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O Fim duma Viagem


MOROCCO | Tuesday, 8 July 2014 | Views [318]

 Whereas Friday was full of Americans, Saturday was not.

I was running out shampoo and conditioner, so I decided that I should go get some more. Since shopping by myself in the Mdina was still a frightening prospect (so much noise and so many people!) I walked past all several different shops/stalls selling shampoo and conditioner all the way to the center, took a left, and walked past to the Carrefour I knew was there.

It's amazing how reassuring a department store can be. But after several weeks in Morocco (and especially one in Senegal) fixed prices, and prices that are displayed on electronic screens that you can see instead of just being spoken quickly and possibly in Arabic are nice. Really, really, nice.

 On the way to the Carrefour, I stopped into two bookstores. I was looking for a book to buy so that I wouldn't run out of fiction between the Rabat Airport and Charles de Gaulle. Ideally a book in English, but the only one that I could find at either store that was remotely tempting was Kafka on the Shore. I already have that on my shelves at home, in multiple languages, so I gave up on the English requirement. Suffice to say, unless they restock quickly, you can no longer buy La Peste for 35 dirham.

I returned home and read for a bit before lunch. No one else in the program wanted to do anything until after iftar (maybe the carnival would be set up tonight) so I decided to try and find the Andalusian gardens.

On my way to the Kasbah, someone appeared to tell me (in French) that his house was right there. I ignored him and walked on.

Once again, I learned that I could not find the Andalusian gardens, or the cafe we'd seen the first day, on my own. I knew I needed to turn at some point, but going straight until the end-of-road sign appeared was both easier and more common. There are a lot of times where I don't care what Robert Frost says, I want the well-trodden and weed-free path.

Once again, I found the neat art and book shop inside the Kasbah. (They didn't have any English books. Or any fiction. Lots of interesting-seeming nonfiction, just not what I was looking for.) I looked around there for a bit, then left.

On my way out of the Kasbah, someone greeted me. And followed me out.

I'm not sure if this was the same guy or not (I try to make a point out of not looking at the people who call out to me in the street. That could be construed as encouragement) but he also had a house nearby. It's possible that he'd seen me to into the Kasbah and waited until I left. It was also possible that he'd been waiting in the Kasbah for the first single white girl to walk by.

He talked to me some more. I pretended I didn't understand. He didn't go away, but did catch on to the fact that I wasn't following him linguistically as much as he was physically following me. “Parlez-vous français? Anglais?”

I tried to imagine what I would do if someone were talking to me in a language I truly didn't understand. If I could tell that he was asking me a question, I'd probably assume that “no” was the correct answer. I started shaking my head.

He continued talking in French about how his father was the superindent of a school, or something like that. I tried to keep my face neutral so it didn't display my thoughts. (Mainly “why are you telling me this? Even I could understand you, do you really think that would make me want to sleep with you?”)

When he paused, I decided it was time to move on to tactic two. “Ne panimayu. Ya ne panimayu.” For a moment, he stalled. Then “Parlez-vous allemand?”

First of all: wrong language. Secondly, even if I were German, why do you think that asking me in French if I speak German would help? I mean, if I was a prepared German tourist I would probably know how to say “do you speak German” in both French and Darija, but if I was a prepared German tourist, I would probably know enough to respond to “bonjour.” Otherwise, “allemand” is a long way from “deutsch.” Finally, what would he have done if I'd said yes? (Or “oui” or “ya”) If he couldn't even ask me in German if I spoke German (or been able to tell the difference between Russian and German) I highly doubt he could have given the spiel about the nearby house and the superintendent father in German. (I'd be even more creeped out if he could.)

He was gone by the time I needed to turn down Sidi Fata. If hadn't been, I'd already decided that I would turn down Mohammed V. If I couldn't lose him in those crowds... I hadn't thought terribly far beyond that, actually. Apart from making enough of a fuss that he attracts attention and hopefully slinks off. It hasn't been necessary yet, and hopefully won't ever be.

One final note about the guy: remember when he was trying to figure out what language I spoke? The entire time, I was carrying a book in English. Once I realized that, I move my scarf and hands to cover all the text I could. I label him not terribly clever for not being able to realize that the book would have done a much better job of telling him what language I spoke then the person who (ostensibly) didn't understand a word he was saying. Glad he didn't, but still.

Once I was back in my house, I reflected on that for a bit. Guys mostly left me alone when I was walking to school. They left me alone when I was walking to meet people at the boat or Marina Bay. Basically, as long as I had the fast and determined pace of someone who was going somewhere specific to meet people, I'd probably be left alone. Which, although an improvement over always having guys follow me, was still frustrating to realize. I like exploring, including some exploring on my own. I can't do that while maintaining a “I have places to be and people to meet now!” pace.

I know I'm going to miss Morocco when I leave, but this is one of the aspects that I'll be quite happy to leave behind.

Tags: catcalls, males, russian, solo

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