Written by Lady MacLeod from Braveheart Does The Maghreb
Morocco, Fez, 0600hrs local time
We went to bed last evening at nine p.m. local time, beaten down and wasted by days of relentless heat. The online thermostats from CNN said it was 100 degrees Fahrenheit with 18% humidity this day, but you know those people weren't here – it was hotter than that.
Q had spent the morning at classes, and attended luncheon with her fellow students while I tried to weave my tale and catch up on my email box. We did the proper and only sensible, Moroccan custom of remaining indoors and quiet from one to Truly even the dogs are louder at night. During that period in the afternoon you must strain to hear the sounds of traffic or any life at all. The heat lies heavy on the city, smothering it in a blanket of dust and lethargy. The dogs crawl under the houses, the cats find shade under a bush, and the people go indoors. The shops close, and the city appears to have been deserted as if there was some sort of evacuation of all life.
At three, we set out to hail a Petite Taxi to take us to the other side of town to the French Mall of Marjane, which is well and blissfully air conditioned. As we strolled slowly (yes, even my Highlander pace was taken to task), up and down the aisles basking in the cool air, we both made note we were right in tune with the other shoppers. Acquiring items on a list did not appear to be as urgent as the need for relief from the outside furnace.
We had great fun translating and interpreting the prices and descriptions of the items we needed, and some we just found irresistible – yes, of course, it was books.
Basket loaded with a pair of big fluffy bed pillows, a case of water, an iron, towels, a lighter, milk, yogurt, bread, honey, batteries, pillowcases for said pillows, a bag of walnuts, notebooks, and pencils, we left the nirvana like coolness of the mall (after convincing the lovely young woman at the check-out that someone with as honest a face as I did not really need my passport to use my credit card…) to find another taxi. Alas! Arriving in the parking lot at the proper station, I mean hey, there is a sign; there was not a taxi to be seen. "Well, this never happens," we both said wilting once again. Fortunately we did not have to wait long for not one, but three, then four, and five taxis to arrive unloading five and six persons from the tiny compartments meant to hold three at most. The polite, and handsome young man who was waiting before us most gallantly offered us the first car, and we piled all our goodies inside and squished ourselves amongst them for the ride back to the villa. The most notable sight along the way was the gathering of the 'men' at the outdoor cafes all along the streets, and the rare appearance of a couple of women scattered here and there among them. They had gathered in large plazas and small corners, tables close together, men three and eight to a table all facing out toward the street, drinking their tea and coffee. Talking and gesturing with great emphases; methinks the Moors and the Romans have some common linguistic ground when it comes to speaking with their hands. In almost every neighborhood we saw laundry and satellite dishes on the roofs, terraces, and out the windows. Washing machines are common, but dryers are not considered necessary. Electricity is at a premium.
It was not cooler, but warmer once we had unloaded and unpacked, and arranged and put- away our new items of comfort and necessity. Food? Not worth the trouble, not in this heat. Tea for me! Even Q, who can eat and sleep in almost any circumstance had only a bit of bread and honey.
That grey 'mist' I had seen this morning was sand suspended in the air. There was a huge sand storm that had been blowing in toward the city for days. The worst of it was over, but as we came further inland to
I woke this morning at 0230hrs and have been unable to get back to sleep. The heat is too much for me at this point. Q was restless and finally around 0330 hrs, we both gave up and got out of bed to hit the computers and do a bit of work. I made some tea, the universal panacea of the British for all ills. Q arranged the fan with a pan of water in front of it hoping to get some moisture in the air. We opened up our doors onto the patio, and just went with it. We heard the calls to prayer ringing through the city at 0400hrs. She meandered back to bed around 0530hrs, and is sleeping peacefully.
I went out to the patio with my tea to get some relief and noted a strong and quite cool (it is all relative right, cool being around 75 to 80 degrees) breeze. Well sports fans I took myself into the back hallway and managed to get that big double window open and the wooden blinds pushed back. There is now a lovely strong breeze blowing in from the east pushing out the hot air from last night. Ta da. I knew that whole high I.Q., intellect crap would come in handy someday! No, I do not have any idea if I can get the wooden blinds back in; but at this point I don't care.