A mere few hours of sleep later, I had to roll out to the airport to jets off to Morocco, low key cracking myself up that I was just waiting to board to Africa. It didn’t set in really as they announced, please put tray tablea up as we arrive to our destination. I look out my window and see fields of dusty red and browns, mountains on the cusp of the Mediterranean, I wrote “holy corolla I see Africa!!!” So odd, with such ease.
As I stepped off onto African steamy tarmac I was swept with the thick African heat and thought that I had no idea of what to expect of this place. I didn’t want to base any expectations on the western idea of all of Africa being single story defined by only poverty, I believed there was more and I wanted to see this place myself. An airport with obviously only muslim locals, draped in full cover, I launched into convo with two young folks who stood out as non-local, from Lithuania and US infront of me. The chick, Monica had a uke and they had just arrived with no plans, a desire to volunteer somewhere and one tent.
They had met at a raw food farm volunteer place in Turkey. I suggested we shared a taxi to the city centre of Nador. We pass through flat red patches with the odd block concrete, yet colourful homes and are dropped on the main street bustling with many people seemingly doing nothing. It almost felt as though we were some kind of celebs the way everyone would stare at us. I guess they often did not have tourists and we stuck out like a sore thumb.
We wander past lines of old men pathside, the odd stall of fruit or bread, stacks of imported treats, donkeys holding fresh produce in parking lots, packed school busses and a mass excess of taxis, which seemed like every man who had a car had just thrown a taxi sign on the top and ther ya have it. The muslim girls would glance and giggle, the men would mostly stare, toot or say Hola, Bonjour, cava? Etcetera, as many speak French or Spanish on top of Arabic or berber.
I sussed a dirt cheap and full as local meal and we took a chiller by the Mediterranean seaside, played some uke and yarned. Beside the dusty red sand, where palms wallow and stacks of colourful homes gathered on a distant curve of the coast. I had planned to meet my host in Al Hocceima, a city a few hours away, so as the sky became greyer, I was to head off, they had their tent, but a storm was on the way so I suggested they join me. We breezed past open fields, barren mountains, odd houses, kids playing football, lone wanderers, along the rugged coast, and a few break downs, mis-charging and a full blown lightning storm that shook the entire sky, we made it to Al Hoceima station. Some loose change in a payphone contacted my host, Hafid and after slumping it on the station stairs for half or so with some later night snacks, he eventually picked us up in his lil Renault, draped in a great woollen poncho. We rattled off through a lit city, stopped off by a beach, smoked some local plant, called Kiifi, through his wooden pipe, then hit the view of the bay, where a burnt out sheep carcass lay, from a traditional muslim ritual the night before. He was a real friendly lad, we walked up a staircase of crawling plants into a lovely home of mosaic tiles, plush cushions and an excessively large red sofa that went around the whole perimeter of the guest room, where we faded into slumber.
The protests have erupted since Saturday night and there have been no records of violence which is really positive and something we need to be thankful for. The protests have been happening for two days now.
Today, youngesters and students have been protesting in Al-Hoceima as well. Protests have not only taken place in Al-Hoceima and Nador but have now spread to Tanger,Tetouan, Imzouren, Casablanca,Rabat, Fés, Méknes, Oujda,Fnideq,Marrakech, Berkane, Agadir, Driouch and Safi.
This monday lots of shops,cafés, school and public places are closed to protest the corruption and show solidarity with Mohsin Fikri.
The Guardian and Al-Jazeera Plus (Arabi) and BBC have also picked up the news.
Nadir Bouhmouch will be on Democracy Now today to discuss the situation in Morocco. It will be in English and as soon as I have the link i will post it on here.