With only one or two days left in Ramadan (depending on how bold the new moon is feeling), we decided to celebrate Eid in Tangier. Partway through our train ride I learned that the word cabina does not mean a 6-person compartment, but rather a 1-person toilet. After asking a young lady if there was room for me in her bathroom, I was kindly shoved into the lavatory at the end of the car by her livid husband. What I encountered might have once been a bathroom facility between the years 1975 and 1976, but its current state should only be assessed by the Center for Disease Control’s bio-terrorism unit.
FLASHBACK TO FEZ: Meanwhile, in a 5-star hotel bathroom 350 kilometers away, a Fulbrighter named Sam is being asked to leave the premises, permanently. Sam has avoided his host family’s Turkish toilet for over a week now. Instead, he strolls unceremoniously into Hotel Batha each morning as if he were meeting an old friend for coffee. A casual bystander would note that Sam even glances around the lobby with a slightly raised unibrow, in hopes of spotting said acquaintance. On this particular day Sam has no time for theatrics. His dinner has been plotting its escape all night.
As Sam leaps up the neatly tiled stairs of Hotel Bat-ha, whispering a prayer to the creators of Imodium AD, he loses it. Whether he knows it or not, his posture has changed to resemble that of Bigfoot in the infamous blurry video. Instinct and fear propel him through the lobby. A casual bystander would note that Sam’s unibrow is arched slightly higher than on previous mornings. He is spotted (whether initially by sight or smell it remains unknown) just as he kicks open the bathroom door.
The stall is immaculate.
Sam’s first priority is salvaging his jeans, which are the only pair of jeans he decided to pack prior to spending 9 months in a country where shorts are immodest. A cursory examination of his boxer-briefs yield them unfit for further use. Sam proceeds to conceal his underwear in what is most likely a vase of potpourri. At that moment, a large, hairy-knuckled fist (connected to an even larger and hairier man) pounds on the stall door. The sound scares Sam and his bowels react accordingly. Sam tells the voice outside that he is not a guest. The voice tells Sam to leave and never return. Sam feels like Simba in the Lion King.
BACK TO TANGIER: We spent our first night in Tanjah promenading on expressway-sized sidewalks, in search of the perfect fruit sorbet. After surveying two shops, it appeared that the ratio of fruit flavors to exotic nut flavors was 1:15. I settled for a “berry-hazelnut-almond” triple scoop and smiled at the Mediterranean.