Bite Me Not Morocco

We were engulfed by Morocco, fortuitously perhaps, during the religious month of Ramadan. It was a privilege to witness the unwavering commitment of the Moroccan people to these age-old rituals, despite the eyes that dwelt upon us whenever we ventured to eat or drink within the sun-drenched hours, which the Moroccans will not do during this spiritually concentrated period. Every town buzzed with the music, voices, colours and smells of the markets, being stark contrasts to the vast static landscape that lay between them. Such was the mass of bombarding experiences pervaded by all the towns of Morocco that I could not tie a particular memory to a particular place.

After many nights deprived of sleep by Ramadan’s wonderful nightly processions and then numerous beautiful early rises for further travel, we once attempted sleep under the blanket of a trumpet in close
proximity. At this point we were moved beyond excited awe towards frustration, anger, laughter and into the deepest epitome of hysterics. Sometime later we were looking forward to basking in silence as we trekked out to spend a night in the hills with a farming family.

We had no common language, and when we arrived, shattered and hungry, amongst much confusion we discovered that we had hours yet to wait for any relief. We sat on floor cushions inside a doorless stone hut and fought with excessive head-nodding and smiles locked in place, to maintain expected courtesies and to keep our eyelids open. In a corner, the grandmother sat in the evening’s half-light, her silent, much-lined face and tiny body were hard to make out within the bundles that were her clothes. Intense fatigue had dampened our awareness, until a moment of interest returned our attention. The granddaughter suddenly stood and pointing at the wall behind our heads started shouting something unintelligibly. Grandma, shockingly swift, was upon us, battering the wall behind us with her shoe and someone and everyone is screaming “SCORPION!” Our weary stupors were shaken out of existence as we leapt over the tables to cower like animals in the furthest corner of the
room. Granma continued vigorously pounding the beast, now on the floor, until it could not be identified as scorpion – or anything else – for that matter.

With the prickly elation of having evaded sudden death-by-scorpion, staying awake for dinner now was not a problem. However, when the time for sleep eventually arrived, unconciousness was about as easy to attain as breathing clearly through a blocked nose, as we lay down – somewhat unsettled - in the Scorpion’s Playground.

R Fisher

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