Safi to Oualidia
Trip Start Oct 30, 2007
107Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
The practice of awareness, of being present in many moments throughout the day, is very gratifying to me. I notice how relaxing into acceptance in whatever situation I enter, I allow myself to have experiences I otherwise would have rejected.
The more I do it the smoother the day flows, and the more peaceful, generous and humble I become. I love this life!
This morning I woke up in Safi and walked for about a kilometer to the fairly empty beach, hidden beyond a huge industrial complex. I wandered to the rocky side of the beach and found myself surprisingly calm jumping over rocks away from civilization
An hour later I walked back to the medina, where my hotel was, and found a tiny stall selling fried fresh sardines in Moroccon pita (Chubz) with delicious potato patties for 50 cents. Delicious! I ate two sandwiches.
The road to Oualidia
I went back to my hotel and decided to head to Oualidia, a nearby town famous for its oysters. I love oysters, so Oualidia sounded like a great idea. The Petit Taxi driver that took me to the "karma" (a vacant dusty lot where all the service taxis gather) overcharged me but the total fare was just over a dollar, so I did not care.
At the Karma, I found the service taxi to Oualidia and had to wait for three other passengers to join me and the other two passengers already waiting. Taxis here take six passengers, two in the (single) front seat and four in the (tripple) back seat. The beautiful young man who I shared the front seat with was enjoyable to squeeze in alongside. He spoke a tiny bit of English, and we had several attempts of conversation. Religion seems to be the favorite conversation topic in Morocco. He asked what was my religion and was puzzled when I said that I had none. "Do you believe in God?", he asked, and I told him that I believe in God who is the source of all physical beings. That I believe in God that is all about loving and accepting everything, and that there is nothing wrong.
"You are wrong!" he replied (and I just couldn't help smiling) and explained to me how Islam is a better way to see the world
The next conversation attempt started with the topic of girls. When I told him that I preffer men over women he was yet again puzzled. "You have BIG problem", he announced. I smiled and told him that I did not think that I had a problem, and that I am very happy with my life the way it is.
"But in the afterlife you will suffer", he warned me. I told him that I did not believe in the afterlife or in heaven or hell. He just could not believe his ears and asked how I knew that there was not afterlife as God says there is.
"Did God tell you that?", I asked, "Or did someone else, like your teacher or parents, told you so?"
"It's in the Kuran!", he replied.
"Well, God told me personally that there is no hell or afterlife. That there is only physical energy returning into non-physical energy", I replied calmly.
"What do you do for work?" he asked.
"I teach Yoga."
"Ah, like sports?"
"No, like talking to God. Like seeing and knowing that all there is is one, and that our sense of 'I' is only an illusion."
Disbelief (How joyful to watch and to reminicent about the time I was in his shoes).
He asked if I smoked Hashish and was happy to see that we do have at least one thing in common afterall. He asked for my cell number and told me he would arrange to get some Hashish for me later (He didn't).
About 10 kilometers from our destination the taxi stopped and the remaining passengers got out. I was told that since I'm the only passenger wanting to go to Oualidia I would have to continue my journey by bus.
"But I paid for all the way to Oualidia", I protested.
"It's okay. You no pay for bus", tells me my new friend who escorts me to the bus and promising to call me.
Every passenger on the bus is a Moroccon villager. I feel like I'm in a movie from 50 years ago. The bus is so old the seat's fabric turned black. Everyone is quiet. Charming and very relaxing.
In Oualidia I check into the first hotel I enter, recommended by Lonely Planet. I ask the maid, all in Arabic and hand gestures, if she would do my laudery and she agrees
The hot shower is refreshing and I head out towards the beach. Maybe 15 minutes into my walk and I meet a young local with a huge smile. Rashid is his name. He seems honored to be talking with me. It is humbling to be with him. His English is below minimal but we manage with my little Arabic, many hand gestures, and surprisingly to me, some French. Turns out I understand French. How lovely.
He offers to show me around and I ask him if he would like to join me for lunch in an oyster restaurant. So we walk for about a kilometer to one known for serving only oysters. As we approach the restaurant a waiter comes out and tells us that there is a disease in all the oyster beds in Oualidia and no oysters have been served for the past two weeks in Morocco. I am disappointed not to eat oysters but happy that they discovered the disease before I had some oysters myself.
So we head to another restaurant to eat a huge lunch of delicious fried fresh fish, shrimp and squid. The salad here are incredibly fresh and the seafood is excellent. $20 later we leave happy and content.
In a table next to us, three men are leisurely solving a crossword puzzle together. One of them is about 70 years old. The other two are in their late thirties or early forties. It is lovely to watch them pass hours doing it, sipping tea. It is this kind of intimate relationships between men that I've observed so many times in Morocco that make this country so fascinating and charming to me.
Rashid takes me back to the hotel and we decide to meet later to go smoke Hashish in a coffee shop
The evening presents new wonderful experiences. I gave Rashid 200 Dirhams and told him it was my budget for the evening. I think it was understood that whatever money remained would be his.
At the coffee house I saw some guys playing cards and asked Rashid if he wanted to play too. So he orders us a deck of cards from the bar and within a few minutes three guys join us. I am now playing cards and smoking hashish in a coffee house in a tiny beach town with the kind of macho guys I used to be scared of when I was younger, growing up in Israel.
I notice that mixed with my appreciation of the wonderful opportunity, fear of harm is also making an appearance in my mind and I remind myself to breathe and be peaceful, and to remember that I am safe.
I notice the generousity I have towards the present moment, allowing myself the space for being peaceful right now. I look around and enjoy the men around me. Their mildly aggressive demeanor seems to be the norm. It is not directed at me.
I loose a few times, I win a few. For whatever reason, a score is being kept, but by the end of the games no winnings are collected. As the coffee house is getting closed down I leave the coffee house with Rashid and one of his friends, a young man that could easily be casted as the villan in any Hollywood Arab-themed production
I guess I'm willing to surrender my camera. I already "gave" one camera in this trip, so why not another?
The experience in the garden overlooking the lagoon, lit only by the full moon, is lovely and peacefull. We share a joint and decide that tomorrow I'll meet Rashid in the morning and go to the hamam. He suggests that after the Hamam we'll go to eat couscous at his parents home. I'm very grateful to be invited.
Back in the hotel I realize how grateful I am for the day, as no harm came my way, as I felt no lack, and as I humbly saw an extension of myself in all that I met.