Thursday, 26 November 2009

The Kindness of Strangers

The first evening we resigned oursleves to a weekend of waiting for the van and headed out into the medina and its rambling narrow dark streets. It can be a pretty intimidating place and feels like living in a maze. There are no landmarks to guide the way.

We started to wander home to discover the gates of the souks had been closed for the night, and blocked our way back. We got lost. Not hopelessly, but it felt like it the time. We stood out as two releatively wealthy Westeners amongst the beggars, dealers and theives.

Young men will offer you directions, for money, before leading tourists on a wild goose chase and abandoning them. We needed to choose carefully who to ask for help.

In the grottiest of vennels we stopped by the stall of an elderly vegetable seller. We asked where we were. He didn't understand. We tried again in French, a commonly spoken second language here, but with no joy.
Andy called our Riad. Merwan, our host, asked him to pass the phone to the Morrocan. The vegetable seller looked at the mobile being offered to him as if it were a piece of moon dust or some other strange thing. He nervously said 'hello' a few of times before hearing a familiar language coming back to him through this device. A conversation began. Location was established. We were going to be ok.

The man who had helped was old and weather beaten. The grapes, carrots, tomatoes, aubergines and potatoes on his stall looked much the same. We could be in any century. He had long robes, a small cap under which were bright dark eyes and a fascinated smile. He was a gentleman.

He pullled across a tatty plastic crate and a sack to cover it so that I could sit.

He trusted us, the strangers with the weird speaking machine, and treated us with kindness. I was grateful.

1 comment:

  1. Gosh! I am sorry that this happened on your trip and how great that you came upon a kind helper! I hope you make it back to your home just fine.
    By the way, about the award thing, now it might appear down a ways on my page as I have put several posts in since. But it is still there. Glad to see that you got to put some more posts out there.