The morning was wet but by late afternoon the sky was clear and the sun was shining brightly, although there were white puffy clouds piled untidily on the horizon, promising more rain. Ilsa and I took a taxi down the road between the Chellah and the old city walls, on our way to try and find a doctor.


This is the road we were traveling along. This picture was taken in September; it’s greener now after all the rain.


I took this picture through a taxi windshield.

On Saturday, I noticed a rash on Ilsa’s neck. I showed it to Jenny, our English friend who happened to be over. “Oh I hope it’s not that thing we had once,” she said, and described a tiny but tenacious bug, not lice but similar. “We spent so much money on this chemical treatment, and washed everything multiple times in hot water,” she told me, “but the only thing that really worked was excessive bathing in really hot water. It took weeks and weeks to get rid of it, and it was terribly contagious.” Great.

With much trepidation, I checked Ilsa’s neck every day, but the rash grew worse. Wednesday was the obvious day to go to the doctor since she finishes school at noon. After lunch, I rang the doctor, only to be informed she would not be in until next Monday.

I asked another friend if she knew of a good doctor. She did, she said, and gave me an approximate description of his location (“There are two furniture stores facing each other behind the Gas Company. Next to the cheaper one you will see a flight of stairs…“) but not his name. I wasn’t sure which furniture store had cheaper furniture but only one had a sign for a pediatrician outside the stairs. Interestingly enough, upstairs from the other furniture store was a dentist and an oncologist. Apparently, working above furniture is a good thing for the medical profession. Who knew? And do any of the medical professionals in your life work above furniture stores? I’m just wondering how wide-spread this is.

We walked in and saw a spacious waiting room with quite a few people in it, which made me nervous. We asked how long, and were assured only ½ an hour to wait. (We hadn’t made an appointment, obviously, not knowing the name or exact location) There were no magazines, and both Ilsa and I, voracious and insatiable readers as we are, had come out without reading material. It was dire. We were reduced to watching an Arabic soap opera about a guy who had just joined the army (we saw him get his curls shorn) and his wife? I assume, living at home with a new baby and two grandmothers and several aunts, all of whom worked together to change the diapers. I couldn’t figure out who the middle-aged woman wandering pensively by the canal and feeding the fish was, while the sad music sobbed in the background, but I really liked her shirt.

We waited about 45 minutes before being shown back to a room with a bed on one side and a large modern desk and computer taking up most of the room. The nurses all wore black head scarves, white lab coats, and the scuffed low-heeled white shoes of nurses everywhere. Ilsa was duly weighed and measured and then told to lie down; then we waited another 20 minutes for the doctor. Typical.

The doctor’s visit was fine. Turns out he has a boy at Ilsa’s school, same grade but different classes so they don’t know each other (there are six Grade 6 classes; not surprising). He pronounced the rash to be an allergic reaction to a really fun purse we got her for Christmas in the medina; local craftsmanship and great one-of-a-kind work, but apparently using harsh dyes for that darling green strap.

ilsaspurseopen don‘t you love the interior pockets?

I showed him another spot on her arm, and he pronounced it a fungus. In French, they use the same word as ‘mushroom,’ champignon, which really amused me. I’ve been calling her my little mushroom ever since, which she loves. No really! What 11 year old girl wouldn’t?