Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom

What can I say, I’m 50 and feel much younger. I love photography although not obsessed, and I try to take life not too seriously : )

Part 11 - Authentic madness

To fight against this flow would have been impossible; we swept along the raging torrent of aggressive tired and all knowledgeable Friday evening Marrakech traffic. Our car the focus of aggression and yet our saviour protecting us from the manic panic outside. We swirled around a central island like those visiting Mecca and the Masjid al-Haram. Like a pebble trapped in a whirlpool we started again on our circuit until aggressively I escaped to the bus lane parking and shut down everything. Taking stock we found our information and looked helpless until we captured a speeding local pedestrian and found our route was off by 180 degrees and a kilometer away leading into the Old Town. Having so many new experiences planned I had completely forgotten that our Marrakech Riad was to be an authentic experience and be within the walls of the old town.

Ten years dropped away and brought me out in a cold sweat as I remember our last experience of driving a car within the walls of the old city. The claustrophobia, the fright, the heaving menace of our situation as we had been lead though ever narrowing, darkening and what seemed slum like zones.

My only excuse is that I had so many things in my head when I took the first “door” on the right from our river of metal. Translated this was one of large arched entrances to the old town. I had however been told to take the third!! As soon as we had dipped under the arch I knew this was so very wrong, people cross and we were going so very much against the flow. I am tired, very tired, the day had been long physically and mentally keeping acute the whole time. It is obvious we cannot turn and I see another scene developing, across through the diming portal of the passenger window I spy a man in white attire, an honest man to my eyes. Down comes the window and I inevitable ask in broken French where would I find my Riad pointing hopelessly at my paperwork with an all but useless map, hoping he would be my knight, in fact his son a bright handsome young man of around 13 was at least my squire who proved the kindness of this whole nation. His father looked more or less aghast at our position; the son then decided to open the passenger door and was to be our guide. Would I have sent my son of 14 with two strangers away in a car! That was the magic I had just been witnessed to. Our adopted son was beautiful, not just because I was tired and wanted a saviour. His perfect olive skin and fresh face with an excited enthusiasm regarding a search and find mission. His English – my French, met in an amalgam of knowledge. Out we drove to what now seemed to be open air but was just minutes ago the raging hated river of metal. Another entrance appeared and I turn to head into the darkening mouth of the arch, however this time I turn right to what I find is a car park, at least it is called that! An area where cars are left with an associated attendant requesting money.

I love my adopted son; confident he arranges parking and payment then lifts our luggage out of the boot. This is surely too much and yet he strides ahead bidding us to follow, his pure white gown surely glowing with the halo of goodness I attribute to him. I look away only to find the contrast stark indeed. His white pristine ironed gown against what appears to be the broken stained wood and plaster of decaying buildings. The road narrows quickly as we walk under the arch entrance and hurrying bodies increase. The funnel effect squeezing locals and us together. Their rush seemingly ever intense. We follow at almost a run keeping glimpses only of our white knight and our incongruous tourist luggage. He stops at another smaller arch, Bab Aileen, the pretty archway, a cut frill, belies what is beyond. Now no wider that four people abreast a lane descends into gloom. Light is retreating above and the lighting within the street is minimal. We keep tight to angel he is our only tie to a sanity which we have recently found; an opening to our left seems to be swallowing vast ranks of men. We look in and glance quickly away. A hidden mosque, no minaret nothing to indicate its presence. Immediately we turn left to what is an impossible path. A light at the dead end of a 200ft cut shows us our destination. Open windows above us would allow a hand shake between occupants across our path, no wider than two people across we stand shocked looking at where we are supposed to go. Admittedly the reaction my adopted son’s father had been in retrospect astonishment as to where we were going, tourists!! We pass plastic tipped up buckets rolling on their sides, bikes resting on walls and head to the dead, dead end of our journey, we cannot be wrong.

Journal Comments

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