I have always had a place in my heart for Morocco. This is my seventh trip, but the first to Rabat. It is quite a livable city and a target-rich environment for a photographer.
I am staying with a traditional Muslim family in a lovely riad. They are such loving and kind people. I am very lucky. The family has offered me a place in their home for me to live if I decide to come back. “Better to be with others than alone,” they said.
Hafsa helped me get a sim card for my phone today. We strolled arm in arm through the Souks. I had forgotten how much I enjoy walking together like that with another woman. Their house is in the old part of town. Hafsa and all her sisters are excellent cooks, and the house is located in the middle of the fresh food area. I am in heaven!
When we got back home, her husband was kneeling on his prayer rug. I offered to do dishes so that Hafsa could get to her prayers, too.
This is the time of year I play Spin the Globe. The high season in San Miguel will be over at the end of the month and I take off from managing the airbnb to travel. Since I housesit, I never know where I am going and that is delicious. So far I have applied for house sits in India, Rome, NYC, South Africa, Montreal, Austin and the South of Spain. I love not knowing where I will be!
I have encountered a lot of people traveling around the world these past four years. Most rewarding has been encountering myself and discovering who I am. The gift has been a deep and permanent change in perspective. To combine travel with food, art, music, and dance is to celebrate life. It’s not the destination that matters, it’s the change of scene and the discovery of unknown foods, unseen art, unheard music and new dances to learn. Wherever I am is home. I am a rich woman because I have many homes.
I went for a walk to discover the charms of the local area where I am housesitting yesterday. There aren´t any. I walked past a giant Tesco, a shop that sold mobility scooters for the elderly, a funeral parler, a suntanning parlor, a fish and chips shop, a kitchen cabinet store (We will beat any quote!), followed by another kitchen cabinet store (We will beat any quote!).
I asked the checkout clerk at Tesco what there was to do in the area. She looked at me and said, “Have babies.”
It is raining and the house is cold. The owners have a basic cable package, mostly shopping channels and old movies. I watched a Western while I ate oatmeal this morning, bundled up in a bathrobe I nicked from the owner´s bathroom. So far, the two cats have only come out from under the bed to eat. When I lay on the floor by the bed to coax them out, they hiss at me.
None of my cat charming tricks are working.
We are located in zone four, which is quite far from central London. I bought a month pass on the tube at the train station for $250. To get to the center of the city, I will need to take the bus, then the train, then the tube. Google maps said it will take a little over an hour. I went in today. It took an hour and a half.
I don´t care. I would ride a camel if I had to. Or crawl over broken glass.
I miss my colorful and spicy African neighborhood in Paris. This bland mashed-peas-and-boiled-potatoes hood is too white for my taste. I need a richer stew. The suburbs are not for me. I would die of boredom.
Traveling is not just about adventure and excitement. It also can be boring and lonely and even alienating sometimes.
It is what it is.
Maybe the cats will come out and play tomorrow.
I am staying in a lovely house owned by a cordial retired lesbian couple who are off with their dog on holiday in Southern Europe in their small RV. Autumn is here and I don´t really have the clothes for it, but they have lent me sweaters to keep warm. The cats are still hiding under the bed, but they will come out eventually to eat.
The challenge here will be loneliness. I can feel it already. A realtor would say it is a nice place to raise kids or retire. Not much going on. The house is over an hour away from London, about $13 a trip, so going in to hang out is unrealistic.
There are some churches, a couple of restaurants, a couple of grocery stores and a pub or two. Meetup groups in the area include Bored Moms, a retiree group called the Naughties, a DIY group, Weight Watchers, a group called Love Your Life Again and a dog walking group. There is a fabulous gym – the best I have ever seen – but joining would cost me $195 for a month, and a one-day pass is $20.
I need to think about how to make this environment work for me. Each place is special, but unlocking what makes it special can be challenging. Isolation is a killer for long-term travelers. Last night I went to bed at 7 pm.
On my way to London loaded down like a mule, lugging around camera equipment in a backpack that makes me look like Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame.