Friday, June 11, 2010

Yesterday’s post generated more than a couple emails regarding the “true” nature of my visit to Morocco. If I was not accused of making it up, I was asked why if in my June 6 post I could only recall two things that happened in Tangier did I supply a third one yesterday?

My response to that is not unlike what happens when we wake up in the morning and write down our dreams – how the more we write, the more we remember. Also, what I wrote in my June 9 post, where I spoke of returning to past songs, how in doing so it is not the words and musical structure that enchants but the songs’ colours. In reflecting on my trip, in retracing it as writing, a number of colours came to the mind, one of which was my chat outside the café.

Here’s another.

When checking-out of my hotel to catch the ferry back to Spain, the deskman, the owner’s dour teenage son, said, Make sure you give the Moroccan coins you cannot spend to those who ask for them, for they have little, yet contribute so much to our beautiful country.

I said I would do so.

Then he asked for my coins.

But your family owns this hotel.

Yet I have little.

Charmed, I reached into my pocket and gave him everything but a ten dirham piece.

He received the coins, but kept his hand outstretched.

I’m saving this one, I said of the coin.

It is forbidden.

I knew that it was illegal to take Moroccan money out of the country, but I had grown attached to Hassan’s profile, arguably the meanest scowl I had seen on any currency. So I returned it to my pocket.

You will pay for that, he deadpanned.

An hour later, as I was making my way down Avenue d’Espagne towards the ferry terminal, who should I see at the gates but the deskman. Standing beside him, one of Morocco’s towering police militaire.

You want the coin? I asked him.


I looked at the cop, the cop looked at me.

Why? I asked the deskman. Why are you making such a big deal out of this?

Because Hassan is our king, and I don’t like it that you think he is ugly.

I didn’t say he was ugly, I said he looks pissed off.

The deskman turned to the police militaire and told him, in French, that I thought the king a “violeur” – a rapist.

At this the police militaire laughed and sauntered off.

I suppose I could have done the same, but this young deskman, who was more or less my age, was suddenly the most extraordinary person I had ever met, and for him to have come all this way to see me off meant more than any 10 dirham coin. So I gave it to him – at which point he threw his arms around me and, his eyes to the sky, implored Allah to watch over me and deliver me to heaven.

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