Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Outside my window

May 29 2007
Not topblogmag

Outside my window pass hoards of tourists. We are on the tour guide’s must see list. French, German, Americans, and lately a great many Chinese. Now get that picture – a group of Chinese tourists plodding through the medina set among the tall dark Moroccans, getting on the bus, and disembarking at the Oudayas where they go through the gardens dressed in sandals, shorts, and it looks like the same white shirt, then walk our streets and buy Moroccan sandals and leather camels. Clicking, clicking their cameras. They did not read the guidebook that says YOU SHOULD ASK first, nor have I met even one who speaks French. These are people who know less of how to queue than the Moroccans. The day of the prominence of the “ugly American” may be over, they have big competition.

Q opened the door a few days back and as we were stepping out into the street one of the French tourists practically knocked Q over as she’s poking her head in our door for a look about. “Oh look this riad’s really quite lovely.” As Q was trying to tell her that we are not a riad, but this is our home, she acted as if Q had not spoken at all.

Moroccan men cannot parallel park but they can dance.

There is a continuous football game that goes on in our street, the players just change.

I heard drums and bells outside under the window. I opened my shutters and looked down to see three chaps all done up in costume going through the streets playing music. My mistake was opening my window and aiming my camera. It was a con. It’s like the Mexican Mariachi bands, or the violin players who come to your table until you have to pay them to leave. I finally was ready to acquiesce. As I ran downstairs to get some money they gave up and left. As you can see from the photograph I only caught the bottom half on the one! I guess you do get what you pay for eh?

In the early morning the chap comes by with his cart for the garbage that we have all put out on the stoop. You have to get up and put it out in the morning because if you do it the night before the cats will get it and scatter it everywhere. There are mornings that find me barefoot, chasing him down the end of the street with my bags, much to the amusement of the neighbors who have all been awake for hours. Around ten he is followed by the vegetable man singing out Ahhh yealll ahhh and pulling his very noisy wooden cart.

I walked down to the beach on Sunday. I counted three teenage girls in bathing costumes. The only other females in swim attire were the young children. On the one hand they aren’t as likely to suffer from skin cancer or wrinkle at an early age, but as I watched one of the young boys run into the sea with abandon I remembered the powerful feeling of swimming in the ocean. I was sad that the girls were not allowed to have that. Morocco is moving forward… Even as I write that sentence I realize I am imposing my sense of what this society should be doing. While I do feel that freedom of choice is important, I know it comes with a cost. I can want for these wonderful women the best life for THEM, not what I think is a best life. The women did not look unhappy or as if they wanted to be dressed differently and worry over cellulite. They were perched on the rocks and leading their children into the water, walking along the pier with their husbands or boyfriends.

I walked along the boardwalk which is like thousands of others by the sea with Coca Cola emblazoned on the patio umbrellas, surfers hauling their boards, boys unloading a rubber motor boat, tiny one man sailboats, and a stereo blaring loudly enough for the ships at sea. Again it was one of those ‘western stumbles’ as they were playing Cat Stevens.

On one side of the pier is a calm little lagoon where swimming and body surfing are the order of the day; other days you get some big waves for the surfers. On the other side is a rough sea with a wicked undertow that provides great scenery but too rough even for the surfers.

A question asked by Hamid, Q’s tutor, in all seriousness, as they were discussing religion and American culture:
“Would it be more important for a Protestant or Catholic to go to confession or be on Dr. Phil?”


Omega Mum said...

Wonderful pictures. And it was an object lesson in how easy it is to cause offence as a tourist without even realising (I mean the photography, which is ignorant, rather than the crowding into your home without an invitation, which is simply extremely rude).

lady macleod said...

It really is isn't it? And not just here. It is little things like when you are in Paris it is considered rude if you do not say hello when you enter and goodbye when you leave a shop. I think if we keep our eyes open, do at least some research before we venture forth and use every day good manners we can visit without offending.
Thank you for coming by dear.

debio said...

I was always taught that we have manners for others and not ourselves; that it is a sign of respect. It is therefore incumbent upon everyone in a foreign land to have a knowledge of local customs and manners - and to keep quiet if it doesn't suit!

The Good Woman said...

I find your internal dialogue about imposing norms on other cultures so familiar. It is so easy to present 'easy' answers for social issues but how many would actually work given the different contexts in which they would need to find footing?

In my expereince, Africa is a continent of questions.

merry weather said...

Hello Lady MacLeod, like your blog - fascinating insights.
Yes, I do think the little things, simple good manners (politeness, kindness, tolerance) do make life much easier and more pleasant. People seem afraid to "resort" to them sometimes. Asserting oneself is all that matters.

Good luck and I'm sure your tanned feet look most attractive!

lady macleod said...


Apparently we had the same governess. I was taught that manners are all about making other people comfortable, whatever that might entail.
Thank you for coming by.

good woman

I am finding how true that is still. I was here seems like a lifetime ago with my husband. We were in Central Africa,which is now ripping itself apart. Questions indeed. It will break your heart.
Thank you for coming by.

merry weather,

Thank you for the kind words, and thank you for visiting. I hope to see you again.

Pamela Jeanne said...

Interesting how little regard cultures seem to have for each other. My experience earlier this year being in Germany during Oktoberfest demonstrated that still another group of tourists (okay, I'll name them, as they clearly weren't worried about being identified in the streets of Munich: Italians) were working very hard to replace the Ugly American, too. Such a shame that we all can't be more culturally aware...

Thanks for sharing the scenes around you!

lady macleod said...


So very true. You're very welcome. I had great fun taking the photographs and sorting through.

Melody said...

Your sharing of life around you in photos and words delights me.

Manners, consideration of others...I'm thankful for a southern mother and grandmother who exemplified this in my childhood and beyond.

lady macleod said...

Thank you. I am so pleased you are enjoying the site. Yes, i thing you should be well pleased with those teachers.
Thank you for coming by.