Thursday, 11 December 2008

Rude Bishops and Morocco

It’s irritating, but whenever I tell people I’m going to Morocco, especially during the winter, they usually come up with “Oooh, you are lucky. All that lovely sunshine!”

If only they knew.

We just spent a few days visiting some of our more remote centres – Khenifra and Midelt stuck away in Morocco’s backwoods, in the Middle Atlas Mountains.

Absolutely blooming freezing.

It’s p****d down with rain solidly for the past six weeks (good for the farmers, it’s true), so the whole country is a muddy quagmire, (film-makers wanting to do the First World War trenches on the cheap, now’s your chance), floods everywhere, only now it’s December, it’s turned to snow, shutting roads, freezing pipes and bursting drains, generally adding to the jollity of life.

We spent a night in a jolly little ‘auberge’ in the hills near Midelt. No heating, no hot water, actually putting clothes ON to get into bed. People told me it was ‘characterful’. Frankly, I’d rather have a little less ‘character’ and a few more ‘mod cons’.

Strange though, I really love the area. One of the poorest regions in Morocco – 75% of all motive power still comes from mules and donkeys. Yet the people couldn’t be kinder or more hospitable, and with a sense of humour to help them cope. And my God, they need it.

Finally, on our way home – courtesy of Royal Air Maroc. The flight is both extremely full and extremely disorganised – the food came, but no water – and in taking away the trays they’ve just dropped a tin-tray of ‘Boeuf et riz’ all over my head.
Two blokes across the aisle, coming back from a Marrakech stag night have just been sick.

Sitting next to us is a Nigerian Bishop – in all his purple finery. And what an extremely unpleasant man he is.

Arrogance is mixed with a certain brutality, as he barks and grunts commands at the Moroccan stewards. ”TEA!”, “WATER!” he yells at them. I find I’m increasingly often having to remind my fellow passengers that we have a tradition in England of saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to people who give us things or help us, or do things for us. Twice in the last two weeks I've done this...and now to a Bish. It’s true, they look at me rather strangely. But didn’t they have mothers or grandmothers to teach them such things?

Our friend the Bishop seems to think we will all be impressed by his huge status if he treats anyone beneath him like a slave. No doubt he’s very big on theology, but frankly, a little short on Christian humility and the ‘love thy neighbour bit’
Oh well, never mind. It’s nearly Christmas.

It would be nicer going home, if I didn’t have the dread/guilt of another blinking training run tomorrow. The London Marathon. At my age? I must be completely barking mad.

Jeremy Hulme

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