The Morocco Diary
Last August/September I spent the month hitch-hiking around Morocco. I took with me a small backpack, enough to fit two changes of clothes, a tin cup, a blanket and a scrapbook. Here are some of the excerpts in my diary, which were written in different locations at different periods of my trip.
I am unable to list them chronologically, as I have noticed that I seem to fill diaries on any given free page and always forget to date them. I write on the first blank page I can find so to quickly catch that beautiful thought streaming its way through the river of my mind.
Included here are 21 different excerpts. The only editing I have made to them concern the spelling of words. I had just finished the book, the Zahir by Paulo Coelho upon arriving in Morocco. Some of these quotes gave me thinking material on the road sides, so I start with those.
Paulo Coelho : The Zahir
Al-Zahir in Arabic is a philosophical term meaning apparent readings of Religious texts.
‘The most satisfying encounters do not always happen around elegant tables in nice, warm restaurants.’ (p 182)
‘How does one go about abandoning the story one was told?’
‘By repeating out loud in meticulous detail. And as we tell our story, we say goodbye to what we once were and as you’ll see if you try, we create space for a new unknown world.’
‘We repeat the same story over and over until it is no longer important to us.’
‘As these spaces grow, it is important that we fill them up quickly, even if only provisionally, so as not to be left with the feeling of emptiness.’
EXTRACT 1 :
Thinking about Sexual Relations in Morocco (between the sexes)
The woman is oppressed because she cannot be physically seen as they will provoke the sexual male. But I do wonder if the men are less vain for it?
The male is repressed because he is denied what is a natural urge, enjoyment in the lure and beauty of these women. But he claims that it is better this way.
The wall of the veil is a dividing issue. It can be seen as a wall of control, in place for the supposed uncontrollable. That man cannot fully tame his sexual desire and that the woman is powerless to have her desire respected by the man.
One cannot even start to think about how this would play out with same sex relations.
This is how a westernised male, myself, views the construction of Islamic gender relations between the sexes, I am trying hopelessly to see how this could be otherwise.
So in this respect I am unashamedly western. I cannot, as much as I want to, find middle ground.
I cannot understand why the idea of a belief in a god should be so compelling in ordering our social behaviour than that of self-expression and self determined destiny.
God help me?
It’s a shame that my spirits are low during this trip outside of Europe. I need to reboot.
I liked power lines as a kid. They were the most significant and tallest man made structures of the Australian suburbs where I grew up, and in the countryside.
The 2 hour trip to visit my grandparents in Castlemaine was spent studying them. The lines, the junctions, the directions and the dead ends they went.
Perhaps this was due to my restricted vision out the car window.
EXTRACT 4 :
Today 16/9/2011 Rich to Meknes, Maroc
Sitting up here on the side of another stunning ridge of these timeless Atlas mountains. I am between Errachidia and Fes near a town called Rich, visible on the horizon.
Alone, the sound of the wind tunnelling its way through the valley would probably be the only distraction if it weren’t for the breath taking red-orange coloured bare landscape that unravels below my vision.
Here I feel away, not just physically but in a spiritual sense. I know that physically I have a name, in that world not even a name suffices for my identification, it must accompany a sequence of numbers. My spirit however, is only identifiable to me, it knows no name, no boundary, no physicality, no nationality, no skin colour, no creed, no race, no eye colour.
Its in this moment, I see myself like this.
The beauty of being alone and at the same time a part of this nature. This is being alive. Simply that. Broken down to its core. Revealing an essence so beautiful, special and rare.
Its good to have moments like this.
EXTRACT 5 :
Making sense of Arabic
Shokran = thanks
Ma Bgitsch = I dont want it
E’yit = tired
H-rah (slight rolling of the r) = shit!
brim = ‘hello’ to a passing pretty girl
Hef Hef = my arabic nickname
La'(glottal stop) = no
Gh’er F’ikr = femme jolie
Sh-H’aal (breathy H) = how much
Bzerf = too much!
Zuum (zoom) = look!
Aport Shula = window down
Ma’lim = ?
Juj Ashraah = 20
Waiting at the petrol stations for god knows how long and what the fuck for is a pretty strong memory that provokes and stirs up my numerous past lived experiences.
The story of Karim And Moussa
Hitch hiking in the Atlas and I felt something shift. The opening up of the flat landscape to a wall of mountains, crevasses and deep valleys seems to come as a shock to the senses.
I’m here and its another one of those places that possesses that ‘end of the world’ feeling to it. I stick my thumb out to see where today might take me. Several small taxis pass, all boxed up with people to the point that you wonder how people can breathe inside them. They dominate the street-scape of Morocco’s cities. Usually old, decrepit boxes on the verge of auto dismantlement. Then following the procession of ancient automobilia that passes my thumb by: a smart black Volkswagen.
The type of car that a self conscious bourgeois citizen may drive but retains 5% of the modesty perhaps not to have joined that elite selfish rich club that no doubt would have settled for nothing less than a Mercedes Benz. The reaction to my meagre thumb? A look of surprise then a pointed finger and away. No less than 5 minutes of their passing that the black sleek piece of luxury was parked just ahead of me, tooting to lure me in. I approach without haste.
Two girls, two guys. This guy I start talking to is the most interested. It was probably his back-seat driving that made the actual driver do a reverse turn. I quickly learn his name, Karim. Everyone else simultaneously introduces themselves but their names get lost in all the Arabic and French chatter.
They are off to Oukmaiden which is somewhat into the mountains, perfect! Should be a lovely sunset, cant wait! The majestic Atlas are dry respective to other mountain ranges of the world. Indeed I’m sure the Himalayas may bear some similarities. The valleys where, the full impact of hot summer days is reduced thanks to mountain shadow boast greenery, and the bulk of the towns which are like mud straw boxes are heaped together like a Brazilian Favela.
The view out onto a flat horizon is also awe inspiring. We stay for a bit at the top then start discussing plans for the evening. I’m thinking about heading back to Marrakech with them, after all its been a fun and exciting afternoon. They offer me a night at their hotel. I find out, little by little, the dynamic of this group.
Looks like your typical Arab. Hairy, belly stomach but nothing like the aged beer drinker. He’s in your face friendly. The type you can imagine what they would have been like during their childhood. The centre of attention, dominator of the group, upset if it were otherwise. He’s friendly perhaps to excess but this is Morocco so.
The driver, has got the vibe of mama Africa, so strong you can feel, smell and sense it. After all, this is his continent. Present in the tone of his voice and richly dark coloured skin. A big smile is on his face 90% of the time, showing his new set of braces. He could be Brazilian, we connect well, I open my Brazilian side up to him. We are already getting alone well. He is interested in my story, why I’m hitch-hiking and why I am in some random corner of the atlas trying to do it.
Then there are the two girls, of whom I have forgotten their names. These are the first such girls I have met without a hijab or a burqa in public. They are Western dressed, pail skin. I wonder to myself if that economic social theory also stacks up in Morocco. The whiter the skin colour, the more materially and economically well off one tends to be. They talk of a KFC dinner. Another link is made here with the richer upper middle class of developing countries that view Westernised junk food as an item of wealth and prestige, and as a bold attempt to exert their privilege and difference to that of their lesser well off citizenry.
The price of a KFC meal for 4 indeed expensive at 30 Australian dollars (240 Dirhams) I would have preferred a repeat meal of 5 Dirham (60 cents) bowl of lentils accompanied by some sweet mint tea. Much healthier anyhow.
The females I realise are not meant to be with these boys. However western they may view themselves, they are female Moroccan Muslims and still under their mothers watch, regardless of their age or perceived maturity.
The relationship status and length they know each other is questionable. Nevertheless it is none of my business. They’re are funny and its a relief to finally be able to talk face to face in an unplanned setting with females. A rare experience in this country.
Casablanca Is a bit of a dive..
Very repetitious, blocks of apartments forming uniform quadrilaterals.
In Height and Proportion.
Observations : Hitch-hiking Morocco
The last few days here have been turbulent in many ways. Life’s turns have and always will be unpredictable. Hitch-hiking proves this to me everyday, to the point where I have a romantic connection to the term. Its somewhat like a humanistic religion. I have faith in not only the possibility of being picked up and collected from the road but also I must have the faith that the people in which find me and give me a ride treat me well.
After a two day break from hitching Morocco in Yousouffia, recovering from a mild flu. I set out reinvigorated to see more of this interesting country. My ride out begins on the hottest of days. My first ride arrives quickly at least, fantastic! I’m taken by a couple to the nearby town of Chemaia, from there, shaded by date palms I wait for something in the direction of Marrakech. A truck soon enough pulls up, a tad reluctant but I open the door to my Arabic-only speaking truckie. Arab music, minimal chat. Soon however I’m getting friendly handshakes that resemble sexual intent. The energy is thoroughly sensed. The attempt came all of a sudden. A handshake and then a quick thrust of his hand, dragging mine onto his crutch. I quickly withdraw and in the most sincere way reveal my displeasure. A few moments of awkward silence, at least for me the experience proved to be awkward, I can only imagine how much more awkward it may have been for him.
Anyway turns out the next town is around the bend. I request that he leave me there. I depart with a ‘shokrun’ (thank you in Arabic) for the journey but literally It was a shock run from this monster. But I feel compassion for this monster. As I disembark another good looking Moroccan guy attempts to ask for a ride, which the driver declines.
So I realise that he only stopped for a precious piece of ass. Mine. Nonetheless I’m flattered and find the whole thing ridiculous.
I learnt an important lesson today:
Wiping your ass in the bush? Choose your leafy matter wisely.
Fig leaves = like wiping your ass with Sand Paper. And it stings afterward, really badly!
That’s what I learnt today when I took a shit in the bushes.
Road to Fes
The road to Fes has been an interesting time to de-construct my mind. The amazing landscape a positive factor in the transformation.
My road from Zagoura to Fes feels so right, time is not an issue, my frustrations for now have cleared. The full moon, passing on for now and I begin to mark this time to the lead up of the next full moon. The turning of summer to autumn has brought about many personal shifts on P.O.V. in gear for my life ..
and for the last week I’ve battled them and come to the point where my path forward will be to embrace them, accept them, and then clear them out, freeing up the space for new things, to impact my life course.
Crescent Mooned Nights in Morocco
The crescent moon over the Moroccan night sky last night was perfect. The first images at the beginning of the evening when dusk bites dark are powerful. It symbolises a religion, a way of living for many centuries in these lands. Such a powerful symbol.
The moon also conjured up powerful images in my own head. It is after all an extremely endless semiotic resource. Constantly redefining it. A relationship that dates the history of humanity.
The moon overall speaks to different friendships throughout my life. It gives meaning in a small sense to the many time passed. A souvenir that reappears to enlighten a passing moment, or a time to reflect on a particular person that who knows, perhaps may be feeling or thinking of that moment or myself at that exact moment through the same appearance of the same moon.
The full moon has never struck me more than this year. A year in which, by month has produced various mental shifts and influenced various decision making processes along the way. In the end it reminded me of how little control we actually possess over our life direction. We all want direction, assurance, the pathway before us to be revealed. However in my reality none of this can ever be 100% guaranteed. We can hypothesise until the moment comes and remain fooled by what it reveals in the end. We can’t blame ourselves for having a go. Self determination and control over ones life is highly regarded in our society after all. Without it many claim the result of utter chaos and destruction. Good or bad, It may just be something completely unexpected.
EXTRACT 13: ?
Perhaps when one liberates oneself from the “freedom” others prescribe, then it may be possible to step closer to a truer sense of freedom.
Le Maroc, Marruecos, Morocco
Talkative but not loud
Religious yet not extreme
Just in the traditional sense
Lost gypsy souls
O homem nao é autosuficiente
I listened to my Brazilian records too much whilst I was in Brazil. So much that the music may never escape my mind. I’m addicted, I need it to survive now, and its completely my own fault.
Channel surfing in Morocco. Found an English Speaking religious channel on Islam.
A pattern emerges: Every religion like to make use of, and explain, how something is with reference to WATER
In Islam, use of the water example.
How does one go about describing god, without limiting him ie. Making use of the senses we make perceptions by?
Water – it has no smell, it has no colour (see), although it can be touched we cannot describe its sensation. It combines with everything (such is the example of god in the world) yet it exists also alone.
Christianity and water
How can one explain the idea of a trinity? That God, the holy spirit and Jesus are in fact the one thing.
With water, It can be a liquid, solid and steam, but still contain the same chemical compounds (Hydrogen and Oxygen)
Daoism and the chronicle of the well.
Liberdades, Freedoms, Libertes
The restrictions of one state to the next matter little when one is nomadic. One does not stay long enough to endure social conditioning. For the nomad exists not a freedom but freedoms, one can only live the one version of freedom if they stay grounded to one place. When one is free of this freedom in its nationalised context perhaps maybe then one can start to make their way towards the freest of all freedoms.
Being in Morocco makes me realise how many life decisions I can make on a daily basis that some may never experience in their life.
And how thankful I am to be able to make them, a privilege in its our right.
Interesting to note the connection between religion/culture and money. The correlation seems to be the more money one has, the less religion and cultural practices such as tax, attitudes to women, change. The wealthier the woman generally the lesser the likelihood she will wear the headscarf in public. Is poverty then sustaining Islam?
List of full moons so far for 2011
March : Rio de Janeiro, Carnaval
April: Sao Paulo with Nancy
May: Rio de Janeiro at a beach party (Praia Vermelha)
June: Full lunar eclipse over the skies of Rio de Janeiro
July: Malta, Full moon party at the Riviera Beach with Anna
August: European Rainbow Gathering, Portugal. Fire Circle
September: The Zagoura Desert, Morocco, alone with a backpack.
Part of a convo I had with a English speaking friendly Moroccan man..
‘I met a gay couple when I was in Essaouira once..
They were Italian.
Really nice friendly people but…’
‘When I see gay couple like that I just think what an absolute sadness that it has to be..
That they have to be like that.’
My question : Have you ever thought why they might be like that?
-Chequered or other colourful pants (blue, check second hand street markets)
-an old radio
-Shawl, silk scarf (for jasmine)
-Socks, Undies, Skivy tops
-A necklace (for jasmine)
-Dates, figs, Incense and a bag?