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Report 573: Golden Luck

By French Toast from Paris, France, Summer 2001

Trip Description: A story about two of the countries that I adventured in 2001, not a normal trip report, but a very interesting account of two wild and mysterious countries. Some names have been changed to protect them.

Destinations: Countries - Middle East, Other Countries

Categories: Family/Friends; Hotels/B&Bs; Shopping; Sightseeing; Independent Travel; 2 People

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Page 1 of 5: Paris, August 2004.....40 degrees Celcius

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Ras Hanout and other Moroccian Spices

Sweat pouring down my face, I funnelled exotic spices into little containers, and the overwhelming, powerful scent hit me. I was instantly transported back to Arabia. So far away, yet so close with one tremendous heady sniff. Its color, reddish-yellow ochre like the dusty dry land of Morocco, the fragrant smell of the tagines cooked in baked clay oven with only a thatch roof overhead, and the intense African sweltering heat. Swirling visions of Sougs filled my head: bizarre, loud markets and rhythmic, iambic pentameter Arabic in Egypt. Red walls tinted with chalky pigments, white washed down cement, heavy two foot thick walls, thin Berber carpets with diagonals, the call to prayer…it all came back flooding as the aromatic Ras al Hanout poured into the little glass jar.

Most people don’t believe this saga, or they gasp when I tell them, but I give you my word it is all true. My best friend, Dean was there. He is an incredible photographer and has lots of free time between shots and I was fed up and wanted to bust my lifesavings. We both lived in rough and tumble Hollywood. I was decorating outlandish mansions for the rich and completely neurotic ladies of Bel Air. Dean was shooting for male nude magazines and chasing down his clients to pay up after months of hassles. He was always ready for a vacation.

Still our eyes become glazed over when we think about our “travels” or if someone mentions it. Putting it into words is very difficult for both of us. Between Dean and me, there is a certain, “je ne sais quoi”, an understanding, that we know the genuine truth of our eight-week trip throughout the hot, mysterious Middle East. Three years have passed, and now that I am securely married to a wonderful man, safe and sound in partnership, far from a judging outside world. I finally feel like I am able to tell the account. However, I would not really recommend this to anyone. We had some kind of exceptional luck that kept us alive and so very blessed through out our trip. If you think that I am being melodramatic, do not grumble and moan, I went back later by myself and it is a shockingly different story of fear and betrayal and could have been fatal.

Dean and I had travelled many times together: Turkey, Greece, Brazil and many other countries. We were locked in our mutual rootless travelling habits. We had the same greed for adventure and high expectations of travel. We also had the same passion for finding spiritual clues and acceptance of our fated lives. What made us most different from normal travellers was our planning. Dean wanted to go to Egypt again, he had been two times already and was obsessed with finding some kind of treasure there or hidden answer to life within the sand, under the pyramids. I wanted to go to magical and mythical Morocco. An exotic land that I had been infatuated with for years. The fragrant food, the stimulating bright colors, the ornate antiquities, delicate carpets and painted walls steeped in history.

This is where it gets dicey: we made “Friends” with strangers on the internet in these countries for a month before, each day “talking” to them. At first, it was innocent: Where to go? What cities should we see? What should we do? Then after awhile, they were inviting us to meet them “no strings attached, just friends”. “Yah, right!” I told them I was travelling with my brother, since it’s frowned upon to have a single girl travel with a man who is not related. Also explaining that Dean is gay might prove difficult in most Muslim countries. Some promised us drinks, dinners, dancing and we just laughed and said “Sure, yes!” Thinking that there was NO way that we would really meet them, would we?

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