I hack and wheeze my way into the next town, where our group is already hanging out having tea. On the way, I’m almost crushed by a car that darts out from a road on the right – I shriek, and the hijab-wearing girls across the street giggle. I have a feeling that seeing people get flattened is kind of a regular occurrence around here. Then as we’re in the hustle and bustle of town, an old woman walks into the street right in front of me, not even looking up to see if anyone is coming. I shriek again, and swerve to the left, into the path of a guy on a motor scooter, who isn’t even phased. Even though we’re so close as to rub elbows. I get a cheeky “bonjour!” from him, as I watch what’s left of my heart jump out of my chest and go off to look for some whiskey.
And this is just day one.
After tea, my racking cough has made our fearless guides decide that I should seek out some Moroccan cough medicine, which apparently has codeine in it, so of course I’m game. We head to the Pharmacia, and while Alf from our group has to engage in charades to explain what toiletries he needs, the guy has obviously listened to my cough as I’m waiting and so when it’s my turn, he just plunks down a bottle of cough syrup on front of me. I look at the label. Ethyl alcohol…..eucalyptus…..ah, there it is, codeine! Score!
Of course, later at lunch after I take a healthy swig (I’ve decided a swig is the correct dosage, since I don’t exactly have a measuring spoon), I discover that this crap is like drinking turpentine. Or doing a shot, of something. Not something good. Sharon takes a whiff and notes that “they didn’t exactly try to make it palatable for their customers, did they?” Umm yeah. Still, it seems to knock my lungs senseless for a while, so that’s a plus. While some may wonder at the wisdom of chugging random medicines bought in foreign countries, I figure, what the hell, I’ve already had cancer, how bad can this shit be? Any worse than dosing up my chest with radiation for 7 weeks, causing lung damage in the meantime? I think not. Bottoms up!
I also really like the people in our group, except for one thing: I can’t remember their names. I blame the bike crash/brain injury – that’s always a good excuse. For example, there’s Biryani – except I know that’s not her name, that’s an Indian food dish, but that’s the closest I can remember. Her and her husband Walter are totally awesome, living the life I want in the UK countryside, and here I am trying to sneak surreptitious glances at the tag on her rental bike, to figure out her name. Class act, I so am.
I won’t even comment on David and his rubber chicken that he’s tucking into his back pocket on all our rides – except that it’s pretty damn funny when he gives the chicken to a child to ooh and aah over….then sends that same child into paroxysms of heartbreak when they realize he’s taking the chicken back. Those poor kids may never be the same.
Our stop for that night is in the town of Imlil, and the town can only be reached by foot. Yes, there’s no road into the town. Going down the craggy hillside with my bike, I’m even slower than the donkey that’s carrying all of our luggage. Way slower. As I watch people clambering up and down this mountain with ease, I think of how ridiculous and easy our lives in the States are, that we don’t get in any kind of decent shape just doing our daily activities, like these people do, but we have to go cycling or running or to the gym. Any one of these people could I’m sure easily handle an Ironman race tomorrow, they’re that fit. I feel like there’s some deep yet profound realization here, but at that moment, I’m coming across the first in a long line of Children of the Corn, so I toss those profound thoughts by the wayside. Because what the hell, these kids are rude! And mean!
First they start yelling at me, saying god knows what, and then they start throwing things! The balls they’re playing with, for one. Now, here’s where the rubber meets the road, because while Stacey later in our trip meets up with the demonic Redrum children who try to take her bike, and remains all nice to them, I brook no such shenanigans. No no no no no! They do NOT call me Miss Curmudgeonly for nothing! “Hey!” I snarl. “Do that again and I’ll beat the crap out of you! I’m bigger and meaner than you!”
I have no idea if they understand me, but they get the intent, because they scatter like leaves to the wind. Hmph.
Our establishment that night, well, I’m not sure I can come up with the right adjectives to describe its wonderfulness. It’s a dark stone building that has little outbuildings, and everything is decorated like something out of Berber casting call. Plush colorful pillows, throws, candles, artwork – it’s truly incredible. The fact that there’s no heat here either, ech, it’s almost an afterthought. Especially since they load us up with about 4 feet worth of comforters, AND a hot water bottle tucked into our beds in the evening! This comes in handy when we come back from our first experience with a hamman, which is basically a steam room, where a half-naked woman then comes in and scrubs you down and throws buckets of hot water on you.
I highly recommend this to anyone traveling in Morocco.
That night, even though it’s below freezing, I’m snug as a bug in a rug, as they say, under my 6 feet of comforters. How the hell I’ll get up in the morning and get ready for cycling, I have no idea. Will worry about that tomorrow.
Near death misses: 3