The Road to Morocco

In the film of the same title, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope after being stowaways on a boat become shipwrecked. Stranded on a beach they manage to hitch a ride on a passing camel into a city only to be sold into slavery to a beautiful princess, Dorothy Lamour. They sing their way round with such lyrics as

We’re off on the road to Morocco
This camel is tough on the spine (hit me with a band-aid, Dad)
Where they’re going, why we’re going, how can we be sure
I’ll lay you eight to five that we’ll meet Dorothy Lamour
(Yeah, get in line)

For those who have never watched the film you can tell it’s a lighthearted romp, that doesn’t hold many real insights about the country of Morocco.

So my road trip to Morocco should be plain sailing I am guessing. I have no plans to ride a camel so my spine should be sound by the end. Except that, I am not flying there and I have no real plans other than an 8-hour bus journey from London to Paris on Sunday for the start of my journey.

Buddha said, “It is better to travel well then to arrive.” This is something I have been thinking of recently. Now in the days of cheap flights no one really gets that sense of adventure that a trip would have created a mere 60 years ago.

Do we travel well in life? Or on our holidays? I guess some would say yes we do. But flying in plane for me is not travelling well. It’s travelling fast. That is not the same.

One of the most romantic ways to travel used to be by train. Could I get myself through France, down across Spain and then across to Morocco? I had been very confident that yes I could do that, no problem. Sitting staring out of the window watching the world go by. Writing my new novel up and just chilling, sounded ideal.

Robert Louis Stevenson said, “There are no foreign lands it is only the traveller who is foreign.” Today with social media transporting all of us to the same room as a friend in a hotel anywhere in the world, has our perception of travelling become reduced to just a click of a mouse?

Have we all become the same? Are the people of one place now the same as another? What once differentiated people of one place to another, their culture, has it all just become one huge blob of humanity wrapped in plastic, metal, and called progress?

Does anyone really explore a different land? Can a writer like myself find inspiration on the road to Morocco? Or to be more precise on the trains to Morocco?

And sadly could I heal my fragile soul? For when I leave on Sunday, I am leaving in the dark, emotionally damaged, feeling like I am swirling around in a maelstrom of madness like a planet exploding into the blackness of an outer galaxy . The drugs don’t work, the counselling has left me angrier then soothed. I don’t like the person I have become. Can the real Lena Walton please stand up?

Many years ago, I started travelling to see new places, a world different from my little home town of Epsom.  It was for excitement, a new adventure every time. Could I now at 55 have that same thrill of just diving into the unknown?

Paris is my first leg of the journey, and my final leg will be Tangiers. The city made home by one of my favourite writers Paul Bowles. He lived for 52 years in Tangiers. It is where he penned the classic Sheltering Sky, beautifully transported to the screen by Bertolucci.

One line of the novel that seems pertinent to me as embark on my trip. “How fragile we are under the sheltering sky. Behind the sheltering sky is a vast dark universe, and we’re just so small.”

I have lost my way and perhaps a journey into the unknown will bring me back to where I want to be.

But I am already running ahead of myself. My first stop will be Paris. I will not delve into the millions of clichés that have been written about this city. I will merely agree with Audrey Hepburn – “Paris is always a good idea!”

See you in Paris!

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