Friday, 13 January 2017

21 Sunsets over Agadir by Joe Pollitt

Sunset over Agadir | Joe Pollitt

Photo and Author: Joe Pollitt

Woke up early for the 9.50 flight to Agadir out of London, Gatwick and arrived just before 7am on a brisk and frosty, bitterly cold, finger nipping, abject winter’s morning. First things first, I made my way to the Weatherspoons Café for breakfast. Perhaps, the worst English breakfast in the whole of the kingdom. The price was twice that of the usual but with less than half the appeal. To say it was atrocious would be somewhat overselling the efforts and poor quality ingredients that had gone into the making of my departing meal. The bar were quick to take my money and minutes later arrived with a plate, full of regret. My tired, dismissive waitress frantically plonked it down on the table with a wily smile and left as quick as a thief in a jewellery shop. The beans had been micro-waved, which created an orangey film on the top that clung to the sides of the small rounded brown pot and looked like the saggy underarm skin of an over-tanned elderly sex tourist.  The bacon was cold, tough and dry, testing out my teeth with the chewing. The dirty looking sausage was full of nodules shaped as cubes of tainted lard. The fried egg was hard, the yoke had separated from the whites and now was placed miserably on the right hand side on the platter, fashioned like a portion of stiff yellow paint that had been neglected, left out on a tray for days. The meagre 2 and half wrinkled cheerless tiny mushrooms were the only redeeming features on the serving dish. Bashfully, I had asked for a cup of fresh coffee rather than be seen drinking at the early hours of the morning, like some jobless loser with nowhere to go but down. What a mistake to make, the coffee was instant, tepid on the tongue with that flavourless dishwater taste of sheer disappointment with every sip. I sat outside the kitchen, snarling at the blissfully unaware waitresses and the smug talent-less chefs as they walked by. Alone, perched on my purposefully awkward high stool I sat, stunned at the quality or lack there of, feeling less than filled up but rather plainly ripped off. Completely thwarted but far too English to complain, I returned to the bar with a frown; ordered my pint of Stella with a large whiskey chaser and nursed them until the gate opened and it was time to board the plane. The whole experience had put me in the perfect frame of mind for leaving the country in search for better times.

The passengers on the flight were all in a good spirits; the couple next to me were celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary and heading to the sun for golf and relaxation in their all-inclusive. Although now retired, they had both worked together as coach driver and administrator for their own small family firm in Somerset. They had skilfully secured lucrative contracts from the Council to pick up school kids and take them to various locations coupled with hiring their coaches out for various events and special occasions. It seems their lives had been well lived and they spoke fondly of their children and grandchildren, all of whom had done exceptionally well in one-way of another. It was great to hear them talk together, often speaking over each other, both eager to express just how proud of their family achievements they were. They spoke with such excitement and good energy, so positive about the future that they were hardly likely to see, but their confidence in their family meant everything. Secretly, I felt jealous, then bored solid and then came the shame inside but I think I managed to get away with it and held it together well after ordering 2 more cans of Stella off the trolley. Fifteen minutes later, when I had told them of my interest for Africa and their eyes glazed over after the fifth minute, they settled down to snore. Mouths open gasping for air they took their naps before landing. How they both managed to complete an 18-hole golf course, what with Sheila’s hip and Ron’s triple by-pass was beyond me. I, on the other hand, was far from over, as the plane landed I started to clap as loud as I could to celebrate my arrival in one piece. “Great Landing” I shouted whilst clapping and then twisted my head around aisle seat 5D only to be confronted with a now barrage of screwed up faces of hate and disbelief from the rather anger holidaymakers. “What? You’re not happy to be alive? Just me then”, I shouted back at them and woke my elders gently and waited impatiently to disembark…Nobody wanted to know me right from the start…thank God or Allah that I’d left my passport in the back of the seat tray so had a marvellous excuse to be last. And so began my wonderful adventure for 2017 – 21 Sunsets in Agadir.

Beach in Agadir | Joe Pollitt

My party had gone before me and I was left on my own in Agadir Airport. A no woman’s land let alone a nomans land but soon Hamid McMohammed came and unashamedly lifted up a clear sign under my nose with a note that stated: “English Loser – 21 Nights, Hotel Al Moggar” on reading those words in black and white I just knew he was my paid-for transport, my hotel connection to Hotel Al Moggar, so I agreed to go with him, alone in his 12-seater recently dented silver van. I foolishly told him, or maybe he cleverly elicited that I had bought duty free whiskey and when I said. “Yes Johnny Goodness Walker Double Label my lovely MacMuslim”, the next thing I heard where the wheels screeching and skidding, grinding the van to a full stop. There on the side of the motorway, semi parked in the middle of the road my semi-secure driver Hamid Mchammered drank my Double Black Label from the bottle like some greedy 2-month old baby. On that day, Johnny Walker made a Moroccan driver transform into a Professional Formual 1 sports personality of the year,  who made Michael Shoemaker look like a blind elderly driver with a fear of passing other drivers issues... The entire 12-seater took on a rally effect. Agadir the mental way, fast tourism, sight seeing at speed and the only true way to see the city and it’s outskirts in a 5 day trip of the Berber people…You know how the Muslims love to and as fast as possible. We ended up in the hotel an hour before booking, even though I was 3 hours late in the starting….Only in Morocco.  I arrived in the hotel confused, fired up and excited about the sunset and wanted so desperately to be booked in to ready myself for that long awaited spectacle....all I got when I looked out of the window was a red stream of after sunset “Agadusk” light and I wondered how do I explain this redness..this really new red, virginal red line in the sky….?  How to describe this youthful redness? This playful red that wanted to show itself for the very first time and be proud. Years in the making and others so red in comparison. It was about time for the red to show itself, no more spotting, this was a glorious red spread right across the skies. Better late than never but what an outstanding public display from a seriously late bloomer... How to describe this after sunset loveliness with this moving-into-womanhood red that can be so often seen in the “Agadusk”.

Back in the hotel I had a delightful conversation with some of the locals. "You you English, you LOVE to drink. Drinkin-Drinkin-Drinkin always you, you English. Youknow, we say in Islam you, you English you LOVE to drink, drinkin-drinkin always problems...You, you English problems, problems, problems you, you English." To which I gracefully replied,  "You fucking fucking fucking fuckers. I fucking love to drinkin, you fucking fucking cunt fucking drinking problems fucking problem problem cunt. Have a fucking drink you fucking fucking problem and let us talk shit till the early hours you fucking fucking fucking, problem problem problem cunt." This was the first proper conversation I had since landing in Agadir Airport.

Sunset near the Sofitel | Joe Pollitt

It is hilarious; wondering around the city furious with the world having spent too much time in toxic Europe. Swearing in flip flops is the best. Wearing my Christmas pyjama-bottoms with snowmen with red bobble hats and thinking nobody notices, I make myself at home. Waving at fellow tourists and telling them all that my blue terry toweling dressing gown was in fact a designer labelled smokers jacket. Looking all pasty, pale and unhealthy, smoking as much duty free as my lungs can handle. Right proper Englishman abroad. And the men here greet you with hugs and kisses. The experience is surreal or perhaps too real. It was like being 3 years old again, running around with stretched out arms and screaming, "fucking fucking be my friend, fucking fucking cunt cunt", to which my grunts were welcomed with huge grins and sparkling eyes with the phrase, "You, you English....Fucking fucking Manchester United fucking fucking..." and warm hugs and kisses from grown men on every street throughout the city. Why would I ever want to leave?

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