Monday, September 12, 2011

me, n Fes, Morocco

Sitting in the eating lounge of a Riad Khouloud

A riad (Arabic: رياض‎) is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard. The word riad comes from the Arabian term for garden, "ryad". [1] The ancient Roman city of Volubilis provides a reference for the beginnings of riad architecture during the rule of the Idrisid Dynasty.[2] An important design concern was Islamic notions of privacy for women inside residential gardens. ~Wiki~

the morning light, the breeze, the bright sky and the advent of the warm air, all indicating of the rising temperature with the unfolding day...

I am joined by the cheerful smile of Selim and his girlfriend Hafsa...last night Selim and I talked late into the night, his turmoils and inner conflicts...his love for his girl and his fears that he will not be able to fulfill the requirements to make her his wife. Very real conversation, at 27, when what your inner knowing contradicts with the outer world of conditioning and expectations, the torment is internal. The belief i heard was that there is something “wrong with me” ...Hafsa is a delightful 18 year old, she speaks fluent Spanish, and we converse he laughs, saying to us “i may not speak it, but I understand your conversation”...little encounters, un masked, while we eat breakfast...The analogy that comes to mind is of life as a train journey...we are traveling in different compartments...and the best part is one can move between the compartments, spend time with others and share the view from where we are, and then return...

The train journey from Tangers to Fes....three people in my compartment...switching between Arabic, French and Spanish...once again I am wowed with the brains that speak multiple of languages...two stops before Fes, Jamal comes onboard...he speaks English as well, so the conversation for me is a little smoother. I have a few places in mind where I was going to stay in Fes, but Jamal recommends a Riad, near the Medina (walled city)...we are half an hour short of Fes, he gives me the card of the place he had just stayed a week earlier with his family...i tell him i have a UK sim card, and he says no it will be too expensive, I will call for you, just because you seem like a nice me the phone, its all arranged, and sure enough I get off at the station and a smart looking man, comes up and greets me, tells me his name is Sheriff, but he is not Omer Sheriff...I find out later that the expensive car he is driving belongs to his boss and he is hired...we drive into the gates of Medina which i understand to be the centre, or the walled city. There are parts being restored as a UNESCO Heritage Project. The centre is close to 800 acres, with a population of around 300,000.

I experience the Medina, when an official guide takes me for a three hour walk through this is a world where people walk, mules and push carts carry stuff, and a whole village exists...shops, and goods, perishables and non, electronics, and woodworking, brass and gold, churches, schools, morgues...the guide I am with, Ahmed, does not say it but i sense that as part of his “tourist” guide job, he is to direct people into stores, and although I had mentioned to him that shopping is not part of my trip, we did go into a couple that were interesting. Along the way, he stops and chats with his friends, and I look on, gives me a reprieve to do my own “culture watching”.

Through a small doorway we enter the carpet weaving place, here they make berbers. I am whisked away with a salesman, only French as the language of communication...he showed me how to make knot on the carpet, the “right handed way”....took me into the showroom which had the most beautiful hand crafted carpets, and here I sensed that I will need some skills, beyond language to explain that i am not in need of any “thing” to of course comes as a saviour, again...i show him the tree pose, he tries it...then i ask him to bring me the smallest rug, i lay one down and do a head stand, i am laughing at myself, that i am “using” yoga as a form of communication. Soon a woman in a local costume (long kaftan), the secretary comes, and other salesmen are called, and i am asked to “perform” for them...i later sit for a few quiet minutes, with my eyes closed...and the message is we leave i ask the guide to translate this message, that “they have beautiful clearing in the middle of the showroom, if they put a sign outside and let other guides know that we are doing a yoga session, then they can get money from the tourists, that is my gift to them”...we laugh and part...i would like to mention here that the mint tea they made was the best so far.

We also went into another store, that made and sold oils, and creams and bakhour (the rock which burns with a fragrance)...the smell and looks of the “rock” is similar to the one used by the shamans in their ceremony…it is also interesting to see how the seeds from the Aragon are processed and ground, to make the aragon oil, cream and paste for exfoliation.

Hafsa says goodbye, and is off to her school, she is keen to learn yoga with me, i am sure i see her later and we chat more…she is a wise soul, a little girl, who fell madly in love at 15…i smile and pour myself another cup, must remind them to not add sugar…mint tea will help digest the fried egg and the “paratha” i ate for breakfast…

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