I have lost all track of time. I know today is Sunday and that I arrived here in Gibraltar midnight Friday. Two trains and six hours Casablanca to Tangier on Thursday, befriended by Miriam and Nadia, two lovely Muslim sisters who were traveling to visit their cousin. Miriam, a nurse, insisted on carrying my bag on and off the train, because, she said, “I’m young. There was no refusing because she was right. So, I shared my sandwich and chocolate with them. Miriam said, “We are lucky.”
The several hundred year old Continental Hotel in the Medina that over looks the port was a fairy land of colorful tile & mosaics, arches, and art work. Unfortunately it also sits directly above the parking lot for the numerous cargo trucks that carry African goods to port where they cross the Atlantic or Mediterranean and make their way into our lives for good or bad.
That afternoon my camera was stolen – at the cyber
cafe. So every picture I took except the ones on the last blog is gone. The rest will fade from my memory as surely as photographs left in the sun do with time. I am sad. I am also exhausted. Being robbed is tiring in the saddest sort of way.
But, before the theft I let 2 children, Ahmad 10 and his sister Dania 14 show me the way to the Kasbah… after which I gave HER the generous tip & told her to share with her brother. He was pissed. His was a typical reaction of the Moroccan male who feels he is a bit above the female gender-still.
The Moroccan men. They congregate everywhere there is a chair to sit on: benches, around small tables in and in front of the many cafes, along the beach. But rarely do you see a single woman or any women in most public places unless they are with a man or another woman. The men are omnipresent for money at every turn. The touts ‘helped ‘ me – by walking uninvited along side me, or offering advice or to to find the best of anything I wanted: food, lodging, goods… Only one invited me to sit with him for a cup of tea. And I felt myself relax.
The cost of a taxi ride to the same place varied so wildly according to the whim of the driver that the battle began before I got in the cab. In Fes drivers turned down passengers- in Casa, they took as many as would fit and made everyone pay separate and unequal amounts.
On Nov 5 I had a melt-down. In retrospect I feel sorry for the old guy I yelled at but fuck it. I had stayed awake all night to watch Obama become president- crying unashamedly with Jesse. The polls closed at 1am in Casablanca; he gave his acceptance speech at 5am. Since my raging adrenalin would not allow me to sleep I spent the morning boxing up stuff I had bought for friends and went to mail it. With the help of the hotel staff (lovely men, one and all and exceptional it seems to me), I had a box, and got in a cab to head to the DHL office.
At DHL I was told my box would cost $260.00 DOLLARS! Jesus! I left. Carrying the box on the busy street I could not find a taxi for the life of me. So I walked-and walked. Finally a taxi ( with an honest driver)stopped and took me to the post office. At the post office I was told to go round to the side where packages were sent. When I got there a man standing on the steps got in step with me to the counter. After my box was weighed and I confirmed that I was willing to pay $50.00dollars to mail it the anonymous the man took the box. I asked the guy behind the counter, “Who is he?” and pointed to the man with my box. “He works for the post office.” he said. “And you will pay him.” I said. He smiled. Ha. The man, proceeded to take my stuff out, dump it into another box, tape it and show me where I was supposed to write the address…
When the box was safely (more ha) behind the desk I was given exactly 50 dh change. The man reached out his hand for it. I snapped. I gave him 10 dh which is about a dollar. He pushed the coin back. 50 dh he demanded. I yelled, For what! His voice got louder. The proper clerk behind the counter smiled. Ahhh. We are breaking another tourist-and extra points for a woman. I was ready to cry. Instead, I threw the bill at him. ” I hate Morocco!” I yelled and ran into the street. They could care less if I hate the place or not. They got the money. And, since my box full of presents has not arrived in the U.S. I think they helped themselves to the contents.
The crazy bitch. Yell at us.
But then there was Mohamed, the chef at the Guynemer and Amina, a Moroccan woman I met having lunch at La Bodega.
He, besides being an excellent chef is warm and fun to be with. When I got to the hotel Guynemer ( a n absolutly delightful place to stay by-the-way) without a reservation of course, I had to wait an hour or so until they kicked someone out of a room-a man the rumor goes, so I, a woman in need, could have it, Mohamed took me walking aound the central market to while away the time. And he was a staunch Obama fan. And he has emailed me pictures another tourist took . I will get them downloaded soon and share. So enough said, I’m a baby to complain.
And Amina. After my meltdown I went to La Bodega for lunch. A line stretched out the door but I was invited through it by the matre d’ to the bar where I had a beer and a plate of tapas. A woman sat next to me. Vibrant, and gregarious, a Moroccon woman who had lived in LA with her husband and son for years quickly became my new best friend. After hearing my sad postal story she insisted on taking me for a wild ride in her lime green little car around the beach area of Casa.
Indeed it was a completely different part of the city than I had seen-so up scale European . To top it off she bought me a grommage and steam at the Hamman before she vanished into the night. Relaxed and with lowered blood pressure, looking no older than 35 I took a taxi back to the hotel. There I listened to the lute player and hung out for several hours laughing, and telling travel tales.
Pictures… in no particular order there is the stage door, (maybe for lions) and me standing on the stage of Teatro Roman in Cadiz, Robert & I in Madrid, a picture of a picture of a flamingo dancer, horses, and a narrow street in Sevilla, AA poster (something for everyone), Helene and her friend from Beijing in Madrid, the awesome church organ in the spooky, and very imposing cathedral in Cadiz, and the bridge on a rainy day in Sevilla. I really love Spain.
On the ferry to Gibraltar a Spanish buisness man who sat across from me said, “You are a crazy woman to run around Morocco alone.” When I got to the Queens Hotel (w/o a reservation of course) at 1am, the night clerk who was Moroccan, checked me in. “You are courageous woman for traveling in my country. You like it?”