Paris, Sweden and Morocco-Summer 2014

I’ve returned from Morocco, Sweden and Paris and to continue my teaching positions in New York. I came home to black mold all over the basement walls and I have spent over $1000 to date. I dislike being a homeowner. I am a firm believer that an artist who can’t fix stuff should not own a HOME.

I wrote the following after a difficult day in Morocco:

I struggled in Morocco to exist as a dark colored woman and as a solo traveler. A Moroccan man asked of me:   “you travel alone?” (which means you have no husband, no children, which means NO ONE cares for YOU, so why should I).  He wanted to hurt me in all the ways a woman’s imagination can travel.  The way he looked at me was frightening AND I tried to convince him that I come from a place that teaches me my VALUE as a human being and although I may not be able to physically fight you off, I can make a effort and I will if you come too close to me.  This was in the Medina of Fez.

I stayed in at night, as I was scared of all the narrow roads that turned in and out and go nowhere. Instead, I determined to only go out early, early in the day to see the area.   He confronted me one early morning following me; there were no tourist or police that I could find.   I went to the Mosque for protection, while he waited for me one hour.    When I came out he was there, I looked both left and right for a place to hide or seek protection; there was no one.    I bent down and grabbed sand in both hands.  I then began to run/walk to my riad; I pulled out my cell phone and acted like I was calling for help  (my cell was only a decoy).  He got too close for comfort, grabbed my braid, and I turned and smashed the sand into his eyes, nose, mouth and ears as I screamed   “DON’T FUCK WITH ME YOU WORTH LESS BASTARD”.   Everyone is the Medina froze in their steps for a few seconds.   They looked at what was happening and figured it out, but didn’t move.   I watched him swell up with anger and charge at me.   A man from the Mosque jumped in, I do not know what he said to the man or the people who were all standing around just looking, but when he was finished blessing them out, calmness settled in.   Folks rushed to back to what they were doing.  He grabbed the man and began to walk him off in the opposite direction.    He looked back at me and said   “Warrior-woman, your riad is two lefts down this alley, a right turn at the post and left at the bank.” He knew exactly where I was staying yet this was the first time I had laid eyes on him. I was obvious to all of them, even though they did not speak or greet me as I walked down the streets.

I went back to my room and just sat for what seemed like hours.    Finally, I decided I needed a treat and asked the riad owner where the Hammam (similar to a Turkish bath) was.  He walked me there, so I sense he knew what happen that a.m.  I didn’t say a word.   At the bath house, I disrobed to be bathed by the women, but kept my hair wrapped as I figured this HAIR is another chapter in this country and I have had all the excitement I wanted for this day.    The head of the bathhouse LOOKED at me and said “and you want to keep all that sand in your HAIR?” She said it just like that! I looked into the steamed up mirror as the women crowded behind me. I had sand not only in my hair and underneath my scarf, but also in every crack and corner of my face, ears, and eye lashes.   Sand was sitting on top of my nostrils like snow on a mountaintop, on my eyelids, the corner of my mouth, and all around my laugh lines.    I busted out laughing as I pulled the scarf completely off.  Another woman took me by the hand and led me into the steam room.  She gestured for me to sit and she began to bath me.   I closed my eyes and relaxed, she then told me to recline and she continued to bathe me and wash my hair.   When she was finished, she said  ” No more fight with sand with man, you woman, not good, next time you KILL!   Stay clean” and sucked her teeth!   I giggled.

When I walked out all clean and feeling myself, my riad owners’ maid was there to escort me home.    She was black like me, kinky hair under her hijab, probably from families of the Senegal or Mali, centuries ago.  She smiled at me as she grabbed my hand and we strolled down the road walking slowly.  She finally said, “proud of you sister warrior, proud of YOU” and touched my cheek. I hugged her as I tried to control my tears. I went to my beautiful, beautiful room and pulled out my catalog and read an essay Kephra and Susan wrote.  The essay is so, so profoundly beautiful.   I read it several times and felt this power of comfort envelope me.   I then pulled out some paper and wrote to them to express my gratitude. I then felt trapped in my room. I paced the floor, it was evening and the sun was down.  I mustered the courage to go out for the first time. I didn’t go far but I went OUT for the very first time at night.  I came home with 4 pair of shoes, smiling and I felt like Sana again.

I left Morocco a day later.  I walked with my backpack on and I pulled a small valise.   When I got to the cabstand, several drivers jumped to get me into their cabs to take me to the train station to return to Marrakesh.  I jumped into the first cab in the line and was at the station in about seven minutes.   I paid and jumped out and walked away with an up beat pace.  I was glad to be leaving this place and returning to Paris my second home.     The cab driver shouted ” black warrior come back to Fez one day.” It shocked me.  I turned around and it was the man who helped me in the Medina. I walked back to him and thanked him.  He said to me to that Allah wants me to forgive that man and all the people who did not come to assist me.   He said there is good and bad in the world, there are good Muslims and there are bad Muslims, there are bad tourists and there are tourists like YOU. Come back to Morocco, warrior sister.  Come back, but never during Ramadan, we are hungry, angry, and sometimes aggressive; come back little warrior.”

I will go back but never, never alone to a male-dominated culture.

I came home from this eight-week travel adventure with 20 new pair of shoes.   Trauma is a bitch on the pocket book, after Fez, I couldn’t stop myself. I finally told myself that I must come from a tribe of hunters and since there is nothing to hunt, I SHOP!!!!!!

 Warrior,

Sana

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