short, roundish figure who wears a sprig of myrtle in his curly hair,
will ensure that you are provided with room, board and hashish straight
from the Atlas Mountains. He will characterize your lodgings as an "art
house." Don't be fooled. Although Moroccans regard themselves as worldly
and generous, it is prudent to agree on prices beforehand. Be prepared
Don't be alarmed if representatives of
the police stop by from time to time as Bahloul is related to the Minister
of Culture. Do be sure to avail yourself of the terrace, which provides
dazzling views of the medina and the ocean beyond, and overlooks the old
insane asylum, where, Bahloul will tell you, it was once thought evil
spirits could be expelled by strapping one's head in a bag of sand. In
spite of the occasional piercing shriek that may rise up from the old
quarter, the terrace is a pleasant place to take the sandalwood-scented
air while enjoying a glass of overwhelmingly sweet mint tea.
Bahloul is prone to fits of paranoia. He
may require reassurance that you are not one of his father's spies or
an emissary from his many enemies and former lovers. Tell him you're in
"real estate" (preferably in German) and nod knowingly. Placated, he may
invite you to the Turkish Bath House; decline this invitation firmly.
Remember that most Muslims regard Westerners as moral degenerates, and
are not easily dissuaded of this notion.
You will be taken on tours of the city
to visit various friends and associates. You will be abandoned in a rug
seller's shop for the better part of an afternoon. Here you will be encouraged
to buy tiny, overpriced rugs depicting rifle-toting horseman spiriting
women away from a walled city (either a dramatic rescue or a prelude to
sodomy, depending on your point-of-view) and drink more of the minty tooth
rot you can no longer do without.
Bahloul will throw a lavish party to celebrate
your departure. Keep a close watch on what you imbibe for should you disappoint
Bahloul you will be presented with an exorbitant bill in the morning.
Moroccans respect poets and holy men, making the correct answer to any
question you don't understand: "When the moon comes dancing on the table."
You should know, however, and know well, that this incantation will only
get you so far, for this is not the same pallid rind that shone through
your bedroom window as a child, driving the dark things into their hiding
places. No. The moon over Magreb is a deranged ghost scaling your Andalusian
ramparts, a sickle of bone at your naked throat.