Day 270: When You Zig, I Zagora.

The abundance of carbs here, in Morocco, is ruining my emaciated malaria bod.

Over breakfast I doted on a rather concrete itinerary, where in, I was on my way to Chefchaouen.

The blue city, at last.

I walked to the empty bus station, near the madina.

A casually dressed employee said “Tangier“, asking me where I was going, by guessing.

In this moment, a feeling overwhelmed me.

“Zagora” I responded.

It felt right.

Earlier that week in Marrakesh, Sylvia and I talked about the Sahara.

The tranquility of desert.

And I, in true feeble fashion, confessed I didn’t have the energy to go.

Me, going to the Sahara, would be comparable to visiting Disneyland with mono.

I’m there, but barely.

But, this could be my only opportunity to see the Sahara properly.

Be determined Bobby.

Like Sylvia.

Here I go.

From Fes to Zagora.

What the casually dressed homie at the bus station didn’t tell me, a point I would argue is his job, was that the bus will stop in Marrakesh first, a massive detour, then take me to the town of Quazerzate.

A 160 kilometres from Zagora.

This casually dressed homie was also making prices up on the spot.

Mildly offending the perception I have of myself.

Do I look ridiculously gullible?

A Borg like humanoid that payes whatever I’m told?

An ATM, where no card is needed?

“220 dh” he said.

I gave him 220.

“No, 230 dh”, he said.

Then he quickly changed the price again to, 240 dh.

WTF?

I was suspicious of the casually dressed homie, to say the very least.

Give me this” I said, pulling the original 220 dirham from his thieving fingers.

I went inside the bus station, as the now panicked, casually dressed homie, followed me.

Here here” he said running past me, now leading me to an official ticket seller.

Zagora” I said, interrupting the old man as he chatted to a friend.

He took a calculator then spun it so I could read the display.

192 dh.

I looked at the casually dressed homie, who was charging me 240dh for the same ticket.

I realized in that moment, that very moment.

He didn’t work there.

He was casually dressed because, when you’re unemployed, every day is casual Friday.

I hated him.

What he did, or tried to do.

The deception, the greed, is everything I hate about Africa.

The world really.

But the concentration of it here, on our mother continent, seems far too common.

Testing my already shaky trust in people.

Punishing me because of my natural, trusting disposition.

When I go back in time, I’m ripping throats at that shady bus station.

“I said Zagora, but you sold me a bus ticket to Marrakesh, when the train would have taken me half the time.”

“You lied to me about the price. And that, casually dressed homie, was your mistake” I say, in my macabre fantasy.

A fantasy in which I’m slowly drinking grape Fanta out of a really long twisty straw.

After the sounds of me sucking into an empty soda can ecco out into the abandoned, dark bus station.

I say.

“Sorry Dickhead but now I’m ripping your throat”

He runs.

So do I.

What he didn’t realize, what he couldn’t realize is that the chinese knock off, Nike cross trainers I bought in Gabon, have made me Steve fucking Prefontaine.

As I approach him from behind, I punch through the back of his neck, grabbing his throat muscles as he screams a desperate Arabic prayer.

I stare into my bloody palm, his voice box farting something about being sorry.

Then I drive him to the hospital, where he’s immediately air lifted to the Harvard School of Medicine.

After successfully reaching my Kick Starter goal of 3 million dollars, his surgery, and first ever voice box prosthetic implant, is a success.

The first words the casually dressed homie says to me after the surgery are, “I’m sorry I treated you as if you were a Borg like humanoid, that payes whatever you’re told”.

We hug.

The road to Zagora from Quazerzate is a twisty one.

So twisty in fact, several of the Muslim ladies were barfing on the way.

After one particular stretch of Stop. Go. Stop. Go accelerate. Stop. Sharp turn, stop.

My mouth started to salivate.

My body’s way of preparing for a relaxing puke.

Not today.

NOT TODAY MOTHERFUCKER!

I hung in there.

Breathing heavy.

Thinking about my Grandma.

I deployed all my tricks.

Eventually, when I arrived in the quaint village of Zagora, I felt immediately at home.

Eerily at home.

I rented a room in a large, very old building.

A place I’m calling, the Grand Moroccan Hotel, for 50dh a night.

Cementing Zagora as the cheapest place I’ve stayed, since leaving Canada.

Less than 7$ a night.

Now that I was removed from cities and the survival structures that precipitate there.

The greasy hustlers.

The visa shit.

Give me money.

Pants.

I felt like I was healing.

In the company of kids playing, long walks to the river and surrounding palm forests, I finally found my peace.

My strength spring.

I Hamamed.

The choice to be there, however unexpected, was wise.

Soon, I would quest for a purer peace by going further south, Into the Sahara.

No guided tour for me thanks, I’m just going to walk into the desert.

Byeee

Day 268: I Am Muhamamad Ali Bobby, And I Hamam. I Hamam Hard.

My first hamam was like my first yoga class, I had to realize everyone practising was dead serious before I could surrender to the process.

A hamam is a public bath house.

Historically, and not so historically, people didn’t have access to hot water, making a hamam the place where, usually once a week, you could wash your body then rest your weary bones, on a hot stone floor.

In the Madinas (old cities), most communities have a hamam.

So I’m told, relax.

A signature sign a hamum is old, which is my preference, is that it burns wood to heat the water and the rooms.

Y’know, carbon.

Opposed to a lot of the modern hamams, which use the blood of deformed children.

Bobby wanted the most traditional hamam experience, in one of the oldest hamams in Fez.

And brother, he got it.

Why am I speaking so casually in third person?

Probably because describing the experience is easier, if I imagine it happened to someone else.

And I’m, in fact, that sassy southern Dukes of Hazard narrator.

I naturally asked an eclectic group of local bros where I could find the oldest hamam in Fez?

After some debate, two of the guys kindly walked me to a inconspicuous building.

Before I could properly hamam tho, I had to buy a hamam kit.

Starting with a style of underwear not worn since Spartacus was giving closet homosexual Romans, stone boners. 10 Dh.

As good as man panties look on these men. I can assure you, don’t.

I was encouraged to buy a glove made of high grit sand paper. 5Dh.

A locally made, brown, gel like soap, made from olive oil and the blood of deformed children.

The smell is transcendent. 5Dh.

Cost to enter the hamam. 10Dh.

A hamam is, in essence, three tiled rooms.

The first is cold.

The second is warm.

And the third is a sauna.

That’s where the party is.

After reluctantly changing into my fresh new minimalist underwear.

A tall skinny man with no teeth motioned for me to enter the rooms with him.

Him having absolutely zero teeth is an observation of a characteristic, I’m not teeth shaming him.

Relax.

I was expecting a strange man to latch onto me in the hamam.

The locals told me about the men who loiter around the hamams, looking for feeble dudes to scrub for juicy coin.

Dudes such as Bobby.

Initially I was against the idea, but after entering the hamam without my glasses, rendering me basically blind.

Combined with not understanding the proper hamum etiquette, I allowed the toothless man, who had his eye on me from the beginning, to step in and hamam me.

First he filled several buckets with hot water from a tiled spring in the sauna room.

And a bucket of cold water from the second, colder room.

He rinsed an area of floor in the sauna with hot water, then motioned for me to lay down.

I starfished.

He then started rubbing me down with the brown olive oil soap.

It wasn’t until we started doing acrobatic tandem stretches, that I started feeling slightly, what the fuck?

He preformed some unusual moves on me, I’ll leave it there.

Half Greco-roman half karma sutra.

Ok, leaving it.

I’m a professional.

I maintained cooperation so that this toothless Michangelo would make me David.

Alas, my back has zero moles on it.

My nipples, what nipples?

I’ll say he was rough, but fair.

Until he started washing my hair.

That, I don’t mind saying, is a rather intimate act, reserved for the few women I’ve professed my undying love for.

And Patrick Swayze.

Not toothless Mike.

No offence to him, it just…

He’s not Patrick Swayze

At the end of my hamam, I learned the vital ” Discuss costs for services, before you receive services” lesson.

Again.

That said, what would I charge to scrub another man down?

A stranger from a fairly wealthy country, wearing man panties, helplessly starfishing before me?

Do you have MasterCard?

Is it the sense of community that bathing in a room filled with bathing people creates?

The ancient process you’re instructed to follow?

I don’t know?

But, I haven’t showered traditionally since the cold malaria showers in Senegal.

I hamum now.

I love to hamum.

But alone.

Until one day, science resurrects the Swayze.