11 Nov: Remembering our fallen and honouring them. Rememberance day isn’t observed here but I’m thinking of all of you who will go to a ceremony and reflect on the fragile of peace in parts of this world and war’s destruction in other areas. I think of the sacrifices many have made to secure us the life we enjoy. I sorrow for those who will continue to die in the quest for similar security.
On 9 Nov after a pretty curvy bus ride up into the Morocco highlands we found ourselves in this very pretty town. We’re staying in a tiny hostel within the ancient Medina. Narrow seemingly random lanes are quite confusing to navigate. Yesterday upon our return from a short exploration to an abandoned little mosque above town we became hopelessly “lost.” We certainly wandered along a large portion of the streets. The venders here are pretty laid back. They ask people to come and look and they of course want purchases to be made but mostly don’t push the point. We’re off to Fes today which we gather will be quite a bit more hectic.
Self navigation with a map – without being pestered – is a skill we are working on. While some people just want to be helpful, others want a commission for sending wanderers in the right direction or taking them there. It’s difficult to know who’s the Good Samaritan and who wants to take you to his shop or his friend’s shop or his hotel or his friend’s. The moment we pause to consult a map we become targets for people telling us to go this way or that which, we’ve discovered, may well be not where we are headed at all. I mean how would someone else know our intended destination without asking?
The unemployment here appears to be high. We’re back to a country which hosts more than a few indolent seeming young men hanging around with nothing but time and poor manners on their hands. There are a few beggars as well. I think we three were soundly cursed by an old woman when we walked by her yesterday. It’s always difficult being confronted by the desperation in some people’s lives. Pat and I have discussed this issue at length during the past months and our feeling is that a nation’s impoverished are not best served by tourist handouts no matter how well meaning we may be. Of course there are seldom any women to be seen hanging around with nothing to do. Even beggar women beg with more energy and commitment to their task than their male counterparts! Women always seem to be more than amply employed with endless tasks of keeping family, home, farm and community functional.
The food has also been fairly disappointing to date. Fairly soggy, bland, not very warm stews. Mint tea – which is sweet. To date we’ve not been to one restaurant which has wine or beer on the menu. The colours and variety of woven blankets, carpets, jackets and coats for sale make up for the culinary lacks. And there’s the jewelry, knives, and other finely crafted trinkets and treasures- shiny silver tea pots, hammered copper plates, bright pottery dishes, soft leather goods…… endless. The ancient town of Chefchaouen itself is eye candy…..