Tales of the Lecrin Valley

A personal view of life in an andalusian village.

I’m sitting outside the Venezia Ice in Casablanca city at a junction where five roads converge and there is one of the biggest “do not enter box unless exit is clear” crossings I have ever seen.  It is being completely ignored by all and sundry, or course, and there are several cars parked inside it, one is even sitting four-square on a zebra crossing.  The zebra crossing is a joke, as it crosses six lanes of traffic, but only works for three lanes at a time.  So when you get the signal to cross, the first three lanes are clear but the next three have cars screaming across them.  There is no traffic island to shelter on, just a double white line, so you wait in the middle of this maelstrom of cars until the lights change and you can carry on and cross the other three lanes.  The changeover period is never co-ordinated and this gives you the chance for a few seconds every changeover to review your life, promise never to sin again if you get to the other side alive and serves as a reminder to get your last will and testament in order.  This particular part of town is near the Two Towers shopping complex, billed as the biggest in Africa but which falls miserably short of any mall in a decent-sized English town.  There are plenty of brand names to be seen, Zara, Mango, Swatch or Planet Sport to name a few but these are the province of expatriates living in Casablanca.  Locals, except the Casablanca elite, would not dream of shopping there, and nor would I with the inflated prices that imported goods attract.  I have just seen a man in a jellabah, riding his moped with an enormous sack of mint between his legs, his face peeping out from between the leaves.  He is having a right of way dispute with a young rich kid in a red Maserati and the youngster, obviously Moroccan and Muslim and brought up to respect his elders, is apologizing.  Don’t see that on the Kings Road, or many people going to work on mopeds, come to think of it.  I wonder what would have happened if the Maserati, and there are more here than I have ever seen in one city, had knocked the old man off his moped.  I would assume the Maserati is insured so it wouldn’t be a problem for the owner, or he would have friends in high places so no problem there.  But the chances of the moped having insurance, or even of the owner having a licence, are remote, and as the moped is his livelihood he would be stymied.  But he is more likely to be related to a policeman and that can tip the scales.  So it is quite likely that the Maserati’s owner, or at least his Dad, would pay for repairs regardless, or even supply a new moped.  Such are the paradoxes here in Morocco.  Everything revolves around money and power and it is as well to resign yourself to that, get some friends in high and low places and win the lottery.