Hospitals & Asylums    





Rocks of Gibraltar HA-25-12-05


By Jay Scelza


Just writing a quick (not so quick) hello from a cafe in a little mountain village of Chefcheauon, Morocco to send best wishes and seasonal greetings! (forgive the grammatical errors, it’s a French keyboard and a 3rd world connection] So far we have spent 3 nice, although busy and expensive, weeks in Europe visiting Sharon’s Family and friends in the Netherlands, where we biked a lot in cold wet weather among other things, and then visited a friend in Portugal, exploring the west coast beaches and flora (she’s an ethno-botanist) from her house in Lagos, Portugal. From there we headed by car to southern Spain, Donana National Parque and on to climb the highest, rocky peak of Grazalema where we had views of the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and our destination to the south... Morocco and the °rock of Gibralter°.


On this hike we ate fruits of a relative of madrone (here also called madrona; whick looked like a spiny red grape, and tasted like a pear-peach... gritty, but sweet; and picked some hedgehog ( Dentinum sp very similar to D. umbillicarium) mushrooms that we never fully verified, and so didn’t end up eating. 


We had an interesting time fighting our way through the line to customs at the Moroccan border, and made our way through the gauntlet of hustlers on the other side, who spoke English, and 5 or 6 other languages, an obvious upper-hand and were very persistent, but we eventually made it to a °grand° taxi (named because a °grand° total of 8 people must squeeze inside this 30 year old Mercedes, before the driver will depart) and at last we found a good deal on a bad hotel.


It was only today after arriving here in Chefcheauon that we realized we paid double the price for it from our °friend° who insisted on guiding us there and probably pocketing half the cash.  Oh well it’s all in good fun, and still half the cost of any European hostel.


Needless to say we will not get bored here as here is always something new to see, smell, taste, hear and to keep us on our feet. we will stay here for a few days within the colorful walls of the medina, the old town with the narrow, labyrinthine alleys and souqs (outdoor shops) full of vendors selling anything Morroccan.


There are very few other tourists here and less so as we travel south, so the sights and sounds are fantastically different than anything I could have imagined. For example, we get awakened in the morning around 6am by a call to prayer where Arabic chanting comes crackling over a far off megaphone. 


So I hope this finds you all in a festive mood, healthy, and most important...happily well fed and possibly comatose from rich holiday food. Hope to hear from you all soon (I hardly get enough email from you, you know who you are). Shallom, salam allakum, feliz navidad, peace, merry christmas, happy new year, bon natal, joy noelle, etc, etc....and see you in 2007....Jay Scelza


Here are a few photos to keep your interest...,enjoy.


1. Torréon Peak overlooking Africa, Spain


2. Rock Climbing with Rue and Joanna in Lagos, Portugal

3. Zahara, Spain lake with tree

4. Santa climbing balcony in Seville, Spain

5. Church in Algodonales, Spain

6. Christmas lights in City Center

The French colonized Morocco, Mauritania, Libya, Algeria and Tunisia from 1860-1962.  The Ottoman Turks ruled Egypt from 1517 to 1882 when Britain seized control of the government ostensibly to protect their investments and paid allegiance to the Ottoman Turks until the end of World War I, at the end of World War II Egypt was granted its independence.  Members states are striving to create a joint Border that upholds the 1991 Agreement on Tariffs of the Union du Maghreb Arabe (UMA).  Thanks to membership in the African Union, the Arabic language, Islam and a fairly equal standard of living the North African states have consolidated their economies into a Common Market, or Amah, called the Union du Maghreb Arabe  (UMA) with the Traite Instituant L’union du Maghreb Arabe signed in 1989 in Marrakech.  The objective of the Union is to join the Arab economies.  A number of treaties have normalized agriculture, tariffs and banking between member nations since 1991. 

A total of 153 million people live in 6,009,590 sq km in 7 North Africa states, including Western Sahara that needs a referendum to gain independence from Morocco.  North Africa is 99% Arab Muslim.  All 7 North Africa states have a combined GDP of $656.8 billion with a regional per capita income of between $1,900 in Mauritania and $7,600 in Libya. Total North African government revenues totaled $74.8 billion. Total North African government expenditures totaled $74.2 billion.  Exports amount to an estimated $52.9 billion a year, about half of this is petroleum however the region is an important manufacturer of metal, chemical and petroleum products and textiles and an exporter of many specialized agricultural products.  North Africa imports an estimated $51.8 billion a year, the primarily food products, communication technology and industrial machinery. Total military expenditure is $9.36 billion.  The UMA conducts most of its business in the French and Arabic languages. English Speaking Arab Egypt remains aloof from the organization. Regional government founded upon peace, free market principles and transparent and open borders throughout North Africa offer to promote good governance and individual economic performance through the region. 

Are Sharon and Jay planning on traveling around the Mediterranean with a destination in Greece where they can reportedly work for room and board? Our cousin, Sarah Horowitz, is reportedly living in Israel, maybe she could show you around.  The Israelis and Palestinians have been so well behaved lately maybe you would even want to spend some time working on a kibbutz or other industrious communities in the region.  I’ll be sure to submit these photos to the Move On photo petition campaign for peace.  I’ve been to two of their meeting and find them much safer than the World Bank’s unverifiable conference in Morocco sometime at the end of January.   I have written a 56 page Chapter on the region you should at least read my abstract on the Middle East and Central Asia (MECA).    

Edited by Anthony J. Sanders