As we trudged through the medina the day before, Samir noticed I was favoring my foot and recommended I get medical attention. That morning, he woke up extra early to collect a number for an audience with the local healer. In the same way, you get a number for the line at the butcher shop, I had a number to see the healer. At breakfast, Samir showed me a shred of paper with “27” penciled on it. I now had an “official” appointment. This was going to be an experience
I rode on the back of Samir’s moped through busy streets of people, mules, and goats until we stopped at a tiny alley in the middle of the maze. I limped down a few more narrow passageways until we came to a huddled mass of patients calmly waiting outside a small doorway. An old woman lay on the street with a broken leg that had recently been wrapped with white linen. The “receptionist” called number 28. We were 27… We’d missed our chance. Samir forced his way through the crowd and was able to talk our way in. Clearly I was an outsider amongst the group. The only American tourist for a square mile… who, with the benefit of western medicine, was in much better health than those who had travelled for days to see this healer… and I was now skipping the line. Eyes were on me. I might have been a little uncomfortable.
I entered a room no bigger than a closet. Two men, the healers, sat on a worn rug and quickly glanced up at me. One worked diligently on an old woman’s back, the other waited for me to sit before him. As I took my place in front of the healer, the old woman was being positioned for an adjustment. She wailed as the healer dug his knee into her back and stretched her uncomfortably. Samir quickly said a few words in Arabic to my healer. He pulled off my sock and probed my foot. He seemed to avoid the damaged area and focused primary on my ankle (I briefly wondered if Samir had told him the wrong thing). The healer abruptly changed his position as to posture for some sort of physical therapy adjustment. He lifted my ankle and place my foot against his knee. He then forcefully pulled my foot into his knew until it cracked like a piece of fire wood. Instant relief followed the sharp pain.
The healer smiled at me and returned to his place on the floor. Apparently he was pleased with the result. He pulled out a pair a scissors and quickly cut a piece of cardboard into the exact shape of my ankle. He then took a rag and passed it over a flame a few times. He rubbed my foot with the rag and then artfully wrapped it with the cut cardboard and some white linen. Once the linen was in place, he stitched it craftily in a manner he’d used a thousand times. After the thread was set, he firmly pulled one end and the ENTIRE linen clamped tightly against my foot. I now had a cast. We were done.
Later that day, Ted, Jeff and I (avec cast) spent quality time with a local herbalist – Amin. He eloquently and fluently introduced us to a slew of Moroccan spices. We each bought bars of musk, amber, and jasmine as well as some root to help “boom, boom” (the Moroccan equivalent of Viagra).
In desperate need of a shave, Amin then directed me to a local barber where I could get the “JT beard.” I hesitantly proceeded to the dirtiest barber shop I’ve ever seen where I got the closest shave I’ve ever experienced (for $1.25).
Later, while Jeff purchased some fresh pineapple from a street vendor, two Moroccan onlookers patiently approached us and informed Ted that spices should not be stored in the same plastic baggy as bars of musk, amber and jasmine … clearly a rookie mistake. Despite our hesitancy to trust them, it was clear they were honestly trying to help. After we thanked them, they returned to their seats overlooking the street corner. Ted obliged their concern and attempted to open the knotted bag. To his dismay… the knot wouldn’t loose. After a few moments and with all eyes on us, my impatience took over. I grabbed the bag to release the knot… minutes passed…. The knot wouldn’t budge. Then Jeff, now certain he had the solution, grabbed the plastic bag to fail a third time.
The onlookers grew frustrated at our inabilities. One returned from his perch to help the dumb American’s who couldn’t undo a simple knot in a plastic bag. To our relief, he also failed. The onlooker’s friend, now outraged, finally ripped the bag away from the lot of us and dug his teeth into the knot… again no luck. Absolutely ridiculous….Five grown men had been defeated by a simple plastic bag. As a final act of frustration, another Moroccan man standing nearby grabbed the bag and easily created a tear at the base of the bag with his finger. We had been so focused on the knot that the simple weakness of the bag (and the fact that we didn’t have another) simply defeated us. The pineapple vendor had many bags. International incident avoided!
We moved toward the “Marrakech Gardens” for some tourist activities. At the entrance we encountered a mixed crowed of three girls who immediately delighted us. They’d come from London for a long weekend and seemed to enjoy our company until a fourth friend showed up and immediately insisted on leaving our company (such is the way of the selfish friend). We exchanged numbers and planned to meet later in the night.
After returning to our home, we decided on a cheap and easy dinner in the Big Square. There, we found a new set of street performances and swarms of people buying and selling wares.
The girls flaked after three attempts to meet. We were sadly disappointed as we allowed them to shape our decisions and, ultimately, the direction of the evening. Funny how women will do that…