4 June 2007
Good news! The embassy in Casablanca re-opens today.
I looked straight up and all I could see was rock, pinkish rock with sides so smooth it looked like a carving. The walls shoot up 300 meters of brown limestone and I could feel the heat of the day locked in the rock and pulsing outward. The wind coming off the water carrying the spray was cooling me like a fan. It was after two, the sun had passed overhead and the temperature had plummeted like a rock. I was actually shivering. After having spent the day feeling like a piece of chocolate melting and leaking out the sides of the packaging, it was bliss. “Feeling better are you?”
“Mercy yes. I'm afraid I don’t do well in the heat,” I said as I stood there still dripping and wiping my face with his kerchief.
“That really begs the question of why you have decided to stay in Morocco,” Hassan laughed. God he has great teeth. Sorry I have a real thing for great teeth and a nice tight bum (Q just read ahead if you roll your eyes any further back you could lose them).
‘Many reasons not the least of which is that I love the people here,” I said feeling decidedly cooler and more articulate. I think my powers of verbalization decrease as the temperature increases. I bent down in a squat and rinsed my arms and neck in the very cold river water.
“We best turn back here if I am going to get you back in time to feed the cat. The airport in Rabat won’t allow landings after six-thirty and we need to have lunch and pick up Ali. We can have tea on the plane if that’s alright,” he said taking my arm and helping me over the rocks. Yes, yes I didn’t need the help, but I ‘m not completely stupid!
It all began with a walk to the market on Saturday when I decided to take my cherries (of which there is a bounty and they are magnificent) over to the park. I am sitting on a bench eating my cherries and watching the people, like you do, when I spot coming toward me a cutout from “world’s yummiest men”. In the heat he was wearing a three piece Saville Row suit complete with red power tie. He looked as though he was walking through a fall day in London, not ninety degree heat in Morocco. I was dressed in my gold djellaba with the black trim and black linen trousers. Thank the gods I had just done my hair! I don’t think my makeup had melted off just yet.
“You are not a tourist,” he said sitting down beside me. He spoke in English with a soft Moroccan accent. When Moroccans speak English it’s like they polish the words first like a river rock, takes all the rough edges off.
“No, are you?” I said being a smartass.
“No, but I am visiting Rabat. I'm taking my plane down to Quarzazate tomorrow and I wondered if you would like to come along and visit the Todra gorge. I hate to fly alone. You are Lady Macleod are you not?” He had the look of someone who had just said, “gotcha”.
“Yes, but how would you know that?” Now I was really interested and not a little nervous. I am pretty sure I had managed not to have my mouth hanging open.
My son attends university in America and his friend from Fez told him about your blog and he read it. He wrote me to ask if I knew you..”
“If you KNEW me? Like a celebrity? Oh my giddy aunt!” I really had no idea how to react to this. Morocco is not that small a country.
‘Yes. Exactly like that really. He told me where to find you on Facebook so I would know what you look like when I told him I was coming to Rabat before I leave the country.” He was saying all this as though it was all perfectly normal that in a city the size of Rabat he would just buzz into town and FIND ME.
“Now you don’t want to pass up another chance like the chap in the market do you?” he asked looking like the cat who ate the cream.
“What? How…” Oh shit I am thinking perhaps the blog has become a bit too personal.
Apparently Hassan (that’s his name) is leaving on Monday for six months in Saudi Arabia on mission for the king. I can tell you he will be working with Prince Sultan bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud who is establishing an aviation club with the aim of teaching more Saudi nationals how to fly, and doing some other thing which I can’t tell you just as I can’t tell you the rest of his name. We discussed this in some detail. I am really counting on the fact my blog is censored in Saudi Arabia, but his son’s friend may be a regular reader. He was flying to Quarzazate to pick up a Saudi national who was climbing in the gorge. A real live sheikh, Ali (something I can’t tell you). Apparently Ali is an avid rock climber and had buggered out of the Morocco – Saudi Arabia talks in Rabat to go climbing. It was Hassan job’s to get him back home.
“Fine, when we do we leave? I have to be back t in time to feed my daughter’s cat, “ I said in what I hoped was an authoritative voice. “ She'll be calling to check on me around eight.”
“I can have you back by then. You live in the Oudaylas right? I can have my car pick you up at eight tomorrow morning.”
“Did you read the entire blog?” I asked in amazement at his knowing where I live.
“No, I’m sorry but my son gave me the highlights. He and his friend are quite the fans,” he said grinning at my obvious discomfort.
Wasn’t the day supposed to be cooling down? If so why did I feel decidedly warmer? “Now that I’ve met you I think I will,” he said.
“Can I see you home? I have to attend a meeting over at the palace, that’s where I was heading when I saw you. I truthfully can’t believe I ran into you, even though you are rather easy to spot.”
“It’s the hair and the hat,” I laughed. “No, no go ahead. I still have some errands to do. I'll see you in the morning then?”
“Yes.” And he took his leave with a small bow. Where was this chap educated? What was he going to be doing in Saudi Arabia, and why did he have a jet? My mind was spinning and I was laughing out loud as I walked along the street thinking of Q’s face when I told her.
that's Part I. I shall get the rest to you on the morrow. Frankly it's ninety fine degrees here and too hot to think, let alone type. I will be doing some daydreaming however. See me smiling?