Monday, January 28, 2013

From Regret to Joy-48 hours of Surprises in Marrakesh

As my mother reminded me on the phone Saturday night, hindsight is 20/20. Mine feels painfully crystal clear, perhaps 20/10? Sort of like I gained freakishly good eyesight and can now see everything in a more vibrant color scheme than other humans. What does this hindsight tell me? Put simply, I should have listened to my gut. I had arrived at the airport nearly five hours before my flight and had been twiddling my thumbs for the entire time. As the boarding time grew closer, I felt increasingly off but couldn't put my finger on the reason. I had been watching the airport system, listening to the announcements and even in my fatigued state, was confident that I knew how it worked.

It was only after the boarding time had passed without announcement that I knew something was really off. I wasn't surrounded by other passengers, everything was shutting down and I hadn't heard an announcement for nearly an hour. I kept telling myself not to be paranoid, there is only one terminal, and there is no way I can be missing anything - I was wrong. Had I listened to that gnawing fear, I would have gotten on my flight without delay and arrived in Seville an hour later. Sadly, I was ten minutes too late and the staff was unforgiving. Twenty minutes later, I had my backpack on and was $200 poorer after purchasing a brand new flight. Shock, frustration, anger.

At this point, it was nearly 10 pm and I was faced with getting back to the hotel by myself. I immediately found a taxi and traveled back into the city, anxious to get into bed and communicate the night's events with my family. Returning to the hotel where I had stayed the previous evening, I was shocked to learn that it was full. Considering I was one of three guests the night before, this seemed alarming. No matter, there were several hostels on the same block and surely one would be free. Wrong again. Sunday morning was the world famous Marrakesh marathon and everything was booked. How I long for the ease of apparition (thanks, Leah!)

At the final hostel, I was offered a bed on the roof or in the lobby. At this point, I really didn't care. After an hour of conversation with the owners and my family, I settled into my tiny mattress behind the reception desk. This is not where I had expected to sleep and I just wanted to shut everything off and make it all go away. Cruel reality and boisterous guests kept me awake for the majority of the night, but I still managed to get a few bad dreams into the mix.

Left to my own accord, I may have stayed in a private room and felt bad for myself the following day. As I had no room of my own, I merely got dressed and started talking with the nephew of the hotel owner. From my lobby room, I witnessed the bartering techniques of deaf Moroccans and the hospitality of the owner's family. Over breakfast and tea, I was complimented on my Darija and enjoyed the company of the owner's English-speaking nephews. Instead of wallowing in regret and self-pity, I thanked God for this family who let me sleep on the floor and fed me the next morning. It's good to be reminded of why I love this country, even when my heart is in Seville.

Sunday morning, waiting for the cleaning staff to work on my room, I met three British men on a week holiday in Morocco. While they were only in town for the afternoon, we spent the time exploring the mosque El-Fna, witnessing the end of the marathon and wandering through the Medina. I found the men to be engaging, intelligent and most importantly, interested in daily life in Morocco. During our hours together, I was able to share the things I love most about this country as well as the routine difficulties of being a woman in the Arab world. Spending the afternoon in their presence, I was reminded of my love for education and cultural exchange - I feel high as a kite when I get to explain the intricacies of a culture to others.

After subsisting on nothing but peanuts, Chebekia, oranges and coffee throughout the day, I strolled into the Medina for a Moroccan meal among the tourists. Almost immediately after being seated, I was joined by a family practitioner from North Wales and roughly ten Swedish women who had just completed the marathon. They had all arrived in Morocco within the last 24 hours and were enthusiastic about the prospect of a few days in the country. Once again, I shared my work and my love of the country while offering them tips to enjoy their stay. After a day of culture-induced adrenaline, I collapsed into bed physically exhausted but emotionally and mentally elated.

Today I am once again preparing to travel to the airport and try to board a plane. While the past 48 hours in Marrakesh were not in my plan, I know that I stayed for a reason. Sharing my experience with passing tourists, the good and the bad, allows me to process my time through a different lens. I leave Morocco a little bit poorer, humbled, and dirty, but with the knowledge that my last ten months has been well spent. Tonight's arrival in Spain will be all the sweeter. Inshallah.

1 comment:

  1. Kyla,

    That's one of the reasons I'm happy to be friends with you--you make the best of a situation, including when it hasn't gone the way you initially expected. Triq slama, chica.