Book Eight


I bought a thin spiral sketchbook to take on a week-long trip to Morocco. It holds the end of an epistolary romance, broken in the landscape of North Africa. This book contains some Arabic script, notes from the night-train to Marrakech, descriptions of waking up in Tangier, and my impressions of the souks, streets and sands of Morocco.

February 5, 1993 

Morning Tangier. The city looks very 1940s as if there were a vast building spree that began in the 20s. Bicycles go by with crates of oranges. Gas canisters. The bikes are motorized. Not quite motorcycles and not bicycles either.

Evening, hotel-top. Beginning to cool off. Full moon, high clouds. Sea breeze. Moonlight on the Mediterranean. God, it’s a backdrop for a 1950s cheap romance. Whistles, beeps, below. Clean fresh air.

Today we ventured out of the hotel and, as we had been warned, we were immediately swarmed by hustlers, offering to take us everywhere, show us anything. They are incredibly persistent, unshakable. One followed us for an hour and when we tried to shake him he threatened to kill my mother.

There are certain things you can do that are really excuses to occupy space in an environment. I don’t smoke, so the pleasure of extending one’s stay at a café table while finishing a cigarette is lost on me. But a notebook is a reason to linger anywhere. Instead of the elusive pleasures of inhaling tobacco (gone with the last traces of smoke, leaving only ashes, carcinogens, and a bad smell) you have the traces of words. Maybe your coffee was done and you just needed an excuse to occupy a table for another hour, fine. But later that day, week, year, you encounter the page from that café table and you will find something there - for in the book you are still sitting at the table, the sunlight is still warm on the wood. The over-ripe oranges on the trees in the courtyard are still falling, landing with a dull, soft thud on the moroccan tiles.

Here is a list of books.

Tim McLaughlin

Photographer and writer based in Vancouver, Canada