note from afar 3

Hmm. The rest of the time in Morocco deserves more than a line, but oh well. The highlight was probably Essaouira, and the gnawa festival, particularly Salif Keita from Mali, which was one of the best gigs I have ever seen ever, the kind of gig where after an hour and a half you almost want it to stop but don’t  because you are so knackered from dancing so hard.

As it turns out escaping Morocco was not so easy. The plan had been fly to Barcelona for a couple of days, then take the charter bus to Nowhere. But there was a 23 hour flight delay in Casablanca.  And then on arrival, my luggage was missing. Spent the night in the airport, and most of the next day, waiting for the bag. Eventually I found it 24 hours after arriving, and about an hour before the bus left, having reached the point of resignation that I was going to miss the bus – and I do mean found it, alone, wandering the bowels of the airport, looking at random piles of luggage, since the system had no idea where it was and thought it was still in Casablanca. An expensive taxi ride later, made the bus.

An hour later I was being fed beer on a bus with awesome people.

And then I spent a week in the desert at Nowhere, the European Kiwiburn-type festival. Met a bunch of very awesome people, got completely covered in dust, and partied a whole lot. Burn fests are generally pretty indescribable – part of why I made the doco, in a way – this was quite different from Kiwiburn, but still really awesome.

I camped with the Italian-led Garden of Joy, which was the most ridiculously amazing camp I have seen, and had restaurant quality food daily. And a sprinkler system on the dancefloor, which in the desert is more amazing than you can imagine.

Tonnes of crazy stuff happened, but it felt normal at the time. May try and update about that at some point in detail.

From Nowhere I found a ride with a random dude to the UK. A 3 day road trip, sleeping in my hammock on the side of the road, through Spain and France, to the UK, while listening to lots of gothic heavy metal, as it turns out he is the only other person I have ever met who is into it. We fit in a sprinkling of touristy stuff, too. The Palace of Versailles is actually pretty incredible, and has forced me to upgrade my notions of decadence.

And then a ferry and endless motorways and the tube and then a welcome from an old friend, Aidan, and OMG A SHOWER AND A WASHING MACHINE and ale in the local pub which apparently is where Charles Dickens danced on the tables as a boy, and was rated the best pub in London for 2004-2008.

I will be in the UK for maybe a few weeks, and hopefully figure out what next from there. (No longer planning on returning to Morocco for another 3 months…)

Okay, that is kind of an update. How the hell are all of you? Any major changes? I have not read any blogs or social media since the start of June. Drop me an email or a comment. 🙂

Note from afar 2

Heartbreaking and disconcerting to be begged in quite extreme fashion by a man 20 years my senior after spending the evening in his home.

A culture of charming, skilled and sincere conmen and liars, masking the genuine. But, in poverty, would I act differently?

Frustrating that precisely the bizarre and unjustifiable global economic voodoo that allows me to be here also makes it impossible to be here just as a man and not some alien fruit machine that dispenses money if you touch it right.

Am nowhere close to done processing what poverty and privilege mean.

I am not entirely sure what I am doing here, in this necessary process of self-alchemy, but it is not a holiday, and I am not a tourist. I do not want to see sights and buy things. I want to experience and understand, and …  something.

Oh, and the desert is indeed hot like whoa, and incredibly peaceful.

***

The above was written a week ago. In this carnival of contradictions, I next met one of the simplest, honest and good men I have known. Staying with him in his house of mud was deeply profound.

Blog updates via phone are slow going. Something more substantial may appear if I get some keyboard time.

Note from afar

Midnight in the Fes medina. Laying in my hotel. Outside the sacred music festival clashes and whirls. Thousands of people gathered in a space outside ancient battlements a block away.A thousand year old city with no street signs and a culture that will do anything to twist a dirham out of you, then amaze with its openness and generosity in the next breath.

I don’t have much to say, really, yet, other than that I am still alive and on the other side of the world than usual; a long way from the Hutt, so different,  yet so similar.

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