What does that word conjure up in your mind? Before I went there, I had a vague notion of noise, heat, strangeness, alien culture.
Well, it was cold. Wet. Noisy. It was white, and it was blue. It was mysterious, mountainous, ‘mazing.
With some days in Tetuán and Martil and a day in Chefchaouen, plus the final day in Tanger, we had a taste of different places, each with its own special atmosphere.
How reassuring, the obvious desire of the Moroccan people we met who were so helpful, willing us to be happy with our visit to their country.
How striking, the vast numbers of young men, and older ones, ‘los sentados’ :– a child replied when asked what her father did : “es un sentado”. That means, he sits around and maybe plays cards, or chess, or parchís.
How absolutely heartbreaking, the weariness and dejection on the faces of those young men sent back from the frontier after weeks trying to find a way, any way, out of misery and hopelessness.
How beautiful to see them after the permitted 25 minutes in the shower, wearing clean pyjamas while their clothes spin in the washing machine and they sip hot tea or coffee.
How utterly humbling to see a local successful builder giving bus fares to those young men, telling the youngest, who was fifteen years young: “Go home. Better a beating from your father than one from a strange man.”
How shocking, to see the old women and men begging. To see those selling nothing at all of value on the roadside, hoping for a few dirhams…
How intriguing, to watch the action among the men who would crowd around on arrival at the bus station, vying for the job of leading us to the right counter for the bus to our destination; the passing over of coins among the directors of business at the taxi ranks; the acceptance of everyone being crushed into a car intended ““for four passengers. Those cars often held together with sellotape…
Hilarious, being offered guidance around a Medina, escaping with firmness, only to be caught a few bends later, and realise that the all-seeing eye had been following from the start of Bab Ruah. (Tetuán: the Medina there is breathtaking in its complexity and stark white beauty). Such a blessing, the knee massage offered because the follower had observed and passed on the word…
How intricate, the work of the Berber women, in their rugs and cloths, weaving their age old colours and histories.
How furious, the man who thought he had found a purchaser. No, he had found some people who truly appreciated the skill of the women, and hard work that each piece represented, but who did not need to, nor could, spend the money that would properly ‘repay’ those women.
So many people. So many people without work. The routes the King might use are shined up and beautified, but behind them… life is hard on the way up those inclines, out of the modern roads. A tiny woman, a bundle of firewood loaded on her back so that she was hardly visible, making her way uphill. Little children selling individual packs of tissues. Guys on the street selling individual cigarettes.
Two little boys with dirty plastic bags, inhaling glue.
And these words from The Selfish Giant, came to me:
“Who hath dared to wound thee?” cried the Giant; “tell me, that I may take my big sword and slay him.” “Nay!” answered the child; “but these are the wounds of Love.” “Who art thou?” said the Giant, and a strange awe fell on him, and he knelt before the little child.
And the child smiled on the Giant, and said to him, “You let me play once in your garden, to-day you shall come with me to my garden, which is Paradise.”
And when the children ran in that afternoon, they found the Giant lying dead under the tree, all covered with white blossoms.