On my third day in town I slept until noon. I am trying to adjust to the new time but not very hard. I had been on the phone the night before until quite late and then couldn’t sleep so it was a later morning. And I felt awful. Really awful.
I obviously missed breakfast so I headed out to explore and find something to eat. I made my way over to the medina. I knew it was about a 20-30 minute walk so off I went. I forgot it was Friday. Friday is the Islamic holy day. It’s our Sunday. Moroccans spend the day at the Mosque, the hammam, and then at home eating lots of couscous. So it was interesting to me that as I wandered down the streets, there were less people out and the ones that were out were all western. Everywhere I looked people looked like me. Maybe it’s also because folks from Europe pop in for a long weekend? Not sure but it was notable.
I was told not to go to the main square because there was nothing going on (everyone is praying) and was therefore diverted down side streets to a different part of the medina by a man named Mohamed. (Oddly). I was of course weary, waiting for him to demand money for showing me the way. He was in fact just a nice stranger who made small talk and when I said I didn’t want to buy spices he waved good bye and left me. Two more nice fellows did the same along the way, but a firm La Shokran (No, thanks) and they were on their way. No hard feelings. I walked around a lot. I thought I was completely lost but in fact I was fine. I was able to put together a little bit more of my mental map and things started coming together. Not easy in a one story town where finding tall landmarks is next to impossible. I made it back to the hotel without incident and was quite pleased to finally be getting my directions in order.
I was waiting for my favourite Berber to arrive in town from a trip. I purposely arrived here a few days ahead of having a friend to help me so that I could get my feet wet on my own and not feel dependant in any way. But I was glad to be seeing a friendly face at this point. Getting a little bored. So I headed down to the hotel bar, had a drink with another guide I had met, enjoyed dinner and eventually settled in for a drink or two when two nice Brits saddled up to the bar and offered to buy me a drink. Turns out one of the fellows is a film producer from London and the other a camera man. “A genius at his craft” said Malcolm, the boss. So we chatted about their work and their trip into the desert. I told them my story and every little while Tom would check back in…..”no really. What HAPPENED in Toronto to make you want to leave?” He was really sure that there was an event that had taken place that forced me to make such a drastic move. A nasty divorce maybe or was I fugitive from justice? It is hard to explain to someone who has lived in Quatar, Dubai, and was once filming on the Pakistan / Afgan border (and in fact had their vehicle shot at), that it was indeed a LACK of events in Toronto that drove me out. They were really interesting fellows and quite nice to talk to. I now have a good number of “straight to DVD” movies to check out and one awesome war reporter documentary called “Shooting Robert King” that I am looking forward to enjoying.
As it turns out the expats sitting at the table behind us, included Sylvie, a girl from Montreal that I had met in Essaouria the last time I was here. Mustapha introduced me to her because she had moved from Canada to Morocco to teach. We had chatted and I had really started to realize that it was all very doable. She said, “wow, you did exactly what you said you were going to do.” Yes. Yes I did. So I have her number now and will be in touch.
What a pleasant way to pass the time. Now I am getting ready to start looking for an apartment in ernest. Tomorrow. Or Monday. After a day or two of rest for my friend. I need all cyclinders firing for this important mission. But I will be happy to get out of the hotel. That’s a certainty.