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Travels to Morocco — about Said and his stubborn dromedary.

Essaouira beach, Spring ’17

While sitting in the sand, looking at the waves fighting against the never- ending strong winds, an old man, with a curved back, and a huge dromedary walks towards me. We all know dromedary are big, but this one was bigger than big, it was huge! When walking slowly and clumsy, like dromedary do, I noticed this animal must have had a bad day. As a kid, I learned that dromedary could have a nasty temper which could last for days. Looking at this huge creature now I immediately knew this was what I had learned about. You could see it from miles away.

The large animal didn’t walk in a way the old man could appreciate. The now and then the old man stopped, shouted and kicked the huge animal against the legs. Although kicking animals is not very nice, the scene looked kind of funny because the huge animal didn’t seem to bother the old man his attempts of subjugation at all. I witnessed how the old man took some stones from the ground, after which he placed them between the animal his upper legs and belly. It didn’t look comfortable for the dromedary at all. Then the old man stopped right in front of me. The dromedary stopped too. But just seconds later. Because that is how dromedary are. They are slow.

The old man made a small bow and introduced himself as Said. His friend over here, and he jerked at the rope, causing the dromedary to step closer, was very friendly and looking for someone to take for a ride today. I looked at him and the huge dromedary. It was a funny sight. The small man, with his worn face and curved back, and the huge and ugly animal.

‘No way I would get on top of him’ I thought by myself. I had just witnessed its behavior and that silly and ugly face of his now looked to suspiciously friendly. I didn’t trust the animal. And thinking about Said his early words about his friendly animal I did not trust Said either now. Never trust the salesman. So I made up my mind and said no to Saïd in a way one should say no to a Moroccan street seller. Hardly looking, seemingly uninterested, I waved him away. No, no, no. He tried three times more. No, no, no again. The old man sadly barked his shoulders and walked away. The huge dromedary, seconds later, because that’s how dromedary are, slowly and clumsily followed the old man. I instantly felt sorry for the old man. It must be a hard life here at the beach. But minutes later I discovered I had made the right decision to not get on top of this huge animal.

After watching the waves and noisy seagulls for a while my attention got drown towards a lot of noise coming from the right end of the beach. Something special was happening. I looked more accurately and I couldn’t believe my eyes. What did I see? Our friend Saïd, who just offered me a ride on his friendly dromedary, was hanging over the back of his animal which had started running, not wanting to stop anywhere soon. The dromedary had broken out and in a jerky gallop he had started running away.

In an attempt to reclaim his control over the animal Saïd had thrown himself at the back of the dromedary and now he was hanging half beside and on top of the animal shouting and kicking it non stop hoping it would stop running. But like before the dromedary did not look like it was interested in what Saïd wanted at all. Not that dromedary ever look like they are interested in anything at all. They just look silly (Yes, go and meet one and dare to say I’m wrong). Saïd kept kicking and shouting against his animal but the dromedary had made his stubborn decision. Run.

It was a first class lesson about the stubborn and nasty temper a dromedary could have. More and more people stopped and witnessed how the old man tried to control his huge animal. The scene became more hilarious by the minute. The huge animal running across the beach with Saïd hanging on side of it, looking like he could fall off any second now. And all this with the white buildings, busy seagulls and impenetrable city walls of the city of Essaouira in the background. Saïd got more angry by the minute. This was not a good commercial for his services. Who wants to sit on top of a two and a half meters high rodeo dromedary?

Then Saïd changed his tactics. He found a rope and managed to put it between the dromedary his legs. In shortage of space to move his legs, the dromedary had to stop running. Sulking and disappointed the animal slowed down and stood still. Saïd had won. Some people applauded. The dromedary looked happier than before. No one would want to ride on top of him for the next hour for sure.

A story by Martijn Droger

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