Monthly Archives: February 2013

Fes and Meknes

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To get to the other side; 7 Tips on Crossing the Road

The seemingly normal act of crossing the street  is a whole new beast in Morocco. Traffic laws and road rules are vaguely optional, red lights are a suggestion, passing on the right hand side is customary, and the pedestrian right of way an alien concept. Thus, getting to the other side is a skillful task, one in which newcomers to Moroccan soil must learn asap.

NOTE: This is a high risk game of Real Life Frogger. 

Some of my earliest technological memories were of this Sega game, and I’m grateful for the early exposure to unconventional methods of crossing the street. If you adhere to my following tips, you will learn to cross the street like a pro and avoid getting squashed by on coming taxis, cars, and other rogue vehicles.

Tip 1: Go forth or turn back from whence you came.

During my first few weeks in Morocco I was terrified to cross the street. Someone would have to guide me, or pull me along so that I didn’t end up standing on the sidewalks edge for 15 minutes hoping for a large enough opening in the traffic to allow my safe crossing to the other side. I was petrified of being hit, thrown up onto the windshield, and carried for some unknown distance (measured in meters) on the hood of some tin-y blue taxi. My fears were semi-assuaged, however,  and I started taking cues from fellow pedestrians. Look both ways, then walk directly into oncoming traffic. It’s the only way.

Tip 2: Stop in the middle of the street.

Don’t tire yourself out. Crossing the street can be stressful and induce fatigue. Take breaks. Hang out in between the traffic.

Tip 3: (For a more advanced approach) try walking with the flow of traffic.

If you can’t manage to find a large enough opening to cross in, step into the road and try walking along between the cars in the direction of your destination. Sure you may be in the middle of the road, but you must learn to amplify your walking time. The more breaks you take, the longer your travel time will be.

Tip 4: Watch out for side-view mirrors!

Drivers don’t usually slow down when driving along narrow streets. A side-view mirror in your rib cage hurts like a bitch. Avoid contact  at all costs.

Tip 5: Don’t take angry honks personally.

Everyone here drives like a drunk driver. This is an observation soaked with irony, seeing as Morocco is a Muslim country and most Moroccans don’t imbibe the adult sodas. But if truth be told, a typical driver’s reaction time here is slow and only to his/her immediate surroundings. Nothing is anticipated. Cars swerve, horns blow, you get cut off — c’est la vie.

Tip 6: There is power in numbers.

Cross with fellow pedestrians. The more numerous you are the better your chances are stopping the traffic coming at you.

Tip 7: Use the force.

Put your hand out, young Jedi. It signals to the cars that you see them, you do not fear them and that you wish for them to heed your command to let you pass.

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May the force be with you.

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Sirsasana; On turning my life upside down

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“Yo this is story all about how my life got flipped right upside down.”    -The Fresh Prince

There have been countless moments in my life where I’ve felt like everything I’ve known to be true and/or comfortable has been flipped on its head. Some of these key moments include my freshman year of college in a big new city, the first time I ever traveled to a developing country, the first time I had my heart broken, the few (very special) times I met and connected deeply with soul friends, the first time I felt my beliefs lined up with those of an organized religion (!), my first yoga class, the first time I felt like my life was unplanned and completely up to  my discretion, and most recently, my first headstand!

I can still remember the day I “got into yoga.” My good friend and I were studying at a café and we decided that we should take a yoga class that evening to unwind and let go of all the stresses brought on by our fully loaded schedules. Like any good generation-y children would do, we Google searched yoga studios in the San Francisco area, and booked ourselves for the evening class at The Yoga Garden. That one class was all it took for me to become a sort of yoga addict. The Yoga Garden, and it’s community of wonderful teachers and zen yogis and yoginis became my refuge from the daily onslaught of school and work, and an place where some beautiful friendships blossomed like  lotus flowers. It was also the place where I began to track my slow (but steady) mental, physical, and emotional progress.

My yoga journey, like any good journey, has had its ups and downs. At the beginning, I was practicing 3-4 days a week at the Yoga Garden under the supervision of some of some incredible, loving and experienced teachers. I saw my physical form change, my concentration  deepen, and my heart open. I practiced regularly for a year and a half before I left San Francisco and relocated to France.

If SF was a peak, France was a valley. My practice became stagnant, I slept constantly creating knots in my once supple shoulders, and almost all together gave up my practice. And then, as fate would have it, I found myself months later in a bar in NYC where I had a chance meeting with one of my aforementioned soul friends. He encouraged me back to my mat, and for that I am eternally grateful to him. I practiced all summer long, surrounded by all the leafy green vegetation that beautiful Vermont has to offer, and in no time I was climbing back up a new, very different yoga peak.

Now, here I am, three continents later, hanging out upside down in Morocco. Yes! I finally (FINALLY!) did my first headstand.  This is how it all transpired: I was scared. I kicked off. I hovered. SO CLOSE. Then I fell flat on the tile floor. Fuck. But I knew I was almost there… and I knew I needed to trust myself more. So I prepped myself again. I kicked off. My feet hit the wall behind me. I did it! I had the support of the wall, but hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day… and support is a good thing anyway. When I came down my face was flushed and I was so proud I literally wanted to high five myself.

The headstand (according to my Google search) is the king of the asana poses, as it represents the masculine qualities of will power, clarity of thought and sharpness of the brain. It should shortly thereafter be balanced by the feminine shoulder stand which creates harmony and happiness. Who knew that these two inversions could bring such wonderful benefits to my life!?

I’m grateful for this new knowledge and this new level of my yoga practice. I’m certain that it will be very useful upon my next scary life transition, where I can most certainly expect to have everything I know to be true and comfortable  flipped on its head. Whatever the challenge or the fear, I now know that if I trust — even if I fall — turning my life upside can be an exhilarating and deeply gratifying experience.

High five,

Lizzie

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