Thursday, 5 June 2008
I Recovered My Cool In Morocco
But first I had to get there. The Rock of Gibraltar is so close you think you could swim across to it, and on a clear day you could see the shadow of Africa on the horizon. We took the ferry to Tangier but were turned back. They were conducting a purge on ‘hippies’ and my hair was too long. That same day we ended back in Algeciras, me thoroughly pissed off and dreading the prospect of re-appearing on the beach.
The following day I wandered around Algeciras. For a time I followed a band of policeman marching to drum and brass. They wore guns in case anyone didn’t like the music and I kept my distance feeling like ‘The Prisoner’ and expecting the bouncing ball to appear at any moment. What made it so chilling and surreal was the fact that it was mid day and they were marching through empty streets.
Eventually we parted company and I wandered towards a cake shop that was sensibly shut. In the window was a large golden bun glistening in syrup. An over-weight fly drifted somnolently over the range of cakes, as if choosing, then spiraled and landed on the bun where it vanished, sucked in by the golden marsh. I watched to see if it would reappear, wondering about the currants in the other cakes, wondering whether one day there’d be a musical called ‘The Little Shop of Horrors’, wondering whether Algeciras would suck me up over the summer, and what lies I would tell when I eventually got back home. ‘Morocco, it was great.’
Then the Canadians arrived, brother and sister, and took things in hand. My hair was hacked off, and I tried to convince myself that I looked good in a loud checked jacket and a louder checked shirt. A day later we tried again, this time via Spanish Morocco and the port of Ceuta. The official took one look at my passport and its refused entry stamp by a rival bureaucrat. He smiled, and I knew I was going to be okay.
His gaze flitted from passport to me in my bizarre Canadian Costume – thank God I wasn’t wearing the trunks – and the smile turned to one of pity, perhaps respect for determination, sacrifices made, a startling haircut. With a wave he passed us through. I was in Morocco. The fly was still in the bun.