Cartas marruecos: litreacha ó Mharacó
Seo ceantar casta den domhan nuair a fhágann tú caladh Spáinneach le ainm Arabach (Algeciras), téann thar carraig Shasanach (Gibraltar), le teacht go ilchíoch na hAifrice i gCathar Spáinneach le ainm Románach (Ceuta) is uaidh sin leat trasna an teorainn go Maracó is domhan iomlán difriúil.
Táim ag iarraidh a oibriú amach cén fáth ar chuir an turas seo isteach orm chomh mór sin. Bhí an turas tosnaithe agam i mBarcelona, ar aghidh go Valencia agus Granada, is ag an nóiméad deireadh bhí sé beartaithe dul trasna ar an mbád farantóireachta go Tétouan i Maracó.
Ní raibh tada mar a bhí mé ag súil leis. Bhí an bád i bhfad níos compordaí ná mar a shamlaigh mé é is ar an mbád bhuail mé le Seapánaigh ó Hadano, cathair ina raibh cónaí orm ar feadh ceithre bhliain. Comhrá spraoiúil lán le Usou! Tú ag magadh, Shinjirarenai, Dochreidthe srl. Ansin d’fhéach mé amach. Mo chéad radharc ón mbád ar an Aifric, na sléibhte glasa a chuir ionadh orm.
Bhí cathair Ceuta (ó Septa – 7iú) ar nós an Spáinn (c’fhéidir beagáinín níos cosúla leis an Phortaingéil) is dealbh mhór de Hercules ann ag an gcaladh. Chuir sé i gcuimhne dom na siobail de chumhacht a bhí feicthe agam ar an turas cheana , an leon lena lapa ar an domhan i bPálas Madrid mar shampla. Cuireann adhradh mar sin isteach orm: dia a dhéanamh de chumhacht.
Le dul go Tétouan, caithfear dul thar an teorainn agus is ansin a thosaigh rudaí ag dul in olcas. Feiceann tú, ón mbus, línte daoine ag teitheadh thar chroc is gardaí ag breathnú orthu. Cuma gnáthdaoine a bhí ag siopadóireacht orthu cé is moite den chaoi ina bhfuil siad ag rith ar nós comharthaí feicthe agam gar go San Diego de inimirceaigh agus scannáin faoi chogaidh. Ar an mbus thug siad rabhadh láidir dúinn gan pics a thógáil is iad ag bailiú ár bpasanna. Tháinig an t-imní a bhí orm in aerfort Moscó i 1985 ar ais chugham is ní raibh fhios agam an bhfeicfinn an pas riamh arís.
The landscape surprised me from the Rif mountains to the green grass, the fertile land and the lake we stopped at: it was nothing like what I had imagined. The contrast in standard of living was immediately evident. These people did not live as well financially as their counterparts in Ceuta a short distance away.
I felt I had gone back to my youth when people would come to the market in town and sell their wares, when Grandad told us to use the country toilet and I understood it meant he did not have one. The smells and the lack of attention to the superficial appearance of buildings brought me back to that time.
The Medina was where we spent pretty well all our time in Tétouan. Its narrow streets and open markets were from another time that the rest of the world has forgotten.
I was aware of distrusting looks and glad our guides were numerous and watching out for us. It was hard to make a real connection with people. It was going to remain a mystery to me.
Colors for painting houses on sale in the streets.
We went to a place where we got a sales pitch about natural medicines that left me uneasy about the strength of the way of speaking of the men in the white coats and the timidity of the lady in the corner who was ready to give henna tattoos to anyone who wanted one.
One more trip to see Berber rugs being offered for sale and another sales pitch worthy of a 3:00am slot on American TV left me unhappy. I watched the others take in the information that so many women worked so many months to make them and then watched them learn the ‘art’ of haggling.
Social justice got a beating that day and they hadn’t even realized it. A man approached me to offer me a rug at a far lower price that the hours spent working on it merited. I answered sadly, as I looked out over an inner plaza filled with rugs, that it deserved more.
Walking through a graveyard.
And there it was, the source of the niggling feeling of regret that bothers me about all this. A line drawn in the earth means that these people expect less and will get less.
For all Spain’s justified complaints about their economic woes, they are in paradise compared to conditions here. Their palaces reek of excess. The beauty of churches filled with gold ripped from the earth by indigenous people who were treated as slaves and abused in the ‘discoveries’ or ‘conquest’ depending on how you choose to look at it. The poverty is not obvious in Spain. It is hidden. Here it is everywhere you look. When I looked around I could see the greed on my fellow travelers’ faces. They were willing and delighted to pay less for something here that they would have gladly paid a lot more for a few km away. They seemed oblivious as to how wrong that was.
As we left our bus took us to the hill above Ceuta for a good view before we left the African continent and I noticed a monument at the side of the hill dedicated to the Fascist dictator Francisco Franco with the unmistakable marks of the Falange (Franco’s symbol of power) on it. I said Oops aloud but thought Oh Dear God! All that dominion, the robbing and stealing from others for power and glory!
I had learned a few letters in Arabic before I left but not enough to be able to read signs.
Al maghrib baladun jameel! المغرب بلد جميل! Morocco is a wonderful country!
All countries are and so are their people and all have their complications. I left Morocco and went back to Spain to see more wonders of architecture and glory and to try to sort out these lessons of life in my head. My view of Morocco and its culture is still foggy.
I resolved not to get into politics with our Spanish guide who is all for Spain abandoning Health Care and who says she must believe America is rich and successful and to be imitated. The telling truth came out when she punctuated her belief with ‘without that, what hope is there?’ I can tell her the sad truth but she really does not want to see that line.
I’m glad I went to Morocco. This lesson is not over though. These notes that accompany the pictures are letters I write to try to figure out what I saw and what it means. Thanks for reading and sharing my journey with me.