The Road to Nkob

En route to Nkob, somewhere between Rissani and Zagora, my little bus pulled off the track into a stone village set by an empty wadi. After squeezing into shared taxis to Rissani, Alnif and Tazzarine, I was relishing the space of a full one-person seat, hoping this wasn't another passenger load-up. The long days had begun to blur in the desert: as the bus pulled up to a whitewashed mosque, the only painted building in town, I remembered it was Friday. All the men filed off the bus, adding their shoes to the massive pile outside the mosque while the women vanished around the back.

The village was left desolate, nothing stirring but myself and a handful of kids along the edge of a trash-strewn palmeraie. For a hundred miles in all directions was barren, rocky desert, and the sun seemed to weigh down on the little town like an anvil, flattening the color out of everything and forcing its residents to take shelter.

I headed for the kids and some basic conversation. Considering the intense boredom in which these kids had passed their lives, there wasn't a ton to talk about. I'd interrupted a game of dirt and rocks, and immediately the new hot activity became staring matches with the foreigner. Those Moroccan scenes from Babel could have been filmed here. The cliffs over the wadi could have been where the little boy had shot the tourist, and any of these kids could have been that little boy. I might have done the same had I passed my childhood in such a desolate place. Finally, one pulled out a grubby sack of marbles and all eyes turned back to the dirt.

Prayer time ended and the town's men poured back into the streets to disappear again behind mud walls and weathered wooden gates. No one new got on the bus when we pulled back onto the road to Nkob.

I spent another evening wandering deep into the quiet palmeraie, Nkob's earthen skyline hidden behind the palms. And as usual, I followed up the walk with a cafe stop, idling away the evening in the company of men. Along with a lively pair of local Berbers, I was befriended by a lone American serving time in the Peace Corps. We shared stories of life in the Middle East and related the lures of the deep desert and the comforts of home. He then joined me on as I attempted to find the auberge at which I'd dropped my bag, somewhere in the mud-brick maze of the old town. It took at least twenty minutes to find the place, just two minutes from where we'd sat. It wasn't that we were lost, but that buildings themselves were shifting places among the pitch black alleys. The next morning I waded through the smells of the Saturday meat market and caught a shared to Zagora.

1 comment:

Shery said...

Wondering What do u think of Berbers compared to Arabs?

Not all women vanish, friend...