2 July 2011

Their Mutual Friends

I slept very well on a bed made up for me and woke a couple of times during the morning before getting up around midday, thirsty but reliant on someone buying me bottled water before I can drink. Sat listening to and watching a channel of men singing from various Arab countries but all in long, white robes and head scarves. All five of us went out to buy our tickets for tomorrow; another long walk with sweat pouring off my brow al the time. En route we saw the usual donkeys and carts laden with fruit standing at the side of the road, scarlet hibiscus and purple and white bougainvillia pouring over walls and gates and the endless Yamaha Citizens laden with passengers and goods. We got back, drank water and rested. My ticket to Laayoune was 22o dhirams. We packed up half an hour or so later and took a taxi to Assmae's flat. She changed while I sat in the little room in the courtyard again. We crossed over the main road opposite the compound and found a place to eat. I generously stood a meal of a large salad and a baguette and fries each. I think it came to nearly £4! We had to return to the compound for something Assmae had forgotten, then we caught a taxi to near where her grandparents live.

They live in an area of Agadir that Assmae tells me is very popular. The roads are in a bad state and there are pedestrians everywhere and piles of stray kittens in raggledy mounds. We arrived at the house and as usual, a very humble looking entrance belies a well kept interior. We sat and were offered very sweet mint tea, small biscuits, bread and chocolate spread, olives, oil, sugared palmieres and pains au chocolat. I sat for a long time not understanding anything but quite content not to be doing much. Assmae then said we would go out and have a walk. We went round streets of souks and saw carts of fruit, mountains of watermelon, goats heads and hooves fronting butcher's stalls, shops with chillers full of improbably red sausages and mince, toys laid out on the floor and an assault of smells; bread, raw meat, body odours and a general stench from detritus on the street. It was very colourful and heaving with people. After walking the length of the souk area, Assmae suggested we stop and sit and pointed to a grassy area that was essentially a large central reservation between two main roads, one of them a dual carriageway. We made our way across and joined a few hundred other people who were sitting on the grass. Assmae shouted over the traffic that it was a beautiful spot. Oddly enough the cool grass under my feet and a holiday feeling with kids running round made it a welcome stop. We walked back and just before getting to the flat, Assmae spotted someone she knew and we called in and sat for an hour and a half with various friends, drinking fizzy apple and eating watermelon. People were friendly and spoke the few words of French or English that they knew but I pretty much just sat there.
Back at the flat I was introduced to the uncle Assmae had told me about earlier. We all shared a lamb tajine and then melon and watermelon.
I later took a shower and was just as hot and sticky as I had been before. Sent some texts and caught up on my journal.

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