Monday, March 17, 2008

far-reaching nature in Fes

sitting on the salmon-colored crumbling fortress walls on the moroccan hillside, i let the gusts of biting wind blow my hair over my eyes as i look down at the whitewashed imperial city of fes. the countless minarets of madersas and mosques jut above the skyline, poking at the dusting of clouds in the sunset sky. some giggles over my shoulder draw me away from my newfound serenity, after having spent a hectic day smelling the tanneries and hanging goat bowels in the souqs and the essential oils of roses and lavenders. a group of four boys are tumbling over each other, glancing in my direction. I give them what they want, a moment of my attention, i show them my camera and ask if they want their picture taken. as if soldiers called to attention, they fall into a pose, smiling at the prospect of seeing their own mugs gleaming across the playback monitor of my camera. after the shutter snaps, they sprint over and examine the evidence. I have seen this before, with the children in the orphanage in ecuador. they love to see their image replicated, a celebrity on a tiny screen in this stranger's life. everyone is narcissistic, children just lack the capacity to shield it. we strike up a conversation. they only speak arabic, and are beginners learning french in school, and i only speak english and poorly pronounced french from my western european phrasebook. nonetheless, i manage to tell them that im from chicago, my father is a fireman and my brother a seaman, that i disagree with the war in iraq and that i dont know if i like the Real Madrid or Barcelona or Roma futbol teams better. They tell me that they know the bagdad anthem, which they sing for me, they show me some of their favorite dance moves and the tallest of the 13 year olds tells me that him and i should run away to barcelona together, where we will dance in the clubs and he will make me his chicken couscous that is "tre bien, tre bien." I tell him that maybe he should get a little taller, and his friends laugh at him. he is gracious about it, knowing the far-reaching nature of his proposition.

i gave them my email address, knowing that this communication through hands and eyes and hearts will never translate onto a screen, so i hold a place in my memory for them as i walk away and they follow me down the hill to bid me adieu.

this is merely the best of my many stories of sweet moroccans.

it is amazing how much cultural similarity can be found between individuals brought up worlds and assumptions apart. i found again today how small this place we call the world is, and how pure the spirit of a gaggle of 13 year old boys can be. they always laugh at each other, there is always a goof and a quiet one and a serious one: "hey, come on, guys, that's enough, leave her alone!" they always want to impress older women and they never know how much their sincerity really does.

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