).

The currency you'll most commonly see are paper bills of 200 Dh, 100, 50, and 20. Then there are coins for 10 Dh, 5, 2, 1, and 1/2. Then various coins of Centimes.

You'll often have 2 paper bills of the same denomination that look completely different, even different colors. That's because one is the old bill with King Hassan II (who died in 1999), and the other is the new bill with his son, the new king, Mohammed IV. Then there are some bills with the past 3 kings all together. Just have to make sure and look at your money.

Some of the comparison costs are:
Bread. A loaf of Moroccan bread is flatish and round. About an inch or so thick and the size of a small dinner plate. It is brought fresh to the local shops several times a day. A typical family here will have a couple of breads at a meal (if tajine is served, bread is used as a utensil to scoop up your food). Bread is not likely wasted. Most people will save old bread (old = more than 1/2 day) and will give it to someone with a donkey to feed. Bread here is held in a certain reverence and it's bad to waste. Bad. A loaf of bread here is 1 Dh and 20 Centimes. That's about 13 cents.

Gas. Most of the mid-size cars and trucks all run on deisel. I'm not sure the exact price of that, but it is cheaper than unleaded. Gas costed 10.6 Dh per liter the last time we rented a small car. There are 3.79 liters in a gallon. That means it's $4.38 per gallon. Yep, you read that right. We Americans gripe about the price of gas a lot, but the vast majority of the rest of the world has it far worse.

Rental car. 300 Dh for 24 hours. 250 Dh if you go back to the same guy and he likes you. That's $27.24.

Taxi. There are two types. Petit (small) taxis must stay in the city area, and are pretty cheap. Each city has its own color for its petit taxis. Agadir's are orange. Petit taxi is how I get around day to day. The fare us usually 5 to 15 Dh depending on where we're going. That's $.54 to $1.63. Grand taxis are a little bigger, are white (or cream) the whole country throuh. They can go pretty much anywhere, are a little more expensive, can be hired for a certain period of time, I believe... but I've never been in one.

McDonalds. Only for the rich here. A meal with a sandwich, fries, and a drink is about 49 Dh. That's about $5.34. You can go to a Moroccan restaurant and get soup, soda, and a full dinner for just about that price... prolly a little less.

More later.... any requests?


That's right. I'm molting. Not the first time. I have a long history of not properly considering the sun's strength and my pale skin's tendancy to singe.

The other day I was on the roof washing clothes. I have been instructed to write more about my everyday life. Thus, I shall do so now in this aside... Keep reminding me to do this, because I often clam up when I'm not feeling witty or like I have something both informative and amusing to say. So, yes... I wash all of my clothes by hand. Only the richest have machines... and I ain't the richest. There are dry cleaners here but no laundromats. Washing clothes by hand is just what you do. So, we get out the big plastic tub and scrub away. The washing isn't so bad. Tide (or as they pronounce it here -- Teede) is a wondrous invention. Just a few hours of soaking, a little sloshing of the whole tub to pretend you're an agitator, scrubbing of the important spots... and there you have it. Clean garments. Often that's done in the kitchen, however on nice days it's tempting to go up to the roof and soak in some (too much) sun while doing the chore.

Skip forward... the drying certainly isn't so bad. We have a couple of small clotheslines on the balcony of our second floor apt, and there are several large lines on the roof. The sun here will usually take care of that in no time. I even bought some fabric softener that smells reeeeally good, so that plus the line drying works out just fine.

Now.... the middle bit is where I have the problem. I'll admit I've taken washing machines for granted in general. But OH, the spin cycle. I've never had cause to stop and admire the spin cycle at work. I was usually too annoyed that the lid to my washing machine locked during the spin cycle and didn't unlock itself for what seemed like HOURS if I was standing over the machine waiting to transfer the clothes to the dryer. I mean, seriously... IT'S STOPPED SPINNING ALREADY. Anyway... I will never take the spin cycle for granted again. I do solemnly swear. Because I hate to wring me out some clothes. My forearms might just turn black and fall off before I gain the strength to wring properly. That's why I said the sun USUALLY dries the clothes in no time. That's IF you get a respectable amount of water out of them. Most things I can handle.... my jeans take days to dry.

What can I say, I'm a wimp.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Cast of characters

Denise & myself






The option of going to the movies... not the same in Arabic.

Tammi's death grip that keeps a 2 liter Coke fresh for years.

Tact and witty euphamisms.

Eavesdropping... not the same in Arabic.

The spin cycle... let me tell you, after a few times of wringing my clothes by hand, I will never, NEVER take the spin cycle for granted ever again.

Flotsam and Jetsam

In the local dialect of the Berber language... The word to command someone to "Eat this" sounds like "shit."

So, "Shit. Shit." actually means, "Here, eat this. Eat this."