So I’ve started jogging. I did this during the kids’ Fall Break (Vacances de Toussaint, or alternatively Vacances de novembre), in which I cruelly and forcibly MADE THEM go with me to the aptly-named Hilton Forest. The hotel next to it is no longer the Hilton, and it’s not EXACTLY a forest, but it is lovely and the sort of place that should be named Hilton Forest—a large park with a center lake and a café serving very good orange juice (freshly-squeezed of course…no other kind exists in Morocco!), a stand of planted pines (no turkeys though) and a running path that goes through grove after grove of eucalyptus trees (I’m addicted to parenthetical comments so thought I’d add one more).

The children whined horribly. Anyone would think that being dragged kicking and screaming from in front of the television into the fresh air at 11 a.m. on a delightfully crisp sunny fall morning constituted that much-maligned cruel and unusual punishment. At one point I had to threaten to smash Ilsa’s head into a handy eucalyptus trunk if she didn’t stop whining!

That last bit is sort of true.

I had planned to simply walk and talk and connect with my oh-so-delightful-and-happy children, but I decided to see how far I could run. This thrilled them, as you can imagine. And, surprise, I could go father than I’d thought. (It was still pitiful, and you don’t need to know how far it was). It was clear that I needed to start jogging regularly, here amongst the large trees and filtered sunlight just meters away from heavy traffic and honking horns.

Three times a week now, I go and run amongst the eucalyptus, breathing deep their spicy scent. It’s a great place to run. The entire track is 3.5 kilometers, and there are little markers along most of the way, showing how far you’ve come. Or, you can head into the middle of the park, where there are benches, soccer pitches, a prettily-landscaped lake (and café, as I’ve mentioned). I am rather proud of myself for managing to add some regular exercise into my life, and keep it up for several weeks now!

The Hilton Park is a popular place. There are always scads of women, usually in groups, wearing headscarves and velour track suits. Western women in sports bras, tank tops and leggings weave their way in and out, iPods blaring. There are kids on bikes, and toddlers picking up pine cones and eucalyptus bark peels. There is a small army of men working, constantly raking the paths, collecting the debris, watering the plants, resting on their rakes as I pound heavily past, gasping for breath. (Hey, I just started! I’m working on skipping lightly and gracefully) Young men sprint the entire track, beaming with pride at themselves. Families stroll. It’s the place to be for a lot of the population of Rabat.

On Saturday afternoon, the kids deigned to meet some friends there. They don’t mind going as long as they are not forced to walk/run the perimeter, which is unbelievably boring and Must! Be! Whined! About! They were willing to go play football however, which doesn’t count as “exercise.”

My friend Shannon and I went for a walk, through the planted pines (he’s right—they’re not straight! i.e. Vernon, Florida), around the “lake” (really more of a large pond), and had an orange juice in the café under the trees. And, since I wasn’t jogging, I brought my camera and took some pics of the kids and made that an excuse to write a post…

She loves to climb trees

You know they love to pose for pictures!