Morocco, Chapter 2.

September 26, 2012

We ducked into what we were told was our three-star hotel but which looked like heaven. Everything was gilded in dazzling shades of gold. It was beautiful but eerily quiet. I tried to convince myself that January simply wasn’t a popular vacation month. Then a bellhop sprang out of nowhere and after the split second it took to realize we didn’t speak Arabic, intoned, “Bienvenidos. Como quieras. Bienvenidos. No pasa nada. Bienvenidos. Bienvenidos. Bienvenidos.” It was weird and became annoying really quickly.

In spite of this strange man and his mantra (what else do you say to a tall Mexican girl and her short Chinese friend, I guess?), we managed to navigate through the check-in process fairly adeptly, but could not make it to our rooms quite as successfully. In our paths stood a young Moroccan man, who also seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. He spoke perfect English and introduced himself as M, stating that he had lived in Washington DC for many years.

To this day, I have not solved the mystery of why he was at the hotel. He wasn’t an owner or related to one, nor was he a resident, and there didn’t seem to be any other people staying there to claim visiting friendship. Who knows.

In any case, he inquired about our travels plans and unsure what to make of him, we fibbed our way through answers, pretending as if we had sightseeing and various appointments lined up. In all honesty, we had no idea what the heck we were doing. Seeing through our weak facade, he insisted on calling his tour guide friend to take us around the city. Dubious of this stranger and wary of further isolating taxi rides, we declined and pushed on to find our room.

We tossed our stuff on the beds, giggled a little in nervous relief, and flopped down for a recovery nap. Then the bellhop burst in with a feeble excuse for entering unexpectedly. Unnerved, we clung to each and shoved him out as quickly as possible. We decided we needed to get out, hoping that by the time we returned, the bellhop’s shift would be over.

The front desk did not have any maps of the area, and as we regrouped, were again accosted by M with his tour guide offers. Seeing no other options (the hotel was a ways from downtown and since we didn’t know anything…), we finally agreed to book a tour for that afternoon. We spent the next hour on the patio sitting at a colorfully tiled table, waiting for the guide also named M, and wondering if we would live to regret this decision.

After a few sunny hours, a small, sputtering car pulled up and an equally small, aged man stepped out gesturing to us to climb aboard. We hesitated, giving each other a glance that betrayed our outer calm, and with a grimace, stepped in.

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