We found a book in Casablanca called the Lonely Planet: Morocco. After negotiations, my girlfriend and I paid what seemed like way too much for it, left and, in time, read it. One thing it told us was that Moroccans cared about their poor, that human life there mattered more than a label or a dollar sign, etc. We were relatively rich, being tourists I supposed, and came from a place where the poor were neglected. We saw the comparison and thought that we understood what the book was telling us about the Moroccan people.
Anyway, the book also told us what to do and what to see so we proceeded on our way. And seven days in, things got hairy.
Over some 1500 shear kilometers there had been a barefoot midnight desert hunt for a lost camel, surfing against an ugly riptide in the Atlantic, a narrowly missed stinging by one ferocious charging scorpion, and an angry, multilingual, mid- crowded Casablancan -intersection haggling over a traffic ticket. But after seven nights of sleeping in our car, and seven days of pure unrestrained adventure, I still wasn’t prepared for what was about to happen.
“Can I drive the car?” asked my girlfriend.
She looked innocent enough, with her jet-black hair streaking down her wind-burnt face, her tiny figure slouched against the passenger door and that adorable, child-like smile. I pulled over and gave the wily Croatian the keys.
The maniac slowly pulled the car onto the road. We were just outside Erfoud, and the sky shone brightly against the mounds on either side the road. The big thick mounds known as dunes had in fact, with the aid of the wind, begun to encroach upon the sanctity of the road. Iva casually ran the car into one small, tan heap that streaked in front of her path. A little bump produced a little giggle from the driver. Just adorable…
Picking up speed now, the psychopath sitting next to me swerved around some cars traveling at sane speeds and zeroed our speeding steel trap of death in on a sand dune the size of Texas!
Before the Moroccans towed us back into town but after they dug us out of the sand and up-righted our vehicle, I realized my girlfriend was crazy. I also surveyed the damage. So did Iva.
“Oh my god,” she said, “I can’t believe I did that!” I watched her look at the rental car, the wheels spinning in her head. The Croatian saw her hard-earned savings and her life-long dream of moving from Zagreb, Croatia to New York City fading fast. I wondered whether we had insurance and contemplated whether my very loose grasp on the French language would prove adequate in reading the rental contract we signed. Our big mutual question was “how much?”
The passenger window was broken and the radiator was leaking. The side the car was turned on was in shambles. While we sighed, shook our heads in disbelief, and wondered aloud how much it would cost, one of the Moroccans standing by came up to me and looked deep into my eyes. “You should just be happy to be alive. That is all that matters!” he said.
If the accident hadn’t humbled us, that man’s words had more. We were completely uninjured after a big mistake. And we were saddened by that?
After the Moroccans towed us back to town, they amazingly repaired the car for travel to Marrakesh. I had a chance to think about what the lonely planet had said and what our Moroccan mechanic had said in the desert. My girlfriend and I had a chance to think about all of that and where we might be if luck hadn’t been on our side.
Learning a lesson ended up costing some 1000 extra euros, but it didn’t matter. Morocco had been good to us.
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