El Jadida take II

On May 3, the driver for British Language Academy, Khalil, picked us up at the campus in Berrechid where we’d been volunteering, and drove us back to El Jadida to teach for another three days. Actually, he didn’t take us all the way there, but dropped us off at the bus station, where we caught a bus to El Jadida.

The bus station was dirty and decrepit, and the buses weren’t much better. In fact, it was a rainy day and the bus we were on leaked, almost getting us wet. First time we’d ever ridden in a vehicle that leaked. Well, except for a couple of motor homes we owned during our 30 years of RVing, which is sort of par for the course.

Raining Inside the Bus

After an hour’s ride through open countryside and a shantytown or two, we hopped off at the bus station and walked the short distance to the school. Trouble was, there was no one there to let us in. And we did need to be let in, because of the three keys Kahlil had given us – one for the entrance to the building, one for the entrance to the school office, and one for the back part of the school where we’d be teaching and staying – only the latter was fully functional.

First, we struggled for several minutes to unlock the street-level entrance to the building, until a security guard came along and demonstrated the secret technique. But once upstairs, we again confronted an impassable portal, the entrance to the office – a jail-like system of bars. This time, we struggled and juggled and jiggled and rattled and tapped and finessed and testosteroned it, but still no go.

So we had to call Harim, the school director, who then notified a teacher who lived nearby. And she came and unlocked it with her key, and confirmed that ours would not open the door at all – so we weren’t just hallucinating. She suggested that we just leave the door closed but unlocked, so that’s what we did. Shhhh!! Don’t tell the burglars.

So we settled in for 3 days in residence at the El Jadida campus. During that time, our schedule was busy at some times, but still left us plenty of time to get out and explore. We went back to the Sixteenth Century Mazagan Fortress, the walled fortification at the seashore. And we walked along the breakwater, where a few guys were jumping off into the water despite the presence of some rather treacherous-looking rocks below. The breakwater was built up in some places by stacks of what resembled giant concrete jacks (the kind you play a game with) – a rather clever design that is symmetrical in all directions.

We also continued our futile search for bed sheets, which have proven just about impossible to find. But we did come up with a short-term solution that has turned out to be quite long-term. We simply bought two strips of cloth of appropriate size; and ironically, after we’d searched all over town for sheets, we ended up purchasing this cloth from a vendor right next to our building.

He had a number of designs that appealed to us, so we narrowed it down to two that we particularly liked. They are not quite wide enough to cover a double bed, though we can make them work, and they are just right for when we have two single beds. We can use them for either top or bottom sheets, or in a pinch, use one for each. (Little did we realize that before long, we’d both be spending a few nights on a bed that was small enough for the sheets to fit just fine; but that’s another story.) Because the cloths were cut from a bolt, the edges fray, but we figured that soon enough, we’d take them to someone who could sew a hem on them. (To date, we still haven’t.)

From the classrooms at the school, we could look out our windows and get an overview of the busy street life in the city. One morning at about 6:00, we heard shouting and screaming coming from the side street; and looking down, saw that about half a dozen people were gathered in the middle of the street around a man lying on the pavement. It appeared that he’d been struck by a car or motorcycle or some such. One man was angrily running toward the corner, and turned onto the main street (the busiest in the city), as if trying to catch the culprit. But of course he didn’t and came back to help tend to his friend.

After a few minutes, the man got up out of the street and was able to walk with assistance. His companions helped him to the main street where, after a few attempts, they succeeded in flagging down a car and putting him in it, presumably to transport him to a hospital. Ambulance service, we gather, is rather spotty in Morocco – as is emergency room service.

One of our fellow volunteers, it’s been reported, came down with a severe case of food poisoning not long ago, and had to be taken to an emergency room. But once there, she spent hours waiting in a crowded room where injured and wounded people were bleeding all over the floor. It would appear that Morocco is not a good place to get sick or injured.

Anyway, El Jadida is certainly a more interesting town than Berrechid – whether in terms of geography, history, culture, “vibe”, or just random happenings. And we’re glad we got to spend 3 days there – even if we did have to battle an army of cockroaches in our meager kitchenette – before returning for a couple of days to Berrechid. And then, next stop Casablanca.

We also work a bit too to earn our keep via WorkAway.info

Reserved for Birds

May 3-5, 2022

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