Tuesday, March 22, 2016

We Return to Morocco

We chose Agadir, in Morocco, as our first 2016 holiday destination because the price and predicted temperature were right, and the deal was ill-inclusive, meaning that we could stuff ourselves obscenely and drink free cocktails until barely coherent.  I do love stuffing myself obscenely, at least in theory. In practice, it can get physically uncomfortable, and I am of coursed haunted by the prospect of ceasing to weight only five pounds more than I did in my days as the most torrid rock stud in Hollywood.

Agadir was destroyed by an earthquake in the early 1960s, and lacks an old town. There aren’t a lot of interesting places to which one can walk from the Riu Tikida Dunas hotel, and walking anywhere at all in the afternoon, when the wind off the sea becomes ferocious, is ill-advised for wearers of hard contact lenses, one of whom I am. Such is the wind’s ferocity that one can’t even lounge for long out by one of the lagoon-sized swimming pools.

One goes down to breakfast and enjoys, for instance, a cheese omelette in a crepe, scrambled eggs and fried potatoes in another crepe, and a great deal of fruit. (Nutritionists believe five daily portions of fruits and vegetable necessary for good health. In these all-inclusive situations, I commonly have around 25 portions per day.) Then one returns to his room and catches up on the news on CNN or RT (sort of the Russian equivalent of Al Jazeera), or watches an Arab cooking show, in which the contestants wear hijabs. There’s also a great deal of middlebrow German-language lite entertainment on offer, and Arab highbrow (I think, based on the extensive string sections) music. The latter makes me feel like a benighted parent in the mid-1950s, as it all sounds exactly the same to me.

Thus entertained, one tries to pretend he’s hungry and heads down to lunch, there to stuff himself anew. He lounges out by one of the pools for as long as the wind allows, and then returns to his room for more CNN, and to get tarted up for dinner, which is of course preceded by 45 minutes on Facebook and multiple (free, or at least pre-paid) cocktails at one of the hotel’s many bars. One wonders if Sex on the Beach being listed as Love on the Beach is a function of the host culture’s modesty.

Once having stuffed himself obscenely for the third time, one waddles at nine down to the big hotel theatre, in which the hotel’s perky young Animation (that is, entertainment) team presents a nightly show featuring lots of spirited dancing. Which isn’t to neglect to mention that on the night of our arrival, the entertainment consisted of a talent contest in which I and three other shanghaied male guests were required to dance like Michael Jackson, sing, unaccompanied, like whomever we wanted (in my case, Andy Williams, as on his hit version of “Moon River”), and lip-synch, in drag, to an iconic disco hit (in my case, “I Will Survive”). I was adjudged the most talented of the four contestants, even though I’d ever tried to dance like Michael Jackson even in seclusion, and won a bottle of champagne. It might have been the proudest moment of my life.

We went on an excursion, to what we were told was a pint-sized version of Marrakech —  Taroudant — en route to which we observed goats in trees and an appalling amount of plastic litter strewn over the dusty, forlorn countryside. At Taroudant’s souk (marketplace), I was snarled at by the depicted carpenter (whose tools might have been right at home in the Bronze Age) for not offering him money to snap his picture. There is much brightly colored plastic crap on offer. 

Naturally, our tour included a visit to a place at which argan oil, produced from the kernels of the a tree, Argania spinosa L., endemic to Morocco, is produced as it would have been produced in the Bronze Age, at first by a woman smashing said kernels with a rock. We were of course offered the opportunity to buy some of the oil for either cosmetic or culinary use, and of course declined. I advised my bride that I might reconsider my resistance if we were to discover some Jesus-branded oil. We found none, as, since visiting Cyprus in 2003, we have not found a refrigerator magnet with a tiny thermometer in The Messiah’s belly. One must strike while the iron’s hot.

In spite of my bride’s fervent reluctance, we also visited the actual Agadir souk, where I nearly bought a toothbrush. The merchant told me that to which I’d taken a fancy cost dirhams, but I believed myself to be compelled to haggle (hadn’t my new pal Soufiane, who’d greeted our flight at the airport, advised exactly that?) The merchant was undelighted by my countering with an offer of three dirhams, and snatched the toothbrush out of my hand with palpable umbrage.

We were back at the hotel in time to stuff ourselves obscenely at lunch, and then to wonder how to fill in the hours before Love on the Beach time. I will not deny having been bored shitless much of my time in Agadir.


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