I was up early to get to the hospital for 6.30am. Walking up to the hotel was, initially lovely. The air was cool enough for me to have to wear my fleece. The sky was dark blue, the sun rising orange and then gold in the east over the arid countryside.
I took a tin of Heinz Scottish soup with lentils for Dan’s breakfast. He was feeling better and said he was going to come out that day. Unfortunately, I had to go back to the hotel to get our cooker because the hospital kitchen was locked. I cooked the soup in his grotty room (there was some horrible liquid running right across the floor and I had an idea that it was coming from the loo next door). I kept his room door closed to keep any prying eyes out. Dan wolfed down half of the tin of soup because he had eaten virtually nothing for over 24 hours.
I left Dan and went back to the hotel for some breakfast. For the rest of the morning, I went down to the Kasbah which was at the bottom end of the town, a reasonable walk away. I walked past four Moroccan lads, one of whom said “Hello, it’s an American!”
I sternly corrected them “I’m not an American. I’m English”. They walked past me and the same boy, showing off, said to his entourage “The English are the same as Americans”.
Again, I corrected him in a loud voice. I find some of these Moroccan men pathetic.
The Kasbah was a typical structure of the country, its walls covered with a mud and straw mix, with a palace in the centre of it. There were a few tourist shops in the vicinity. I walked into the free part of the castle and walked about the narrow, dusty streets for a while.
At one point, a fat, old Moroccan woman rushed behind a female tourist ahead of me and slapped her bottom, which she then did to me as well. I looked at her, rather surprised, and walked on. There were a few dingy shops and alleys, but I was not very enthusiastic about looking around more, and I did not feel like spending any money or forking out for a guided tour around the palace, which was, apparently, being left to fall apart.
I returned to the hotel to read some more on my bed. At midday, I went up again to see Dan and cooked the rest of the soup and washed some apples for him. He was looking a lot better and was chirpier.
I left via the doctors’ house because I had left my t-shirt there. Hussein was in and I chatted with him for a while. As I was leaving, I noticed the grotty sate of their kitchen with half eaten food everywhere; dirty plates and dishes on the surfaces and a cat standing on the table eating the scraps. It was almost an unbelievable demonstration of the hygiene standards of even intelligent doctors.
I was amazed by the whole establishment. The rooms were dirty and smelly; the floors covered in fag butts and the walls covered in grimy fingerprints. Cats walked about on the dusty floors. The bogs were filthy and stank. In the wash area, the basins were clogged with discarded food. Cats growled around the waste bin in the loos, which was rarely emptied. It was pitiful and so easily rectified. It seemed to be a mixture of ignorance and laziness. A doctor had said to Dan that there were more problems with disease in Britain!
After lunch, I washed more clothes and then went down to the lobby to watch the Rugby World Cup where England was playing Australia. There were a couple of Moroccans watching too. It was good to see Twickenham on TV. It brought back happy memories of drinking beer before watching a match there, the atmosphere of the match and in the pubs afterwards while drinking with friends.
Towards the end of the match, a load of Aussies, Kiwis and an Irish girl (over-landers) turned up to watch the match. A Moroccan who had been studying in Brighton Polytechnic for three years brought them in. I was gutted when England lost 12-6. The over-landers all gave me a hard time when we lost which pissed me off, immensely.
I felt drained and went up the hospital and found Hussein. I told him my bad news about the rugby. Then, I found Dan standing in the main entrance waiting to go. He had packed all his bits into his sheet sleeping bag and had told the hospital staff he was leaving. They were rather surprised and asked what was wrong. (I didn’t have the heart to tell them that their hospital was a shot hole!). We stood around signing papers for a bit and left as soon as we could.
At the hotel, Dan lay on his bed while I went to get food. Coming back into the hotel, I saw Brian and Sarah again outside the hotel looking tired and dusty looking for a room. The only rooms available were 67, 82, or 92 dirhams a night. I asked the hotel staff if there were any cheaper rooms but they were all full. They took the 82 dirhams room (£6.45 a night) which had hot showers and running water. I helped them up with their kit and bikes before going out to get the food for supper. We ate beef broth, boiled eggs, French toast.
My feet have been getting pretty smelly in the boots I walk and cycle in. It’s getting a bit embarrassing despite washing my feet and socks as much as I can, and powdering them. Brian came into our room for a chat (I was desperately trying to keep my feet covered!).
At 7.30pm, I had arranged to meet Hussein and walked up to one of the big tourist hotels on the hill in the town for a drink. It was luxuriously furnished and totally out of touch with the realities outside. We sat at a table next to the pool and talked about Moroccan politics (in French), his ambitions, family, and the different ways in which a young person starts out in Morocco compared to a young person in England. It was interesting but our French was lacking the depth needed to really talk about things. We sat there for two hours. I felt tired so I made my excuses and agreed to meet up the following evening, before walking back to the hotel.
I went up to the room and found Dan and Brian chatting again. I joined in and we talked about bikes, cycling and travelling before crashing out at 11.45.
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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