Salaam al-laykum everyone,
allah is not smiling on any of you today as there are scant messages in my inbox today and i wrote two whole days ago!!! I managed to just wipe this entire letter so I am fairly pissed off – so just write goddammit!!!!!!!!!!
I am writing from Rabat – a place everyone tells me is a Moroccan version of Canberra but it seems quite nice. I can’t find the comma button today so you’ll have to do without. On my last few days in Casa I met heaps of people – I had dinner with a marine biologist from Queenscliff who carried his surfboard around Sth America and a surly Scot who wanted to liberate the ‘thuuurrrd wrrrrld’ with his Civil engineering prowess.
I also had a big chat with an American Peace Corps worker called Q who works in Mali of all places!!! He was a v. interesting chap/ who spoke four languages including Bambara the local dialect. So now I have a hut to stay at in Mali and someone to speak English with. The next day Q gave me a Malian name (Oumou Samaké!) and also a wooden talisman to wear in West Africa/ a kind of St Christopher’s medal for safe travel.
My last day in Casa I was taken out to lunch by the gay Moroccan chaps I met on the plane. They also took me around the rather naff ‘new medina’ made by the French and also the outside of the Royal Palace, which is guarded by a bloke with a machine gun!! Wandering thru the medina we walked past a divorce lawyers’ office nothing more than an open shopfront in the wall where a heated argument was taking place – and also a workshop where two men were weaving a mat for the wall of their mosque. They were making the most intricate patterns at lightning speed and they weren’t working off a pattern – it was all in their heads.
I was fairly pleased to leave the youth hostel in the end though it was a great place but the manager took a dim view of all the lone female travellers (of which there were a few!) and breathed down our necks every time we talked to any guys. He also tried to make me pay an extra night saying I hadn’t paid for the first night, which he had obviously forgotten to write down. However I stuck to my guns and strode off with my most disdainful glare.
I find that his unfriendly attitude is the exception rather than the rule and most people are willing to help you out. I am staying in the relative lap of luxury so it is nice to feel clean again!! I will be out of e-mail contact while I’m there so I expect to see plenty of messages in my inbox when I get to Fes!!
Subject: Dad’s second letter
Date: Monday 27th September 1999
Really good to hear you’re meeting plenty of people, it sounds stupid but I had a fit of the ‘Dads’ about you leaving, and me with all my advice about travelling alone.
Anyway, how did you get to Rabat? Train, bus, camel? The election is still in doubt. Kennett has 43 seats, the ALP has 41 and the independents 3. As Kennett has treated the independents like the rats under the house for the last three years, none of them are going to help him make up the numbers to form the government. One further independent in Frankston died on election day, and the votes cast for him are void. As a result there has to be a by-election there in another 3 weeks.
Jeff has actually publicly apologised for all the trouble he’s caused. No-one believes him though. It’s quite sad because I think he’s quite contrite. He appears to be shocked at the amount of enmity towards him. Ah well, the ‘road to Hell is paved with good intentions’. The rugby league grand final was won by the Melbourne Storm (as your Ma said). And the greatest pleasure I’ve had in years is the sight of the Melbourne flag flying over the Sydney town hall. Apparently people up there are very angry it’s happened and the newspapers and radio are swamped with calls of outrage and despair! X
Just getting a few words in before ‘Sex and the City’. Was chatting to Terry over the front fence, and he asked how you are. He was excessively diverted by news of the medina, the Royal Palace, the ‘Moroccan chaps’ and told me all about the book ‘The Sheltering Storm’ which I must read. On our lovely balmy nights the cat has taken to sleeping in her kennel. Maman xxx
24th September 1999
I am amazed at the hospitality of the Moroccans. Apparently in their house, there is a special room for guests, never used. Even if the family is piss-poor, they leave the spare room free. They are also excellent to their children and never put them down. Men and men hold hands or hug each other in the street, and the same of women and women, but never men and women.