Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday the 13th, Rabat-style

I was chatting with my brother Harry last night for his birthday.  As I mentioned to him, I have my birthday on January 7, but I don't become older until his birthday.  Happy 27th birthday, Harry--even if it takes a zen quality to you.

Anyway, during our conversation he was mentioning landmarks in Rabat.  He said the Archaeological Museam of Morocco, to which I misspoke and said I had visited.  My own archaeology setting in.

So today I went to go visit the museum.  I drifted through the medina and through the Ville Nouvelle up near the palace to find the museum...closed for renovations.  "Closed until March, Inshallah," the guard remarked in Arabic.  Inshallah, I responded, I would be back for its re-opening.

So instead, I decided to hop the tram.  The tram did not exist last time I was here, and I had planned to take a ride on the rails since I arrived.  So I walked over to the tram stop and bought a ticket to ride for 6 dirham (60 cents), including refillable card.

The tram came, and I hopped on a direction.  Any direction, really.  And I was joy-riding.

This particular tram meandered past the Tour Hassan and across the bridge into Salé.

We passed the ochre Bab Lamrissa and ventured across Rabat's elder, plainer sister city.

There was one particular stop of interest to me Hassan II Opera.  I asked the people around me if there was an actual Opera theater.  Moroccan Opera?  In Dereja Arabic? In French? In Berber? I got my answer as we soon passed a shuttered old building with the word Opera written in Arabic and French.

I took the train to the end of the line.  It dead-ended at the last stop and people hopped on to go the opposite way.

I was sitting next to the regulations in French.  It sounded like I had an hour validation for the ticket, and technically I hadn't left the car so perhaps I could tram spot on back into town.

Joy-riding to commence?

Such dreams died a death in ticket-taker fears as I saw a semi-official man pass with a semi-official device.  He walked past me and to the back of the tram.  We took off.

Inconspiciously, I glanced back.  It was definitely the fuzz.  While I thought perhaps I could argue my case, I wasn't sure I had the floos to cover the fine if I was wrong (turns out I didn't).  So I got up and slowly sped my way to the doors to get off at the next stop.

At the next stop, I hopped off and went to the ticket booth.  I explained in French to the ticket vender that I hadn't actually departed the tram, so I inquired if my ticket was still halal.  Indeed it wasn't so I bought another ticket to ride for 5 dirham--far cheaper than the fine.

I took the next tram back a few minutes later, and switched at Bab Lamrissa to the other line.  There was another ticket taker on this train, but this time I should be kosher.  He swam past me as I walked up the tram, so it was never in question.

I got off in front of the medina and made my way through the market.  Along the way, I saw a friend from my morning café.  He worked at a sweet shop, and gave me almond paste cookies for my walk home.

I returned home, and decided to pass some time on the roof with the incontinent turtle, Fakran.

But no sooner did I get to the roof as I closed the door and made a grave mistake: I shut it.  I never close the roof door because my key only works from the interior.  I tried my key to no avail.  I was now locked on the roof.  And there was no one home in the apartment below.

The Moroccan Prisoner of Azkaban.

I started looking around to see if there was a neighbors ledge I could climb down, or perhaps a neighbor in the street I could drop my keys down to.

Thankfully, some neighborhood kids ran out of their home.  Probably about 12 years old, I yelled to the boys.  I screamed in French that the door was closed and I was stuck.  I needed them to come and open the doors.  I pointed to the keys and explained that the yellow was for the bottom door and the plain for the upstairs.  I dropped the keys and they caught it and came running up.

They immediately opened the door!  Freedom!

I departed my Azkaban with the boys and gave them 20 dirham for their role in my jail break.  They beamed at the quick cash they made with my Shashank Redemption.

As it is Friday the 13th, it took me two trips to the internet cafe to write this story because I had given the boys the last 20 dirham I had on me.  I think for the rest of the night, I will hunker down.


DrBones said...

Your brother would have run off with the keys....

As would I!

Paul Rockower said...

thankfully, my brother couldnt find his way out of a paper bag, let alone to the back alleyways of Morocco.

Paul Rockower said...

My favorite story of Harry and directions come from our adventures in Mexico. We were in Monterrey, leaving early in the morning to catch a bus back to the border. We walk out of the hostel, and I turn to the left. Immediately, Harry tells me we are going the wrong way. Mind you, Harry has never been to Monterrey before, while I have; Harry has not looked at the map, while I have. Sure enough, I was heading in the right direction. And yet, here is Harry convinced he is right, when he couldn't be more wrong or out of his element. I laughed about that one for a long, long time.