Ramblin Christian Gypsy
Literary whimsy. Dedicated poetic observer.
Literary whimsy. Dedicated poetic observer.
I have one pleasant Moroccan memory. Just one. I had been in Marbella, Spain for my sister’s wedding and took the ferry down into Morocco. Why I didn’t go into Portugal instead, is one the bigger mistakes of my tourist life. Beings as “A Small Death in Lisbon” is one of my favorite books, in retrospect it would’ve been the way to go.
My ex and I were on a train from Tangier to Marrakesh. It was hot and heaving with its’ load of people and livestock. I looked about as excited to be traveling as the goats did. And it would turn out to be terrifying for both of us.
The Moroccan market at night is a freaky bazaar. There was a man in the Marrakesh market who sold pats and cuddles of his flea bitten monkey. You patted his monkey, you owed him money.
How this seems reasonable stops at the part where the man would throw his monkey on you as you passed by and then would demand payment. If you objected, you’d be screamed at in every language until he found one you responded to. He started with German, and then French, then Russian and finally English. But since I’m a professional at ignoring you if I want to, he was livid that he couldn’t say anything to spark a response from me.
I remember spending most of that dressing down wondering why his first thought was that I was German. As I walked away he hissed, “American whore” in my direction.
Strong language to a girl wearing a floral flowing habit of a muumuu thing.
Then there was the snake guy. I didn’t want to dance with his cobra either. He carried it around on the lily pad shaped lid of a wicker basket, smiling broadly as you shrunk back in “No thank you” horror.
He carried the snake around until stopping to talk to a woman selling chickens for your dinner. She carried a crate of them. The collection were of half grown and half baby chicks. She talked shop for a while with the man until his snake, on the sneak tip, snacked up one of her chicks in a lightning fast, snorkeling, snarf of a striking bite.
Suddenly she wasn’t amused with the snake man and grabbed the neck of his snake like she would have his life right there. She was altogether unafraid and plenty pissed. She gave the snake a squeeze while shrieking at the man.
Then in a turnabout of unfair play Snake Man demanded that she touched his snake and so she owed HIM money.
And so on and so forth this medieval market haggling went on and on until I needed to go. I didn’t want my goat kebab. Not while baby goats were still tethered to the truck and jumping in the air to the amusement of the owner’s family. The children played with tomorrows dinner and patted his wee head.
My ex was off taking pictures and didn’t want to go back to the hotel. I said I was okay to walk by myself and made my lonely way through the Medina back down the memorized path.
This time when passing the monkey man I allowed the animal to jump on me but then kept walking with it on my shoulder.
The silver sky had come alive with a call to prayer from the minarets. I made my way through the labyrinth of stores, markets, and outdoor vendors.
It was a parade of insane riot. The man and his entourage were barking at me and demanding payment. I kept walking without looking back until reaching a taxi whereupon me and my new monkey got in and went to my hotel.
The mad men all jumped on ancient scooter things and followed me to La Marmounia which btw is the most beautiful hotel in the world.
Security at the hotel was quickly summoned and the men charged that I had stolen their monkey. I said that monkey had jumped on me thrice before on this very evening and I just decided he’d rather be with me. The men explained that in their country if you so much as touch their monkey you must pay.
I answered back that in my country I am a whore and basically if anyone touches me THEY have to pay. His monkey touched me three times so he owes ME money. So either pay me or I keep his monkey.
The hotel security “policeman” started to grin. He told the man he owed me money or I was going to keep his monkey. At this point I seated myself on an opulent tuffet and started feeding the monkey cut fruit and poured myself some mint tea while they emptied their pockets. And offered me a lot of coins I didn’t recognize. I took his money.
The monkey looked back and forth like he was watching a tennis match.
I stood and said in my limited French, “Ne jamais m’appeler pute encore, vous pénale édentée rue.”
“Don’t call me a whore ever again, you toothless criminal.”
Then I put the monkey on the ground and shooed him in the man’s direction. Little Monkey turned to give me a parting look as they left the opulent lobby. He raised his long simian arm as a graceful well mannered parting gesture. Sweet thing.
I bent down and whistled him back with a grape lure. He came running on stanchioned legs and cribbed knuckles. When he got to me I gave him the handful of change back and smiled. “This is for you.” We secretly tucked it into his vest pocket for safe keeping until it would be stolen from him later.
“Nice knowing you, boyfriend. Thanks for the evening’s entertainment, we had some fun didn’t we?”
Because in the end, what the heck, value for value, I definitely owed him. I wasn’t lonely for an entire hour in Morocco, thanks to him.