Sunday, April 13, 2008

In Morocco with Wife

Most of those reading this blog will know that the reason why the updates suddenly stopped about a week ago was because this was when my wife, Moonira, joined me here in Morocco. We have been on vacation, both from our respective jobs - the research for the walls book being my 'work' - and, it seems, from this blog. Moonira is still traveling with me now, but I thought I should take a few minutes to let everyone know that I am still alive.

The vacation has been wonderful, though hardly relaxing. For all their wonders, Marrakesh and Fes are hardly the sorts of places where one unwinds. We spent our first few days in these cities and found ourselves in constant battle with taxi drivers, hotel touts, phony guides and vendors selling everything from carpets to hashish to the opportunity to pose with a Barbary ape on our shoulders. (We turned down all these offers). Aside from a kindly barber - Reda, who gave me the two best shaves of my life - all the Moroccans we met seemed interested only in separating us from our money.

I didn't feel at ease among the locals until Moonira and I got on the road, in the buses and grand taxis with everyday people who had better things to do than sell us junk. We traveled overnight to M'hamid, only a few kilometres from the Algerian border, where we undertook the requisite camel trek. Our voyage into the 'Dunes of the Jews' took place during a sandstorm but as my eyes filled with sand and my ass slowly turned to pulp I felt, for some reason, that this was a very Canadian thing to do.

There are many images from the last week I could write about: Drinking tea brewed from local saffron in Talouine and spiced coffee in the Marrakesh medina. Hitching a ride in Mercedes driven by a young man with stomach troubles. Drinking champagne on a Marakechi rooftop terrace. Walking through the palm groves of the Draa River valley. Sharing our taxis and buses with fabric-wrapped Saharawi ladies and Berber women clad in black shawls edged with dingle balls. Shopping for turbans and gilabas. And did I mention those wonderful shaves?

4 comments:

Philip on the Down Tempo said...

Hey Marcello,

A friend of mine still raves about the shaves he received in Egpyt.

I have been reading your blog for awhile now, and I am looking forward to your new book.

I teach a college course on issues in Contemporary Travel Writing in Montreal, and my students have just finished studying Poets & Pahlevans. Has anyone taught your work before?

All the best,

Philip D.

Marcello Di cintio said...

Thanks for writing, Phillip. I am honoured and surprised that you use my book for your class. Some of my early writing found its way into an Ontario textbook a few years back, but as far as I know you are the first to 'teach' my work. I hope your students enjoyed the book.

Philip on the Down Tempo said...

Yes, the students did enjoy Poets & Pahlevans, and it fit nicely into the overall vision of my course. It was the mysticism of poetry and wrestling that caught the attention of my students. In a way the poetry and wrestling are a metaphor for travel writing itself,a genre that combines the self-reflection of the mind with the exertion of muscle on the open road.

Many of them could not put the book down, and they found your narrative voice quite accessible. I think this is what fascnicated students them the most. They appreciated the honesty in your narration.

I am definitely going to keep Poets & Pahlevans on the syllabus for next year as well.

Marcello Di cintio said...

I never made the link between poetry/wrestling and the act of travel writing. That is really compelling.

Thanks for keeping me on your syllabus. It is good to know that somebody out there is still reading the book. Buying it, even.

M