The Road To Morocco – My Diary, Part 1.

After a leisurely drive up to Dublin we boarded the 4.00pm flight to Marakech, although not my first taste of Morocco, having been to Essaouira 15 months ago, it was an unnerving experience just driving through the Medina at night.  I think the word to describe it is chaos but with less rules.  Cars, lorries, scooters, taxis and pedestrians all thrown into themix to make every move more death defying.  However we only saw one accident, a chap spreadeagled on the ground with a crowd of onlookers bidding the time of day to each other as they smoked and looked around.  Whether he lived or died was no concern of theirs because his destiny was in the hands of Allah, whatever they did would not change that.  The chap had been knocked off his scooter which was lying on its side in the gutter, not much blood issuing from the still body but you could not say he was that healthy either.

We are here to see daughter No 2, husband and five grandchildren who live in detached paradise, a twenty minute drive out of the city.  It had been raining for five or six days prior to our arrival and as we left the tarmac the mile drive down a dirt track reminded me of Ypres in 1917 with large pot-holes full of water hiding the depth of such holes.  However we were comfortably esconced in a Toyota Landcruiser as it heaved its way out of one lake into another.  We arrived safely but no exploration possible either outside on the mud flats or inside with all the kids asleep in their various bedrooms.  So pastis was drunk followed by restorative wine and salads of homegrown vegetables and some very tender beef that had seen the heat of the grill for a short time only.  More wine followed the beef then into a comfortable bed for much needed sleep.

We awoke next morning to bright sunshine and pools of water punctuating the mud.  They live in a large house surrounded by grass and vegetable plots and they are the proud owners of two donkeys, Prunella and Peppa, two peacocks, three dogs, three cats, a nomadic tortoise and a swimming pool.  Yesterday was the end of Spring and today is the start of Summer.  The seasons are all well defined, yesterday was 12C, today it is 18C, tomorrow is forecast 30C.

Peppa and Prunella with my two granddaughters
My two granddaughters, Polly and Daisy, playing with their donkeys

Up at 7.30 with wood to collect from the communal pile.  The house is one of four in this walled community, walled mainly to keep out predators of the animal rather than the human kind.  It has six bedrooms, all with en-suite facilities, a store room, a large living area of 1800 sq ft, a downstairs toilet, a large kitchen and a pantry, with an outside service area.  It is big, generous and has 14ft ceilings which keep the place cool.  It employs three wonderful Moroccan ladies who do all the cooking and cleaning and washing up and two gardeners who look after the outside of the property and its security.  There are also two in house teachers living here who educate the kids, so the community is large with 11 people living here in the house this week.

The kids are under the control of these two resident teachers with a further one coming in daily from Marakech.  It shows with the tremendous confidence these kids have.  Aged ten, eight, seven and twins of five, they are full of questions and somewhat proficient in three languages after only eight monthsMy Five Well-Behaved Grandchildren, George, Tom, Polly, Daisy and Joe in this beautiful but strange place.  All five have no difficulty in having thoughtful conversation with adults and all five are fit as fiddles after eating the finest homegrown food in a TV free zone.

The vegetable patch
The vegetable patch

The snow covered Atlas Mountains seem to rear up at the bottom of the garden but are obviously some miles off.  Myself and daughter breakfast early at a road side cafe which has its own mosque, handy for Friday travellers.  We are here to pick up the piano teacher and the third teacher who lives in Marakech.  This lady is from the Western Sahara many miles further south and speaks better English than the writer and in appearance looks far better than the writer could ever look.  She went to University in Boujdour where her family live, a twenty one hour continuous bus journey away and where to cock a snoot at the Moroccan authorities all lectures are in English.  The Western Sahara is a separate country from Morocco but for 50 or 60 years has been under the control of Morocco, a little like Ireland was pre 1922.  Relations are not that good but for the time both sides put up with each other.

So to fill in the register for this morning we have Helen and myself, daughter and husband, five kids, three teachers, three house ladies, a peripatetic piano teacher and a similar Tai Kwondu teacher and two handy men cum gardeners.  They all speak to each other in a mixture of English, French and Arabic, all sides learning from each other.  Talk about the Tower of Babel.  Even my sentences are liberally splattered with French words, I’ll have the Arabic by the end of the week.

Atlas Mountains Over The Garden
Atlas Mountains Over The Garden

We have internet access and therefore access to the world, wine, wholesome food, wilderness and of course a Toyota Landcruiser to take you anywhere and we are looked after by five or six really nice locals who are only too glad of the work and more importantly the wages.  Unlike South Africa where the indigenous are treated like shit by the whites, here in Morocco there is massive rapport between the locals and the Europeans, except however from the French community, who have the strange loathsome idea that they are better than everyone and treat the locals like merde.  This obviously means that the Moroccans detest the French with a vengeance but really admire the English/Irish insurgents.  What the French don’t seem to realise is that they might be boss man but it is the Moroccans who turn the wheel and they can quite easily put stumbling blocks in the way to make life a little unpleasant for people who think they are the bee’s knees.

The big problem for the Moroccans is that most of them have no education and they all seem to be piss poor.  They leave school at ten and pick up what bits of money or wFatimzara preparing lunchork they can, in this respect they are a hundred years behind western Europe.  The piano teacher could not afford a piano so he drew out the keyboard on a piece of wood and practiced and practiced playing on the mute wood, the only sound was in his imagination.  He is now a professional musician having won the prix d’or
at the Casablanca Conservatoire.  He speaks three languages perfectly.  Fatimzara, the foreman of the ladies, never went to school only spoke the language of her parents, Arabic and taught herself French listening to television.  Now she is fluent in that language and according to my daughter speaks to a high standard, who herself is highly proficient in several languages.
Fatimzara mixing with this English family is now well on her way to speaking and understanding English.  Given half a chance this country will drag itself up to be something to be admired very shortly.

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