Saturday, June 30, 2007

Life Looks So Different

It's been interesting to see how differently my daily activities are now that I am back in the United States and not working. Most days begin with a walk, and more days than not include time with my nieces. This morning began with time at the track with my best friend, her children, and my nieces followed by a visit to the playground. It's so hot I had to drag my nieces out of bed at 8:00 to avoid the suffocating heat.

It would seem logical that I would watch more television now that I have more free time, but I actually watch much less. In fact, other than the ocassional late night Sex & the City, I've watched almost no television at all and have skipped CNN almost every morning. I'm sure there is more to it than this, but I wonder if part of the reason I watch less is because when I was working I had too little energy to do the things I do now instead of watching television. My evenings are usually spent walking with my sister, mother, and/or nieces, and then once it's dark I read or work on my long to-do list (my move left much organization to be desired, and I want to get rid of more stuff).

Speaking of reading, it feels soooo wonderful to want to read again. I read books during law school and even during the not-so-fun Bar Exam summer of study I managed to read a book or two a week from the library. Yet shortly after I started practicing law, and my eyes began burning daily from staring at a computer while I read case after case; I lost almost all desire to read, particularly anything more than a magazine or infrequent chick-lit type book. Since reading has been a favorite activity of mine since I figured out that I could hide in my closet and read after bedtime, I missed it a lot. My current read has me all wound up about our FDA and how politized it is--which lead to numerous women's painful deaths from Fen-phen. Anyway, I digress.

I have also been blessed with leisurely time with my family, which I have not really had in years. In the last decade most visits have been a quick weekend deal or holiday, but now I'm doing things like spending a morning with my mother at Barnes & Noble. Or having my nieces over to spend the night and hang out the next day. It's delightful.

I eat more now....It's probably mainly a result of being around so much food that I'm not accustomed to having around (believe it or not, I don't keep sweets and whatnot in my apartment). My mother and sister keep all sorts of goodies around their houses with my mother's all out on a counter, which makes it very hard for me not to have a cookie, Little Debbie type cake, s'more, or other sweet. It's also funny how many invites I've gotten to eat things like Captain D's, Krystals, and whatnot. At least I can turn that down:)

I am also doing my best to adjust to not living alone, not completely having my own space (I am living in a large room at my dad's which is sort of like a studio apartment), and not having my own controlled environment. I am still not very good at sitting still and sort of have to mentally talk myself into sitting down and reading; I find that I jump from activity to activity most days. But I went to the pool the other day with a book and a few magazines and just laid there for an hour, so I'm definitely making progress.

Another upside of this free time is getting to do nice things for people. I finally got to help my best friend out the other day with her young boys; I've hated not being here during the last few years to baby-sit and give her a break from her role as a stay-at-home mom. And my nieces and I went shopping last night for goodies to make packages for a family friend in Iraq along with three guys in his troop; they chose that activity over watching the DVD I rented (and yes that made me so proud:). It's great to see how excited they are about helping others. We've made some beautiful art work for the soldiers too.

And now that I do not work I have no excuse to not go to Sunday school, so I'm attending my dad's class; I'm the youngest by at least two decades.

Oh, I'm also meeting with a trainer now! My mother won 12 visits, and she gave them to me. Maybe this will help me lose my "Europe weight." How come it is so much easier to gain weight than to lose it?!

Happy weekend everybody!!

p.s. I am thankful for the visit from my friend Sarah this week.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Fun and Lazy

I saw this on Brandy's blog, and the idea of doing something fun and lazy like this was appealing. Thanks Brandy!

What were you doing 10 years ago?

I was preparing to go to Spain for a month to study and live with a family and then traveling through Europe to Amsterdam for two weeks. I finally made it back to some of those places this summer:)

What were you doing 1 year ago?

A year ago today I attended my friends' beautiful wedding (earlier in the day I had eaten Chinese, played tennis, and ran a mile or two...yes, I remember!), and the day before I celebrated my 28th birthday and ended a one year relationship--but that did not keep us from still sharing a fun weekend together.

Five snacks you enjoy:

1) Petit fours, cupcakes, cake, and frosting.
2) Almonds or most any other type of nut.
3) Popcorn....I like it best drizzled with white chocolate.
4) Peanut butter and the form of brownies, cookies, Hershey's kisses with a spoonful of peanut butter, etc.
5) Luna Bars....Nutz over chocolate is the best.

Five songs that you know all the lyrics to:

1) "You Oughta Know" by Alanis Morissette
2) "Anna Begins" by Counting Crows (for an excellent dissertation on the same, check out this blog)
3) "I Think We're Alone Now"....the version I listen to is by a, but the person who gave me the mixed CD didn't list its name; of course, I learned the lyrics originally from...yep, Tiffany
4) "Desperately Wanting" by Better Than Ezra
5) "Open Skies" by David Crowder; I'm still hooked on this song.

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:

1) Invest more
2) Start some super cool program for children; I'd think up exactly what it would be while exploring Australia.
3) Take my family on a cool trip.
4) Send people random packages of cool stuff they'd like all the much fun would it be to surprise people at their office all the time with their favorite pears from Harry & Davids or something fun from Sephora or the interesting book you saw at Barnes & Noble?
5) Not much different than what I do now....I think I'd keep the same car; I might buy a modest house, but I definitely would not want to buy more stuff.

Five bad habits:

1) ridiculous quantities. And eating the wrong things.
2) Wasting time doing OCD things like cutting split ends or tweezing my eyebrows.
3) Judging others, judging myself, and being prideful....I listened to a sermon on "Blessed Self-Forgetfulness" during my trip, and it helped me realize that while I am not too bad about worrying about what others think I worry too much about what I think....yes, that sounds confusing, but if you could hear the sermon, you'd understand.
4) Procrastinating....for example, I still have not gotten my money out of teachers' retirement, and I taught 7 years ago.
5) Not sitting still despite the desire to do so.

Five things you like doing:

1) the week since I've been back I have taken walks alone and with Sancho (my dog), my nieces, my sister, my best friend, and my mother.
2) Writing
3) Entertaining/Baking/Cooking
4) Talking, especially invigorating conversations with super cool people that get me all wound up and excited about life and humanity and how inspiring humans and thoughts/ideas can be.
5) Learning

Five things you would never wear again:

1) Sebagos particularly with that stupid looking way of tying them.
2) Colored jeans...I had Guess jeans in purple, red with small white polka dots, green, etc.
3) Sweaters and shirts in at least one size too big
4) Bangs
5) Teachers clothes....I have no idea what came over me, but I'm blaming my mother since she footed the bill. I had dresses that could double as maternity wear or burlap sacks. And yes, one of the dresses was denim.

Five favorite toys:

Like Brandy, I'm not a toy person, so here's the best I can do.

1) My ipods
2) My Sony VAIO laptop
3) My digital camera
4) My cell phone
5) My magazines and books.

I'm not tagging anyone; but if you're feeling lazy and want to do something fun and distracting, knock yourself out.

Friday, June 22, 2007


I returned to Georgia on Monday night, and last night my friend Grace and I finally had an opportunity to catch up on the phone. A few minutes into the conversation she told me that she thought my friend "the oncologist" (a nickname that sort of stuck) had died while I was gone. After she gave me a few details, I knew it was him. I suppose that fortunately his death had made the news, which had caught her attention, and she knew enough about the oncologist to realize it was my friend Mark. I hate having missed the service in honor of him, and of course, I hate this feeling of such sadness.

I cannot begin to explain how remarkable Mark is or rather was. He was beyond description and in some ways comprehension. He was so intelligent, engaging, and emotionally in-tune to me (even after having known me only for minutes) that it was almost scary. I often wondered how he seemingly found at least ten more hours in his day to read, think for others, practice medicine, raise his children, and the like. And to top it all off, he had overcome what sounded like a pretty harrowing addiction to prescription medication. I think that experience gave him insight and understanding that few have.

We met in a random way; I blogged about it back when I did the letter "M" on my gratitude list, and now my thought is how incredibly lucky I am to have known him at all. I love how he has inspired me just by being him. I could give so many examples of how thoughtful he was. When he learned that I was going to Vegas for the first time, he sent me a package with a book on how to play craps, a $10 bill, and a note written in his signature hand-writing that required deliberate thought for each letter. You'd have to see it to understand, and you'd likely think it was some sort of computer type. Last year he delivered the most appropriate gift to my office a day before my birthday. He had remembered me telling him over a year before that one of my favorite books was Walden, although I only had an abridged version. So he gave me a leather-bound American Classic verson for my birthday, writing a note that said the following: "I didn't realize Thoreau was 28 when he made his move into the woods. I'd say you're right on schedule. Here's celebrating your birthday--and your leading an examined life." He always had the perfect words that made me feel so understood and cared for--what a gift.

A few days before he died I wrote a postcard to him from Santorini but still have it since I did not have his address with me. Postcards compromised about 95% of our communication this last year, and his notes always made my day. I received the last one in April--it was from Argentina, and he encouraged me in my decision to leave the firm. He was the sort that understood what was important, taking many vacations (which often included surfing and the like), planning elaborate scavenger hunts for his three children, thinking for others in ways that always made me feel like he knew me better than anyone else in the world. What a gift to have known him--and have a huge envelope full of letters, postcards, and brillantly written e-mails from him to remind me of his thoughtfulness, creativity, and kindness, which will hopefully continue to inspire me to be the same. I am a better person for having known Mark Williams, and I will always cherish having shared a bit of his life.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Valencia, Spain

What a perfect food day....I stumbled across the most perfect tapas restaurant early this afternoon and found myself in food heaven. Usually the tapas here are sort of unfresh looking and just sitting in a few metal containers underneath a glass. They are often uninspiring meatballs, chicken, and the like and are the same in most restaurants. But Taverna de la Reina's bar had a two tier lengthy display case of creative tapas all on slices of french bread. I ended up having six tapas, and each was wonderful. One had cream smeared on it with roasted apples, walnuts, and a drizzle of honey. Another tapa was simple with just cheese and a meat that reminded me of pepperoni (could it be salami?). A businessman recommended I try another, which had a red sauce on one side and some sort of creamy like cheese on the other. And another had a slab of a different sort of soft cheese, a pinneaple wedge, raisins, and maybe some honey. It was the perfect lunch. Oh, I almost forgot...the waitress was pleasant (still not good service by American standards but not rude), and unfortunately that is the exception and not the rule here.

Afterwards I wondered around the old city of Valencia, and it was so hot that ice cream seemed appropriate. And the spot I found to have it allowed me to do the two flavors in one scoop thing, which is always extra fun, so I tried white chocolate and dulce de leche. Delicious.

When I returned to the guesthouse the owner was cooking up a storm. He had said he was making paella, but I had gotten the idea it was for dinner. Alas, it was for our 3:30 feeding....or lunch. The paella was delicious with rice, odd beans, rabbit, and chicken. He served it in the pan he cooked it in, which is the largest pan I have ever seen in someone's home. The pan sat in the center of the table, and we were instructed to just dig in. So no plates. Communal eating, I suppose. I sat beside an older Irish guy who swore at least once in every sentence. It was so....tacky. The words sort of lost their effect when he used the "f word" every other sentence. I used to swear a lot, and it made me wonder if I sounded that class-less when I did so. Regardless it was interesting to hear about his life and his plans to move here because of the economic boom and construction going on in Ireland. After paella, Miguel served slices of pinneaple and coffee (I still cannot believe I am drinking coffee even if it is more milk that actual coffee...I feel so grown up!).

This morning I took a long walk to the famous museum sort of complex here. The stroll there was through a gorgeous park with a bike trail. Once I got to the museum I realized I was not in the mood to go in, but the outside of the place was worth the walk. Plus no one could figure out how to enter this place. Several people asked me, and I could tell a lot more were trying to find an entrance. Weird.

One odd thing about Valencia is that I have never seen so many flies in my life. And these flies are sort of domesticated or something, meaning you can jerk and they will not fly away. One just sat on my water bottle last night until I finally killed it. Weird. Tomorrow I am on to Madrid where I can hopefully do some shopping and find some fun gifts for people since I have only bought one thing to date!

p.s. I am grateful for having so much to look forward to.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Granada and the Alhambra

I had planned to skip Granada since I was tired of hopping around every few days and doing the touristy stuff, but it ended up sort of being a necessary stop between Tarifa and Alicante. I arrived and was fortunate to get into the Alhambra (a Moorish fortress and palace) despite not having an advance ticket--my understanding is that only a set number of people are permitted in each day. The Alhambra lived up to what I had read about it. The gardens were full of beautiful rose bushes and other plants I cannot name, and there were fountains and streams of water everywhere. The interior of the buildings were ornate and gorgeous. I cannot imagine how much work went into building such a place. Unfortunately I was tired, hungry, and grouchy from a morning of early travel and just general annoyance (you know it is about time to come home when you start having the sort of internal dialogue that I am having), so I sort of rushed through it and did not soak it up like I should have. I am sort of over the "should see" stuff and am sticking to the beach now, which is convenient since my next stop after Granada was Alicante.

Otherwise Granada was a very pretty city with a striking cathedral, lots of doner kebab restaurants and pastries, and with nice places to walk and relax. On a scary note, I was awoken by a thud and loud voices in the room below me around 5:30 a.m. I thought a drunk had just returned to the hostel since people here routinely stay out until 6 a.m., but I later learned someone had crawled into a first floor window and stolen a girl's backpack with all of her money and important documents. The thief had used a car as a prop to scale the wall and then jumped and ran. Scary.

Yesterday was a most lovely day. I slept until I woke up, went to an outdoor cafe and had cafe con leche and toast, wondered in some shops and took in some sights, and then I headed to Playa San Juan, which is about 6 kilometers from where I was staying in Alicante. It is a huge, peaceful beach with enough sand that you are not too close to anyone. The Mediterranean was warm enough that I actually enjoyed being it the ocean for once, and I read a good book I got at a swap and pay sort of cafe in Tarifa. The book is called This Book Will Save Your Life, and while it is a bit ridiculous at times it reminds me of what Americans can easily become if we are not careful. And it reminded me of the sort of book I think Ozzy would enjoy.

Speaking of Americans, it is interesting to see what others' perceptions are of our nation. I have gotten several comments of surprise that I speak Spanish--as if no Americans are bilingual. Note: Australians do not seem to be bilingual very much either (and unlike college prep students in Georgia are not required to take a foreign language at all), but I do not hear people ragging on them....perhaps the cool accent helps. Some people seem shocked that I learned Spanish in an American school. Several people have commented on how so many Americans are obese and our fast food consumption, but I have pointed out to them that eating healthily in America is easier than it is here if someone wants to do so. They look at me like I am crazy, but then I explain all of the options we have. For example, the only salads I have seen here are iceberg. Skim milk is hard to come by. Wheat bread is rarely an option in restaurants. But they always come back to how Americans are so overweight, and of course, they are right. Although I must say that I have noticed many more overweight people in Spain on this trip than I did ten years ago. Of course, that could be southern Spain versus central Spain where I was before.

This afternoon I arrived in Valencia, and the owner of the guesthouse where I am staying gave me a ride to the beach. He swam and then wanted to discuss Al Gore with me, explaining how important he was in Europe. He also offered to make paella for dinner tomorrow night, so I am excited about that. I hope everyone has a super weekend!

p.s. I am thankful that I get to see my nieces next week.

Oh and one downside to traveling alone is being at the whim of others for decent photos...hence these less than perfect photographs. Oh, check out my third new pair of sunglasses (which are huge). I keep dropping them.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Tangier, Morocco and Tarifa, Spain

I arrived in Tarifa, Spain early on Saturday morning, checked in to my hostel, and went to talk to the tourist agency about a day trip to Morocco. I ended up heading out two hours later after my hot chocolate and reading (Mere Christianity at the moment, which is something I should have read years ago--like when I was an agnostic). The ferry there only took 40 minutes or so, and it was full of not-that-fun looking people with the red FRS stickers stuck on their tops identifying them as fellow tour group members.

We arrived, boarded a bus, and had a "panoramic tour" of Tangier, never stopping to take photos until we arrived at a dusty dirt spot on the side of the road where we were heavily pressured to ride a camel for a photo op for the bargain price of one euro. So of course being the photo snapper that I am, I obliged. Poor camel didn´t seem too happy.

Afterwards we were shown a few homes belonging to government officials but were told that photos were forbidden. We then walked through some streets and were harassed to death over the next few hours to buy things no one would want. It was really exhausting, and it all seemed worse because it seems the company and guide (FRS) were almost undoubtedly in cahoots with the whole deal. For example, we were escorted to stores that were clearly marked up sky high and forced to sit through what amounted to an informercial on rugs. At another store we had to sit through a 20 minute demonstration on various herbs and creams that supposedly accomplish everything from curing acne to stopping snoring. Who knew?

The only real highlight besides knowing that I was on a continent I had never visited before was lunch. Yes, trust me to find the food redeeming. The restaurant was beautiful with tapestries, pillows, music, and sort of what you would picture a a Moroccan restaurant to look like(whether or not it was even remotely authentic I do not know). The first dish was a soup loaded with yummy smelling cinnamon, followed by beef on skewers, and a main dish of chicken in fluffy couscous. I love all of the spices plus they smell so good. And of course, we had plenty of bread and dessert--a Moroccan version of baklava. Afterwards we were trotted through streets so we could be harassed some more by what were probably FRS´s employees. Most of us were very glad to get back on the ferry.

Even though the tour was a joke, I am glad I went. You can see Africa from the beaches here in Tarifa, and it would have driven me crazy not to at least go check it out for 8 hours and a tour group was the only safe way to do it. On the bright side, Tarifa is a great beach town full of kites, Quicksilver, and quirky restaurants. It´s nicknamed the Hawaii of Spain. I have spent the day with a neat girl from Toronto who is working in Switzerland for the next year.

And I am still surprised by the diet here which seems to include no what is the solution?? Fiber cookies! Seriously, they are everywhere from gas stations to kiosks. And they only contain like 2 grams of fiber as if that is a big deal, and naturally many of them are covered in chocolate. I hardly ever notice anything like that in our grocery stores (although admittedly I am usually just a perimeter type shopper with maybe one aisle), so it just seems funny to me. I have also found that no restaurants have anything other than whole milk--and that enough of it mixed with coffee and sugar is pretty good stuff, which is saying a lot since I have never like coffee...I guess cafe con leche just sounds exciting enough to try it. Several of the town I have visited have candy stands on what seems like almost every block. Each one has drawers and drawers of candy with lots of gummy type stuff, marshmallows, and stuff like that. I imagine children love it especially thrown in with the fact an ice cream stand is on any corner that does not have the candy stands or pastry shops.

As much fun as I am having, I am excited about spending the rest of the summer with family and friends. I leave in five days!

p.s. I am thankful for the sunscreen that makes it possible for me to enjoy the beaches for hours. And I am thankful for tapas, which allow me to try lots of things for less money.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Cadiz, Spain

Cadiz is on the southern coast of Spain on a peninsula and is thought to be the oldest inhabited city in Europe. Years ago I got it in my head that I would love Cadiz, so I am glad to finally have visited it. I arrived by bus and as we drove through Cadiz I was disappointed by how modern (as in USA in the 1970s sort of modern way) it appeared. To my relief, a few miles later I was greeted by the charming buildings that I associate with Spain. There´s a beautiful cathedral, and of course the ocean breeze is a constant in this laid-back sort of feeling port city.

For the first time I arrived in a city without a hostel reservation. All of the online booking sites showed no availability except for pretty expensive places. Even the first hostel I walked to from the bus terminal wanted about $47 for a room (and with a hallway bath). Note: I am sure I could have gotten a dorm-type room much cheaper, but I was weary of dorms at the time. So I pulled out my cell phone (99 cents a minute here in Spain) and called a place recommended by Let´s Go and found a single room with a balcony (but hall bath of course) for about $25. Afterwards I wondered around, got my bearings, and took a nice stroll along the paseo along the water. Of course I had my daily pastry...this time it was some sort of cream with honey and cinnamon sandwiched between what appeared to be two graham crackers but was actually much softer and pastry like.

On day 2 in Cadiz I enjoyed hot chocolate in a cafe. Of course, all they have is whole milk; sometimes they just give you the packet of hot chocolate mix to the steamed milk yourself; and it is always accompanied by a big packet of sugar. After exploring some more, I enjoyed the afternoon on the widest beach I have ever been to, I think. After school let out about 30 boys had two soccer games going on between the ocean and me. Seems like a fun after-school activity.

And if you´re ever in Spain in February, Cadiz is evidently off the hook. My guidebook says that Carnaval insanity there is legendary and that week-long frenzy "makes New Orlean´s Mardi Gras look like Thursday night bingo at the old folks´ home."

Yesterday I thought a lot about answered prayers and blessings, and I must say that I feel quite overwhelmed with gratitude for the experiences I´ve been having...everything from seeing new places and meeting new people to just waking up when I wake up, wearing skirts and flip flops every day, and what feels like freedom from so many of the chores of life for a bit. After what ended up being years of prayer about what I should do next, I am so grateful for both receiving an answer and the answer itself--and of course, for a faithful God.

p.s. I´m grateful for my One Year Bible, which fits conveniently and easily in my backpack (I am almost finished...finally!).

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Sevilla and Lagos

Before my five hour high speed ride on Friday from Santorini to Athens, I finally ran into my Canadian friends again. I had been unable to find the villa where they stayed, so it was nice to visit with them for an hour while we waited for our boats. Once I arrived in Athens, I met an older guy from Oregon, and he tagged along with me to find my hostel. We got buzzed into the building, found an non-functioning elevator, and then hauled our bags up five flights of stairs. While we climbed the electricity flickered several times, and I noticed some blankets on floors as if the homeless were seeking rest there. The oddness continued when I entered reception, which was dim and lit by just a lamp. The owner looked like a wizard and after spewing a ton of information at me, I finally asked for the bottom line. And that was that he did not have a room for me despite my reservation and paid deposit through He told me to check back at 7:00 and that he might have a bed then. Michael and I left our things there and went out to find better accommodations. We did, got checked in, and enjoyed a dinner of gyros together. Then I set out to explore Athens some more on foot and enjoyed a three hour plus walk.

The next morning I woke up before 6:00, took the metro (it took 1 hour and 40 minutes to get to the airport!!), and rested on my 3 hour flight to Madrid. In Madrid I caught the metro, switched trains, and arrived at the bus station right in time for a 5 hour bus to Sevilla. In Sevilla I was greeted by a parade for Jesus Christ. It was sort of funny, but also nice to see people so excited about Christ. And there were two really good bands in the parade, so it kept me entertained while I waited for my local bus. By 8:30 I was in my tiny four person room. I had forgotten how long daylight lasts in Spain. It is wonderful! And I love how people are out walking until midnight. So I walked around and could not believe all of the magnificent buildings, churches, and fountains right outside of my hostel. I had my favorite flavor ice cream--nata, which translates to "cream." Sunday ended up being just a day for me to wonder around and soak in all of the very old and pretty stuff and gardens. I bet I walked over ten miles.

Sevilla was really hot, so I decided it was time to head to the beach. On Monday morning I took an early bus to Lagos, and I am still here enjoying the sunny beaches. The six hour ride wasn´t too terrible, and it was fun to learn more about Australia from Arti, a woman I met in Sevilla. The owner of the guesthouse I am staying in picked me up from the bus terminal, and after I enjoyed a lunch at a nearby restaurant (fish of the day) I took a nap before exploring. Lagos is a laid-back beach town with plenty of beaches to explore and lots of shops. I am staying in a home with an elderly lady who reminds me of a Portugeuse version of my great-grandmother, so it is nice to have that sort of homey feel about accommodations.

As for Morocco, I am going to see what tour group options I have once I am in a city closer to the ferries to Tangier. If there is some sort of day trip with a group and guide, I might hop over. Otherwise, I will likely skip it. I have decided all of the hassle and worry of visiting there is not a vacation, but I could handle one day if I were with professionals! Thank you for all of the comments and e-mails, they have certainly helped. And Kathryn, I am emailing your buddy right now!

Tomorrow I will leave for Cadiz, which is on the Southern tip of Spain. For years I have wanted to visit there, so I hope it is as lovely as I have imagined.

Oh, check out the ridiculously good waffle I had for breakfast one morning in Santorini.

p.s. I am grateful for finding "pavo" (turkey) in the supermercado and not eating out for a few meals.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Decisions, Decisions

So yesterday I took a few hours and sat by the pool and planned out my itinerary for the next 20 or so days. I decided to pass on Lagos, Portugal and have a few days for Morrocco. I allotted three full days there plus two days of travel and hoped to hit Casablanca and possibly Rabat. Today on the high speed back to Athens from Santorini I chatted with some Americans who were strongly advised not to go to Morocco, so I checked out our government's website about travel warnings. Turns out there were terrorist bombings in Casablanca in March and April targeting American-related locations (i.e. American Learning Center and consulate).

Lost has already advised me to find someone to travel with while I was there and/or do a tour group/guided tour type deal, but now that I read about all of this and the following, I wonder if I should forgo it all together: "With indications that such groups still seek to carry out attacks in Morocco, it is important for American citizens to be keenly aware of their surroundings and adhere to prudent security practices such as avoiding predictable travel patterns and maintaining a low profile." The site goes on to detail demonstrations, crimes, etc. that I should be aware of before going.

Any thoughts? I hate to be so close to Morocco (I'll be able to see it on a clear day from spots in southern Spain/Gibraltar) and not go, but I'm starting to wonder if it's more trouble/worry than it's worth, especially since I'd have to do it with an annoying tour group (I much prefer solo-style) and am a blond woman and will have to be so "hyper-vigilant."

p.s. I'm grateful for the internet and all of the resources at my fingertips regardless of where I'm located.