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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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Weak XXV

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18 June 2010

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No. 4,930 (cartoon)

Oh boy!

Oh girl!

Oh well ...

19 June 2010

A Pox on All Airlines

I started my trip to Morocco aboard Lufthansa airline. Big mistake. The ticketing agent wouldn’t let me take my modestly-sized bag on the plane because it was six kilograms heavier than the company’s ridiculously low eight-kilogram limit. And so, the Lufthansa representative forced me to send my bag as checked luggage for “security” reasons. I’m sure the fifty-dollar baggage fee had nothing to do with it.

The airline’s alleged safety concerns didn’t jibe with mine; I didn’t feel at all secure that my bag would make the same transfers in Frankfurt and Casablanca I did. After all, there are only two types of airline luggage, carry-on and lost. I ended up in Agadir with one of each.

It took two hours of waiting for my missing bag at the airport before a weary Royal Air Moroc clerk finished filling out my paperwork late tonight. He handed me a Property Irregularity Report, smiled lamely, and said, “Welcome to Morocco.”

A pox on Lufthansa, a pox on Royal Air Moroc, and, while I’m at it, a pox on all airlines.

20 June 2010

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Who Needs Spare Clothes?

I’m in Morocco with one set of clothes, the ones I’ve been wearing for ten thousand kilometers. I’m dirty too, so I hopped into the shower fully dressed. Soon, I was clean and dry, and my clothes were clean and wet.

But not for long. After wringing out my clothes, it took just over an hour in the desert sun for them to dry. I was out the door and searching for a beer store soon thereafter. It didn’t take long to find one; the nice Muslims here are happy to accommodate infidels, especially when there’s commerce involved.

Soon, I was drinking beer in my hotel, and reveling in the fact that I didn’t really need any of the clothes in my missing bag. I wonder what else I regularly carry that I don’t really need? The answer, I suspect, is “a lot.”

21 June 2010

Giant Meatballs of the Sea

The annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission is a predictably ludicrous conference. There’s a reason I’ve attended these farcical get-togethers for over twenty years: I’m just here for the money. I suspect that’s why everyone else is here, although most of them would deny it.

Convention delegates are openly selling their votes to the highest bidder, resulting in a continued stalemate between the rapacious whaling nations and the feeble, alleged conservationists. These exercises in futility have been going on for over sixty years; I have a good idea of how the members of the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet felt three-fifths of the way through the Hundred Years’ War.

The trip wasn’t a complete waste of time; I learned that NASA uses spermaceti—sperm whale oil—in the Hubble space telescope. Who says whales are useless? Or, as one learned delegate put it, “They’re not just giant meatballs of the sea.”

22 June 2010

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Flag Pills

Dr. Azzam told me she was a little groggy after having a bottle of flag pills for lunch. I’m not interested in recreational drugs, so I have no idea what flag pills are, or what they do. She seemed fine, but who knows how the pills may have rewired her mind.

“Would you like some flag pills?” she asked. “I think you’ll like it.”

“Thanks,” I replied, “but I’ll pass.”

“You should reconsider,” she suggested. “You’re not going to find any Rainier Ale in Morocco.”

After more backing and forthing, I discovered she was talking about Flag Pils, a pilsener beer. I accepted her offer, and had a tasty bottle. I told Dr. Azzam that her mistake was having a bottle of Flag Pils when she should have had several. The brew proved most efficacious in the hot Moroccan sun on the summer equinox.

23 June 2010

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Exotic Fetor

Morocco stinks, stinks literally. On one side of my hotel there’s a sewage outfall pumping human waste into the Atlantic Ocean. On the other side, streams of trucks, taxis, and mopeds pump out a viscous fog of unfiltered diesel and two-stroke exhaust. Robert Zimmerman may have stayed at this same hotel when he wrote, “You don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind’s blowing.”

Curiously, I’m not repelled by the foul odors. Instead, I find the repulsive smells exotic, an odiferous reminder that I’m not in the United States. It’s nice to be in a different, albeit stinky place; that will make my return to the clear air of San Francisco even more pleasant.

(As an aside, San Franciscans pollute as much or more as anyone else. It’s just that our pollution blows inland. We poison California’s central valley while breathing fresh air from the Pacific.)

24 June 2010

Grey Wine

I’ve had deep red wine, clear white wine, and about every subtle hue of the spectrum between. Or at least that’s what I thought until today.

I decided to have wine with the scrummy Moroccan food at Mauresque Restaurant & Lounge. I was confounded by the selection. In addition to red wines and white wines, they also offered something I’ve never seen before: grey wines. Since I’m sophisticated enough to know that all food goes with all wine, I decided to have some grey wine with my vegetable tajine.

The Guerrouane Gris proved to be a fine Moroccan wine, assertive but not too greasy. I can recommend grey wine, but probably won’t seek it again. There’s enough real estate between red and white in the grapey arts that the grey areas don’t command much attention.

25 June 2010

Airport Kitten!

I have one word of advice for anyone considering flying on Royal Air Moroc: don’t. (Hold it: is the contraction “don’t” one word or two?) Of course, no one will heed that advice, since that airline is about the only practical way to go anywhere except Casablanca in that lovely desert.

I can’t recommend any airline that would serve an “omelette” made from deep-fried cardboard, refried sawdust, and a tenth of a pigeon egg. On the other hand, I’ve never been at a better airport than the one at Agadir: it has a kitten!

When I got to the airport at five this morning, a bored security guard decided to entertain himself by examining each of my electronic doodads and asking what it is and/or what it does. I was starting to get annoyed when I looked under the x-ray machine and saw a scrawny, inquisitive kitten. I regretted not having any tuna with me. I played with my new little friend until the guard finished his inventory.

Later, we reunited when I was waiting in an interminably slow line to have my passport examined. The bureaucrat was spending an inordinate amount of time scrutinizing every passport and meticulously filling out reams of paperwork, as if he expected the king hisself to review it. I didn’t mind it though; my feline buddy and I were having fun. He, or perhaps she, made a mockery of security by prancing in and out of the “secured” area under the erstwhile apparatchik’s nose.

I was tempted to take a photo of the kitty, but decided not to do so. It just might give some Moroccan functionary the idea of giving the cat an identification tag.

Why don’t all airports have kittens? It’s such an obviously brilliant idea, I can’t believe that Agadir is the only airport with a cat. I doubt I’ll ever go there again, but anyone planning on traveling to Morocco should definitely bring fish and catnip, just in case.

Stare.

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©2010 David Glenn Rinehart

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