28 February 2005

Third week in Morocco, 22 February–1 March 2005

Tuesday, 22 February 2005 (Polly’s and George Washington’s birthdays), Marrakech: (PM) Polly’s birthday at her riade: Moha (#117) staff (runner Si Mohamed [Bidaoui], soccer player Si Muhammad [Hamada], Ibrahim, older man [Ârbi?] with only two teeth, Yacine), ÂbdoulFatah from Belhaj, boxer Ahmed and messy Hassane (Angel Sheridan) from Âli, Si Mohamed from M’barek (#114), ÂbdelGhani Waldy out of drag, Miss U etc. Delicious food, good conversation, too much alcohol. ÂbdoulFatah got rude, Hassane got messy, Ibrahim threw up. Most everyone left at once except for ÂbdoulFatah, ÂbdelGhani, Miss U and I (although Hassane briefly showed up again with quiet co-worker Ahmad). ÂbdoulFatah left insulted. ÂbdelGhani got very kaikai. Walking around Djemaâ al-Fna seeing drag queens. Dinner at the so-called Complexe Mabrouka with ÂbdelGhani. Sat at Belhaj with ÂbdoulFatah and parade of others (Hafid from Saïd, Hafida etc.).

Wednesday, 23 February 2005, Marrakech: (AM) I sat at Moha (#117) for quite awhile primarily because Si Mohamed the runner said Polly had told him I should wait there for her return, which wasn’t exactly accurate. I was seated right next to Habib, a young man smoking hachiche who was making silly faces into the camera while Si Mohamed (Bidaoui) was its operator. (PM) I found Polly at Cyber Mohamed Yassine. Beldi. Dinner at Charaybi (#25), joined by Saïd the newlywed. ÂbdousSamade at next restaurant flirted with Polly and showed us his sausage. The usual wanderings. Met Si Muhammad selling compact discs on Rue Bab Agnaou. Met Sameer Chinoy and gang at Moha (#117). (Left to right, I think they were Moroccan Ibrahim, Saudi-born Canadian Sameer, Moroccan-born Canadian ___, and Rafiq who I thought was Moroccan but Si Mohamed the athlete would later tell me is Pakistani, later joined by Ômar the light-eyed brother of one of the Moroccans, and cousin Reda. “Uncle Shel” and Habib, who now works at Moha, played music with wiglets, garter belt and Barbie necklace.

Thursday, 24 February 2005, Marrakech: (AM) Snacks at Café Toubkal with runner Si Mohamed (Bidaoui), Hassane and ÂbdoulLatif from Moha, Ibrahim and Si Mohamed from M’barek, and very briefly Bagheera. I ate a cardboard toilet tissue roll. No one we knew in Café Kebir.

(PM) Raining on and off all day. My camera spent its time in Guéliz in my bag. Met Polly at Royal Air Maroc office, Avenue Mohammed V, Guéliz. Shoe shopping at Atika where the security officer with the nice eyebrows also had nice shoes of course. Cybercafé on Avenue Mohammed Zerktouni. Polly and I walked from Guéliz to Daoudiate together. Stopped in Hôtel Redouane for directions when we didn’t need them. Caât Moghtate, met Cheikh ÂbdoulHac. All the boxers present changed their clothing, activated the two punching bags that were stationery when Polly and I used them and then went out to play basketball in the rain. Restraining myself from following the soccer or basketball players into the locker-room or showers with my video-camera was difficult.

Complexe Mabrouka. Saw slim, funny-looking Muhammad and gigolo Cherif eating together on Rue Bab Agnaou. Cyber Mohamed Yassine. Icky French girls at Moha (#117). Runner Si Mohamed (Bidaoui), soccer player Si Muhammad (Hamada) and ÂbdoulHadi (George Hamilton) sang my name repeatedly and loudly. When I decided to walk around, I saw it was raining again and ducked for cover in Café Toubkal.

Friday, 25 February 2005, Marrakech: (AM) A fuse blew, and the lights went out in Café Toubkal, and the loud, smoking party next to me began to sing. I returned to the Djemaâ al-Fna foodstalls after 01:00 and stood sheltered from the rain at M’barek (#114) watching the always fascinating deconstruction of the réstaurants, this time made even more interesting by the added elements of the overhead tarps and the rainwater trapped in bulging pockets in them. The dark skinny worker there led a rousing song joined in by his coworkers loudly singing along and banging on various available surfaces. Looking a bit like javelin-throwers, the workers at Moha pulled horizontal metal tarp supports from their positions over the réstaurant’s ceiling. M’barek seemed to be the last foodstall remaining with any semblance of structural integrity when I finally went home and left them to their hot meal together huddled in a circle.

(PM) Net Dev. Caât Moghtate: Cheikh ÂbdoulHac again, met Reda and Âmine.

Ate at Chegrouni again in the rain. Walked around Djemaâ al-Fna a bit and saw boxer Ahmed (and messy Hassane [Angel Sheridan]) at Âli. Ahmed asked why I hadn’t been at Caât Moghtate when in fact I had. When I told him so, and showed him some video footage of my visit, he apologized for not having been there. What is it with Moroccans and appointments? He also seemed quite miffed with any co-worker who intimated Ahmed should perhaps do some work instead of socialize. Polly and I went to Cyber Internet Iris and saw Âbdellah and Si Muhammad. Polly bought some pastries to share with Moha (#117) staff because she felt like a Coca Light. Again ÂbdoulHadi started singing some song and put my name and some pertinent facts about me into it.

Saturday, 26 February 2005, Marrakech: (AM) Polly and I went over to Âïcha (#1) where ÂbdoulÂsise (Famma) works and spent time with him, co-worker Hassane, and friend Monaïm. Monaïm later joined us at ÂbdoulMadjide/Rachida where there were two workers named Rachide and two named ÂbdourRahim. Our old friend Rachide from 2002 continued pestering us for whiskey when we’re certain he’s just a teenager. Polly lost the dieters’ tea and we went to Café Toubkal for drinks. We were joined by numerous foodstall workers, including runner Si Mohamed (Bidaoui), Yacine and Hassane from Moha (#117), boxer Ahmed from Âli, and ÂbdourRahim from Charaybi (#25). Later we went to Café Kebir and sat primarily with Monaïm reading the newspaper and watching sexy Mark Dacascos in a very loud movie dubbed into French. I think I left after 04:00. Monaïm and ÂbdoulÂsise (Famma) from Âïcha (#1) seemed to have every intention of visiting my apartment for Coca and Fanta, and they got almost all the way to the taxi queue with me and decided to postpone the affair one day, and I went home alone. (PM) I walked downtown and met Polly at Cyber Mohamed Yassine, although we also separated there. I took a walk up Rue Souk Semmarine and made sure to flirt with ÂbdoulLati, the turban man. I also noticed an unusually large police presence that made the veiled ladies selling upturned skullcaps scatter when the blasé officers came near. I went to Moha (#117) to meet Polly at 18:30, and we arrived there within a few minutes of each other. We sat there appreciating the workers there, including soccer player Si Muhammad (Hamada) and teen heartthrob Habib, as well as speculating what Yacine’s mother is like. Polly distributed some bottles of booze she’d just bought cheaply in Guéliz. Polly mused the large police presence might be because some VIP, perhaps even the king, is visiting, but in truth, we knew of no such visit. We then walked on and around Rue Souk Semmarine, seeing Âli at the Cheese Man’s shop with his interesting buttons and lack of concern whether we purchase anything or not. We visited Moulaï’s shop when he wasn’t there, and his staff said he was away praying. When we passed again, he hugged me with glee and drunkenness. We then took a stroll down Rue des Banques through Canaria, down Rue Riad ez Zitoun el Jdid past the Bahia Palace, then up Avenue Houmman el Fetouaki back to Rue Bab Agnaou into Cyber Mohamed Yassine again. We continued our walking around and greeting people. Rachide at ÂbdoulMadjide/Rachida pretended not to want to talk to us because Polly had refused his many requests for booze. Polly decided to go home fairly early, or at least before midnight. I continued my wanderings including going to Âïcha (#1) to chat with ÂbdoulÂsise and Hassane and their co-workers.

Sunday, 27 February 2005, Marrakech: (AM) Eventually, I went to Toubkal to sit and have drinks as various food-stall workers drifted in and out and chatted with me. ÂbdoulFatah from Belhaj came for an extended visit. Monaïm came in briefly but not for our appointment, and he said he would return but did not. At around 02:00, I paid for the drink I’d been nursing and found ÂbdoulÂsise just finishing up work. He was with ÂbdourRahim, the food-stall worker who imitates the parrot, and said he’d be replacing Monaïm who was supposedly tired. … (PM) Miss U returned to Marrakech from Fès. Walked downtown. Rue Bab Agnaou extremely crowded. Dinner at Âïcha (#1) with ÂbdousSalam as our forgetful waiter, ÂbdoulÂsise (Famma), Hassane etc. Bought bubble wrap at Place Bab Ftouh. Went down Rue Mouacine to find desired store closed. Snacks and drinks at Bougainvillea Café. Rain began. Refuge in Café Toubkal.

Monday, 28 February 2005, Marrakech: (AM) Sat in Café Toubkal a long time with Miss U. Visited by numerous: Si Mohamed (Bidaoui) from Moha dressed head-to-toe in blue, hat included, but drinking neon green beverage. Hassane from Moha escaped the rain with a plastic bag on his head. We ate meals, French fries included. We admired Toubkal worker Si Muhammad’s ample posterior. (PM) Miss U and I walked to and around Guéliz, stopping in Star Food, Rue Yougoslavie, for their chicken cheeseburgers. We went to a bookstore and found a coffee table book in French entitled Djemaâ al-Fna, possibly spelled differently, with pictures of Yacine and Ibrahim from Moha. She and I parted company so I could visit Ahmed from Âli at Caât Moghtate in Daoudiate. It started raining on my way there, but finally seeing Ahmed there was a great relief. I got some good footage of Ahmed and others in action, and I really, really wanted to follow the young men into the changing room at the end of it all. Couldn’t reach Polly by telephone. Djemaâ al-Fna. Met Si Mohamed from Moha at Café Toubkal. Drinks and snacks at N’zaha. Met Ômar who makes hot drinks. Sat with Hafida and ÂbdoulFatah (and briefly ÂbdourRahim [Freddie Mercury]) on tiny seats. ÂbdousSamade.

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