Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Roller Skating Moroccan Style

It's Wednesday and my exercise class has been cancelled, which is fine. Except that I don't need the exercise as much as I need the mood boost that goes with the exercise. So for my mental health and the benefit of everyone around me, I need to find something to do. Now I could run, except I like to run in short shorts and I'm not sure that I want to do that in public here in Morocco where the dress code is more conservative. And who the crap am I kidding? I hate to run. It's boring.

Now even though I put my roller skates in the storage pile for the movers somehow they got in the ship to Africa pile. And even though we've been here over a year now, I have not ventured out of the house in them. I don't know if it's more that Moroccans don't roller skate, that I can't wear shorts to skate in or the fact that there isn't a flat surface really condusive to skating. Ok, though I've made the decision to go out and be an even bigger caucasian spectacle than I already am. I must confess I'm nervous to draw more attention to myself by skating the streets of Rabat. But, as I always tell my kids when they are embarrassed, "who do you know in Morocco"? Well, turns out we really do know quite a few people. But whatever. And the people I do know here, they already know that I'm a kooky, gooby dork anyhow. So I strap on my skates with no particular destination.

The street is filled with potholes and gravel. The sidewalks are brick and bumpy. A smart person would have worn pads and a helmet. And those smart people, well they're smart. There are curbs, pot holes, unpedestrian friendly drivers and massive traffic circles to traverse. So I start on one of those great brick sidewalks and quickly veer onto a side street. I know. I'll go over by the king's polo field. I'm skating along and when I near the polo field I see two guards and as I quickly clip the corner I now see two extremely large dogs. And apparently they've never seen a freakishly white foreign chick on skates before and they are barking and approaching and the guards rush to hold them back. Ok, so I think I'm gonna double back now. Cause I don't really want to mess with the king or the dogs, but really mostly the dogs.

Now while the pavement on the road of the sidestreets is relatively smooth, other than the gaping potholes of course. The stop signs are a problem. Stop signs in Morocco do not mean that you MUST stop. They merely suggest that you do. And a lot of people don't. So it seems to me that a nice long stretch of sidewalk would be safer. And where is there some extended unadulterated sidewalkage? Ah, by the wall of the king's palace. And I bet that the sidewalks next to the king's palace are actually maintained. Just a guess mind you.

But to get to the palace wall from where I'm at I must pass through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops. Oh, I mean the seven levels of hell that is the terrifiningly large traffic circle, through the sea of congested honking drivers by the Sofitel. And I mean that the traffic is congested, not the drivers....just for clarity's sake. But if the drivers were congested they would just hack up a loogey and spit it into the street because this is Morocco and that's what you do when you're congested here.

So I slowly and delicately navigate my way accross the 3 separate intersections of the circle. Somehow I don't bust and get hit by on-coming traffic and I'm alive. This is good. Yay me! And yes, as I predicted the king's sidewalk is very well maintained indeed. It's good to be the king. Unless of course the people in your country want to overthrow you and continue to protest even though you've announced that you too are in support of a parlimentary governement and will relinquish your power, bout still live in the palace and enjoy all the perks of course. Then maybe not so much.

Now the thing about skating on a bumpy sidewalk that gently slopes uphill is that it's a really great workout. Sure anyone can skate a a smooth pristine surface, but can you do it in hot sweaty baggy jeans without water because you forgot it? Well sure you could. But, then of course there's obstacles: pot holes, traffic circles, gravel, stray cats. Then add in the looks, honks and comments which are more than any one foreinger should have. Unless you are in the band Foreigner. Then I would expect a swaying lighter vigil also. And I bet that even for Foreigner, if they are still alive, that the attention gets to be a little too much sometimes.

So, I cut around a side street and see if I can cut through the palace. What the hell? Again, who knows me in Morocco? So do a slow roll and approach the guard at the gate and ask to enter while looking at him pleadingly. He looks me up and then down and when he gets to the skates he shakes his head and finger in what in Moroccan is a very definitive no. I'm tired, hot and thristy so I start heading home. I find a sweet spot of fluid uninterupted asphault that where I can sprint next to the Hilton park. It's incredible and my skates glide so serenely. I almost forgot where I was except when I look over at the running path I'm skating next to I see women speed walking in head scarves, completely covered head to toe. I can't imagine how hot it gets to exercise so modestly dressed.

On my meandering path home I decide to go past the British Embassy as I've heard where it is, but never been by it. I find it and it looks like any other Embassy with it's non-descript white guarded walls around it. I would have tried to take a photo, but it really doesn't look like anything and you don't take pictures of those kind of things here. And the guards will enforce that. But really it's the British Embassy. Really? Who's interested? Like who's got a beef with Britain? What secrets could Britain possibly have? I mean we all know about Camilla at this point. And I think every news agency is spilling all the unwanted details on the wedding of what's his face to what's her face tomorrow. What else could there possibly be? Unless they are hiding their excellent culinary secrets. Which obviously is not the case.


Roller skating in Morocco is not boring.
Skating on bumpy surfaces make your feet itch like crazy.
I'm glad I'm not in the band Foreigner.
I do not like to be chased by large dogs.
It's good to be king. Unless you're the king of a North African country right now.
I can cross the 7 levels of hell by myself on skates without dying (although probably not twice).
I'm going to protest Britain by not watching the Royal Wedding tomorrow.
Always carry a water bottle.
I'm a great big gooby dork. Ok, I already knew that.
And I do not, do not blend. Not even a little.


Christopher said...

Wendy, you need to write a book! We miss you and Craig. Chris, Bry and the girls

Red Nomad OZ said...

Haha! I think you're brave to go skating at all, let alone in Morocco! But what a fascinating journey - all the more so for being so differnt to downunder here in OZ!

Have a great weekend!!


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