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O Fim duma Viagem

Last Opportunities

MOROCCO | Tuesday, 29 July 2014 | Views [286]

On Friday we met up together to go book shopping. It was either that or explore the Chellah. Erika and Cynthia had both wanted to buy books before we left, and I'm never going to vote against a bookstore.(Unless it's “who wants to go to the bookstore vs who wants to go to a yarn store?”That will always be a hard decision.) So on Friday, Megan, Cynthia, Erika, Natasha, and I met up at Sidi Fatah. We waited about fifteen minutes for Nathan, but he didn't show up. We tried to text him, but my phone was dead (by that point it wasn't really worth charging it) and no one else had their number. (He did have other people's numbers.) So we left without him.

We began by going back to the bookstore down Sidi Fatah. By this point I was getting a little tired of that store. It's not like it had a limited selection, it was just the third time I'd been to that store in the past week. Every thing's in the same place, and it's generic is pretty dull. Unless it's one of the largest bookstores in the world, I don't think going to the same store three times in one week to just browse around would be that interesting.

One thing that was interesting was that there were a fair number of shelves with books about sex. Nothing that you wouldn't see in a bookstore in the United States, but for the past seven weeks our lit professor had been talking about how sex was a pretty taboo topic in Moroccan literature. Not surprisingly sex outside of marriage showed up in multiple books that we were reading excerpts of, so it still existed. But it was rather surprising to be flipping through book of photographs and realizing that they were mostly pictures of nude women. I think I'm glad I saw it on the penultimate day instead of the second. That probably would have broken my mind on the second.

After that, we went back to the store that we'd been to on the fourth of July. They were closing in fifteen minutes, but that still gave Erika enough time to find a book in English to read on the plane. No 1001 Nights in Arabic, though.

A friend of Erika's had mentioned a large bookstore across from the train station. Since Erika's flight on Sunday left from Casablanca and not Rabat she needed to buy a train ticket. So we went to the station, then tried to find the bookstore. A minute or two we gave up. Megan said there was an Arabic bookstore near her house, so we started heading back. On the way, we passed what looked liked a small store, Librarire aux Belles Images. I suggested we go in and check it out, since it was a bookstore and you never knew. It had worked less time when the bookstore in question looked even less promising. It was worth a try.

The others reluctantly agreed, and we went in. The first thing I saw was backpacks. An entire room of backpacks with a couple of books on the walls. OK, maybe the store for textbooks and children had been more promising.

Someone who worked at the store motioned at me that I couldn't bring my previously-purchased book into the store. That was the first time I'd had anyone object. I gave it to him, and then Erika and Natasha had to give him their bags. I took the wooden token with the number 29 carved in as an exchange. I realized later that this gave me a guarantee that the others wouldn't abandon me in the store without warning.

We walked further in and realized that the store was huge. From the outside, it had looked like one of the stores that has every surface lined with books because that's the only way they can gather enough book to sell. That's why the backpacks had been so discouraging. The first room contained only bags, but the store didn't look large enough to have too rooms. But once you got pas the entry way, the store turned out to be much longer than it had looked. Also two stories.

I remembered what our tour guide in Fes had said. It was when we'd gone up to the outside mosque and were looking down at the city. “The Mdina has three layers. From up here, it looks quiet and calm. The second layer is when you enter the Mdina and see how crowded and busy it is. And then the third level is when you get inside a house. You can't understand the city until you know all the layers.” This bookstore, like the houses of our host families, was a glimpse at the innermost layer of Rabat.

Cynthia went off to look for 1001 Nights. With Megan's help (Megan can read Arabic) she succeeded. I went upstairs to look at the French books, figuring it would be better to find a book in a language that I could read. I was looking at the area for books native to Morocco when I saw “Lalla Tafukt.” I pulled it out and realized that it was a book of Berber poetry, written in Amazigh. Screw getting a book that I could read. For about $2.50 I could get a book of Amazigh poetry. Where else could I find a book of Amazigh?

I bought it with the hope that some day I'd be able to read it. Cynthia and Natasha bought copies of 1001 Nights in Arabic with the hope that some day they'd be able to read them. With our dreams for the future thus concretized, we left the bookstore and went back to our homes to pack.

 Later that evening, Cynthia asked if we wanted to go to Marina Bay, pointing out it would be our last chance. I was glad she had, since I was close to doing the same thing. Natasha, Cynthia, Erika, and I all met there.

 The first time we went to Marina Bay., I ordered ginger juice. I wasn't that thirsty, and I thought it would be interesting to try. I did it knowing there was a decent chance it would taste awful. It did. I had maybe two sips of it and offered it to other people so they cold try and see that I was not exaggerating. It was what you'd get if you put ginger in a blender with some water.

 The next time, I ordered hot chocolate. The time after that I'd ordered the peach juice that could be better termed “canned peach syrup.” I had maybe a quarter of it then gave the rest to Nathan, “swearing off juices here.”

 A few weeks later, I got adventurous enough to try another juice. Truly adventurous, since the juice I tried was almond. “It could be good,” I said as I handed the menu to the waiter and everyone else I was with stared at me in disbelief. In my defense, it could have been good. The main problem was that they served it warm, and I had no way of knowing that. It was also a bit too pulpy. Pulp is good for orange juice. It's less good with almonds, when the bits of almond make you even thirstier than you were before drinking.

 From that point forward, I stuck to my hot chocolate. I knew one drink that was good, I might as well stick to it. But this was my last night here.

 Half jokingly, I said “maybe I should order avocado juice.” The others immediately jumped in with “that's a terrible idea. You don't have luck with juices” and “yes! You need to have one more terrible juice before you leave!” Like me, they kind of wanted the full circle of me ordering one last awful tasting juice at Marina Bay.

 I was never going to like the avocado juice. It could have been the best avocado juice on the planet, and at most I would have found it tolerable. I don't like avocados. I'll sometimes eat them in my sandwiches, but more often I'll give them to the people I'm with who like avocados. So me ordering avocado juice was destined to end with me hating it. Because of that, I had to order it.

 When drinks arrived, everyone stared at me. Erika even pulled out her phone so she could take a video. With all that attention on me, it took me several tries to be able to take a sip without laughing. Even if I'd like avocado I wouldn't have liked it. (Natasha would call it “unspiced liquid guacamole” and Cynthia and Erika would both say it was OK until they noticed the aftertaste. The aftertaste was terrible.)

 I made a face and pushed the glass towards the center. Erika, Natasha, and Cynthia burst into laughter. “One last terrible juice,” Erika said. “I'm going to cry,” Natasha said, still laughing.

Tags: books, endings, juice, marina bay

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