nights with Driss Chraibi (aka Malaga, Esp)
November 2, 2010 § 1 Comment
With a bellyful of harira, I hugged Lisa (the German) goodbye at the train station in Rabat to catch the last train of the evening, 9pm on a Thursday. An hour and a train transfer later, I arrived at my hotel: the airport terminal with the accommodations of overpriced coffee and freshly made beds of tile. The night of waiting allowed me to finish another book, Heirs to the Past by Driss Chraibi. I took one shuttle to the plane, back to the terminal, and back to the plane before waiting, grounded, for over an hour. By the time the plane took off and made a surprise layover in Tanger, I had a nonreactive face of fatigue, as though my nerve muscles had been severed. Once I arrived in Malaga it was smooth sailing to find the bus, but finding the hostel was more like the last 10 miles of an endurance bike ride. You’re exhausted but giddy, concerned only with what lies directly ahead of you, often rambling in an incoherent language. I solicited the assistance of onlookers with a Spanish vocabulary as nonexistent as the Seattle Sonics. Sometime around 4pm on Friday, my inter-continental hopping ended with the thud of my backpack hitting the floor and the unmistakeable squeals of my friend Lisa (from America).
Spain is only the second foreign country in my traveling repertoire, but I’m already forming biases. I felt perfectly safe the entire time in Malaga, not necessarily because the well-lit streets and the company of friends. It’s a different country, with characteristics distinct from anywhere else in the world, but somehow it was familiar. That is to say, it is a Western society and though certain items were unusual (especially the PDA), I was for the most part, completely comfortable operating in so similar a society to my own. If nothing else, my weekend getaway highlighted how different Morocco is to the life I know.
I’m convinced that hostels conspire to make the world a smaller place. My second day at Picasso’s Corner, I met a girl named Tracey, which was so coincidental because I also have an aunt named Tracey! Actually, the more peculiar part was not her name, but the fact that she lives in Bothell (like me!) and graduated from Western Wash Univ (like Lisa, one day!)
Not only did this trip coincide with Halloween, it was also the last Sunday of the month, which has the same signification as the First Thursdays in Seattle. In other words, Lisa and I drooled over an old castle, strained our necks looking at vast cathedral ceilings, and stood dumbfounded looking at Picasso originals, all free of charge! Lisa knows a bit of Italian and Spanish, but I was at the mercy of the few phrases I learned from the kitchen staff at my restaurant back home. I repeated my limited vocabulary of como estas like a litany that would atone for my american parlance, mannerisms, and fashion. Here’s to staying out late:
It was while I was counting my leftover euros (the currency, not the Greek pita wrap –I never have leftover gyros!) that I realized the frivolity of my Spanish shopping spree. Not including my hostel fee, food, and drinks, I bought exclusively dark items: 2 bars of dark chocolate (one 45%, one 70%), a box of Swiss dark chocolates with honey and almond nougat, and knee-high black boots.
Now its back to my reality in Morocco. Back to the blind woman begging with her son on the street corner, back to unrefridgerated yogurt, and back to shoving crowds of covered heads. Sometimes, it is when you are surrounded by a sea of people that you feel the most lonely. And that’s a feeling that not even shoes and chocolate can eliminate.