Sunday night, just before sunset, we loaded the cameras and twins into the car and headed just south of downtown Rabat and the Oudayas. It’s a beautiful area. The land falls down sharp rocky cliffs, at the bottom of which are rock shelves visible at low tides. The ocean surges up around the edges of these shelves, sending up enormous crashes of surf. Yet fisherman are always visible, lone figures in oilskin boots, standing with poles at the very edge and getting drenched with spray as they are dwarfed by the sudden-rising waves. I always worry about them, as it seems more than likely that they’ll be swept over the edge. I can’t decide if they are just fatalistic (which I’m sure they are; every North African I know is) or if they just know more about it than I do (also true).
The sun was low in the sky; the sea opalescent in the mist. The distant fishermen leaned far out into the surf. I don’t know what he was fishing for. Fishermen are a common sight along the coast, with long poles, but the stuff offered for sale by the side of the road doesn’t seem to me like things caught with a pole; mostly tiny crabs and mussels and other fruits de mer. Do you catch such things with long poles off steep rocks?
The weather has been terribly humid lately, the air so hot and still that even someone walking past stirs it, creates a slight movement of air, as if the air really were water and we were drowning in it. I move languidly, like seaweed, and have a hard time getting things done.
This morning, Donn and I both had unexpected free time. (He had a cancellation; I rearranged some things and put off others) We headed down to another beach for a couple of stolen hours. This is the beach where Donn went surfing with a friend, went over some rocks to dive in, and got snatched by a wave, dragged over the rocks, and slammed into coral and sea urchins. He came home limping, missing large patches of skin, his feet like pincushions full of urchin spikes. In spite of this, he went back. (“It’s a bit tricky,” he told me)
It’s a beautiful beach, and we mostly had it to ourselves, thanks to Ramadan (people won’t swim as they might unintentionally swallow water, thereby negating their entire day of fasting). We sat in the sand, under a sort of permanent umbrella, staring out at the deep bottle-greens and watching white egrets stalking amongst the tide pools bursting with eels and crabs and millions of prickly sea urchins, just waiting to stab their toxic spines deep into tender feet. The water was calm, the waves only about six inches if that. It was very peaceful.
I like how this shows the rock shelves, although without the cliffs or the huge pounding surf.
Crab in tide pool
On the way home we stopped by a sort of farmer’s market. All along the coast road were tiny stands, many just a chair under an umbrella and buckets of produce out in the sun. Some had hutches with rabbits, or strings of live chickens. Just behind them were fields of vines hung with tiny sweet green grapes, or staked tomatoes ripening in the sun. Men on bicycles stopped to bargain and departed with handlebars slung with plastic bags full of grapes; women in djellabas deliberated over dusty peppers and eggplant. We stopped at a bigger stand, with 3 or 4 tents in a row, and bought melons and tomatoes, better and riper and cheaper than in the supermarket, and took the scenic road home.
Ramadan continues. We’re about 2/3rds of the way through the month. Every night, the imam at our neighbourhood mosque reads a long sura, or a chapter, of the Qu’ran. (There are 30 chapters so you can get through it in one Ramadan). He is getting popular, and the sidewalks are crowded with parked cars. When it ends, the little street in front of our house fills with hundreds of people walking home, chattering away, their voices like flocks of birds. I like to go out on our balcony and listen, unseen, to the cadences of their speech. But I’m not so intrigued at 3 a.m., when a drummer passes along, pounding out loud, intricate rhythms, to wake the faithful so they can eat once more before sunrise. In the late afternoon he comes round again, banging away, to get paid for his services, but I don’t want to be woken at 3 a.m. so I don’t pay him.