llĂŠvame de vuelta
LlĂŠvame De Vuelta By Julian A. Jimarez Howard
This book is dedicated to Haruka Aoki who should have been a part of this journey And to Alia Kate for the inspiration and advice in its making
Somewhere between the sun and the soil there is the constant sound of a motorbike. As I stare out past the black still smoldering remains of burnt rubbish into a field of date palms, the smell of melted plastic mixes with animal manure and my own sweat. It’s a bittersweet scene, the natural beauty of life in the desert reconciled with the push towards a certain type of modernity. The sweet toxic smell begins to give me a headache and I wander off into the nearby date palm farm keeping an eye out for snakes and manure. It hasn’t been a long day. In fact, the whole point of today’s existence was for me to make it to this exact spot. There isn’t much in this two mosque town except for an old Kasbah, part UNESCO world heritage site, part still lived in medieval city. I took my time. I walked the two kilometers from one more urban node down the freshly paved but still mercilessly dusty highway to one slightly less urban node. The sun all the while shining indifferently across this beige and grey landscape of mountain and plain. It’s impossible not to be romantic about it. There is a familiarity to the desertness that sparks outbursts of nostalgia for my own dusty upbringing wedged between the Rockies and the Chihuahuan desert. I wandered through the labyrinth of empty rooms and ornately sculpted doors, passing from one once lived in
space into another. I tried to picture the rugs on the floor, the tea being served. The prayers said five times a day, the smell of khoobz and stewed lamb and sweat, the snores of men and the quiet sighs of women, the laughter and tears of children... Yet the rooms, some more kempt than others, all empty, betrayed very few signs of life under their recent coats of paint. Whitewash with a soulful substrate. I paused long and hard after reaching the top, sitting on a step that led to a locked door and the roof. A largish window in the same room, however, had been left open and I crawled through, out onto a lower roof. It was more than likely a forbidden action but I ignored the unposted rules and lay down on the earthcaked sun-drenched roof. Sprawled out in the heat, I could see nothing for the searing light of the sun overhead and so I stayed blind, breathing, feeling the air, the tips of my body hair searching for the slightest trace of a breeze. A reverse sensory deprivation chamber, instead amplifying thoughts and emotions. ~*~ Touch down in Casablanca. The cheesey red font and silvertoned faces from the cover of the movie starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman stare back from recesses of
adolescence. Truth be told, it is one of my favorite movies. I disembark the plane and Hollywood’s hegemony, following the crowd down to the lower level of a very beige airport. The floors are a polished caramel and there is a woman full hijab in the men’s bathroom cleaning without the slightest bit of hesitance while I relieve the warm first world toxins of the flight into this city’s drains. I’m surprisingly not bothered. Baggage check is a breeze and my small black duffle is one of the first to roll down the shoot. I clear customs and make my way to the train depot within the airport. There is young man in an orange t-shirt there to help me use the automated kiosk. Some part of me doesn’t trust him, but I love the country’s refusal to submit to mechanized displacement, and his service is more than obliging considering my halting French and non-existent Arabic. I missed the train by a few minutes and have to wait a full hour for the next one. I camp out on a bench in front of the only two tracks at the station. If the train fails to stop, I’ll be crushed. A different woman in the same cleaning uniform pushes dirty water around on the floor with a squeegee. “Khoya, Khoya….” I come to as a custodian gesticulates towards a recently arrived train. I’m overcome with fatigue,
but manage a groggy “thank you” as I drag my slowly invigorating carcass towards the locomotive. Passing through several cars I find a cabin with a vacancy and stash my luggage overhead. Two boys sit working through SAT problems near the window. A woman behind a veil stares at me with death eyes while her presumable husband and young daughter get up to look at the train taking off from the larger windows in the corridor. I smile and sit down opposite her. I look at my watch to note the time. I try to match it against the trip’s duration and estimate and arrival time, but I promptly forget it. I’m excited and distracted. The newness of everything wakes me up. I look casually at the two boys working hard into books thick as an unabridged O.E.D. I smile again, this time the knowing smile of one whose surmounted a task enough in the past to wax nostalgic watching younger others attempt the same. I wonder what schools they’re trying to get into… I’ll later be visited by one of them in New York. I stare out the window past them, the landscape whizzes past. A mixture of Western Modern and Moroccan rural. There is a whole lot of empty punctuated like an e.e. cummings poem with mud brick buildings and the occasional housing project (?). The strangeness of this country wide angle lens imax from the seat of the train. ~*~
It’s an ostentatiousness that rankles my nose having just come from the humble peace of Oudaya’s white walled labyrinth. There, narrow cobbled streets turn down hills only to wind round back up and either end deadly or open on to stunning examples of Andalusian gardening. There was a still peace and contemplativeness that has now vanished like a whisper into a disquieting part in the back of my brain. Nevertheless, adventure calls and I’m drawn to the corsair like moth to the flame. I pursue it down the steeply banked roadside. The water in the Bouregreg was shallow and dirty, but there are nevertheless groups of boys in their underwear swimming back and forth across and having fun. The sun is bright and I am seated amidship by and young man with a watch much nicer than mine. My “booth” is behind the main cabin, facing the stern of the boat which had been turned into a plush outdoor lounge replete with leather poufs and ornate brass side tables. Pure orientalist fantasy. A young couple sits to my far left, while two older women sit closer to my right. I could just make out their voices speaking Moroccan Arabic. Both pairs sat against the edges of the boat. Both pairs rich. Without looking at the menu, I knew that it was going to be out of my budget. The waiter with the watch returned and dropped off some cutlery, a thick cotton napkin, a bottle of
water, not in that order. I poured some into the cup already placed on my table and then sat back drinking in the scene. A mixture of unworthiness, anxiety, and desire sunk in. I felt judged, my clothes a dead giveaway as to my obviously lower class. My terrible French revealing my cultural ignorance. My budget stretched to its max already. And yet, some kernel of pride in my heart popped and refused to let me abandon ship. I had to save face. For whom was a question I never asked... Across the river lay Salé. Infamous holdout of pirates and robbers. I believe Robinson Crusoe was rescued by a band of these “Rovers”. I was told that it’s the oldest city on the Atlantic and was founded by Phoenicians. It played a strong role in the Moroccan revolution, and remained very conservative. All that I could see from the boat however looked like modern housing projects set back from the long pebble and rubbish strewn beach where decidedly un-modern looking folks wandered to a set of small oar-powered ferry boats. I ordered a croque monsieur and a Heineken, two of the cheapest menu items, when the waiter came back a few minutes later. While waiting I sat back against the lux cushions comprising my banquet and crossed my legs over the edge of the possibly antique trunk that was my table. I
knew it was gauche but I did it anyway, never mind the fact that I ordered a ham sandwich and a beer in full view of a mosque I was prohibited from entering. Maybe God could forgive this infidel? Did being on a boat give me some sort of extra legal status where a different law of the sea applied? A quick glance around dashed my hopes. I was there with a few other rich sinners Iâ€™d meet in hell. How I longed instead, to be one of the boys diving off the cement pier, teeth chattering despite the hot sun on my lithe flesh. ~*~ The Sun had begun to rise in the far off distance. I could see rays of gold emanating from behind the far off mountains. To my right though, was the Moon, still full and voluptuous like it only seems to be in the desert. I was in love and every moment I stared at it, little pins shot through my heart causing a chain reaction that left the quite long hairs on my neck and forearms erect. I had been following its path all night. It was a wild bus ride into the Sahara leaving the comfort of Fes for the unknown. Unsure of my eventual stop, I stayed awake and decided to get off when either the bus terminated or I felt like a stop had something to offer. This was a poor choice given that it was an overnight trip and scenery from my window, and hence my ability to make
a reasoned decision, was effectively zero. But the moon was there, and she kept me company all night as we zigged and zagged through open roads and mountain passes alike. It was still night when we pulled into the last station. My guess is that we hadn’t been on paved roads for at least an hour, but that’s only an estimate based on the cricks in my neck. Disembarking, groggy like the rest of my fellow passengers, I looked around meekly in the blackness. A boy I guessed to be my age, who had sat alone opposite me on the ride in, shivered in the cold while waiting for the driver to get his duffel from beneath the bus. I looked around and found he wasn’t the only one. Sympathetic to the chill myself, I put on a moth eaten cashmere sweater I’d brought along for just this purpose and walked across the dirt lot to the humble station. The small nothings seemed in sharper focus than everything else. The dented chips in the painted signs. The squeegee mop and bucket left out by the custodian. The fact that the floors were spotless but the walls smudged brown to black from countless greasy hands printing themselves in more postures than can be counted on fingers and toes. The ticket booth had one counter open, a harsh fluorescent bulb buzzing illumination onto the tired clerk. There was a kind of private tragedy about this small city in
the middle of the desert, at least as far as I could tell from the station at this time of night. I decided this was no place to linger longer than necessary. Turning back around to the dusty piste of the station’s lot, I checked with one of the guys smoking and counting money to see when and how much the next bus out would be. He looked at me funny, most likely because I was speaking an oddly inflected Arabic instead a dismal French. He smiles and says American? I nod. He tells me a price in Arabic, which I stare back at him with all the fierceness I can muster. His face remains open, like he’s unaware of what I’m trying to communicate. It probably makes me look stupid to onlookers. An old man interrupts by grabbing the smoker’s arm and pays what I was asked for the same trip. I shrug to myself accepting the now validated price, and pull out my wallet forking over the bucks. He tears off two tickets and hands one to each of us, not begrudging me my lack of faith while still managing a most polite I-told-youso look. I tap my watch earnestly, the gesture asking when the bus will leave. To this he responds by stretching out his hands, palms upwards, and pumping his his wrist gently. The international sign for an indeterminate “have patience, it’ll arrive when it does, inshalla”. Having no other option than to trust the man who already proved himself honest once, I throw my bag onto an open spot on the floor nearby, sitting atop it to wait.
~*~ It’s evening time, maybe nine pm or so. I’ve taken off my watch and really have no idea, but the TV is on and from the sounds I can hear, it feels like prime time programming. A woman of indiscernible old age has just climbed three flights of stairs to let me know that my dinner is ready. She doesn’t speak English, but she has a beautiful toothless smile and that’s all that matters at the moment. I nod in acknowledgement, getting my things ready before following her in amazement down the narrow, uneven, poorly lit stair staircase. And by poorly lit, I mean not lit at all. The dining room and the living room share couches flanking their edges. At meal times a shiny silver platter large enough for six is brought out and placed on a folding table base kept in the adjoining prayer room. Faded wool rugs of undoubted Imazen origin are used to carpet both the floor and the couches. The TV, civilization’s other trusty companion, is playing a musical performance on what I believe is the state sponsored channel. I take my seat behind the table, the picturebox to my right, slouching my body into the firm cushions. There is already a small salad of diced cucumber, tomato, and capsicum pepper on the table with a few more
dishes soon to arrive. In the kitchen behind me I can see the women still preparing things through a broken chink in the opaque glass partition. Idris, a tall dark skinned Moroccan man in that countryâ€™s version of a Kurta Pyjama emerges from god knows where smiling like a man arrived for the first day of spring at his summer home. I get up and introduce myself in French more likely than not. His head tilts ever so slightly to the right in confusion, but the smile never leaves his face as he introduces himself. We sit together on the couch awaiting more food. He begins to rattle off to me in French but quickly picks up on my lack of comprehension and switches quite naturally to English. The old man also emerges from an altogether different nowhere. I know not his name though we made hellos the night previous, working together on the repair of a gas stove top communicating in the universal man language of fixing things. A pile of fresh, broken stovetops lay tucked into one of the roomâ€™s corners. I smile a now familiar hello and he returns it. Again, this is all that matters at the moment. He sits on a different couch, aways back from the table and closer to his pile of stovetops. In our short time together, I notice that there appears always to be some level of accumulated dust on him, and when he sits this time, a discreet puff rises in response, like an animal shooed out from
their master’s seat. Rather than detracting from his person, it only endears him more. I wonder if the same dustiness is true for me after my many years in the desert. Mostapha, my host, is of course, not present. He’s out paying the bills by showing two German ladies around Africa’s windy city. I do not blame him, in fact I’m grateful that he’s kindly placed me in the generous and welcoming company of his family. There is, if anything, a bit of sadness, #fomo perhaps, at not having the time to get to know him better. We only met for a day or so, and briefly at that, as there was some trouble with him picking me up from the train station. But I have little use for these emotions at the time and so they’re tossed on to the large mound of thoughts that have begun to pile in the back of my mind. In the meantime, his brother Idris and I focus on polishing off the Khoobs, telling jokes about the various aphorisms of our cultures. One of his favorites is in Arabic and involves monkeys playing in the butt of an old lion. I think it’s one of my favorites now too. ~*~ Sitting in the “Berber” tent on the roof, “Palm Trees” by Brooklyn’s Flatbush Zombies is playing from his Galaxy Note. It’s not what I would have imagined, but he is an
insistent German boy in love with American rap music. He’s on holiday from his job as an office manager and has spent close to twelve drug induced days already in this riad. I’m rolling a blunt for him while we talk over beers in expletive peppered English about nothing much really. I get the sense he’s running away from something, and while it could be me projecting, more than likely he is, and it has drawn us together. We had a third companion, a Spaniard, but his patience for this kind of bullshit wore thin and he left us to the dark of the roof top tent. I only half regret not having joined him. The three of us had spent the day together wandering the streets of Marrakesh, Andreas’s pale white skin, Hawaiian shirt, and drugged out slouch step a magnet for the kind of aggressive street hustling that I’d so far been able to avoid with the exception of a young man in Fes who insisted on following me into a tour I didn’t need but was too passive to reject. Here was a different world, however. Characters came out of the woodwork to badger us, old men, children, and everyone inbetween, all with smiles as fake as their frowns were real. Sometimes they’re weren’t selling anything, they just wanted to mess with him. To his credit, he appeared to take it all in a stride, the reciprocal rudeness and condescension forming a kind of mutually self-fulfilling
prophecy. Canâ€™t we all just get along I wondered, but these terms of engagement seemed to have been set in stone somewhere and agreed to by both parties long ago. I tried to keep my distance but it was only within the clearly defined tourist locations that we could truly rest in peace. What a terrible thing, to a be a tourist I thought to myself. ~*~ Aloneness is different from loneliness though the two are often confused. And in the company of strangers we often imagine the former but we indeed have the latter. For aloneness, true aloneness is a condition unique to the deceased. I follow a father and his son en-route to their mosque down a maze of back alley switchback turns and rubbish. Along the way I pick up on a strange melancholy that covers this town which seems to prevent even the idea of success from arising. Their pristine white robes pop anachronistically against the carefully rolled green and red prayer rugs slung over their respective shoulders, say nothing of the filth covering the walls and the streets through which we stroll. But one left turn and theyâ€™re lost from sight. Iâ€™m now stuck in this labyrinth of brick and plaster. My phone, a trusted companion, due to
its free worldwide global positioning, is useless. There are too many unlisted side streets, too few street signs. Having trusted that I could follow the devout to a landmark, I failed to attend to the surroundings about me, focused instead on that interior world of philosophic reflection and nostalgia. The fact that I am not in a safe place screamed out at me like an angry wife in Naples after her husband. A small feeling of panic began to creep up into my nerves. I tried to swap it for the excitement of adventure, and succeed to an extent, but I have been lost in enough potentially dangerous foreign locations to know that a certain amount of apprehension is essential for survival. Faced, however, with no other options but to trust in the Inshallah spirit of the land, I made the decision to keep my vulnerable heart open and wander without trying to find my way. Reckoning myself into several dead ends and at least one rank-as-hell live poultry market, past snarling stray dogs and snoozing felines, often circling in and out of the same place, not quite lost, but directionless all the same, I built up a map of the city. A few hours into my derive I finally make it to my destination, the mosque flanked between an enormous graveyard and the Atlantic. Now intimately experienced, the small city did not lose its rough air of tragedy, but in a way, it became endearing. Here on the open coast, the tepid air of the small
city fades into the fresh saltiness of the North African breeze. I climb onto a wall at the edge of the cemetery. It looks like it was once a rampart. I close my eyes to the sun and imagine the battles fought here. The lives lost. It strikes me as strange because having overcome the chaos and uncertainty of the dark and filthy medina, the fresh air and openness of the horizon convey nothing but tranquility. In the distance I can see a long beach with people splashing about in the shallows. ~*~ Sitting on another bus to the middle of nowhere once again playing hide and seek with the moon as we both move through barren scapes, there is nothing to do but wait. The occasional stop for some new strange person to get on, or some slightly more familiar strange person to get off, dot the journey like some coincidental morse code. It interrupts the sleep cycle, but does it mean anything? There is a ticket taker who assigns seats. Occasionally someone is selected to give up a seat for another. The process is opaque to me, but I donâ€™t question it. When it is my turn, I stand. My eyes follow the bright orbâ€™s reflection in the window trying not to think about my tired legs or camels. In a story I read as a boy, another boyâ€™s uncle handed him rock and
said that if he could hold on to the rock and not think about camels, the rock would turn to gold. He could naught but think of camels every time he held the rock. I think he was Russian. The desert, the one most American people think about when we use that word, is a vast place. At night, it appears ever more so. It is not orange like in National Geographic photos, but blue. There are dunes, but most of what we see is scrub and rock - a flatness like the horizon from deep ocean. Floating on rock at the bottom of a sea of gas. My feet are cold. The sun has risen, but the moon holds on longer that youâ€™d expect before setting in an elegant but mysterious way behind the horizon. ~*~ So often we are trying to do too many things at once. There is an urgency. It can be crippling. Like a hapless warrior striking out in frantic desperation at a hydra, the more we cut, the more problems we create and the more dire each one becomes. But like the hydra, this problem is illusory. This is a parable the desert teaches. Here one must conserve. The bushes do not grow tall, but instead stay close to their deep roots as they cling on to whatever water lies beneath.
~*~ Me and the Spaniard traveled together. Though we are both more or less bilingual, we spoke to each other in English. Something about the shared foreignness connected us and made it the obvious choice. But with the Moroccans, the smattering of Darija I had picked up prior to us meeting went a long way. Between that and google maps, I led the two of us with the sort of confidence that comforted his inner arrogance. We walked from the bus station down deserted streets and passed a hospital that looked like it was abandoned in the years immediately following the second world war. Perhaps it was the heat of the day, perhaps it was the change of pace from Marrakesh, perhaps it was just the coastal attitude, but there was a stillness that permeated everything, and we scarcely saw other humans till we reached the medina. Inside the walls of the relatively new city there is a little more movement: the typical street side vendors, hustlers, hucksters hawking tourist knick knacks, but their energy matched to the city’s in its easy rhythm and laid back groove. Billed as Africa’s Windy City, we found it quite a bit more tranquil, living up to its name that translates roughly to “well designed.” We plod
a short course to the hostel, a recommendation from some travelers we agreed to meet there. Checking in we hand over our passports to a dreadlocked man while Katy Perry plays in the background. Not my choice of venue for sure, but the vibe is comfortable and laid back. We book two beds in the cheapest dorm accommodation. The dread tells us to pick whichever bed is open in the large room on either the second or third floor. Walking up to two, we search for signs of our fast friends poking our head into the room. The odors of sweaty feet, salty water and humid linens greets us hello. The Spaniardâ€™s face is wrinkled with disgust when our eyes meet. We pass, on up to three. Still no signs of our friends, but the large room has two open beds next to each other and more importantly, next to an open door that leads to a small tile covered balcony. We claim our turf by throwing our small respective packs onto the beds and take a gander out the balcony. There are two wire chairs and a small circular table inviting us to sit and contemplate the view of back alleyways and rooftops. We oblige briefly, decompressing from the journey, until our stomachs get the better of us. Back on the streets. With no recommendations and no maps we decide to follow our noses and let the energy of the streets point the way. We are guided to a dirty stand
making brisk business on some of the most beautiful sugar coated doughnuts I’ve had the pleasure of laying eyes on. He queues up and buys one. I’m not much on sweets so I pass for taste. When I do, though, I too line up and pay for this unanticipated sugary deliciousness.We both go back for seconds fortifying our stomachs and pumping much needed glucose through our veins. Turning left down a street, we spot the pale while skin and dark sunglasses of the drugged out acquaintance we agreed to meet. It would be impossible not to see him glimmering in the light, flesh hidden only by a pair of shorts and a gaudy hawaiian t-shirt. And yet, somehow he is perfect. Neither caricature nor cliché of himself. He is with another German, at least a foot taller than him, perhaps me as well. I look up at the giant and introduce myself in English. He smiles a friendly “Hallo” at me. My Spanish companion is more furtive. We part ways again deciding to go separate ways in the quest for more food. Invariably, we wind up down by the docks. Here, there are boats upon boats, packed even more closely than the buses are. Most are a beautiful shade of deep blue, but there are few outliers. I study the design of them. Apparently, it’s an old Phoenician style that has changed little over the centuries.
They have a deep well of a hull and a long prow, presumably to handle the choppy Atlantic waves. We sit on two moorings and look out at the beautiful chaos. There are new boats being built and others repaired, there are men and children selling fresh caught fish, and also just passersby walking through to get somewhere else. The authenticity of it all is palpable. The cats, so used to being sated from the fresh catches mostly lie about, indifferent to the world around them. We get up and wander around this amazing scene for a little more until we happen across a boat filled knee deep with fish. Three little boys in the thick of it are scooping up the catch with makeshift plastic containers and shoveling it the tepid harbor water. Several older men stand around them on the mooring smoking. Occasionally, the boys pause to put a choice catch on the wooden planks that separate them. The boy closest the bow has the most on his tiny ledge. The sight of them shoveling dead fish back into the water is comical, if not also a little horrifying. Transfixed by the seeming incomprehensibility of it I linger on past my hungry companion, mediating on the senselessness of life and death. ~*~ At first there is the awkward tension of two strangers together. Perhaps more on my end than on hers. I try to assume my
role as disinterested foreigner and stare out the window. She for her part taps away on her phone. Sitting next to each other we are worlds apart. The bus is quiet, comfortable, and modern. It’s CTM, the state run company. There is a purposefulness about the order. Seats are ticketed and the tickets are respected. I suppose that’s how we wound up together… And while there are no rules posted, at least not in a language that I can read, which includes French, talking is not encouraged and everyone aboard seems to be trying their best to ensure the peace and tranquility of their fellow passengers... Except for this one little girl. She’s seated opposite us in the isle and keeps crossing over to bother the woman directly next to me on the right. I do my best to politely ignore it, as my serendipitous companion is clearly embarrassed. Erving Goffman has written something about the human tendency to do this. Quickly reaching her breaking point, however, the woman begins to quietly admonish the little girl for disturbing the peace. There are another 3 to 4 hours left on this bus ride, depending on the traffic. And that’s when it hits me... They’re speaking in Spanish. At first my brain doesn’t want to acknowledge it. I see the
patterned head scarf and the long sleeve shirt, over the ankle length dress and my first impressions shut down the ability to perceive beyond the expected. Of course, this is the worst way to travel, eyes shut to complexity. We continue on pretending the other doesn’t exist, me staring out the window, her tapping away on her phone but the monotony of the landscape offers my mind ample opportunity to wander. I consider the relationship between the two women. Is one the mother and the other the daughter? They are certainly family. Perhaps sisters? I can’t get a good look at the woman next to me, and quite frankly, I’d be rude to do so. Perhaps my idle speculation is more rude? At the very least it’s private. The little girl comes back over. It’s as clear as day to me now that they’re speaking in Spanish. Why should that surprise me? The two countries are close enough. Would I be surprised by a woman speaking Darija in Spain? Cultural imperialism has a nasty way of rearing its head in scenic locales, I think to myself, my bias showing to my own judgemental conscience. I listen in a little more on their conversation. It’s clear now they are sisters. Though I still have no idea what the woman next to me even looks like beyond the color of her clothing. This is too strange for me not to say anything, so I wait till she’s alone for a moment and then make a comment about
sisters to her in Spanish. She turns to looks at me a little incredulous. Sheâ€™s younger than I thought. She also is just as surprised at me speaking to her in Spanish as I was by her. We become fast friends of convenience and end up chatting quietly most of the way about both the trip and our lives. She tells me about her life in Spain. I ask about her family in Morocco. She shows me pictures on her phone. The country life. It looks great. We had been in some of the same places on this trip. She tells me that she likes it here with her family, but that she prefers to live in Spain and hangout with her friends there. I tell her about my father, about my impressions of Spain and, of course, Morocco. I too show her pictures on my phone, thinking how strange it was an hour ago to not even think it possible to talk to this person. The terrain suddenly becomes mountainous. There are now lots of trees outside the window and little shops selling what appear to be nautilus fossils. I imagine a good deal of them are fake, but itâ€™s still surreal to see objects of presumed geologic importance prostituted in such a preciousless manner. Again, I catch my bias. From nowhere and a propos of nothing, she produces two strawberry yogurts for us. With no spoon, and no napkin and the bus winding its way between mountain and gorge we
carefully slurp the pink goop from its plastic container, her with a bit more aplomb than me. We soon reach the halfway point from where we deboard for a bit to stretch our legs. ~*~ I usually travel alone. I prefer it that way. I think of all the stories, across many cultures, of men walking through the wilderness alone. It’s a solitary moment that is often mentioned only in passing. Almost impossible to describe, it is a formative moment, and yet it’s one that’s rarely told. Perhaps it’s because the kind of wisdom that comes from solitude has to be earned. It cannot be related or transmitted by mouth from master to student; it must be eked out, paid for in flesh and sleeplessness. Between heaven and earth, where the sky meets the land… the horizon is always present. Man has a funny way of building up, perhaps to get a better look? Maybe it was so he could be closer to god, to see more of the horizon as a kind of omnipotence; the marker of vastness and the entry into the eternity, a symbol of the powerful man’s domain. But in doing so, he always needs to go higher as the horizon ceaselessly stretches farther and farther into the infinite. And so he is constantly stuck building. This is because the world
is round. And there will always be an horizon. These things are unchangeable. So is the view from the top any different from the view at the ground? One cannot step into the same river twice, I think watching the sunrise from the rooftop of this somewhat crowded riad. Sneaking out of my half full 4 bed dorm and climbing up on to the rooftop was easy, but the boxed in living space really left nothing of interest to see. Undeterred, in the darkness I climbed up a bit higher on what might be described as a parapet to catch a better view. While in the semi-darkness of the early morning I couldnâ€™t really be sure, the morning call to prayer, Fajr, brought with it lightness and the scene of the busy city coming to life. Motobikes and traffic could be heard both near and far away. How silly I thought, thinking one can ever really travel alone.
Travelogue of Morocco