scared thrilled scared thrill scared thrilled

I find most things in life both scary and thrilling. I suppose I should hope it's always this way, but sometimes it feels like an awful lot of work.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

something to chew on

HI Everbody. Sorry for the non postage lately. I have been quite off
the grid for a while now. But I am now in Senegal in what must be the
fastest internet cafe in west africa. So after many failed attempts
from... ahem, less well equipped cafes... I will try to make a huge
deposit onto this bloggy. I'll do my best to keep days and things
separated. I also have little faith in the blog site's ability to
actually post things, so if it doesn't work it doesn't work. I'll also
try to post some photos in the next few days. We will see. Inshallah.
Also, this keyboard is sticky and is tiresome for the arms. Please
excuse the spelling errors.

We start in

MARRAKECH, MOROCCO. FEBRUARY 21
Well it has begun, though not without a few hiccups:
1. I missed my plane in Paris... damned 24 hour clock! I realized too
late, for sure, but beetled to the airport in great haste, running
like a madman through the metro, gare du nord and CDG Terminal 2B. Too
late. I played guitar on the RER ride back to Paris, just to take
advantage of the horrible feelings.
2. The next morning I woke to an email from my couchsurfing host in
Marrakech saying he had to run to Cassablanca for urgent famiy affairs
and could not host me.
3. Finally, on checking in to my flight with Difficult Jet airlines I
was made to pay an extra 12 E and told I had to check my utar. The
ticket agent informed me that "in this istuation I cna pretty much
guarantee it will be damaged." Are they allowed to say that?
But, I made my second flight, I connecte with new hosts on my arrival
in Marrakech and I was able to sneak my guitar onto the plane so it
wasn't damaged at all! Three hiccups, all take care of. If this is the
worst this trip can do then it's going to be pretty smooth sailing. I
bet there are more to come though.
Marrakech. I'm really feeling averse at the moment to the idea of
fillin these pages with banal and cliche statements and recordings of
the "exotic" and "enchanting", the different and the difficult. I want
to write things I'll want to read later. If I'm bored while writing
ethem I'll mos tcertainly be bored readin gthem. So if I find myself
lapsin into easy cliche i'll jusxt shut up. Maybe I'll start by makin
gshort statements, see if any catch my interest.
1. I should have listened to Zabo's advice and brought my compass
during my walks today. This city is very confusing and I've felt more
or less lost the entire day. The souks are a maze of alleys and shops.
Sections of this are completely uninteresting while others are
fascinating. I try to avoid the uninteresting and repepetive little
streets where I'm afraid of glancing into the shop windows for fear of
inviting the pesky advances of the shopkeepers. It's impossible for me
to purchase anything, as anything I buy must be carried on my back for
the next three months. No thank you. I prefer the streets with less
going on, the alleys where they produce what's sold in the shops. The
tinworkers and basket makers, the cobblers and silver smiths.
2. Colonial Africa is very itneresting. It's weird to be speaking
French here, and the little Arabic I have is nearly useless. Nearly.


MARRAKECH, MAROC. FEBRUARY 21
this part is mostly repetitive of the bad buddhist entry, so i skeep eet.


NOADHIBOU, MAURITANIA. MARCH 5
The path so far:
Paris:
Very relaxing time. Stayed with Anne Lorraine and the family for 4
days, then with the Bujons for another four. Spent most of the time
inside working on my report for HIA/Fosdick, though I was able to make
some nice rendezvous with my friends Jean Jean and Simon who I met in
Palestine, and with Isabelle, HIA senior fellow/friend.

Marrakech:
Spent a wonderful four days in the home of Jacques and Nicolas, the
best hosts imagineable. Saw Marrakech via bicycle from top to bottom
and ate like a king.

Jematt Saim:
Stayed with my friend Pedja, HIA Senior Fellow, in his apartment in
this tiny village for three days. From his window was a view of a
muddy/dusty field where donkey carts wait by the dozen for people to
hire them for haulin things. Watched them loading twice the volume of
a truck with hay bails. Incredible. We made a hell of a tajine. I
attended his English class and was struck again by how 13 year old
kids are the same all over the world. We had a nice visit to the
seaside town of Safi, where we bought some furniture for Pedja's
apartment.

Agadir:
Spent another four nights at the home of Barka, a lovely young
Moroccan woman with more energy than a three year old. Had a couple of
great days exploring the beaches north and south of Agadir. Borrowed a
surfboard from a kid and broke it in two. Paid him 120 E the day that
I left.

Tafroute:
Passed two delightful evenings with Pedja's peace corps volunteer
friends Brooke and Maury. Brooke and I went on a terrific hike through
the mountains and deserts of the Anti Atlas, and even saw the goats
that climb trees!

Tafroute to Dakhla:
Spent the next two full days trying to get to Dakhla. Started out via
bus, then cauht a ride with some guys who were oing all the way to
Layounne; a golden ticket! But after the first police checkpoint where
I received some hassle they decided they didn't have the time and
dumped me in the closest town, Tan Tan. I understood. From Tan Tan I
took a grans taxi with six other men. We waited for three hours to
find our 7th person and finally left around 9pm, packed in like canned
oranges. We lost everyone except for myself and one other in Laayoune,
which menat I had the backseat to myself from about 6am till we
started pickin gpu more passengers around 11. It took another five
hours from there to Dakhla. At Dakhlah I checked into a hotel, the
first on my journey. It was pleasant enough and I was desparate to do
laundry. My washing done I headed for the sea. Dakhla is a dusty town
on teh end of a 35km sandy peninsula. The military presence here is a
bit overwhelming, as it's the last town before the Mauritanian
frontier, some 600km to the south. People seem a bit jaded, though I
made soem very nice meetings. The best was with ________, I found him
on the end of a crumbling old sewer pipe leading from town into the
bay. He was fishing and invited me to join him in his spot as I was
having a tough time fishing with my bit of line from the beach. Short
of money, I had decided that taking a shot at a bite in this
legendeary fishin gtown might just pan out. I was using bits of what
passes cheese in Maroc and was havin some difficulty keepin it on the
hook. I had a lot of bites and lost a lot of cheese, but caught no
fish. ____ had similar luck with his escargot and we eventualy both
packed it in. When I emerged from my requisite swim ____ invited me to
join him and his family for couscous, sans poisson, that evening. We
redezvoused at 8pm in front of the Al Jazeera cafe. As we walked
through teh busy evening streets filled with robed figures hawking all
manner of goods and the smoke from thekefta stands ___ and I
established a story n case we were stopped by tyeh police. Teh
couscous was amazing. ___'s beautiful wife was a tremendous cook and
unbelievably talented in the fine art of eating couscous with the
hands. She formed these amazin glittle balls, quick as could be with a
beautiful mxture of vegetables, couscous and chicken, all while keepin
gher hand nearly spotless. I looked like a two year old net to her,
food all the way up my hand and all over my face. Their baby Younus
was shy at first but came right around after a few songs on teh
guitar.

Dakhla to Noadhibou:
A long day. I left at 8am, hpin to thumb an early lift south. I had
decided to wlak the 9km to the town's gendarme checkpoint and its
attendant6 collectio nof vehicles heading to Mauritani, but gve up and
took a taxi. Asking around it appeared the price for transit to
Mauritnaia was a standard 350 Dirhams. Accompanied by truck drivers'
scoffs I started walking in search of a free lift. I was picked up
after less than a click by a very strange Mauritanian man in a beat up
and severely overloaded blue cargo van I explained that |I didn't want
to pay and that I was hoping to ride for free. It wasn't until a half
hour into the ride that he quoted me the price, 350 Dirham. I showed
him that I quite literally had only 120 Dirham and that I had said I
didn't want to pay. He took the 100. I considered gettin out, but we
were of course in the middle of the sahara, and would go 30 or 40
minutes without seeing another car. I decided not to push it. The old
blue mercedes must've been the slowest truck on teh shaara that day. I
guessed we made between 10 and 40 km per hour for the next 10 hours.
We had two blowouts and at one point he told me that the road up ahead
was dangerous and thit if he shouted at me to jump I should justmp. As
in out the door. The border corssin gtook a long time but was
relatively ainless. No baksheesh, and the visa price of 10 E was a
nice surprise. The shock of crossing the border was immense, however.

1 Comments:

At 1:23 PM, Blogger Kai said...

Aha, i've been patiently waiting and checking every day in hopes of a new and exciting blog post and you have delivered, my friend. Good to hear how you are doing, even if it hasn't been the easiest time. Not that you were going for ease or anything. I await further word and think of you often.
Kai

 

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