Swila Diary: How I fulfilled the fervent childhood Mediterranean dream
That Moroccans are poor at English is not in doubt. However, what I wasn’t aware of is how widespread this weakness is until I boarded a public bus here.
My destination was a nearby supermarket to buy an adapter to help charge my laptop.
You see, here in Morocco, the charging pots are custom made for two holes, not three as we are used to back home in Kenya.
So I board a bus at Melisa stage with my stop point being Saïdia stage. Inside the bus, I buy a ticket for the 15 minutes ride and it cost me around Sh.30, which is around 6 Moroccan Dirham.
Not so sure of my destination, I engage the driver in conversation trying to tell him to have me alight at the Saïdia stage but we are not able to communicate owing to his lack of understanding of English while I cannot manage French or Arabic.
Other passengers can’t help either but luckily, the conductor, a man in his 60s can manage some shaky English.
As I get to my designated stage, I alight and head to the electronic shop and find exactly what I was looking for.
Within five minutes or so, I’m back to the bus stop again, and luckily the very bus I had boarded at the first interval emerges having made a round trip to this small municipality. I board again but this time round we strike rapport with the conductor who tells me his name is Ibrahim.
Having informed him that I’m a journalist, he develops strong interest in conversing with me and challenges me to learn French as most countries in Africa are either Anglophone or Francophone and my German knowledge will be on little help in my Africa safaris; so knowledgeable he is for the job he does, I tell myself!
Being here on a football assignment, the troubled Gor Mahia match against RS Berakne set for Sunday evening my main assignment, Ibrahim engages me on football matters moreso the draws for this year’s AFCON finals held Friday and talks animatedly of Group D where his team Morocco has been drawn with South Africa, Cote d’Ivoire and Namibia
He queries whether I’m at home in Morocco and whether I love the weather, to which I answer in the affirmative.
The dominance of Kenya’s athletes do not escape him either and he attributes it to Kenya’s high altitude.
After another 15 minutes, my journey comes to an end and we bid each other goodbye.
From here I head to the world famous Mediterranean Sea, a five minute walk from my hotel. Throughout my childhood I’ve always nursed the dream of visiting the historic sea and here, before my unbelieving eyes, unfolds the golden chance!
The beach stretches for kilometres with a few souls in sight. I meet a man in his forties, keeping a watchful eye on his two young daughters swimming. I engage him but like his compatriots he can’t speak English. Through sign language I beckon him to take some photos of me to which he obliges without much ado.
Around 100 metres from him I meet young women in their early twenties. I initiate a conversation in English and the most outgoing of them, Mwisal, the strikingly beautiful 22-year-old medical student has some good grasp of the Queens language. I’m relieved and we chat easily as if we’ve known each other for ages.
I ask her how far we are from Europe from where we are standing and she responds that the distance is actually 10km to Spain and that one can actually swim to that destination, to which I retort: “Have you done that before?” We both burst into a hearty laughter. Of course she’s never tried her hand on that.
When I mention that I’m a journalist from Kenya, her immediate concern is why I would travel all the distance to be at the beach alone. I assure her that I’ m on official duty.
I pass on to the next group of people as I survey the surrounding beautiful landscape. As far as my eye can see (that is ahead of me), are the ocean’s pride – its blue waters; cold and salty yet refreshing. To my back is the lovely Melisa Saidia Hotel, my residence. To the east are the beautiful rolling mountains. Morocco is indeed a magical land, what a country they have, I say to myself!
I figure out how lucky I am to be at this historic natural resource, my childhood dream of visiting the Mediterranean Sea fulfilled!
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