It is our penultimate day in beautiful Morocco, our last evening and I aim to enjoy it. The whole team is now in the pool at 5.00pm, the temperature has increased to about 34C bearable in this dry climate at least with a glass of wine of the cool variety in your hand. However I have to continue pacing the perimeter of the pool, Health and Safety at all times here in Africa but I probably am the only life guard who cannot swim but hey if you look the part that is all that matters in this modern world. The kids do not share my fear, the twins at four jumping in at the 3.0 metre end certainly do not worry. They are four and I am in my 70th year, I soak up all the fear, they are not aware of this feeling. Two and a half hours in the water and they are like shrivelled prunes but still lively. I have called pyjamas but am faced with an instant revolt. I sink into my glass, there is life in them but a lot less in me.
French neighbours call round, drinks were called and a pleasant evening ensued spoilt by the arrival of the nomadic unemployed oil man, funnily enough the French do not like him much either. They left, he stayed, I went to bed on a hot sultry night, plenty of sweat and little sleep and up at 5.30am to shower and wait for the dawn which arrived at 6.45am. A lovely still cool morning with the dogs alert and the birds chorusing. Again thin wisps of cloud in the east which seem to burn off as the sun rises.
It seems the fabric Helen bought yesterday is not the right colour and certainly will not fit in the suitcase. A pig in a poke of Moroccan intensity. They have to go back into Marakech for a chin-wag and try and get it sent by international courier. I will not even contemplate costs. Let us go to more pleasant matters. Yesterday the ladies cooked up a fish dish for the main meal, a calamari tagine, as delicious a meal as I have ever tasted. Today I had the leftovers for breakfast along with some bread and a mysterious brown juice which tasted of bananas and other fruits and I suspect yoghurt and tasted lovely. On asking however I was told it was juiced figs, remarkable. Thank you ladies for your expertise and my experience of your cuisinal skills. I understand there is more fish today, sardines, I cannot wait. The fish is delivered daily from Essaouira and distributed locally and the local fish shop is as good as you will get in these quarters. I break off here at 7.30am to take tea to the lady upstairs which should ease her forthcoming travails with the fabric lady in the Medina. This morning tea-making ceremony I have developed over 42 years of marriage. I find it eases the blows I would normally get and is only five minutes out of my life. So it is well worth the effort.
I will be saying goodbye shortly to this wonderfully large, cool house that is full of kids, parents, teachers, ladies, cats and dogs, it is a whole industry in itself. The ladies who I will never get my head around are superb, doing everything and leaving the place in perfect condition only to be faced with chaos each morning which they rectify immediately. No sulliness, only smiles and Fatimzara is a miracle worker, she is worth a fortune if she only knew it. If any of you single fellows want a good wife get down to Marakech, 28 years of age and pure gold. In a way I will leave this place with sadness but I look forward to regaining my own territory.
The morning winds slowly onwards towards our departure time of 5.00pm. It is now 10.30am and the temperature is a low 29C. The piano teacher, Nordine, has done his bit and daughter No 2 has taken him back to Marakech and she onto the fabric shop for a tussle with madam. She will be back for a late lunch and then take us to the airport. We are keeping her from her work and for this I am not happy. The ladies have once more turned the place into an oasis of calm comfort. My bag is packed and I am in a 29C vacuum as is normal with visits on the last day.
The experience has been fantastic, the country welcoming, everybody very friendly but if you cannot speak the language you will always be different. My daughter who picks up languages like I pick up glasses of wine has no hurdles. She looks after the locals and seems extremely well respected, that cannot be said of other nationalities, especially les francaise
One last lesson has been called for by the kids, Ava, the Dutch teacher, all 1.75 metres of her and slim from top to toe, with a bikini to match and Miss Bedi, the girl from the Western Sahara, in black trousers and black sequinned shirt are being taught the finer arts of hydraulic gymnastics by the kids. Miss Bedi cannot swim but is having fun in the shallow end. It is a pleasure watching the enjoyment they are all getting from the pool.
Tom and George have discarded the armbands and are swimming back and forward in the shallow end, two more days and they will be all over the pool but to their father’s heightened anxiety. Joe is giving Ava a diving lesson but unfortunately she is dressed in the wrong gear but escapes complete denouemont by judicious handling of the strings that consist of most of her bikini as she makes her first dive. So after that hectic game, silence has crept on the pool, everybody is sunbathing including Miss Bedi in her black all over sequinned long-johns.
Daughter No 2 returns, the fabric is the one that was ordered, everybody breathes a sigh of relief but we have not yet worked out how to get it too Roscommon. Off to the tagine pot shop in Marakech en route for the airport, The man there said when you get it home fill it with water and boil it for five minutes and then leave it in the sun to prove. We said we are going to Ireland, what sun are you talking about.
So it came to pass on the plane in 37C of heat and three and a half hours later we disembark in Dublin at 7C and driving rain which continued all the way to Boyle. It is funny how you miss the rain, its a bit like a pet dog. You miss it when it is no longer there. However we had a wonderful week enjoying a lifestyle you would find it hard to come across in England or Ireland. Thank you family, thank you Morocco, thank you ladies and your fellow country men and women.
There is a little post script to this journey. I had lugged this heavy tagine pot from Africa to the North Atlantic, the day after our return wifey decides to replicate Hafida’s tagine. I clean it of the dust from the journey hand it to wifey and go about my business. Wifey decides to disregard the native advice puts it on the stove with all its ingredients and it splits in half. Hafida I will remember you in my prayers however I cannot remember you for your cooking unless I go back to Marakech again and who knows I might!