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African Nightmare: Morocco for Grouchy People

Through dialogue and haiku, I would like to share with you guys my journey through the country of Morocco in late January. Loved it? Nope!

We stumbled off the ship, stretching and scratching, and doing the other “tired traveler” stuff. A rickety turnstile, a border guard sweating, pavement dotted with seagulls; our senses taking in everything like a fire hose had been turned on in our brains. Before long, the pressure had built into a headache, pulsating with every step as we tried to escape the port. Men called out from their taxis, and we accepted, diving into an ancient Mercedes and fumbling while saying, “railway station”.

Man with one green tooth
Talking to me on the train
All the way to Fes

The man with the green tooth gave me a business card, and my friend Kyle and I hopped off the train, looking conspicuous with our matching rubberized duffles; his red, mine yellow. We hadn’t a clue. We were country bumpkins from Canada. We made our way to a hotel, and locked the brightly colored duffles out of sight, out of the company of the buffs and browns of the plaster of the city walls.

“The Medina calls”
Kyle says. I grab my Holga,
The taxi awaits

The Medina, or medieval market is a photographer’s dream. Plaster buildings were strewn here and there, mosaics screamed color from unlikely places. It was strangely quiet as it was a holiday. That soon changed as we were approached by a man who wants to show us around. We declined as we were warned not to accept “unofficial guides”. We tried many evasive maneuvers and yet, he still managed to run into us again and persistently asked for our business. After an hour, we reluctantly agreed. He got us thoroughly lost and we seemed to be getting further and further from the safety of the main street. Without notice, our phoney tour guide took off, leaving us in a dark alley. I looked back and noticed two large men in black leather jackets emerging from the shadows. They looked like the thugs you see in every crime movie. “This is a dangerous place,” one of them said to us.

The two men said they were police and that our guide was illegal. They offered to take us back to the main part of the Medina. We followed them apprehensively, staying at least five steps behind, on edge.

The thugs were so nice
They didn’t rob or beat us
Or cut us in bits

We left Fes for the country life. The only passengers in an overpriced hired van. The road turned icy as we headed into the Atlas mountains, heading south across the country. My unease deepened as we passed a wrecked vehicle with a bloody hand print on the door. Alas, it was not our day to die and we survived.
Every time the van stopped, we were attacked by street vendors and feral cats. The mountains gave way to an oasis and desert; a vast, flat bottomed bowl, walled with mountains on nearly every side. It looked like a good spot to urinate.

Please sir, will you wait
Until I finish peeing
To give your sales pitch!

A man rode out of nowhere on a antique bicycle and was trying to sell me a little wooden carving of a camel while I was answering the call of nature!

Camels. Those stinky beasts! I am certain now that they weren’t meant to be ridden. We did ride them, and we were punished for our ignorance with damaged pelvises and assaulted nostrils.

It was out in the desert however, that the Holga 135 (yellow edition) really began to shine. It captured the sand dunes so perfectly, the plastic lens and vignettes added that extra something. I was not afraid of dropping it into the sand either!

The next leg of our journey brought us to Marrakech. The Holga and I have developed a solid relationship by now, and the dust of the city, the bustle, the busyness, all wanted to catch her eye. It was over soon enough and we left, taking nothing but a teapot and a bacterial intestine destroyer. I won’t tire our readers with an account of the next two weeks but will offer this bit of advice: don’t eat goat-meat pizza that has been sitting in a hot vehicle for six hours.

Looking back at the photos I have taken I can see why Morocco has been an inspiring place for so many people but at the time, I was blinded by my grouchiness and didn’t enjoy it.

written by thornohrfinn

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