The King And I – When All Hell Breaks Loose
In this country that is peaceful, there are numerous attempts on the life span of King Hassan II. I am present for two of these. Mom is back home in the states when dozens of diplomats and Ambassador Rockwell attend an outdoor birthday party for King Hassan at his summer palace.
I’m there to take photos for our embassy newsletter, though it’s a stag celebration. I’m outside the area with the remainder of the minor staff when we cries coming from the other side of the wall and hear gun shots. We’re ordered to lie face down on the gravel and not raise our heads.
If your face is squashed into gravel for any period of time, you suffocate or attempt to breath through the side of your mouth by turning your mind. While others lay whimpering and praying some folks lose control of their bodily functions. Someone grabs my camera, while I am praying and I never see it . I love that camera, but I’d gladly swap it for squirrel removal service . I didn’t endure the Tet Offensive and a year and a half in Saigon only to perish in beautiful Morocco-by-the-sea.
Ambassador Rockwell is secure, but in the barrage of bullets other diplomats are killed. The local media claim”that the traitor Oufkir is dead from multiple bullet wounds.” Execution or whether suicide remains within the archives of the royal family.
Thuraya and The Spirits
Another attempt on the life of King Hassan happens in the heavens over Rabat. Thuraya, the gorgeous Moroccan lady who looks after me and my flat, has left for the day. When mom was here they were great pals, exchanging recipes in the kitchen, and carpet haggling in the souk. 1 day Thuraya took mother and me to a Hemmam. Similar to a Turkish bath, when we entered the steamy room, a gaggle of women surrounded us and started scrubbing and washing our bodies to a fiery glow. It is amazing what comes off the skin. Later, more glasses of mint tea, we listened to stories that were mysterious about the Sahara. Many Moroccans believe invisible jinn spirits inhabit the desert. I’m soon to find out for myself.
But now I am alone in my flat. No mom. I’m getting dressed for dinner, singing along with Carly Simon’s”You’re So Vain” when I hear the buzz of an airplane and loud explosions. My terrace windows are directly across the road from the royal palace. They shatter into in a million. I grab the phone and dial the embassy duty officer. He informs the king is presently flying back from Paris to Rabat in his private plane to me While I relate to him what is happening at the palace. The local radio station was compromised and our embassy is getting its information via BBC wave. When I turn in my Grundig short wave radio I hear about the attempted military coup in the country I’m living, from another country outside that country. It is the 1970s. No internet, no mobile phones. Hail Britannia!
As it heads for Rabat, while the palace is being bombed and strafed, four Royal Moroccan Air Force jets fire on the king’s Boeing 727. The fuselage was struck by them but do not bring the plane down. An experienced pilot rushes into orders and the cockpit the pilot to give him the controls. The king has been murdered and I am landing the airplane.” The cool cat with nine lives jumps into his car and speeds away, leaving the surprised insurgents more to be rounded up and arrested by officers after landing the plane. Later, through my shattered windows and flower pots that are smashed, I see that the king race his sports car through the palace gates to security.
Brief Encounter At A Sea of Tranquility
My footprints are in the three million square miles of the unforgiving wilderness of the Sahara. Blazing hot, freezing cold, the desert is a riddle of roads that are invisible and erratic quicksand that swallowed kingdoms and Roman Legions. About 375 miles from Rabat a scorched plain called the sand seas, or erg, leads to Merzouga, a vast emptiness in the end of the world. The 21st century will bring some vacationers. There’s only me and three friends.
We’re in a sand sea of tranquility, where spending a night or two in silence can place you, once we hit the dunes. I stray from my friends and I am lost. My cries for help are muted by hills of sand. From the shimmering white heat, everywhere looks the same as everywhere else. Someone once explained,”when you feel you’re heading east you could be heading west!”
In the stillness I can hear my heart’s thump. A lusty wind obscures the sun and whistles down blows sand in my face, the dunes. I think, ‘Oh my God, I will be buried alive; they’ll never find me. Don’t think about water. Don’t think about water.’ From out of the shimmering haze, a lone figure is walking toward me. In desert lore, jinn spirits can take many forms. Moving in that they do when on the dunes, a young Berber boy beckons me to follow him. To my companions, the boy guides me back Together with his pet Monitor lizard trailing behind him on a string. He knows exactly where he is. It is his home. I’ve got miles to go before I figure it out