An alarm clock never sounded so good. It would have been difficult to wake up in salty mood. I mean camp was as good as over and I hadn’t lost my cool, let alone my mind. All kids were still alive, having fun and as far as anybody knew we didn’t leave any of them up on the mountain during the field trip.
Breakfast was a teary affair and a tea-y one as well. You can never have enough tea. The kids were sooooo emotional. It was quite a sight to see. There was one boy in particular, a trouble-making shiny headed little jerk named SiMo who had been nothing but moshkils all week who blubbered his way through the meal. I watched him and a boy, who is the only Moroccan vegetarian I have ever met, embrace for literally at least four minutes. Four minutes is a long time for a hug, dude. If I am hugging somebody for four minutes there has got to be something else going on to keep me interested. But there he was, eyes all-a-water. Couldn’t believe it.
We spent the balance of the morning signing any autographs that we may have missed the day before and giving our good byes. It is an interesting ordeal saying goodbye to these kids. With the boys it is pretty straightforward. A handshake and four kisses on the cheeks, then, if you really like the kid, you give them a real hug. With the girls though, I never know what to do. Is a hug too intimate? Is a handshake too impersonal? Is she really kissing me on the cheek? It is draining because each girl is a case by case situation that you have to be on your toes for. With the autographs you get into a rhythm you can repeat over and over. Same with good byes for boys. Dealing with girls is exhausting. As if that was news to any of you.
Besides waiting for parents to show or sending kids off on buses there was only one thing on the schedule. The big staff wrap-up meeting. This is the same meeting where Mark, my predecessor as coordinator, blew his lid and also his reputation with the Moroccan staff. I vacillated for a lot of the morning on how much, if any complaining I should do. I was forced to reflect on camp and decide if there was anything bad enough to complain about and risk my very good standing. There were some problems after all. The schedule fell apart and we were almost always the last to know. The field trip was basically a disaster, and only by an incredible stroke of luck did we only have the Layla incident and a vomit splattered highway as results.
We all assembled in the big conference room and were treated to soda and sweets by the Moroccan staff. Even if they had any problems with us they never would have said anything. It is a very non-confrontational culture for better or worse. The Mudir opened and thanked everybody and was very kind and generous in his comments toward me and the other volunteers. Then he gave me the floor and I returned the favor. Maybe I took the easy way out by not complaining, but I didn’t feel anything productive could have come of it, and I saw how damaging it could be the year before. I showered everybody in praise and thanked all our staff, Moroccan and American alike for all their help. It was smiles all around, and in retrospect a very good decision to take this tact. A few more people were given an opportunity to speak and it was a big love fest. When it was all over we all got up and gave big hugs and lots of kisses. Scott and Alex were living out a man touching fantasy.
And then, that was it. There were a few more stragglers still waiting on their parents but the Americans were packed up and ready to go. After camp plans had been a major topic of discussion all week and even before camp. At first I wanted to go up to the Mediterranean coast with friends who were all, except for Floyd, working different camps around the country. That fell through. Then my plan changed to going and getting drunk with my friend Marcus in Meknes. That fell through. Eventually a plan was hatched to watch the Final Four.
Anyways, our ladies all took off. Amy, Caitlin and Linley all had other plans, leaving seven guys to do their thing. We learned that a volunteer who lived way out in the country outside of Rich had a satellite connection and could possibly get the games. The decision was made to take our chances at this guy Aaron’s (Wee Aaron not Big Aaron) house. We decided to go in shifts because there were too many of us for just one taxi and some folks seemed to be in a bigger hurry than others to get there. I decided to go in the second shift so I could nap for a while on Floyd’s ponge, and go to the liquor store, and read my book and just take my sweet time.
Eventually Floyd, Scott Robinson and I got on our way with all of our essentials in tow. Once we got to Rich by taxi we had to switch into a tiny transit. A tiny transit is a weird looking little hatch-back type car which has a front seat, a back seat and a bench-ish thing in the back. Five people in this thing would be capacity for regular American travelers Not us. We got real cozy with 11 and picked people up on the way who hung out the backdoor like it was perfectly normal. Another hour and we were in wherever-the-hell-ville.
Once we arrived most people hung out in the kitchen or the TV room trying to figure out how to get the games. I took my bottle and glass of wine and sat against a wall reading For Whom The Bell Tolls. It took me a couple of hours, but it came to an incredibly good and sad conclusion. What a great companion to have with me at camp. I felt a gratitude to the book for occupying my free time and transporting me to another place when I needed to get away.
The next cool thing that happened was the food that was prepared. I have all but resigned myself to the fact that I will never be a good cook. That being said, I am an eater of vast talent. On this night I was put to the test. The first thing presented was a batch of nachos with all the trimmings prepared by Big Aaron. Let me tell you, Big Aaron is a man who you want in the kitchen. Dude has skills. Then came big fat burgers and grilled chicken. It was like America for real. I was in heaven.
Then a truly awesome event unfolded. I am nervous to put this into writing because it is personal between me and a friend. But, I have been honest with you about my account of camp so far and this was, like I said, truly awesome. There was a girl at this party (that’s right, a girl, as in one) who I am pretty good friends with. She had said before the camp that she wanted to work it with us. For whatever reason it didn’t happen but as we were hanging out I told her she could still contribute something by giving me a back rub You know, to de-stress. Anyway, we were playing with the music in the living room and we put on the song Down In Mexico by The Coasters. In the movie Death Proof there is an insane lap-dance scene to this song that she and I had discussed on a number of occasions. So the song comes on and I put a chair down in the middle of the room and she went to work. It was completely friendly and no clothes came off, but it was sexy as hell. I haven’t had a lap dance in a long time (parents and offended relatives read: never) and there certainly aint any dancing girlies out this way, even if I wanted one. I wish I was a talented enough writer to tell you how enjoyable this was. I don’t think I need to tell you it was better than any back rub could have been.
So for the entire night we had been fiddling around with the satellite dish with not a hint of the basketball channel. Finally at about 12:00 (I don’t remember but it was late) we got the Memphis vs. UCLA game at the end of the first half. The house went wild. “WE GOT BASKETBALL! WE GOT BASKETBALL!” The gents and lady rushed in and we enjoyed some first class hoops.
The first game came to an end and we decided that we needed some between game entertainment. Fight night! It was a big group of dudes so what else would we do? We pitted Floyd the former wrestler against Big Aaron the D1 offensive lineman. While Floyd is muscular he can’t weigh more than 150lbs. Big Aaron is not only big, but strong as an ox and is easily 300lbs. We cleared out the furniture and let them go. Big Aaron tossed Floyd around a little bit but technique was on the little fella’s side. They grappled for three rounds and as a testament to his ability, I would say Floyd wrestled his way to a draw against the giant. Then from too much exertion mixed with drink, Floyd promptly emptied his stomach contents. At least he made it to the bathroom first.
As the second game came on we all took our places and got comfortable. I must have gotten a bit too comfortable because five minutes into the game I was K.O.’d. Big Aaron tried to rouse me but I gave him a Roberto Duran. No mas.