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O Fim duma Viagem

With Clothes or Without?

MOROCCO | Tuesday, 15 July 2014 | Views [1143]

 After ftour on Friday, we met at Marina Bay because really, where else would we go? We initially got two tables, but when none of us ordered food, they took one of them away. The restaurant was still pretty non-crowded (it's never been as crowded as it was the first post-ftour there) so really it was just another step to show that we fail at situations involving some, but not everyone, ordering (Nathan didn't have anything to drink.)

Once we'd been for a bit, Mohammed from the ftour on Monday showed up. (I'm pretty sure he had been Facebook chatting with Nathan, and I just hadn't been around for that. Nathan didn't seem surprised.) He sat down with us, and we repositioned to squeeze another person around a four-person table. It would have been more doable if the floor inside wasn't a couple inches off the floor outside, and the wall separating the two didn't quite reach the floor. My chair almost fell off. Several times.

 Mohammed was here with an internship with the railroad company, specifically working on a high speed train. Next year, there should be a high speed train between Rabat and Tangiers. I highly approve, because high speed trains are awesome. Unsurprisingly, spending long hours working on it and commuting (I'm not entirely certain where he lives. It's either Rabat, Sale, Casablanca, or some combination)

Mohammed had studied near the south of Belgium for a few months. He'd been considering another exchange, but had gotten the internship instead. He's also flown to Paris just for short trips (he got a plane ticket for a much lower price than our flights, unsurprisingly, and it takes less time to fly to Paris than it takes to drive to some places in Morocco.)

Because it's Morocco, the coffees that Cynthia, Erika, and Natasha ordered, as well as my hot chocolate, came with two sugar packets. (Nathan was here, so they liked us enough to give us each two.) At one point, I offered my packet to Nathan. I forget why. He accepted it, and about fifteen minutes later opened it up and started eating the sugar.

We all looked at him like he was crazy. Which was probably more than he deserved because eating sugar raw, while a little strange, is hardly crazy. Unnecessary in Morocco, but still not crazy. We jokingly offered him the remainder of the sugar which he refused, but Cynthia accepted. She started pouring the packets into her coffee cup and mixing it together with her spoon.

Mohammed jokingly called it her meth lab, which made Erika and Natasha get into a discussion of what kind of drug it most resembled. They settled on powder cocaine, though I think that was more because they knew the word for it in Darija than anything else. (They also gave Nathan a hard time for not knowing the difference between powder and crack cocaine. Nathan: “How do you?” Natasha: “I'm from Vegas. I know drugs.”)

Mohammed asked how we knew that word, and we said that our teacher had taught us that. He shook his head for a moment before saying “He's a good teacher.” He would repeat that later in the conversation, when we swore in Arabic. (In Mahjid's defense, he never set out to teach us these words. We'd just accidentally say them when we were going for an innocent word like “butter,” and he'd say “don't say that.” “Why not?” “It's a bad word.” “What does it mean ? What does it mean?” And then he'd have to tell us. Or make something up. It's not like we'd have the opportunity to get that corrected.)

When Cynthia was done, she had a very light brown (there had been some coffee still in her cup) paste with a metallic taste. She uncommittedly dared people to eat it for 20 dirhams, which was way more than it was worth. It was just sugar. I've seen people eat a hot sauce at a Thai restaurant and a non-spicy-but-still-very-much-a-condiment-to-be-enjoyed-in-limited-quantities sauce from an Indian restaurant for one dollar each. (Different people accepting the bet, same person making it.) If you could get over the appearance, the only problem with the sugar was it would have tasted a little too sweet, and given you a sugar high for a bit.

With our drinks and sugar finished, we decided to walk around for a bit, and check out the carnival. It was in decent portions catered towards little kids, but there were enough older people on certain rides that we wouldn't have felt awkward. Mohammed did, though, so he didn't join us.

We spent a bit just looking at rides and trying to decide which ones were feasible. One looked more or less like a regular spinning ride until you watched it in motion. Then the seats rose up in the air and gently rocked up and down for a bit. Then a bit less gently. Then the ride stopped, and the seats started bouncing up and down in reverse. So much for that ride...

The ride we (I use “we” in a very liberal sense. Natasha, Erika, and Cynthia were the only people to actually ride it) settled on was slightly simpler. You got on seats, it went up in the air, swayed from side to side so you were at a bit of an angle while spinning around, then set you down again.

Before you get on, you need to buy a ticket (standard for any paying ride.) But, to add a little more entertainment to your evening, between buying the ticket and starting the ride you play a game of musical chairs.

Before the ride has come to a complete stop, people will start climbing up so that they can snag a seat. There's no notion of a line. Only who's fastest and most determined. From my vantage point on the side holding purses, I was able to watch as my friends arrived at an empty seat around the same time as a couple. Erika sat down in the seat first, and was immediately joined by the woman. After a quick debate, Erika had to leave. After that, they were too late to ride that round.

Once everyone who's going to get a seat has found one, the ride starts moving slowly, and the operator goes around to collect tickets. I wonder what they'd do if they found out at that point you didn't have one. Kick you out and see who would race for your empty seat, ticket proudly in hand?

It was really noisy there, so once they'd finished the ride and reclaimed their purses, we left. We went to the Casbah, but the Andalusian gardens and cafe were locked, so we went back to the pier and walked around for a bit away from the carnival. We hopped a fence, more because we could than we had to, and walked on for a bit.

During Ftour on Monday, Nathan had looked out at the water longingly and said “we should swim.”

“With clothes or without?” Natasha asked.

“Why would you even ask that?”

“You're the one who suggested swimming. I want to know if we're getting our clothes wet or skinny dipping. It's not like I normally need to ask if we're doing something with or without clothing.”

So of course, that promptly became our new question. “Do you want to study for Arabic?” “With clothes or without?” So when Natasha to jump into the river, the obvious follow-up was “with clothes or without?” (“Either works, but I'll pay you more if you do it without.” 2 dirham vs. 1. A very significant price difference, if a still insignificant price.) Nathan was left to explain to Mohammed that we were talking about skinny dipping. He deferred to the rest of us to explain what skinny dipping was.

Spoiler alert: none of us skinny dipped, or even jumped into the water fully clothed. (We were pretty sure that if we were imprisoned for life by the Moroccan police, Natasha wouldn't feel any need to pay us our two dirham.) Instead we sat (with clothes) at the edge of the water and talked of life and terrible names to give children.

By the time we left to go back to our homes, it was after one in the morning. There were finally some emty seats on the rides.

Tags: beach, bets, carnival, casbah, marina bay, moroccan

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