Finding Paradise (chapter 11)
Tuesday 7th of July
I went alone by bus to Agadir the next day and got a taxi from the bus station to the hotel. I went to the reception desk and told them that I was waiting for a call from the embassy at 9 a.m.. They didn’t mind me waiting there.
I am not sure what time I arrived and have no idea how long I waited, but eventually the phone rang and I jumped up and answered it.
“We contacted Ray’s parents and they have arranged to buy his plane ticket to get him out of Morocco. We will give you the flight details so that you can book a flight on the same plane. Have you got a pen?”
“Hold on a minute.”
I rushed over to the reception desk to get a pen and some paper and skipped back over to the phone again.
“Yes I have.”
“Okay. The flight leaves on the 10th of July, this Friday at 9:30 a.m. and the flight number is LDN 233. If you go to the travel agents they should be able to book you onto the same flight.”
“Okay, thanks. What about Ray’s ticket?”
“We will send Ray’s ticket by post to the hotel, you should receive it the day after tomorrow.”
It was cutting it a bit fine but we were finally getting somewhere! I thanked the lady for her help and went straight to the travel agent.
I wasn’t feeling good. My brain was detached from my body, and nothing felt real anymore. I was numb. I entered the travel agent’s and gave the lady behind the counter the flight information and requested a ticket for the same flight. She clicked about on her computer and then asked me for a ridiculous amount of money.
“4,577.00 Dirham please.”
I put my purse on the counter and opened it. It was so full of money some of it fell out. I couldn’t seem to coordinate my hands and brain and I could feel myself slipping away. I ended up handing her all the money and she plucked out the relevant notes and coins out.. The rest I scrunched back into my purse.
She handed me my crisp new ticket.
Then, I had another difficult task ahead. I had to go to that place and see Ray, to tell him that things were getting sorted.
I left the hotel and grabbed a taxi.
“Hospital de mental, s’il vous plaît.” My French wasn’t great.
The taxi driver didn’t even blink as he pulled away from the curb. Maybe lots of English girls went to the mental hospital to visit their boyfriends and it was just another ordinary day for him. Who knows? In no time at all, I was outside the mental hospital again.
It was actually a very pretty building, with lots of arches in the entrance. There was a small garden in the front with a straight path leading to the main entrance. I walked slowly up the path and looked in the barred windows into the side where I had been before, where I had seen Ray pleading for me not to leave. The doctor was sitting there at his desk. He didn’t use a white coat or anything he was just dressed casually. He opened the door and let me in.
“Your friend has had a nervous breakdown”
You don’t say! I thought.
I wasn’t that far from one myself by now, and hoped to God he didn’t ask me what day it was!
I told the doctor that I had spoken to the people at the embassy, that they were sending Ray’s ticket and I should get it by the next day. He took note of it and then told me that if I wanted to see Ray I would have to go into the room next door. It was a kind of common room for the inpatients to hang out.
Then what he did next might have surprised me normally, but not today. He took a flute out of the drawer in his desk and started to play it. I actually started to wonder if he really was a doctor, but I thought he must have been because it was the same one who had committed Ray. Still, not really a convincing argument. He opened the door to the other room. It was quite a large room with yellow walls and bars on the windows. To my left was an archway, that lead to the sleeping area. This was obviously the visitors room. There were benches spread out against the walls.
Ray was sitting on what looked like a doctor’s examining bench. He looked very drowsy and didn’t even see me come into the room. He was drugged up to the eyeballs, but whatever they had given him — he was fighting it. I went straight to him and told him that the ticket was on it’s way and that his parents had been informed. He didn’t seem to pay much attention though.
Suddenly, I was surrounded by a small, but friendly, group of inpatients. Some asked me for cigarettes others just wanted attention. A very tiny lady came and stood beside me talking and I couldn’t understand a word she said, she was so sweet. She had a scarf around her head and almost looked Portuguese. In fact many of the Moroccans did;. Hardly surprising as the Moors invaded the Iberian Peninsula in 711 BC and stayed until 1492. Even the architecture in some parts of the Algarve is clearly Influenced by it.
I missed Portugal so much.
Ray managed to tell me that the food was horrible, and I didn’t doubt that for a moment. So I went over the road to a café and got him a huge sandwich. They were so nice, made with a small flat loaf of bread, and filled with cheese, lettuce and tomato.
The staff in the hospital didn’t mind me getting him a sandwich. He ate it like he hadn’t eaten for a week. In a way, I was glad that he was so drugged, I hoped that maybe he would think it was all just a dream, maybe it wouldn’t have such an impact on him. I don’t think he hadn’t really been that aware of what was going on before he had been admitted. I was stone cold sober, and coming into this place and seeing him there was not easy.
I can’t remember much of what I did the rest of that day after hanging out in the hospital.
I just had to keep focusing on the next day
Wednesday 8th of July.
The next morning I set off again as I had done the day before. First I got the bus to the station and then I got a taxi to the hotel, they were so cheap and direct. I entered the hotel and went straight to reception to see if there was a letter for me. But there wasn’t.
I waited for another hour or so. My brain started to disconnect and my chain of thought, was now a very fragile chain, with many missing links. I stood by a window and watched a trapped butterfly tapping against the glass, I have no idea how long I was sitting there. I remembered that Ray had once told me that butterflies had a fine dust on their wings and it had some quality or other, he had probably tried to smoke it once or something, I don’t know. I watched the butterfly as it struggled against the glass; an invisible barrier it couldn’t comprehend. I could identify with it a little. I had been struggling against an invisible barrier myself. Observing this whole scenario and not being able to do anything. Only alle permitting me to observe the world around me, yet not be a part of it. Maybe given my present circumstances it wasn’t a bad thing.
I tried to catch it but I couldn’t. Suddenly the phone rang and I answered it straight away.
“We seem to have a bit of a problem. It is the King’s birthday tomorrow and he declared a national holiday for the next three days, so there is no postal service. So, this means that the ticket will not arrive today.”
Well that figured.
Bloody king, who did he think he was?
“We are very sorry about this. We will send it by bus this evening and it should arrive in the hotel tomorrow morning.”
You couldn’t make this up! I thanked the lady again and placed the phone back on the receiver. I left the hotel and went back to the hospital again to see Ray, before going into the hospital I went to the café and got him a sandwich and some fresh water.
I didn’t tell him the ticket hadn’t arrived. I brought the walkman in for him but he said it would only get stolen and gave it back to me. He didn’t really say much, I don’t think he could really because he was so heavily sedated. The same crowd gathered round me again and I really felt for them all, stuck in that place; at least Ray would be getting out. Well, hopefully, if the ticket arrived on time.
One of the doctors was standing outside and he called me to the window. He handed me a key and told me to open the door from the inside. The only problem I had was finding where to put it. The key was a normal key just like a normal house key, but there was no keyhole. Not even a door knob. It had obviously been removed.
One of the patients took the key off me and showed me how to do it. The key had to be placed at an angle in the hole where the doorknob once was. Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?
It was time for the outpatients to get their treatment. They stood, not so patiently outside the barred window holding up their little plastic cups for the doctor to place their pills in. He passed them a cup of water through the bars too, to wash them down with. It was an interesting system — like a kind of drive through outpatients. It seemed to work and at least patients were getting treatment.
Visiting time was over and I had to go back to Taghazout. I got the bus to go back to the main bus station and I met an Australian girl on it. She was very friendly and we got talking.
Her story was much better than mine. She worked in Nice, France, and her boss had booked the holiday for himself a few months earlier, but due to some unexpected event he was unable to go, so he gave her the ticket. Full board. She could speak fluent french and chatted with the young men on the bus. She was so friendly — it did help that she could speak French though. So she could interpret for me. She was the main attraction and one of the young men told her that the King’s son needed a wife and that she would be a good candidate. She was about the same height as me and very angelic looking; a blonde shoulder length bob, framed her deep blue eyes. He said that I was too Moroccan-looking.
Okay, kick me when I am down, I didn’t want to be a princess anyway!
She was a lot more relaxed than I, and was travelling alone — Maybe that is why she was relaxed. I gave her a brief rundown on what I had been doing in Agadir and she told me that I could spend the night with her at the hotel where she was staying. We could have a meal there and just chill.. It sounded great so I took her up on her offer. This way I didn’t have to come back to Agadir the next day — I would already be here.
It was quite refreshing spending the evening with her and it was also a bit of a reality check. We had a great meal, I couldn’t eat much but I enjoyed the company and the conversation.
A normal person!
Later on she asked me if I wanted to go for a walk on the beach but I declined, I just wanted to get a bath and go to bed. I hadn’t had a bath for 6 weeks and was looking forward to it! The ocean had been our bath. I remembered what Nigel had said, about when he had returned to England in the 70s after being in Morocco: What he thought was a tan — was actually dirt. I could see what he meant. I was looking forward to sleeping in a real bed after my bath too. Not a worn out piece of foam. I just wanted to sleep.
It was great waking up in the hotel! I thanked the Australian girl for letting me stay over and forget about all my woes for the night and we parted company. I never saw her again after that evening. I can’t even remember her name, but I remember how kind it was of her to let me, a total stranger, stay in her hotel room for the night as she did. I think she really was an angel.
After I had bid the australian girl farewell and thanked her, I grabbed a taxi to the hotel. It was about 9:30 a.m. I was pretty sure the ticket would be there by now! I felt quite refreshed and positive. I entered the reception and asked if it had arrived. The answer was simple and to the point:
How come it hadn’t arrived? Did the King charter all the buses too? This was beginning to feel personal. The man at reception told me that the embassy had rung and would be ringing back again at 10:00 a.m., so I didn’t have long to wait.
10:00 a.m. soon came and they rang.
“We are very sorry about the ticket”, the pleasant lady apologised. “We put it on the wrong bus and it went to Casablanca”
I could not believe it! Actually I could. If we would have had enough money to get both tickets on the first day! Things had just escalated from then on, and I was pretty sure it wasn’t over.
They assured me yet again, that I would receive it the next day.
‘Yeah yeah’ I thought. The next day is the king’s birthday — who knows what can happen! I had to leave on Friday! Ray too, if the ticket didn’t come tomorrow then that would be the final straw. I left the hotel rather deflated with the promise to go back again the next day at the same time. It was just too much. How could they have put it on the wrong bus? Casablanca?
I went to the mental hospital to see Ray, got him his sandwich and a bottle of water and there was very little else I could do. I explained to the doctor about the tickets. They didn’t really seem to care. I left the hospital at about 2:00 p.m. and went back to Taghazout.
I bumped into Jerry and had a coffee with him. He told me he knew where Nigel was staying and that I could go and see him if I wanted to. Why would I want to see him? Maybe just to tell him what a bastard he was. Yeah I thought that might make me feel better.
Apparently Nigel was sharing a room with the nurse couple.
Jerry also said that on my last night I should consider staying in a hotel in Agadir, in fact I don’t know why I hadn’t all along. I had the money and hotels were about 15 pounds a night, for the best! It was a good suggestion, the flight was early in the morning, about 8:30. It was something to think about. I could have been living like a queen all this time!
The rest of the day was a blur, I went back to my room, back to the reality of , ‘the room’, with the large cable spool for a table, the room that was so full of promise after leaving the other house, the room where Ray had completely lost the plot.
I think I saw the New Zealand couple again, although I am not sure whether they went onto somewhere else. I really can’t remember, I was starting to lose the plot myself.
Tomorrow I would have to go to Agadir again!