Heading Home

Tomorrow, at 4:45am, Amelia will drive Dan and I to Agadir, an hour north of Tiznit. From there we’ll catch an hour’s flight to Tiznit, followed by a seven hour flight to NYC, then a 5 hour flight to SFO, getting back to Sausalito at around 11pm in the evening. And the next day I’m supposed to show up for work. How stupid is that?

I have decidedly mixed feelings about leaving Morocco. It’s hot here, and more than a little humid, both climatic qualities that I can live without. (The winters, however are supposed to be cool… down to 55°.) There is no open gay culture here, which (having been out since 1987) is not something with which I could ever get accustomed.

On the other hand there are the men, who are beautiful with dark mysterious eyes and smooth brown skin. There is the laid-back, low-tech pace of life, where bicycles and mules are as common a method of transportation as automobiles, even within the cities, and where no one really pays much attention to the time of day, except for closing up shop at 11pm. There are the children, with mischievous smiles who shout “Bonjour!” at you as you pass because it’s the one french word they remember from school, and who laugh in delight when you answer them back.

Tonight is my last night in Morocco.  I go to a hamam, the traditional public bath. You enter, pay 10 dirhams (about a dollar), and enter a tiled room where you strip down to your underwear. You then go into the hamam proper, passing through a warm room, a warmer room, and then into a hot room. For 50 dh, an attendant will bathe and massage you, scrubbing you down with a scouring cloth and ‘black soap’ until you glow, and then washing you with regular soap and shampoo, finally dumping large buckets of warm water over your head to rinse. He leaves you lying on the hot tile floor until, languidly, you make your way forward to successively cooler rooms.

I also go for a walk in the public park at sunset. It seemed like all of Tiznit was there. A solid circle of women surround the playground, only their eyes showing through their veils as they attend to their children. Both men and women sit on benches watching the promenade and talking, though rarely together. ‘Bad girls’ walked around in tight jeans and short sleeve blouses, flirting with boys, who seemed at a loss for what to do. Some boys are clearly there to watch other boys. It is a kaleidoscope of islamic society, and a little overwhelming but also pretty damn wonderful for this western stranger.

Then back to Amelia’s home, where friends have gathered. Idris is there, with his guitar and dry wit. Lhassen and Manuella are there, an ex-islamic man and a hippy woman who met on the internet and fell in love to live by the beach in Morocco. We drink beer and wine while Sorin grills camel kebabs. We eat a delicious chicken tagine followed by the kebabs. (Camel, incidentally, has to be the best meat I’ve ever eaten, even if the lips do require a blowtorch for proper preparation.) We all sit around laughing, playing music, and enjoying one another’s company. Sorin, Dan, Ricardo, and Joshua, who at 11 is just ‘one of the guys’ and treated as such. (Though we do tease him about his two marriage proposals since arriving in-country. FYI, pink-skinned, fair-haired, well-fed American boys are very popular here.)

Now I’m typing this, knowing that all that awaits me is a hot night sleeping, a 4am awakening, and a long day of chasing the sun. But every adventure needs an end, if only so that another adventure may begin. Bon soir.

What do you think?