One of these days I’ll find an android app that edits video clips worth a damn and I’ll make an obligatory Marrakech Express music video. Until then you will just have to settle for the standard post ending of youtube music. Bummer.
The train ride from the coast through the desert was long, arduous and catered with overpriced water yet surprisingly inexpensive food. I wasn’t particularly sad to see Tangier go, but I am willing to give it another chance next week. Riad Blue Berber, my current accommodation, was kind enough to arrange free transport from the train station to the heart of the medina. The cab ride was…well…it was an experience. Some might call it harrowing or even terrifying. I call it invigorating!! Cars,trucks, buses, motorbikes, pedal bikes, horse-drawn carriages and mule drawn carts all vying for position in a maelstrom of traffic the likes of which I have never seen, while pedestrians heroically navigated the narrow gaps with purposes and histories I shall never know. Traffic lights? We don’t need no stinking traffic lights or, for that matter, any seemingly visible signage whatsoever. With calm precision my driver wove a path through the madness before yelling at some cabbies to make room on the side of the road. We had arrived! The ride incited an involuntary laughter in me much like I experienced in my youth when witnessing my guitar teacher play rhythm portions of metal songs. Such manic creations of humanity have always had such an effect and I can’t say why. The journey also quickly dispelled any notion I had of renting a scooter to get out to the golf course.
There was no time to dwell on these notions however, for bags in hand we quickly departed, on foot, deeper into the medina. Powerful sights, sounds and smells refused to be ignored as we dodged two-stroke motorbikes zipping between shops and their patrons. Freaking two-strokes; I want to meet the jerk off who was all like “Let’s mix oil and gasoline and make the loudest most putrid smelling machines conceivable!”, and offer some clever and cutting rebuke. Perhaps referring to him/her as a choad would suffice. Nah, that’s too simple…I digess.
The poster on the wall of my room at the Hotel Continental in Tangier said “Morocco: A Feast For The Senses”. I would counter that, here in the medina of Marrakesh, it’s much more of an assault. Smoke, spices, drums, shouts, the calls to prayer from the minarets, beeps from every possible ( and some seemingly impossible ) two-wheeled vehicle, and myriad other sensations force their way in. Between the sensations and my own small collection of experiences my mind has literally had difficulty accepting that this place is real and that I’m actually here. That’s not an exaggeration either. It is a singular emotion for me. Sort of the opposite of that time I saw my doppelgänger at the Nile Theater for some punk show and my mind believed it was looking in a mirror. At last we turned down a quiet corner and arrived at the Riad where Abe and his spanish speaking friend Sayid awaited.
The Riad is beautiful, quite cold at night, and at the moment occupied by only myself, two British film makers and the family whose house this is. I was given mint tea and a chance to relax upon entering. Ahhhhhhhh. Beneath the orange trees, their tangled shadows and the cold wind coming down from the Atlas to the east, my shoulders let loose the tension and soon hunger took over. To the madness once again!
I think of books I’ve read, programs on television and the banality of the internet; none prepared me for such a place. I suppose that’s why you travel right? The Taoist might say that the sage encounters the entirety of the universe without ever leaving their doorstep. I say, having presently gone well beyond my own doorstep, and as was often among my thoughts during my often ill-fated backcountry solo expeditions, that to appreciate home I must venture out to the where-ever. It should come as little surprise then to learn I do not consider myself a sage. Far from it. Here and now, across the sea and the sand, less than a month from my 35th birthday I am again starting anew.
To the frequent reader of this hoopla, it might seem that there are some common themes among my words. In truth I wrestle with the same thoughts and troubles ad nauseam over and over again. I can say, however, that this trip has so far granted me some repose and respite from that toil. It’s difficult to worry about existential horse-apples when the alpine glow upon the high Atlas breaks through the smog of this ancient city and the kindly woman from the Blue Berber brings a fresh glass of mint tea. It is difficult to worry about the insanity of the current political state of my homeland when Abe, Sayid and I are jamming out to Phil Collins’ “Another Day In Paradise” in the hole in the wall shop deep within the medina of Marrakech.