Timelessness occurs when you travel through multiple time zones, not really knowing where or when you are at any given moment. Floating through time mirrors floating through air; peering out the window of the Boeing 757, the landscape is now made of clouds--the clouds mocking the shape of mountains, the movement of rivers, the eddies of sandy slopes in the wind. Or, perhaps en route to Rekjavik I really did see massive cracks in an icy surface. At one point, small glowing villages dotted the dark land. At another point, I wondered what the northern lights look like, and have I seen them?
I am not an easy flyer. Even when my mind has given up on the idea that bracing helps, my body still jolts at each wiggle of the plane. The sudden push of jet engines on takeoff is not so bad, but when the engines ease off, then I hold my breath. It seems we are about to fall out of the sky, not because we are falling, but merely because of the sense of slack, of almost floating. The wind suddenly acts on the plane, jostling it this way and that way, and some part of me prepares for death. The worst, perhaps, was the turn towards Amsterdam from the take off at Kefalik airport. I wonder if the people around me realize how utterly terrified I am in those moments.
But the beauty of the clouds as we chased the sunrise was enough.
By the third flight, I hadn’t slept yet. At about 22 or so hours into the journey, I could no longer stay awake. It was almost funny to me that I awoke just in time to be terrified of takeoff, yet fell asleep almost immediately after. I awoke again for the kind Moroccan man one seat away who made sure I didn’t miss the food (chicken or fish). We failed at talking, because of multiple language barriers, and I was too tired to make more of an effort. He assumed I was Dutch. I said American, and then was asleep again.
Flying into Tangiers, it seems we will land on the beach. The plane descends directly at the sand, but of course, we land on tarmac. As we debark, we are told to show our ticket (where did I put it?) and luckily I still have it. I was told to expect a form, but no form came. At the customs (passport control) window, I look at him, he looks at me. I make a confused gesture—a cross between a shrug and an apology for not knowing what to do. He gives me the form and returns to his work. I again get his attention, saying Stylo, which I think might be pen in a language he might know. I make a sign like writing just to be sure. He gives me his pen. It is appartently the only pen. When the next man comes, the Passport Control Officer has to ask for his pen back to complete the paperwork.
I neatly avoid being given paper towels, or help with my bags, or a taxi, and eventually make it outside to await my ride, having paid no tips.
Otman the grand taxi driver and Jeff, one of the owners of the GreenOliveArts, collect me slightly late. I had tried—and failed—to look calm when I suddenly realized I had no plan for this, no phone, no way to seek a phone number, no way to ask for help. Looking back, it seems like I could have easily hailed a cab to Tetuoan, and to the address given, but I am glad, instead, that I waited. I was offered 6 taxis, and even help from a stranger, none of which came in any language I understood other than kindness.
A note on Taxis: Grand taxis are blue, generally larger in size, and run routes like busses—they can go from town to town. Otman’s Grand Taxi drove us from Tangiers airport to Tetouan. Yellow taxis drive to specific places and usually stay within cities.
Dates and bread were proffered and gratefully received, even though I had eaten some fish, rice, and beautiful red peppers on the plane.
Dates in Morocco are soft, sweet, just the right amount of smush and resistance between teeth, perfection. Sometimes, they are still on the branch. For me this is amazing.
The first night, having met Mustapha who spends his days (everyday?) to the left of the heavy double doors to the building, we walked up to find my apartment uninhabitable. The art studio salon, though, was a red- and gold-cushioned heaven, and soon I was asleep, having thrown my scarf (a gift from mom) onto the cushions as a sheet.
Door handles. Door handles are often in the middle of doors. These handles don’t turn. Other things that hang about that might be mistaken to be door handles usually turn out to be door knockers. Keys turn, and you push to get in. To close the door, you pull the middle knob. Outside doors always default to locked, here. That makes me very keen to keep an eye on the location of my keys at all times.
Toilet flushers. Sometimes you pull them up. I like these the best. Then you put them back when you’ve used just the right amount of water, and they stop. I don’t remember ever seeing so many bidets before. I have a pull handle on my toilet; I do not have a bidet.
Bleach. Javez is the word. It took me three tries with this word: 1st time I tried the supermarket. The very kind lady directed me to something, thinking perhaps that I didn’t know the word I wanted. It was (we are all still not sure) we think, laundry detergent with bleach. 2nd time, it was lavender scented; I took it back, having learned the words “so sorry!” Absolom at the little store was so kind, and when he saw he was out of the plain javez, gave his helper money to go track some down. This was all accomplished in a few minutes. I happily bought some other things—bread, Fanta, odds and ends—and learned a very little Moroccan Arabic. The bleach worked very well to kill the mold in my new apartment.
Peter, aka Butrose, helped me find a new apartment the morning of my first day. By 10:15, I had a beautiful 2-bedroom at the top of an ancient construction with marble stairs. It is precisely 42 steps from the door of GOA. I made that up. It might be 30. Other than the rather large and stinky spots of mold on two of the walls, it is perfect. The bleach solved this. The propane was out, so no tea last night, but today I managed, armed with only the word “Propane Tank” which is “Buta” to communicate to my landlord’s son that I needed a new tank. Three people tried to make this easier by trying (I think) to see when I would be home, but then Rashid kindly just said Venez avec moi, and we did it then and there. Phew.
Cats. I love the stray cats. They love food. People feed them, pet them. They look very straggly—especially the white ones. I wonder what their story is. I am considering writing them one. At lunch yesterday, one came an yowled outside the restaurant. He was very careful not to come in. A gentleman.
Yes, art is and will be happening, but that for another day.
Heather Danso, now Heather Emanuel, is a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Method® Practitioner, Restorative Yoga teacher, LMT, and Awareness Through Movement® facilitator.
As an artist, she playfully explores work in Acrylic, printing, and multimedia, creating portraits and abstracts that explore expression, playfulness, identity, and the possible. Her CV is here.