Tuesday, March 9, 2010

On the flipside

In the rain and the half-light of dawn they left yesterday morning on the 07:00 train for Fez. A train in the rain! With snacks—olives and dates, apricots and salted peanuts, bread, cheese, chocolate. An exciting departure if you’re the one getting on the train. It was a sad good-bye, in its way. We packed more into those four days than we’ve managed in any given span of time during our entire stay here. On Saturday morning Paul drove us out to Essaouira in time to witness a tumultuous swing from rain to sun and luminous close of day—with nuss-nuss (Moroccan for espresso and steamed milk) at the dripping café, capering on the sunlit ramparts, wandering, talking. Then Sunday we drove from the coast back through Marrakech’s slow afternoon traffic and up to Imlil, hugging the base of the Atlas for a subtly jaw-dropping fifteen kilometers, completely grey-shrouded peaks to our left, the greening plain that Marrakech occupies dropping off to our right, undulating fields beneath us, scattered olive groves all around and the occasional Holstein, the occasional herd of sheep. From the ocean to the snow (and home down through the mountains in the dark) in one glorious green-edged, cloud-scaped swoop. Hazel was great in the car, exultant once we got to the mountains for a late-day hike through waning light and over rushing water. The clouds lifted, peep-show style, to reveal the snow-capped Atlas above us burnished (really! that's the word! overused, but still true) in sun, a glowing shoulder here, the very top there. They folded back together and we came down into town in the semi-dark for tajine and mint tea on the roof-top terrace of a little café, cinnamon-sugar dusted orange slices for dessert (this was the take-away taste for re-creation at home). The clouds parted again briefly and we caught sight of a snow-bound moonlit peak high above us, a world away in the dark. All against the sound of the river running and a group of people cheering every now and again further up the mountain. We walked all together into the Medina on Monday—again, seeing everything through the eyes of someone unfamiliar with these things that have become known to us, in their way. This sort of careening visit (nighttime toasts with delicious French crémant, good Moroccan white) makes me giddy. And a little sad on the flipside.

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