A Month in Morocco: Gato Marroqui

In Morocco I spoke more Spanish then I ever did on any of my countless trips to Mexico. For some reason it felt easier. I’m not fluent, but I’ve also never allowed myself to really dig into practicing the language because conversations with native speakers make me nervous. But with Moroccans I found myself willing to dive in. I remembered conjugations I hadn’t thought of since 1988 when I took Mrs. Allen’s Advanced Spanish class at Marina High. The “Preterite Polka,” one of her brilliant mnemonic devices came in handy. After four days of backpacking, I took a grand taxi…

Have Coin, Will Travel

When I was a kid my grandma worked at our family bakery in San Francisco. Every Christmas she’d send me a jelly jar filled with foreign coins she had rescued from the till. I’d study my encyclopedia and geek out on the strange countries stamped in colorful metals of various shapes. Some depicted kings and queens, revolutionaries and dictators. Others showed fantastic animals, images of deities, plants and foreign script. Big ones fit snug in my hand and made me want to skip them across a pond, while some of the small ones were light enough to float in a…