I could not live in this country. Every morning, at about 5.30am, the Imams blare out their monotonous cry on megaphones at the top of the minarets, calling their flocks in to chant and pray for forgiveness for their sins. I would say much the same thing if I was living next to a church back home! Every morning in Morocco, I have woken to this noise and I curse and swear, wishing I was out of the Islamic world in a place where I could get some sleep.
I got up, went out and sat in a café within the walls of Rabat’s old medina and had a couple of croissants and a Lipton tea (black with sugar) for breakfast. I sat there watching shifty Moroccan after shifty Moroccan walk past. I read my book for a while and then headed back to the hotel via the market where I bought bananas and some soap. The people in the shop were very friendly. I had been into it a few times and each time they say welcome with a beaming smile and shake my hand.
At midday, I got up, ate the bananas and, once more, went back to the Algerian Embassy. I sat in the waiting room, as usual, and the normal routine ensued with the ‘visa man’ saying he would go and look to see if permission had arrived for our visas. He added that the mail hadn’t arrived yet. ‘But, hadn’t he said that the news normal comes through via Telex?’
Meanwhile, an American man wearing a T-shirt, light coloured cotton trousers, leather boots done up half way, wearing an old suede jacket and carrying an old canvas rucksack came in. He was told that his visa might arrive overnight.
‘Bastard!’ I thought.
I chatted to him for a while about the American and English bookshops in Rabat because he was looking for a guide book. He soon left to get his papers sorted out. The ‘visa man’ came down and told me the good news and said “Maybe tomorrow”. Ha! I had heard that one before.
I walked back to my room feeling fed up but, in the back f my mind, I had been expecting it. I phoned Dan and told him that I would be back tomorrow. Rabat was getting me down.
I finished ‘The Grapes of Wrath’, an excellent read which I had studied for A-level exams, but which I had not fully appreciated when I was doing so. I took the book to the English bookshop. The owner said “Hello, again”. Rather surprised, I returned his greeting and asked if I could trade my book. “Fine”, he said. He would give me 3 dirhams for it. I picked out Conrad’s ‘Lord Jim’ which was 60 dirhams! I paid him the difference, nevertheless.
I bought bread and cheese for supper on the way back to the hotel. I read for a bit yet I felt fidgety and restless, having caught up on sleep. So, I went out for a walk around the medina before going back to my room and eventually relaxing enough to sleep.
Will Hawkins lives in Lincolnshire with his family, works in a technology company in London and does as many micro-adventures as he can.
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