I have a feeling of great elation [ironically]. I have just bought four carpets in Chefchaouen. I bought one Berber carpet which is thick, woolly and very comfortable. And I purchased three colourful Kilim carpets. We bought them from a ‘government carpet shop’ (whatever that is) run by Abdul Eli’s brother-in-law.
We went to Abdul’s house for lunch and had couscous cooked by his wife. We sat around a great bowl of it with a spoon each where Abdul pushed the meat, which was on top of it, towards to eat. We didn’t have individual plates but just ate from this large, shared tagine.
Meanwhile, we listened to the recording of their wedding and then we watched Australia play Argentina in Llanelli in the Rugby World Cup. Weird. We had brought along presents of snuff in a box of Abdul, fruit in a basket for his wife, and paints and paper for their children. There was another man there who worked in Abdul’ Eli’s shop who spoke French who took some of Abdul’s snuff and was nearly in tears afterwards.
After lunch, came the carpet buying session. It was very relaxed. We took off our shoes and lounged on the Berber carpets drinking tea while looking at carpets which were patiently laid out in front of us to view. It was great fun and did not feel pressurised in the way that Dan had experienced on his previous visit.
Of course, we couldn’t carry the carpets on our bikes so they arranged to have them shipped back to the UK. [I can’t remember how much we paid for them but the carpets are still going strong now twenty years later]. We then left, returning briefly to Abdul’s shop for spell before returning to the pension. Abdul asked us not to mention to the pension owners that we had bought through him because they would be jealous. The owners did question us when we got back.
At 7.30pm, we met Abdul again and were taken to his partner’s house for supper. His partner was Hamide. It was right at the top of the town. We entered the house and saw all of Abdul’s family there. The men were sitting in a separate room from the women. Dan and I were left alone for a while and we played with the children. Suddenly, the men decided that the children were becoming unruly and produced a piece of hose pipe with which they smacked a few of them! There was lots of crying, unsurprisingly.
Tea was brought in by Abdul’s partner’s wife and then then sat about chatting for a while with them all showing them pictures of our family. The partner’s wife then brought in a bowl of delicious soup each which we held with our hands. Also, a plateful of dried figs and bread arrived on the scene.
Abdul introduced us to his friend, Rachid, who lived in Fez and he said he would meet us there to show us around. Rachid looked like a Moroccan version of Lionel Ritchie, slightly gangly with curly black hair and a moustache. He was the brother of Hamide. He told us that he was a student in Fez studying maths. He said he would meet us on Sunday, 6th October in the bar of Hotel Savoy which he said was a good place. Rachid told Dan he was left wing in his politics and he had taken part in a student riot recently.
Unfortunately, I was still suffering from bad guts which were giving me very uncomfortable bouts of wind and I had to go to the bog twice, much to the amusement of the women who giggled as I went out to the loo.
Soon, Abdul said it was time to go. We thanked the wife and Abdul’s partner came outside with us and walked down the street saying “You are always welcome, my friends!” We have been shown nothing but kindness and honesty since being in Chefchaouen. It has been amazing.
[Looking back on this, we were so naïve. The people were nice but this is the way they work in Morocco to earn a living off the tourists like us. It sounds cynical but it’s just a reality that many people you meet in Morocco after hoping to earn a buck or two off you.]
We returned to the pension and waited for the door to be opened. Inside was a student with a paralysed arm who we had seen there regularly, as well as a drunken man. He stank of booze and was smoking joints. The man was loud and obnoxious and kept coming into our room. He seemed to intimate that Dan and I were sleeping together and asked if we would come out onto the terrace with him. He soon left. Dan and I hit the sack after a sever bout of farting!
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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