A Welcome Note: On Filling the Gaps

Dear Friends and Family:

Although I haven't added any posts since the summer of 2007, this blog continues to be a warehouse of my thoughts and experiences from my time abroad.


Sunday, March 4, 2007

Morocco: Day Seven, Part I

3.1.07 - At 4:30 we walked over to the Marrakesh train station and climbed aboard the train for Fez. Still exhausted from our adventure, we slept for part of the ride, although a Moroccan man with repulsively putrid feet in the same compartment kept us from relaxing entirely. At one of the stops along the way, he left the train and for a bit we had the cabin to ourselves. Olfactory functions back to normal, we met a boy named (wait can you guess?) Muhammad along the way. He told us that his father owned a hotel in Zagora (from where we had just come) and that he was visiting his uncle for a few days in Fez. He seemed pretty legitimate, especially since he was wearing a t-shirt with the said name of his father’s hotel embroidered on it and was about our age, so it seemed he had less of a motivation. He offered to help show us around a bit but wasn’t the pushy type like many other Moroccans we had met on our journey so we were inclined to trust him, at least for the time being. Moreover, he made a big deal about how you shouldn’t trust the old fat men who offer to help you since according to him, they enrich and engorge themselves at the expense of na├»ve westerners. Much to our surprise, though little surprised us anymore in Morocco, a few minutes later, a massive man in a suit walked by in the aisle of the train and right in front of Muhammad warned us not to trust him, that he had seen him on the train before and that he was up to no good. Regardless, the married couple in the train across from us seemed at ease with the boy and since he hadn’t asked for any money, we figured we had little to lose by following him at least to check out the hotel he recommended that was cheaper than anything we read about in the guidebook. Hotel Royal it was called, and it was supposedly 60 Durham a night for each of us, the equivalent of about 7 US dollars. The train pulled into Fez around 2pm and we left our seats to disembark. As we descended onto the platform, once again we ran into the corpulent suited man who yelled at us “don’t trust the little boys!” quite an ironic antithesis to the earlier advisory of Muhammad. Thrown for a loop by the conflicting messages circling around us, when we made it out of the station and two more young guys on a motorbike offered us help and repeated Muhammad's line about the fat men, we were really confused. At the time being, we figured we’d at least check out the Hotel before passing off what could have been an amazing price. As Muhammad said, it wasn’t too far, though when we arrived it was clear that access to the rest of the city from the hotel was limited. The price was as quoted and the owner was ready to collect our money when we insisted that we’d like to see the room before staying there. The four of us trekked up the stairs to find a sparse sweltering room which would have been o.k., save the cloud of fleas hovering over the bed. We declined the room and were very ready to give up Muhammad's “help” and resort to finding a room on our own (Rachel had taken the guidebook with her once again so we had nothing). However, Muhammad, clearly making some commission by the hotel owners said to our amazement “oh, so you want a clean hotel? I know just the place. Follow me.”
Thanks for visitng!