Stroll through Rabat

The day begins with a visit to a coffee house in Temara. Here I meet my Moroccan-Dutch friend who is so often my translator of Moroccan culture. The beauty is that he also understands my Dutch hype and scribbles under the Moroccan sun.
Around us are mostly men, sometimes only with newspaper and their coffee, others have breakfast with each other or in anticipation of the other person that will come We create a football tournament from this coffee house. Of course we never start without the extensive greeting, talking about the family and friends, about what happened. And then my friend smiles when I can no longer control my impatience and switch to business. Laptop on my lap, telephones at hand and a noss noss (half coffee half milk) with a glass of water to complement the image. This coffee house is almost our workplace.
It is Friday morning and as it passes, the first movements start on the other side of the street around the mosque. Parking attendants gather around a woman who distributes food and drinks, they put on their vests and take their positions. Men roll out large carpets outside the mosque for the upcoming prayer. Beggars are waiting for the entrance to come. When the first people for prayer arrive I say goodbye and leave.
A nice time to stroll through our neighborhood in Rabat is after the Friday afternoon prayer when the Couscous meal is consumed and life slowly gets going again.
I walk past a guard house. Carton and plastic on the roof, he has glass windows where cardboard is put against, so that at night the cold gets through the windows less, but especially to hold out the light of the street lantern. The same thing I have seen our own guards do only I wonder how you can see something while you have to guard. Expat worries…
The door of this one is wide open. I get a beautiful look on the interior. Many guards have built a wooden floor in their cottage. So has this one. There are a number of blankets, which serve as a mattress and some extra blankets to sleep under and a pillow. Under this shelf are usually a one-burner stove, a tajine, a pan, a few plates (you have to be able to share) something that looks like a storage cupboard for herbs and food. Provisionally but ingeniously they usually drain electricity for lighting or a small heater. In addition, I see an extra pair of shoes, some clothes and some other items that undoubtedly come in handy every day. Artistic constructions are these guard houses, which are often no bigger than where guards stand upright in front of a palace. The renovation into sleeping and living space indicates how much time these men spend here to ensure that someone is always watching. The occupant of this guard house is a somewhat older man with a nicely coiled short silvery white beard and mustache. His hair is hidden under a cap. He himself is undoubtedly in a kind of half-sleep situation because of the good meal after the Friday afternoon prayer. I mumble Salam Aleikum, softly but audibly he greets me back. His eyes open for a moment and he smiles warmly.
Our gardener will also be back again after he has changed into other clothes in our garage for prayer in the local mosque and then quietly takes the time to eat at a hanut or elsewhere. Steadily and undisturbed he cultivates the small garden around our house. Cheerful man.
In our neighborhood, working on constructions does not stand still. There is a big school under construction. December last year, I was standing on the football pitch looking over the fence at this adjoining construction site. At dusk, five men were praying on their prayer-rugs at the edge of the building site. Out of the adjoining temporary huts, men walked towards the praying group. Five men became eight, became twelve, became twenty men. The prayer went on in a monotonous rhythm and everyone joined in peace, after dressing and being washed. The dusk of darkness in which the men were only silhouettes for me gave the whole a mystical sight. While the men were busy warming up behind me, I kept looking.
These are some lost images, that mingle with memories, of a Friday in Rabat where wonder is giving way to being in the world as it presents itself here in Morocco.


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