Nan Metashvili on the road to Sharawi Arab Republic
Alaskan Klezmer, Nancy Metashvili, continues her travels in Morocco
Sastipen, mes amis;
Now perched on a red and blue tiled bench halfway down the cliffs to the Atlantic combers, your purple toed nomadic friend has been moving slowly down the coast. By tomorrow I may reach the Saharawi Arab Republic ( formerly Spanish Sahara, currently claimed and occupied by Morocco). But now I'm enjoying a little sun and the ever hypnotic crash of the surf as I contemplate the last couple of weeks...
Essaouira, lotus land of cafés and beaches, tèlèboutiques, sunsets and souks, where we ensconsed ourselves in the medina overlooking the sea and the old French/Portuguese/Berber ramparts. The sea, crashing onto the rocks, shining silver as we quickly established a ritual of a bottle of wine to celebrate the sunset...
'Moustache', a Swedish/South African ex-pat down on his luck and living a life Paul Bowles couldn't have invented- always happy to spin a tale and join us in a tipple
the 'kids', British students with a grant and sophisticated recording devices who were happy to encounter some 'local colour' (ie yours truly) and recorded me on the terrace sneaking in some yid in the medina music
Omar the shrink, back from practicing in the UK, last seen taking my commadres Kathy and Sherie off to the dunes, as they head back to Alaska
Nights in Essaouira, flute playing and Gnaoua drumming... wedding procession through the streets, 2 carts of bride goods (one bemused sheep, 2 huge sacks of flour, assorted piles of schlocky clothing) and the drum and ghaita band—followed by a voracious hoard of papparazzi like tourists snapping wildly with cameras...
the Sunday Beach Football madness
Gnaoua buskers by the fish stalls
the camel for hire dudes down the beach
ex-pats galore! greedily buying up property as fast as possible
Past Agadir, huge and soulless, modern; home to holidaying French hoards parked in their hundreds on the cliffs, infesting the sands with their mobile homes like swollen white ticks clustered overlooking the sea...
Southwards to Tiznit, a pleasant bus ride with a garrulous Frenchman who was heading somewhere 'away from touristique places', through increasingly sere countryside, small red ochre villages, fences of prickly pear (with huge red buds), clouds building to a thunder and lightening storm which left me sodden (the bus leaked) and then dumped off after dark outside the city walls (massive rammed earth crenelated jobbers)
in the rain
Starting to worry, is there no chambre in Tiznit?
Enter, yes, Life immitates Literature
the Dissolute Ancient Frenchman, and a loitering Arab youth.
Must have been a slow night in Tiznit, they took it upon themselves to find me a room. The snaggle toothed Youth knew a cheap place, only 20 dirham. Complet! Full! Off we go, through dark empty tunnels, twisting this way and that, I'm totally lost. Definately a situation one's mother would have warned one about! yet my inner alarm bells failed to ring. The Dissolute Frenchman sozzled on, Old Africa Hand style, warning me about the dangers 'down there', watch out for the 'Blacks' etc. The darkness deepened, the passageways seemed to make no sense and a tendril of panic - a wee tendril, a mere smear thoughtlet - started to arise in my mind ... then black fearful alleys cede to bright lights, a busy street, a tiled hotel room with a warm dry bed. Tiznit.
Tiny Berber village, ruins above, le plage below. I wander, hang out with Berber ladies who want to know if I have any children. I tell them, 'Yes, one son' and nothing more. Their sympathy wouldn't help. I play my whistle for a little girl and her mother... trade books with a French woman and get invited to her French/Berber wedding if I'm back in Jyly... Learn to say mikimik (un peau) in Tashelhit Berber, and wonder where the language is on the family Tree of Languages—it is pleasanter sounding than Arabic, but not like anything I have come across before, except maybe Albanian. Albanian?§?! Yikes, another lifetime.
Sidi Ifni, Santa Cruz del Mar Pequeno
Back and forth between Morocco, France and Spain; now Moroccan, but the older folks still speak Spanish. More shabby streets-, no, calles here—and mud puddles, the Plaza de Espana, flowers and children of ineffible sweetness, another colony of French camper vans, satellite dishes on all and the occasional solar panel, the ubiquitous pet yapper dogs...
but hey! everyone's got a story. Like the camper van palace-on-wheels couple I met who are retired Parisian policemen,travelling around with their 15 year old one eyed poodle! Could I make that up?
Down, down through hundreds of km of hammada (desert scrub), washed out roads, mechanical breakdowns, this is now one cheek on the seat Grand Taxi travel, squashed in and heading into the land of wind, dust and spinecrunching piste.
I have made it to Laayoune—goodness knows what comes next.