Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Horseback Riding With Some Special People

horseback riding in TangierWhen I was in Tangier I met an interesting woman, Maggie Deane, from Scotland. She was born in India, but also lived in the US and Canada. How she arrived in Tangier I don't know, but she had a beautiful house in the medina, where she let out rooms to tourists. She also did charity work and I went along with her one day to take mentally-handicapped men out horseback riding.

We went to the Franciscan order to pick them up and although the institution did it's best, money was scarce. Most of the men sat all day in cold, cement rooms with bars on the doors and windows.  It felt more like a prison. There were no activities for them.  It was heartbreaking to see and as I was to discover later, most government institutions of this sort, if there were any at all, had deplorable living conditions. The men were delighted when we came, and we herded them on to a bus to a park on the outskirts of Tangier. It was a lovely day.

horseback riding in Tangier, Morocco Maggie Deane Tangier Morocco


I went out for a stroll one night at the waterfront park and met a Sengalese, Dembe. He approached me with some necklaces he was selling. It was only the two of us, so after a while we started talking. He told me he was 17 and was working on a construction job, but needed extra cash. In French, he told me that his mother was working in Cote D'Avoire and his father had run away years ago. He said many men had four wives and twenty kids, like his family, but that wasn't for him. He said Senegal was good, but Mauritania was too dangerous, with many kidnappings. We talked about his going to school, but that was a huge dream and he'd become another wasted soul wandering around trying to survive. I wanted to take him home and put him through school and give him a better life, he was such a sweet kid. After we said goodbye he followed me up the hill and introduced me to all his other Sengalese friends who were so black I could only see their yes in the dark. He told me he was going home to cook eggs and would I join him. No. So he walked me back to my hotel and I shook his hand goodnight and thanked him. There are so many people like Dembe just looking for a decent life.