A short visit to Safi
Trip Start Oct 30, 2007
107Trip End Ongoing
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In the evening I was sweet-talked by Ahmad, a local who supposedly was charmed by my wearing a djellaba and was going to treat me for tea at a nearby cafe. He turned out to be an alcoholic who was hoping I'd give him money for beer.
At the coffee house the server was a 16 years old boy who looked much younger. My "friend" Ahmad explained to me that the boy was sleeping on the streets and the owner of the cafe had let him sleep at the cafe in return for work.
What amazed me about the boy was his constant wide smile. Even when some customers were aggressive towards him, he always had a huge smile. I conversed with him through Ahmad and found out that he came to Safi from the south in order to make a living. His father died a few years ago and his mother could not support him.
In addition to the dollar tip I left him at the table (which Ahmed tried to take) I also slipped him an equivalent of $7, unseen to his boss. Although I know it is a huge amount of money for him, I regret not giving him more. Days later I am still thinking of returning to Safi to see this incredibly delightful and hopeful boy.
After we left the coffee house Ahmed tried again to get me to buy him alcohol. I refused so he asked if I'd buy him a sandwich, to which I agreed. At the restaurant he ordered four meat skewers, salad and bread, supposedly for the both of us, even though I repeatedly said I was not hungry. As the food arrived a visibly drunk man entered the restaurant and came to directly to Ahmed demanding that he'd share his food with him. He was not satisfied with only two skewers so Ahmed (who I think was a drinking buddy of him) ended up giving him all the food, visibly concerned to be physically attacked.
I returned to my hotel.
There is a whole lot of drama happening under my hotel window as I am writing this, around 10:30 PM.
A young guy is fighting with two others in the dark alley below my window. The two he is fighting with seem to try to calm him down. He takes his shirt off and throws it to the ground while somewhat yelling somewhat crying saying something that I imagine to mean "Go ahead, take even the shirt off my back. I am leaving now!"
He proceeds to knock down the motorcycle next to him and there's a short struggle and he walks out of the alley shirtless.
I am noticing fear of harm in me and remind myself that I am safe and that no harm is coming my way.
Ten minutes later the drama continues as he walks back into the alley yelling like a victim returning to the crime scene asking for justice. He is having a really hard time letting go and I feel sad for him. Some guys are trying to calm him down and he leaves again. This time he is wearing his shirt.
There's some yelling from the main street but I can't distinguish them from the loud hum of the street.
There is life happening all around me and I get to observe it and participate in it and know that it is only a matter of perception whether I am going to enjoy it or not.
I see that I am not any different than the people around me. I see that we are all the same, each of us with some variation from the other, all struggling with fears of harm, lack and inequality, all disillusioning ourselves to think that we are separated from each other. How awesome.