Sunday, December 26, 2010


Once TIME was up, seven of us went on into overTIME. At ten pm on the 14th we loaded into one small taxi and began our 12 hour overnight journey across Egypt toward the Promised Land. After spending several hours enjoying the waiting room of the Israeli border security, we were let in to a different world. The streets were clean, the cabs were nice, and everything was expensive. Kelsie and Hannah embarked on their own two day stint in Petra while Josef, Luke P, Sarah, Katie, and I got ourselves a cabride to Jerusalem.

The Holy City is spectacular. The golden dome of the Dome of the Rock stands out brightly along the city skyline. Our highlights in Isreal have included floating in the Dead Sea, walking the palisade walls of the Old City, biking around the Sea of Galilee, touring the Holocaust Museum, and visiting the Western Wall. Kelsie, Josef, Sarah, Katie and Hannah were able to visit Hebron and Bethlehem with a Palestinian tour service and were amazed by the incredible stories of grief and hope. On the 21st we travelled west to Tel Aviv to take in the night scene and see Luke and Josef off.

And then we were five. On Christmas Eve we met up with Ed and Lois and travelled down to the little town of Bethlehem. Church services, caroling, candels, and mullled wine combined to make an unforgetable Christmas. The Palestinians work hard to present a safe and welcoming environment in Bethlehem, but one can hardly forget their plight. They sell small Nativity sets with strong political reminders: Mary and Joseph walking toward the stable, blocked off by a wall. Christmas day we exchanged gifts and attended a nice Christmas potluck at the pastor's house.

We left home 4 months ago today and at 12:45 tonight we leave. OverTIME will be over.

Time is what some might call a nonrenewable resource. Once it passes, you can never get it back. The past four months have been filled with some of the most incredible adventures of our lives - we have done and seen things that we will never forget. We have filled our journals, our suitcases, and our memories with momentos from our TIME so that we will remember what it meant to us. Now that TIME is over, we look forward to the time ahead - a time filled with laughter, friendships, and new adventures together which will forever change our lives.

Thanks for following our blog,
And TIME'rs, thanks for the trip of a lifetime.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

TIME Hits the Books

As TIME examined Ed Langerak’s lengthy study guide on the bus back to Cairo from Hurghada, we began to accept the fact that we had a lot of work ahead of us. We had just spent a week touring Pharaonic temples, sailing down the Nile, and lounging on the Red Sea, but as finals approached, we needed to hit the books.

Now, instead of discussing the roles of the Egyptians gods, we discuss the role of the restraint principle in the public square. Instead of enjoying the liberty to sleep until noon on the beach, we reexamine Galston’s proposal for expressive liberty. Instead of immersing ourselves in philosophical musings, we immerse ourselves in detailed definitions and perspectives.

At all hours of the night, residents of the Cosmo can see Oles scattered throughout the lobby and lounges, headphones on, rereading articles and writing study guides. It looks as if we are all hard at work, engrossed in philosophy or paper writing. Although our efforts are ultimately productive, sometimes we find it hard to concentrate without a semester’s worth of studying stamina behind us…

Kelsie writes notes with her blue marker, daydreaming about sitting at the prow of a felucca, sailing down the Nile and into the sunset…


…At the next table, Claire copies a definition down in her small, meticulous handwriting, and she’s reminded of the quality of the artistry in the tombs. She was always one of the last ones observing the paintings covering the walls and the ceilings…


...Kate twirls a strand of her hair, looking at something she’s written on a green post-it note, wishing she was looking down at the green valley along the Nile in the Valley of the Kings. You couldn’t beat the view from the basket of a hot air balloon at six in the morning…


…Katie Curtis scrolls along the document of her Dell, thinking about how great it would be to see the sound and light show at the Pyramids before the trip ends…

…Nick quickly scans Kate’s study guide before she comes back, wishing he was back in his scuba gear, scanning the coral for tropical fish and the octopi…

…Connor chooses a new song on his iPod, longing to bestow his good taste in music on the whole group as they hang out under the Hurghada stars…

…Jon sighs, looking worn out, and wishing that he was exhausted from examining the never-ending series of Egyptian temples and artifacts instead of from studying the never-ending debates about human rights…


…Sarah turns through her notebook pages, longing to be turning over cards in one of the many euchre games played on the bus rides through the desert…

…Bri adjusts her reading glasses, thinking back to when she was adjusting her camera settings so that she could capture the sunrise over the Valley of the Kings…


…Nandini savors a piece of chocolate to help her get through the day, yearning for the time when she was savoring the view of the Mediterranean Sea from Fort Qaitbey in Alexandria…


…Luke Peterson stares at his computer with a look of intense concentration…not realizing that he’s sitting in front of a mirror, and we can all see that he’s actually playing Tetris. But he has finished his paper so he’s a step ahead of most of us…

…Alondra sips her Pepsi and tries to soak in all of the information, thinking back to when she was soaking up the sun on the snorkeling boat…


…Josef writes a definition in his notebook, wishing he was looking at the writing of the ancient Egyptians or maybe even the graffiti of the 19th century European tourists found on most of the ancient temples…



…Luke Telander can’t be found in the lounge because he’s off exploring some other part of Cairo. We’re still not sure whether he’s more efficient at preparing or just less likely to stress over a final…

…Eliza combs her hair as she scribbles in her notebook, wishing she was examining the everyday artifacts of the Egyptians—combs, jewelry, and even beds…

And I type on my computer, looking like I’m working hard on my study guide when I’m actually writing this blog post.

Here’s to all A’s!

- Hannah Ehlenfeldt

Thursday, November 11, 2010

TIME Grows a Beard

     As we embark upon our adventures in Egypt and say goodbye to Morocco, so must the men from TIME – and maybe some of the women – embark on the journey that is No-Shave-November and say goodbye to their boyish good looks. Razors have been packed away like so many pumpkin decorations before them while peach fuzz and a lack of attention from most girls have taken their place. This month is more of a tribute to our heavily bearded professor and fearless leader, Ed Langerak, than an excuse for us look scrappy or scruffy. Beginning in Essaouira, Morocco at midnight on Halloween, continuing through the rest of Moroccan excursion - Marakech, Rabat and Casablanca - and now moving on to Egypt, No-Shave-November has taken the Middle East by storm. In order to involve those of you keeping score at home, the men from TIME figured it would be smart to give you all a play-by-play of facial hair growing patterns and predictions for the month. Now that we have over a week of growing under our belts, things are finally starting to get interesting. I'll be sure to add reference pictures to explain my lame jokes.


     Let’s begin with Jon Laven. Hailing from Chanhassen, MN, John sports by far the most, the thickest, and the manliest facial hairs in the group. He can actually grow a beard, and he’s had one since we were in Turkey. His beard has awarded him several nicknames. Among them are ‘Grizzly Adams’, ‘Beardy’, ‘Ed Langerak Jr.’, and ‘Jesus’. The last nickname being the most relevant – it’s uncanny how much he looks like Jesus.
Jon, in all his glory
     Moving on to Nick Stang, we begin to see the unfortunate side of No-Shave-November. While Nick’s facial hairs are definitely noticeable, they reside only on his neck, chin and his upper lip. You might be thinking that his facial hair must be the most unfortunate part about Nick’s appearance and overall hygiene, but you’d be wrong – his feet smell really bad.
Nick has seen better days

      Josef Lorentz, or Yousef, as our new Middle Eastern friends call him, resembles what we’d all imagine a 13 year-old Robert Downey Jr. might look like. For some reason, his hair only comes in goatee-form, save the four hairs he has on the side of his face: three hairs on the left, one on the right. We’re nervous about the outcome.
Josef, hiding his shame
Robert Downey Jr.

      On the other hand, I have always wanted a beard. Always. But, due to a lack of courage and facial hair distribution, I have never tried. I always imagined I’d grow up to find a young Jerry Garcia looking back at me in the mirror, but I wound up staring at Andy Richter instead. Here’s to hoping I have a beard to come home with in December. Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad.
Me, Connor, trying to pull off a blonde beard
Jerry Garcia
Andy Richter: Conan's sidekick, Connor's doppelganger

      Moving down the roster, Luke Peterson, the 6’ 8’’ Neanderthal whose long, luscious locks are barely tamed by a red headband – which appropriately matches his ginger-beard. Luke’s facial hairs are noticeable enough to resemble a beard; we’re all just worried he’ll find himself single after the month is over. Good luck, Katie.
Luker, headband and all

     And finally, the unsung hero of No-Shave-November, Luke Telander’s facial hairs remind us of our pubescent selves. We have yet to confirm their existence, but sometimes, and in the right light, we catch a glimpse. We’re all suspicious he’s shaving half the time, but thankfully, his razor is broken.
Luke T., what kind of face are you making?

      Ed Langerak hasn't had a clean shaven face since 1974. No-Shave-Adulthood. We're proud to know you, Ed, here's to many more years of facial hair growing.
Ed, our Fearless Leader

As we turn to the weeks ahead, Nick Stang and I have been making predictions of the triumphs and tragedies that the group will know by the time December 1st rolls around. Only TIME will tell.

  • John Laven will shave his beard before the end of the month. Quitting, just like he did when the group fasted on last day of Ramadan. We all saw the muffin, Beardy.
  • St. Olaf’s predominant Norwegian heritage will shine through. No one will look that good.
  • Lois won't be able to stop complimenting the boys on the trip. Until we shave, we’re taking Ed’s beard’s place.
  • Nick Stang will keep his “moustache” for the rest of his life. He really thinks that thing looks good.
  • The women from TIME will eventually settle down with people who don’t have any facial hair. Both at the request of their future therapists, and to help fend off the nightmares we are creating.


Until then,

Be good, be safe, be healthy, and be in touch,

Much Love,

Connor Johnson and Nick Stang
The Men from TIME watching the sunrise from the top of Mt. Sinai

Oh fer cute

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sahara Desert Adventure: Beginning of Moroccan Excursion

Picture this: You are speeding along in a sturdy, dusty jeep down a thin stretch of Moroccan road. The sun is setting over your surrounding landscape, (which consists of dry flatlands dotted with an occasional shrubery, fossil shop or goat herd); giving everything around you a hazy golden glow. Suddenly, your jeep veers off the road and begins heading into the middle of this empty landscape. A large dust trail flumes up behind you, as with windows down your jeep flies towards an unknown destination following an unmarked path. As night falls and you are assuredly in the middle of nowhere, a camp suddenly appears in front of your headlights. Small dark burlap mounds turn out to be the carpeted tents you will be spending the evening in. The silhouettes of camels in the background can be dimly seen under the overwhelmingly clear blanket of stars appearing in the night sky. Yet the most striking thing about this landscape is the looming sahara sand dunes majestically standing in the background behind the tents; lit by a faint white shimmer gleaming from the rising moon. Believe it or not, this is a semblance of how our adventure in the desert began in Morocco.

Our desert tents at dusk

Berber Musician at the fire pit
We arrived to our camp after our exhilarating drive through the desert. After settling in we mingled with the local berber musicians, and eventually ended up all laughing and dancing with them around a crackling bonfire. Then we were served yet another delicious Moroccan tangine meal in a grand, brightly colored tent with live drummers providing our background music. After dinner, all 16 of us daringly wandered into the massive sandunes our little camp bordered. What a great night it was climbing up and sliding down the dunes in the moonlight! We stayed out for hours, constantly in awe of our surroundings.

We then retired to our tents, protected from the desert cold by thick wool blankets. We were awoken in the morning to the sounds of moaning camels about to take riders out to see the sunrise. Opting for a later morning camel ride, the majority of us set out on foot to the sand dunes at dawn to watch the sunrise. What a magnificient experience this was! Here are some pictures of this morning's view:

Sunrise over the Sahara

Bundled up and perched atop the highest sand dune for the best view 
After our morning spectacle, we returned to our camp for our very own camel caravan. Each of us had our own personal camel led by a berber guide. We spent an hour riding the camels total, exploring more of the sand dunes. Some of our group became especially good friends with their camels. Many had been given names by the end: some including Stockings, Cosmo and Fred. Since you initially mount a camel when it is laying down in the sand, the group found particular humor in the camels standing up with the rider on its back. Their loud groans and long stilty legs made for awkward beginnings as the camel rider is forced to grip the saddle as it swings them in all sorts of precarious angles. Besides this awkward process, the camel ride went very smoothly overall. There was only one runaway camel among our group (camels can in fact gallop we learned), but luckily his rider managed to tame him with much kicking and shrieking in the end. Here are some photos of this adventure:

TIME2010 Camel Caravan!

Connor facing off with his mount

Our fearless trip leaders forging the way ahead!

This wonderful desert experience was just the beginning of our awesome Moroccan excursion. This first day and night however will forever remain a favorite memory among all of us. What a great adventure this trip continues to be! Cheers!

Kelsie Brust

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Day in the Life: Two Girls' Experience in a Moroccan Homestay

"Sabah l kher!"
It's another morning at Maison Didi, Kate and Bri's home away from home for the last month. We're called to breakfast by Meena, our chef des cuisines, who struggles as much with the pronunciation of our American names as we did with theirs. "Sabrina! Ket! F'dor!" (translate as "Bri! Kate! Breakfast!"). We enjoyed morning delicacies such as bright yellow sponge pancakes, french bread, jam, Laughing Cow cheese and the ubiquitous Moroccan mint tea. While some of our group endured the harsh pollution of Fezzi air when walking to school every morning, we preferred to sleep in and take a last-minute taxi, a ten-minute ride that cost less than one US dollar.
Our classes at ALIF (American Language Institute in Fez) consisted of either a class in Dareeja, the Moroccan colloquial dialect of Arabic, or a sociology course entitled "Gender, Modernization and Social Change in Morocco," taught by the enthusiastic and passionate Fatima Amrani - you may recognize her from the wedding pictures. She happens to be the first female Moroccan English-language playwright, among many other accomplishments.

Professor Amrani served mint tea after our final exam.

Pictured below is our classroom; the ornate walls are common in Moroccan architecture.

After a two-hour morning class, we joined our more energetic classmates for the 40-minute trek to our homes in the Fez medina. Arriving at our door, we were greeted by Meena's shout of "SCHKOON?" ("WHO?"). We were instructed to respond with "KREB!" but after using it for the entire month, we are still unsure of its meaning. During our 4-hour lunch break, we had time to relax, complete last-minute homework, and enjoy the midday meal - the most important meal of the day in Moroccan households. The various dishes, always served in gigantic communal bowls, included different types of tagine (a dish of stewed meats and vegetables or fruit), mystery meat skewers, and our favorite, couscous. Every meal was accompanied by stacks of khobs (homemade, round, dense bread). Our lunches were never complete without a desert of fruit. Bri loved the pomegranates and Kate loved the mandarins. Not long after lunch, we returned to ALIF for our afternoon class.

A typical street in the Medina

We spent free time after class in either Cafe Clock or the ALIF riad, a restored, traditional Moroccan house with a courtyard garden, situated in the Medina and available for ALIF students. Internet access at both locales allowed us to maintain relationships with friends and family at home and around the world via Skype and e-mail. We also watched movies, played a lot of euchre and made frequent trips to the nearby bakery.  On days that we didn't have class, many of us spent happy hours getting lost in the labyrinth of the Medina, shopping and getting hassled by persistent salesmen.

The ALIF riad

Bri and Josef at Cafe Clock, drinking fruit smoothies and banana chocolate milkshakes.

Around 9 pm, most of us were expected back at our host families' houses, so we would return to Maison Didi just in time for the last meal of the day, usually a smaller version of lunch. After dinner, the entire family curled up in the salon for what we found to be Morocco's favorite activity - watching TV. Soap operas from around the world (Hindi, Turkish, Mexican, etc.), all dubbed in Dareeja, were our family's preference. Meena would serve the last cup of mint tea to the family and the last two or three hours of the night were spent in quiet relaxation.

Satellite dishes on the roofs of the Medina, illustrating the cultural prominence of TV

Between 11 and midnight, Kate and Bri would bid the family "Bon nuit!" ("Good night!" in French, the second most-spoken language in Morocco, after Dareeja) and after brushing our teeth in the very pink, Disney-princess decorated bathroom, would fall asleep to the sounds of the not-so-silent medina.

B'slama until next time!
Bri w Kate w TIME 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

27 Caftans

The Moroccan host-mothers dressed their American girl/dolls this past Friday.  All of the best jewelry was brought out and matched with their corresponding caftans.  Caftans are the traditional dress robes for Moroccan women at special celebrations-- such as the wedding several of us were about to attend!  Now don't they look beautiful?
So you're probably wondering how we got an invitation to a Moroccan wedding.  Well, the bride is simply our sociology professor's husband's sister-in-law's sister.  (I think I got that right...)  Unlike Owen and Vince, we didn't need a false pretense to show up.  Moroccans love wedding crashers!

 Although the invitation said 9:00 p.m., we left for the wedding at 9:30.  "Arrive at 9:00 means arrive at 12:00 to a Moroccan," Fatima informed us.  Sure enough, we were some of the first guests to arrive.  Our arrival was announced by the deep-chested singing of four women.  For the first time during my stay in Morocco, the sound made me feel like I was in the idea of Africa that Hollywood (read: The Lion King) instilled in me.  The four women resumed their chorus when each group arrived.

Before the bride and groom arrived, the gifts arrived.  Boxes strolled in (via the tops of men's heads) containing traditional gifts: perfumes, jewelry, money, teacups, and shoes.
Finally the bride and groom were brought in.  Each sat in a big white carriage on the shoulders of six strong men.  I say 'strong' because they had to hold the carriages for multiple dances, some of which were 45 minutes long!  Professor Langerak pointed out that the dances conjured images of courtship rituals.
The exhausted bearers:
The bride's mother encouraged us to dance along with the other guests.  Kate stole the show with the Moroccan dance moves her host-mother makes her practice every day at breakfast.  After a few hours of dancing I realized that the box of tissues on each table was in fact for sweat, not tears.  (Mom, I'm sure you still would have managed to cry!)
Mint tea-- which the locals call Moroccan Whiskey-- and small snacks-- which the Minnesotans call treats or bars-- arrived at our table throughout the night.
Two video cameras captured the whole event.  We would appear on one of the room's six screens as the cameramen made their rounds throughout the room.  We Americans couldn't help but smile and look at the camera, though the other guests sat completely still with serious frowns and distant stares.  This footage, as Kate and Bri were fortunate enough to discover a few days earlier, is edited into an hours-long movie for Moroccans to show their guests.
The live music and dancing continued until morning.  We arrived home to a sunrise over the Medina.  (Please note: Ed and Lois have always told us their bedtime is 9:00 p.m., but they were the two most lively at 7:00 a.m.!)  We couldn't have left the wedding any earlier because we would have missed these amazing events:
The bride changed her whole outfit (caftan, jewelry, makeup and hairdo) four times.  The groom changed as well, but all attention was on the bride.  Each of the five outfits had its own carriage and ritualistic dance.  Sister dearest, please don't get any ideas.

Kate noted that we never heard a public announcement (i.e. vows, toasts, introductions) throughout the whole night.  The signing of the marriage papers is a separate event, so there may be words exchanged there.

The bride receiving henna on the marriage throne.
The bride being unveiled.  Her dress was then pinned into the carriage for another dance.
The bride and groom cutting the cake.  Does this look familiar?
Overall we give the wedding an A+++.  For those of you wondering where the other half of the group was, ask for a blog post on their weekend in Spain!

Josef Lorentz and TIME 2010