Friday, 6 May 2011

Still In One Piece

Even glide is too choppy a verb for how Ryan air lets you pass through airports nowadays.  No one asked for my passport, did you pack this yourself, have you left it unattended, has anyone given you anything to carry!  Just a five foot policewoman with a huge machine gun, and I thought, surely a pistol or a rifle would be enough?  She might encounter a terrorist but would she really encounter several terrorists and be able to pump away like Rambo spraying bullets everywhere? 
My holiday mostly involved people watching, and being woken up by the call to prayer in the early hours of the morning. Marrakech is about as big as Bolton and entirely clad in concrete the colour of overcooked salmon.  It smells of wee, basically, (trying to give you a mental picture) wee and leather and two stroke oil and perhaps raw liver.  The laws we hold dear in this country of cars on the road - people on the pavement, are blurred there somewhat and vehicles and pedestrians seem to follow a predestined, synchronised course between each other, sometimes at high speed.

The Cafe Argana, which was bombed earlier in the week, is bang in the centre, on the main square.  Considering the schism in everyday life that 9/11, the Madrid bombings and June 7th bombings in London caused it was strange to see life had returned to normal within two days.  Was it insensitive that western tourists were cavorting around the site day and night?  What would Bush have said about thousands of Arab tourists swarming over ground zero with smiles and snapping cameras?  Anyway there were obvious tensions what with bin Laden’s demise and anti-government demonstrations in the square but the city rolled on as usual.

Arab society does seem peaceful and built around community, in the evenings I liked to sit in the park surrounded by couples and families who did very little other than chat, hold hands and watch their kids run in circles.  Maybe we don’t have the climate, but when it is nice we sit in our own personal gardens or go to the pub, it just seemed more sociable in Marrakech.  I never shifted the feeling of being an outsider though, even amongst tourists it seemed to be more of a couples and family destination rather than backpackers, adventurers and single people – and 95% of the tourists were French and very comfortable sauntering around – bronzed and heavy eyed.  I sat beneath the orange and the fig trees and drank spiced tea and read my book but it’s hard to overcome isolation, and when you’re completely new to a place and have four or five days to get to grips with it you have to make yourself comfortable in any way you can.

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