Taroudannt mural depicting Gnawa musicians
This blog entry was originally published on “Burning the Couch”, the private blog of MCT volunteer, Briony Mackenzie. You can access the rest of the blog, including past updates, by clicking this link.
Iâve been told I look quite comical writing my blog entry today. Iâm sitting on one of the houseâs many couches, with my knees bent and my laptop precariously balanced on top of them, in an attempt to keep everything at eye level. This somewhat unnatural contortion (for me, anyway) follows an excruciating last four days with debilitating shoulder and neck pain, which I have become convinced is caused by the not-so-ergonomic plastic chair I sit on every day in the office, my desk being too low, a bad nightâs sleep, riding my bike over bumps in the road and slumping over my guitar. Of course, a small disclaimer regarding the writing: I will make the effort to spell check though please be so kind as to forgive any oversights due to the seesaw effect my computer has as I hit the keys.
Yes, it has been a painful few days. Though luckily for me, there are pretty decent healthcare services in Taroudannt, Morocco, and I so I was able to visit the physio yesterday. Of course, being from Australia where you pay through the nose, and by the minute, and generally get the vibe that your physician is glancing at his/her watch as youâre lying face down and âobliviousâ, coupled with the fact that I am ostensibly a âtouristâ and didnât want to get ripped off, I was pretty keen to get a general idea of how much bang Iâd get for my 100 Dirham ($10 AUD) buck. I received a range of responses as to the length of the session: a vague âOh, between 15 minutes and half an hourâ, said one friend, âit dependsâ said the receptionist upon my arrival. Depends on the extent to which you are out of whack, I took that to mean.
I must have been really, really out of whack. For an equivalent of $10 AUD, I was in session for no fewer than two hours, and worked on by three different doctors who insisted on remarking every five minutes on the poor diagnosis (something I felt didnât bear that much repetition given my acute awareness of my condition, stemming from an incapacity for any movement whatsoever in the upper region of my body).
After a massage and an ultrasound treatment, and more remarks on the direness of my condition, I was somberly informed that I had to be hooked up to some electrodes. Having not experienced such a treatment at any Australian physio before, I,*ahem* asked a few questions, whilst trying to suppress a vivid mental recreation of One Flew Over the Cuckooâs Nest though with me as the protagonist and in a more exotic setting. After my fears had been appeased, and following twenty minutes hooked up to this thing â a machine that contracts and relaxes your muscles â I think I am going to invest in one. Success!
With my newfound mobility, I went for a walk. I decided just to walk and keep on walking; to venture into a part of town that I might not have stumbled on before. I suppose it was a bit of a meditation for me, and it was made even more lovely by the fact that my boyfriend in Australia was taking a walk with me â though he in Australia. Just as an aside, and without wanting to harp on about love and relationships and all that mushy stuff that I firmly believe should be kept between two people and not on blogs, I will just say that for anyone trying to overcome the natural challenges of a long distance relationship, weâve found that this synchronisation of activities is a really nice way to connect besides just talking on the phone. I mention this in the hope that it will save others the time it took us to realise that when weâre at home together we donât just talk â we do other stuff too â so why just consign yourself to phone conversation after phone conversation when youâre apart?!
Anyway, enough of that! Whilst on this walk, I deliberately ventured into a new part of town, winding through the backstreets just inside the city walls. Here, I made a glorious discovery: a small community garden, around which all the walls of peoplesâ houses were decorated with beautiful murals. I have posted a couple of pictures â the first (above) is a depiction of some gnawa musicians (a spiritual and repetitive type of Moroccan music in which the musicians play to induce a trance-like meditative state in the listeners). Below are three parts of an eight-piece image, which I thought were so lovely I just had to share them with you. I have translated the French for you below.
The first: âEach journey is the dream of a new birthâ; the second: âThe one who seeks the stars touches the moonâ; and the third: âDonât go where the path may lead, go where there is no path and leave a markâ. Such beautiful messages to find on such a meditative stroll.
Work has also been coming along fruitfully and enjoyably. We have been continuing with our weekly Womenâs Group meetings in anticipation of creating an income-generating exercise based for the mothers of the children who visit the Centre AFAK (for children and their families in situations of difficulty) which is run by the local NGO Groupe Maroc Horizons with support from British NGO the Moroccan Childrenâs Trust. Each week my Moroccan colleague and I have been designing activities so that the women can engage with the creation of ideas and knowledge forming this enterprise. Itâs truly inspiring to find that with each week the level of discussion amongst the women and their engagement with the process is increasing, and I can report that the great deal of information we have gathered with the women will now form the bones of the proper proposal for the enterprise.
In other news I am vastly looking forward to my mother, sister and a friend coming to Morocco in the first week of July! I will be taking a couple of weeks (well, 10-12 days) off from work so I can travel with them, and really get to see the country properly. I will be catching a Grand Taxi to Marrakech then the overnight train to Tangier (the Northern tip), where I will meet up with them and slowly voyage back down to Taroudannt once more. I will also be enjoying a visit from my boyfriend at the start of October; though that seems just too far away to report on now (it needed a mention though, of course, due to my uncontainable excitement)!
Fear not, this victim of modernity and technology will be taking her conveniently small laptop with her during her travels, and will definitely be posting some beautiful photos and (hopefully) interesting commentary along the way. Stay tuned!