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Great African Adventure: Kenya

As soon as I began to tell people we were moving to Morocco, a country in North Africa, I was almost immediately asked about various wildlife; lions, elephants, tigers etc. Most people were surprised to discover Morocco has none of these. This wasn’t “Africa” to them.  There is a very singular understanding in the US of what constitutes Africa, and that it somehow is a very large monolith.  This couldn’t be further from the truth. Did you know the area of the continental United States would fit 3 times into the continent of Africa? Just imagine how diverse the US is culturally, politically, and geographically – now multiply that by 3 – at least.  I thought it would be interesting to reach out to other expat bloggers that are living around Africa and have them share about their adopted country. Over the next few months I’m going to take you on a journey all over the continent I now call …

Amanda MouttakiGreat African Adventure: Kenya
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Visiting the Ourika Valley, Morocco with Kids

Sometimes the crush and bustle of Marrakech gets too overwhelming and we need to get out of the city. Most people that come to visit don’t know there are small towns and beautiful scenery only a short car ride away. Essaouaira is our favorite escape for the weekend but for a day trip, or even a partial day we like to head to the Ourika Valley. MarocBaba and I drove to Ourika on a whim shortly after we arrived in Morocco. He hadn’t been there in years, and had never driven there but once in the area he knew where to go. I had never been. At most to get to the very end of the valley, Seti Fatima (the road literally goes no further) is an hour to an hour and a half depending on traffic and road conditions. Many people also travel this route to visit Oukaimeden is best known as a ski resort in winter (yes skiing …

Amanda MouttakiVisiting the Ourika Valley, Morocco with Kids

How We Continue English Learning in a non-English Speaking Country

Many people have asked and worried about how our children’s English would be affecting moving to a country where English is not used. Before we left, I had a plan that would be similar to supplemental homeschooling.  We’d have a course outline and work on English work daily. In practice this didn’t work – at least not yet. My kids have just under an hour of English instruction at school, but it’s very basic and below their level. By the time they finish school and tutoring for the day they’re exhausted and I can see their brains have been stretched. Instead of focusing on structured learning I’ve instead opted to combine in a few things that will hopefully retain and strengthen their language skills but not overwhelm them. Reading One of the easiest ways I’ve found to keep them engaged in English is through reading.  M is an independent reader, while K is just learning to read. I do worry …

Amanda MouttakiHow We Continue English Learning in a non-English Speaking Country
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Lamb Ragout and Pasta for #SundaySupper

One of the things I have loved the most about moving to Morocco is that nearly 100% of what I cook and eat is local, fresh food. We tried very hard to eat this way in the US but as many people will say, cost really does add up.  Here fresh food is cheap – packaged food is expensive, basically the way it should be everywhere. When I can buy pounds and pounds of produce for only a few dollars, it makes experimenting even more fun. We’ve just finished celebrating Eid al Adha, commemorating the prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son at God’s command. At the last minute God told Ibrahaim he could sacrifice a sheep instead because of his obedience. Every year, Muslims around the world remember this by sacrificing a ram. In our home, there were 3 sheep to be sacrificed. I will admit that this can be a very odd holiday for those not used to …

Amanda MouttakiLamb Ragout and Pasta for #SundaySupper
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Great African Tour: Zambia

As soon as I began to tell people we were moving to Morocco, a country in North Africa, I was almost immediately asked about various wildlife; lions, elephants, tigers etc. Most people were surprised to discover Morocco has none of these. This wasn’t “Africa” to them.  There is a very singular understanding in the US of what constitutes Africa, and that it somehow is a very large monolith.  This couldn’t be further from the truth. Did you know the area of the continental United States would fit 3 times into the continent of Africa? Just imagine how diverse the US is culturally, politically, and geographically – now multiply that by 3 – at least.  I thought it would be interesting to reach out to other expat bloggers that are living around Africa and have them share about their adopted country. Over the next few months I’m going to take you on a journey all over the continent I now call …

Amanda MouttakiGreat African Tour: Zambia
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Lunch with Little Gamal

“Are you hungry?” Yes – I didn’t eat all day. “Sit down with us. What do you want to eat? Do you want a shwarma?” It was a hot afternoon and after running errands we stopped into a sandwich shop to get something for lunch. That’s when we met Gamal. He was 7. He took a taxi with his mom from Ourika to Marrakech, him to sell packets of tissues to anyone willing to spend 1 dH for something they probably didn’t need, and her to sell sweets. “Do you go to school?” Yes I go to school, I’m in 2nd grade this year. The waiter brought our plates; sandwiches, fries, and a Sprite. He was polite and quiet, squirting ketchup onto the plate but only a little – not like my son of the same age who would not have thought twice about adding way more than he needed. Gamal wiped the drops that fell off the plate to the …

Amanda MouttakiLunch with Little Gamal