Please make sure you read Part One - A Trip to Casablanca: Spontaneity v Structure (Part 1) other wise this won’t make much sense!
He couldn’t speak a word of English. I thought back to my French lessons and all I could remember was Matthew Jones being caught as he masturbated under the table for a dare. Our French teacher was called Popeye because his eyes were funny. He would be talking to you and staring in a different direction. It was always terribly confusing, especially if you are masturbating under the desk during his class and he is telling you to stop. Why am I remembering this scene? Surely I remember some scenes where I actually learned to speak French?
The scary man has already grabbed our suitcases and is walking up the stairs. This is quite an impressive feat considering they both weight over 20kg. We follow him and as I look over my shoulder the two kids return to their positions on the wall. I assume they were going to try and sell us something. I have no idea why my mind keeps telling me they are going to kill me. I have been stabbed once before in my life. It was during a trip to Cyprus. Maybe that’s why my mind works the way it does?
When we reach the top of the stairs we realise that it is actually a hotel. But a hotel with a difference. There doesn’t seem to be anyone here except Liza, the scary man and I. It’s all a bit Norman Bates. Within a few moments we are in our room. It’s obvious we are the only tenants. The room is nice though. Liza and I hold a check-in and sort out our differences in the car. Or more to the point, I own up to my usual defences and apologise. We decide to head out and grab a spot of lunch. The problem is we don’t know the area. We could be in the worse place in town, plus I cannot stop thinking about those two kids.
We try to use an app on the iPhone that tells what is around us. There is nothing. We then go onto Trip Advisor. There is nothing. I start to get angry again. Why are we staying in a hotel in the middle of nowhere? Once again I want to blame Liza and yet I never got involved in these arrangements. I have no right to complain. Not wanting to start another argument I keep my thoughts to myself.
“Maybe we should ask the scary guy if he knows of anywhere to eat?” Suggests Liza.
Great. We have to ask the scary guy where to eat and he doesn’t speak English. What other choice was there? So we get ready and walk outside. Scary guy is having a cigarette (why wouldn’t he be?) with another scary looking guy. Great, maybe he can speak English? Maybe not. I start thinking how strange it is that these people can’t speak English. The UK is one of the only places in the world where we only speak our language and yet we complain when nobody speaks multiple dialects when we visit a different country
I decide to use sign language. He gets the point. At first he gives us a take away menu for a pizza and kebab shop, not exactly the Moroccan meal we had in mind.
“Rex Cafe? Rex Cafe?” One scary guy says to the other.
The next thing you know we are being beckoned out of the gateway and into the road. They keep muttering the words Rex Cafe to us. They flag a car down. It looks like the Only Fools and Horses car but with four wheels. There is a portly man with round glasses sat in the front. He reminded me of John Christie from 10 Rillington Place, except this guy had eaten one too many Tagines. Or maybe he ate women?
Anyway the door is slammed shut and off this guy drives. I try to ask him where we are going but he doesn’t speak English. For the longest time ever Liza and I don’t speak. The only sound you can here is the rustling of noise and we nervously reposition our feet in the rubbish that litters the back seat. After about 20-minutes we are still driving. What once looked Beirut now looks like the city when James Bond first meets the bad guy in the new movie. Totally desolate, totally ruined and totally inhabitable. I am expecting Mr. 10 Rillington Place to pull over and gas the pair of us. I am worried. I am panicking.
“Liza, what do you think about when you hear the words Rex’s Cafe?” I ask.
“A load of Moroccan men sitting in a cafe, all smoking…”
“And eating bacon and eggs?”
“And eating bacon and eggs.”
“Great…this is just f**king great. We travel all the way to Morocco and end up eating bacon and eggs in a sexist, smoke filled cafe with a fat cook called Rex.” I say. “Why didn’t we just organise something in advance? Why aren’t we just staying close to the hotel, with running water and people who speak English? A selection of restaurants within walking distance and taxi drivers who don’t look like serial killers, who drive cars that don’t have newspaper all over the back with Nutella stuck to it…God I hope that’s Nutella!”
Liza just grabs me by the sides of my face. She looks deep into my eyes and says, “Think happy thoughts Lee. Think happy thoughts.”
It does the trick. I start laughing. I start doing my EFT tapping routine and I am silently mouthing the words, “I am not going to die. Tonight is going to be a wonderful night. We are going to have the most delicious food. Rex is the most fabulous chef. His cafe is not full of sexist nicotine addicts. John Christie is just a taxi driver and not an impotent rapist. There is no gas in this car. It really is Nutella on my trainers.” Liza does the same and we both start laughing.
Then from the left hand side of the car we see this great white building rise up from the debris surrounding it. There is a great big sign on the side and it says RICKS CAFE. It looks beautiful and there are people on the door guarding the entrance. Normal people seem to be getting out of their cars and entering the building. We get out and pay the taxi driver. We look at each other and smile.
“RICKS CAFÉ! RICKS CAFÉ! NOT BLOODY REX!” I shout.
We approach the door and there is a little foyer. You cannot see inside the restaurant as a purple velvet curtain conceals it. At first we are told there is no room, but I flutter my eyelids. It works.
“You can have your meal by the bar. You can watch the Jazz from the bar.” Says the man at the front desk.
Jazz? They have a Jazz band. Then it happens. The purple velvet is opened and everything hits us at once. The Jazz band, the opulence; even the faint tinge of cigar smoke did not put me off. We sat down by the bar and started to eat some free olives and nuts. An old lady introduced herself to us by simply saying, “Bon Appetite.” The piano started and off went the wizard on the saxophone. The drummer drummed and never once opened his eyes all evening. Liza and I did. We stared at each other all night while we ate far too much food, and laughed about our experience.
It turns out that Rick’s Cafe is the actual restaurant used in the 1942 hit movie Casablanca. That movie starred Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. The woman who kept saying Bon Appetite (which she did all night) was actually Ingrid Bergman’s daughter.
I have told this tale because it shows how exciting spontaneity can be. And fearful at the same time. Attitude is also important. I am a pessimist at heart, but am trying very hard to become more optimistic. I am religiously saying my affirmations each day. I practice EFT and also journaling. I really am trying hard to be more positive in life. I am finding that when I do this the universe treats me well. When I don’t do this, it gives me a kick up the arse. My wonderful partner Liza also helps me. It’s a great balance. She would love to just dive deep into Burning Man…I just worry about the heat. She wants to climb the Himalayas and stay with a Nepalese family…I just worry about getting lost. Between the two of us we manage to have some amazing adventures. Just like this. But there is also a cautionary tale. You can still be a little more prepared in advance. Most of all make sure that the area you are staying in is safe. If you feel safe then you can let your guard down, slightly, and enjoy yourself. Like everything, it’s a balance. In this case a balance between spontaneity and structure.