Sunday, July 09, 2006

hotel dahlia

once i spent a couple of nights at a hotel in the middle of fez el bali, morocco. my friend & i had planned a trip to spain for spring break, & as it turns out, from spain you can take a one hour ferry ride & suddenly you are in africa. so we decided to go. i remember standing in the ferry terminal freaking out because everyone had given us very mixed opinions about whether or not it was safe for 2 girls to travel around morocco alone. in the trip planning, i had listened to everyone who said 'yeah, i've done it, it's safe, you'll be fine.' standing on the edge of europe about to leave for tangier, the people who told us it might not be safe suddenly knew exactly what they were talking about. so i freaked out a bit, got scared, got in a fight with my friend, cried; then i handed the guy my passport, & we got on the boat.
the moroccon flag flew over the little ship. we could see gibralter, the rock which is a tiny part of britain camped out on the spanish coast. there is a point in the middle of the ferry ride where if you look to your left you see europe & if you look to your right you see africa.
the boat coming in to dock in beautiful white tangier was one of those moments where time slows down & the details get frozen into your memory. i can imagine myself standing there looking at that view right now, as if i was there.
we spent a night in tangier, sat on the beach, ate at a little stand in the middle of the crazy square, with people & animals & cars swirling all around us. then we sat in mcdonalds because it only took a few hours of crazy morocco for us to suddenly want a touch of home. the menu board had the same pictures & the words were in the exact same colours accept it was all in arabic.
the next day we took a tiny bright little taxi to the train station & took a 6 hour train ride down into morocco, to fez. about a million things happened. we settled in at hotel dahlia, an amazing little building on the edge of the 17th century. our room had a little table on the floor surrounded by pillows to sit on, a yellow shagadellic bedspread with little gold beads on it & a painting of a woman crying that i couldn't stop looking at. it had the balcony of my dreams, covered in rich tiles, & when you looked down from the balcony to the dust covered road you saw donkeys loaded down with carpets & food & bags, kids playing, women in burkas. we had dinner up on the roof where you could here the call to prayer. i nearly passed out, i was so overwhelmed. my friends eyes glowed.
we spent hours wandering around in the un-describable 'old town' of fez. we drank mint tea & took pictures of beautiful older women & said 'la shocran, la shocran' & got alot of marriage proposals. my friend started thinking alot about what she wants to do with her life. i learned something about being brave in risky situations & just living life.
my life is not exotic at the moment. i grew up having so many amazing experiences & i now spend a certain amount of my adult life being very put out that i can't just fly off to europe whenever i want to. they say travel is broadening, but maybe (maybe?) staying home teaches something to. i'm starting to see that sometimes everyday stuff - just getting out of bed in the morning, being loving when you feel ornery, staying when you feel like leaving - is where real bravery is important.
'life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.'
~helen keller


Blogger paris parfait said...

And aren't you glad you said yes and took a risk - otherwise you would have missed that fascinating adventure! Lovely post and images.

3:38 PM  
Anonymous jenny said...


5:15 PM  
Blogger Colorsonmymind said...

Oh that balcony sounds heavenly.

I do like the idea of the inner adventures of staying at home...the every day experiences.

7:40 PM  
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4:30 PM  

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