Friday, July 24, Essaouira, Morocco

2015-07-23 20.19.17
Our group on the penultimate evening of our tour. Tomorrow we sleep in Marrakech.

If you ever get a chance to visit Morocco this is the city to see, cosmopolitan, cool (in both senses of the word), with wonderful shops. Every moroccan artist seems to have some work displayed here. Our guide says we are here in the slow season, that spring and fall are when this place is packed.

To get here we drove through Agadir, a frenetic, off-putting metropolis that I could have easily skipped. Next stop, Wednesday night, was a small seaside village. I was really looking forward to that since our guide told us we’d be bedding down in a tent near the ocean. What happened there was my most dramatic moment of this summer. The details are quite indelicate. You might want to skip this part:

To get to our tent we had to first endure a three hour walk in the blazing afternoon sun. Just to make things more interesting the guide hired a camel driver to accompany us. Originally the camel was supposed to take our bags but we couldn’t find him so the bags went with our van driver while we walked. The camel showed up 15 minutes into our trip, just early enough to strew our route with excrement that had to be dodged.

By the time we reached our destination we were all haggard. I chugged down some sort of soda that we bought at a roadside shop–something I would live to regret. At the tent we sat and had tea–another mistake for me. But then we finally got a chance to walk over to the beach for a half hour of body surfing. Wonderful. Last order of the day was dinner; moroccan soup and tajina. It was only at this point that I began to sense something was very wrong.

I was lying sprawled on a rectangular cushion, finishing my soup, when I realized that my insides were in turmoil. My thoughts immediately turned to that green bottle of soda, which I’d selected as the nearest thing to caffeine-free Sprite. No doubt, I realized, this was anything but sans caffeine. And the tea, I’d learned, had some caffeine, too. I needed a bathroom…..fast. The only one was up the hill in a little shack, a squat toilet with a small sink. I smiled to my fellow travelers and tried to quietly remove myself as quickly as possible. But when I got to the WC it was occupied. And outside the door were about eight jovial Moroccan guys who were apparently reprising the day’s events. I couldn’t really explain to them my problem so I just grinned and tried to grip my loins together to prevent disaster.

It didn’t work. As I stood there I realized I’d already lost the game. I could feel the trickle of excrement trailing down the inside leg of my swim trunks. I grinned some more. Finally the door opened. How could I step into this place without depositing my waste at the feet of these guys?

Somehow I managed that. But that was just the beginning of my woes. I had to get my trunks off without losing anything, then position myself over the small opening in the floor. My aim was not terrific (I haven’t used such a toilet in 8 years). I managed to get about 70% on target. The rest I pushed into the requisite entrance with the aid of a bucket of water in the corner.

But my bum was clotted with shit and there was no toilet paper. (I didn’t know you were supposed to bring your own). How could I get myself cleaned up? And what was I to do with my stained swim trunks? And how get by those guys outside without humiliating myself?

I used the water bucket and my left hand to clean my rear end, not perfect but reasonably clean. But then I faced the trial of putting my trunks back on.

The only saving grace I could think of was that I’d seen some guys washing the sand off their feet behind the WC at a hose bib. If I could get there the darkness (it was now past 10pm) and the water might provide a way out of this mess. I gingerly put back on my trunks and walked (grinning again) out past the eight moroccan guys. They looked at my quizzically. No doubt they’d heard my filling and refilling the water bucket and wondered what the devil I was doing in there. But no one said anything as I furtively headed for the back of the WC building.

Off came my trunks. On came the hose bib as I desperately tried to re-clean myself and at least dilute the excremental chunks on my clothing. It took a while but, by repeated dunking the trunks in a water bucket and by redoing my anal passage I got myself back to presentable shape. Just before I got my trunks back on one of the moroccan guys came around the corner with a flashlight. What he thought I was doing I can’t attest. He said something to me like: “You can come around and use it now, it’s OK.” I didn’t dare ask him what he meant. Instead of donned my trunks and set off down the hill.

I slunk past my fellow travelers to the van and grabbed alternate clothing to wear to bed, then I washed my hands again in the warm soapy water we had outside the tent. My tourmates suspected nothing as far as I could tell. I sprawled out on my cushion and tried to sleep.

2015-07-23 20.16.48
A corner of the medina in Essaouira.
2015-07-22 16.23.01
You’d think it would be cool walking here, overlooking the Atlantic, but it was fiercely hot, at least 39C until we reached the tents right by the water.
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Jerry Heverly

I'm a high school English teacher from San Leandro High School in California.

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