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Cats in the Casbah

MOROCCO | Tuesday, 29 July 2014 | Views [454]

 While I still had twenty pages left, Natasha texted me and asked if I wanted to meet up (with her, Erika, and Cynthia) at the entrance of the Casbah at 3. It was then 2:30. From the center to my house is a half hour walk, and the Casbah's a bit past that. I was never going to be on time, especially when you considered that I still needed to finish my book. I alternated between running, walking quickly, and impatiently standing waiting for the crowd to move forward. I stopped in my house just long enough to brush my hair, gulp down some water, and get a new book. Then off I went again.

From there, we entered the Casbah. We were starting to look around ad figure out which way we should go when a man came up and told us to go this way, because soon there would be prayer services and the other entrance would close. I have absolutely no idea what he was talking about.

The man who told us this seemed to be giving two older men a tour, but he started abandoning them to point things out to us. This was one of the scenarios where we were pretty sure we could find the gardens on our own, and if we couldn't we wanted the adventure of trying anyway. We didn't want a guide, especially not one who was going to turn around and ask for payment at the end.

He asked us where we were from. “United States.” “Ah, my best friend comes from Orlando.” Then he asked us what we were doing here. While my mind was trying to come up with some far-fetched yet still plausible explanation, Erika said we were students. Apparently I should have been prepared with a a backstory about how we were part of a girl's track team than thought trust falls were for the weak. Nothing encourages team bonding like a massive scavenger hunt in Morocco.

Our “guide” stopped at a house and pointed up at the window to show that this is where his American friend was. He also talked about how the Casbah contained all of the mosques in Rabat (not true) and all of the different people who lived there, from people who worked in the embassy to teachers who came to Rabat (and a lot of real Moroccans too.) (I wonder if that's true, because if I were to come back to Rabat, I'd want to live in the Casbah.)

When he paused, Natasha told him that actually, we'd already gotten our tour of the Casbah. We just wanted to look around for a bit on our own. He left us and wandered on, probably to find more tourists. We followed the other guys he'd abandoned for a bit, which was a bad move because they had no more idea of how to get to the Andalusian gardens then we did.

After a bit more wandering around and questioning “is it this alley? Is it this one?” a guy told us that the Andalusian Gardnes and cafe were down this road. “Really?” He nodded. It looked small and unpromising, but the guy didn't try to follow us, which was a decent sign he was telling the truth. A little bit down the street I did in fact recognize part of it from the first time we'd been there, and the road also grew to the point where you could believe it led somewhere. And it did. It led to the cafe, and from there you could walk to the Andalusian gardens.

The Andalusian gardens were every bit as beautiful as I remembered them. They also had a lot more cats than I remembered.

Flowers, trees, and people 

We made the decision that we would pet cats here and just wash our hands thoroughly once we got back to our host homes. The cats here seemed much more cared for (they seemed better fed than the average cats in Rabat) and more affectionate.

We sat down, just admiring the view and trying to coax a cat over. Except for Natasha, who, rather uncharacteristically, was ignoring the cat. She was ignoring it in favor of a turtle though. The turtle was big, but pretty cute. It also moved rather quickly. The more I see turtles, the more I question the notion that turtles are slow. I mean, a turtle can cover more distance than a millipede, and yet I think of millipedes as moving pretty quickly. (Turtles are also thousands of times cuter than milipedes, so it cancels out.)

Maybe "cute" is a slight overstatement

There was one cat that was pretty clearly a house cat that liked coming over to us. He was well fed, had a really fluffy tail, and was so affectionate. He even started purring at one point while I was petting him.

We sat down, pet cats, and talked. We discussed photobombing the pictures that Moroccans were taking and how the finals had gone and how we weren't ready to leave Morocco. None of us had started packing. It was too bleak a thought.

At one point, the fluffy-tailed cat left us and went into hunting mode.

Pretty cute cat, at least when it's affectionate

“I wonder what he's hunting,” Cynthia said.

“Probably the turtle.”

“Really? It has a shell.”

“Yeah. I've seen cats do that before. They just eat them outside of the shell.”

Apparently I was the only one who thought to go try and save the turtle. I was a little unclear as to how to do this apart from startling the cat whenever it looked particularly likely to strike the turtle. (Cats startle easily. Turtles do not. Which doesn't bode well for the turtle's life expectancy.) I did it a couple of times where I'd jump whenever the cat was looking especially predatory. Then I sat down on the ground and switched to staring at the cat and hissing whenever it focused on the turtle.

 Cat hiding in shadows to look at turtle

Amazingly, that worked. The cat left the turtle alone and came over to me, meowing for attention. And maybe food, but it accepted attention. I pet him for a bit, then took a few steps back and forced the cat to come up to me if he wanted my attention. Bit by bit, I coaxed him most of the way back to where the others were sitting. (He got bored with me and went with someone else. As long as it was someone else and not the turtle, I didn't care.)

At one point, there was a guy walking past at the same moment as a cat. I made cat attracting noises at the cat (“msh msh msh”) and the guy started making those same noises at me. I quickly turned around to stop looking at him. He walked on but continued staring at me. (I know this mostly from the other's comments. I wasn't about to look.) After a few minutes of that, we got up and walked away.

There were more cats farther up. I sat down on the wall, and one of them immediately crawled into my lap. Then he decided he didn't like that and kept walking. Cynthia tried to put him into her lap, but he liked that even less, and came back to settle on me. I pet him, then needed to hastily dump him off it when we realized the guy was walking towards us.

A little bit up, there were kittens and a little girl caring for them. The girl somewhere between five and seven- right at that age that you don't really want to trust her with a cat, and cats certainly don't trust her. I know because I've been a girl of that age. In retrospect, I can't blame the cats for not liking the way I picked them up or tried to get their attention.

The guy showed up and said “they're very little,” in French. None of us responded, and Cynthia and I moved a bit farther away. Eventually he got the message and resumed his former position (still staring.)

With him gone, I could try and make my apologies to the cat I'd had to throw off my lap. He didn't want to hear them for about a solid three minutes of petting. Then he was willing to get onto my lap, though he proved pretty fickle, moving from me to Cynthia back to me then to Natasha before getting bored and wandering off.

Traitor Cat

Natasha went over to play more with the kittens and girl. The girl wanted to take a picture of Natasha and the kittens with Natasha's phone. (Later she would do the same thing with me. The good thing was that they weren't blurry. The bad thing was that her definition of “a picture of me with the kittens” was “one picture of the kittens with my arm and shirt and two photos of my head with kittens nowhere in sight.) Then she went around the gardens, taking pictures of every cat she could find. Natasha needed to delete most of them because they were too blurry.

Kittens sleep piled over each other. At least these did.

By that point, it was getting close to ftour, so we went back to our homes, but not before making plans to meet at Blueberry that night. Erika was getting mentally ready so that she could finish a whole Molten Mama.

We arrived at our usual time of 9 only to find that it wasn't open. After waiting around outside for about half an hour we decided we were tired of waiting outside and went to Marina Bay. Besides, this way the double-agent waiter wouldn't be able to accuse us of ditching it for Blueberry. After spending about an hour there, I went to check if Blueberry was open. I walked back with only Natahsa noticing I'd been gone. I told her that it was. Five minutes later, Erika asked if someone should go check if they were open yet, and I was able to say “they are.” So we paid and went over to Blueberry.

Natasha and Cynthia split one. Erika succeeded in finishing all but the ice cream, which she gave to Nathan. When I looked over at Natasha and Cynthia's plate, there was one bite left. “Really? Between the two of you you can't finish one?” I asked. Cynthia took half of it. Natasha took half of the remaining bite. “Seriously?” Cynthia asked, taking half of what was left from that. “You're never going to finish it,” I complained. Erika and Natasha caught what I did there.

We left a little after midnight, but I was so tired. The good part was that I didn't have school to wake up for the next day. Didn't have any more papers to write or rewrite. Just some more shopping and Rabatting to do before I left.

Tags: casbah, cats, creepy guys, flowers, turtle

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