I have not counted the number of stairs from the bottom of the medina to the top. My phone says it’s something like 53 floors.
Outside the medina, a walkway follows the north end of the wall built to protect the town from centuries of invasion. Today the wall protects me from the wind rushing sidewise, down—or is it up?—from the south.
A young man looks for the exact right rock to hold a sheep’s tether in place. I wonder why he is tethering just the one ewe, while several others are free to wander the hillside where the grass is sprinkled with calendula & miniature arum-like plants.
Happy, I think. The grass is happy with recent rain. The flowers are happy with their own & the sun’s sunniness. & I am happy with the views. Morning has proven fair, before the next storm—already wind-announced!—begins to pummel Chefchaouen.
I pass some rather large hotels, wondering if anyone stays in them. I pass Moroccan men in twos & threes, in black jeans & jackets, or woven earth-toned djellabas. Some of the men greet me: Salaam, Bonjour, Hello. Vous êtes française? Anglaise? Allemande? Others look the other way, or right through me, which is fine—I like feeling for an instant I’m made of glass, transparent.
I pass a field where two days ago I sat watching & listening to some birds, trying to memorize the particular way they landed, how they slow way down, hovering almost, before touching ground & closing their wings. Trying to memorize their wing stripes, the vaguely yellow tint of their breasts.
I walk & walk until I find some trees, tall thin pines, & walk beneath them until they stop & the hillside opens, suddenly shrubby, rocky, uneven. Here on a rock is where I’ll perch, until thickening clouds drive me home.
The wind is a fine accompaniment to thoughts that skitter around. When Mary & Dustin were still here we went looking for the local version of corncakes, a dense bread made in part with corn. We’d found a woman who makes them, but her stall is open infrequently. So, we proceeded out of the medina to a street lined with carts & vendors selling bread, the round loaves typical here, some quite hearty. But no corncakes.
Vous avez le pain du maïz? We were directed this way & that, coming to the end of the row of bread-sellers. There, the very last seller took it upon himself to bring us to a nearby shop, a sort of hardware store, where a young bright-faced man spoke English & told us, “you find cornbread only in the medina.” We thanked them both profusely, in four languages. This would never happen in Paris.
But today’s thoughts are a bit like that search… Will I stay in Chefchaouen despite the coming rains? If I leave, where will I go? Isn’t there a better word than race for how the clouds are moving today? What is the thing I am searching for?
A herd of goats is crossing the road below. They move much like the shadows of clouds. They are going to investigate a trash heap. Pretty soon some crows show up, crows who everywhere love windy days best. They, too, investigate the trash. Then come some white birds—maybe doves—
Suddenly the wind is picking up trash, plastic sacks, scraps of paper. Suddenly the waste is inspirited, somersaulting, fluttering, coasting, as much alive as I or you. Some live very briefly, others are taken quite a distance from the heap, disappearing over the red clay roofs.
For a reason I can’t explain, I decide to take niether photos nor a video of this…
On the way home, I will do some marketing, stocking up for the rainy days ahead. A man will charge two & a half times what I paid for the same lettuce, at the same stand, yesterday. Another will put an extra handful of peanuts in the rolled-paper cone.