So I’m walking through the medina of Marrakech with our family tour group, concerned about the safety of the children, and trying to keep up with our guide. Through the narrow passageways crowded with shops and stands selling food, clothing, jewellery, rugs, ceramics, and every measure of tourist chotchky zip bicycles, mopeds, donkey carts, and even cars. The hazards are many and a few of us have had encounters with tires, sideview mirrors, and other people trying to get out of the way.
Our guide has warned us off of certain food stalls and of course we have bottled water as the taps apparently are not even safe to brush your teeth from. There’s a roadside mechanic starting a scooter that is spewing blue-gray exhaust into the street, there is a woman throwing a bucket of lumpy wastewater onto the street, and there are shoeless chidren now running into that same street, through the wastewater, breathing that exhaust, and is it mid-morning on a school day?
In addition to the myriad snake charmers, monkey men, water-wallahs, toothless touts, and fly-spotted goat carcasses to assault your senses, there are the beggars. I am not brave enough to wear sandals what with the donkey turds, feral dog & cat droppings, and piles of trash, all covered with a patina of soot. The streets have no names – or at least no signs proclaiming them – and our taxi drivers have seemed oblivious to the lines on the road.
At some point, it occurs to me that the Republican presidential candidates who are ever-clamouring for less government and more deregulation should be walking with me side by side (at least with them on the outside where the motor scooters are flying by). I would point out that this is what a lack of governmental regulations looks like. This toxic chaos is their neoliberal, laissez faire, free market paradise. More effective however, would be to have a Fox News reporter or average Republican voter with a video camera to experience and convey the scene. (Then maybe juxtapose it with a street scene from one of those Socialist countries like in Scandinavia?) Would they agree?
Later, I’m at a second floor terrace café having some mint tea and surveying the market square. Smoke is rising from numerous food stands and the sounds of the snake charmers weave into the drumming of the street musicians and exotic Morocco transports me. It will be good to return to the ‘new world order’ that is America eventually, but not just yet…