Sunday, 15 July 2007

I have an African arse

That's right people, I'm endowed with an African booty.

This latest revelation/pearler/insult was leveled at me on the way to Casablanca. I arrived at briefing to see the most quirky crew ever. I won't go into too much detail, but let's say that the highlight was having two brothers on board, in the most senior roles. The boys were from Kenya and the older and cheekier of the two bumped into me as I was bending down to remove lids from the meals. He apologised profusely and even though I assured him it really was a non-event he insisted on retreating and walking past again, to prove that he didn't mean it.

I again assured him that it was fine, and in fact was my own fault as my bum was poking out. He laughed and said 'in Africa it's a great source of pride'. I was mortified. Had he just equated my bum to that of some of the quivering masses I've seen in Africa? Now don't get me wrong, but those bottoms I'm referring to belonged to some very full figured ladies. Full figured all over. While I might have a bit of a arm wobble going on if I don't hit the weights, I don't think I'm in the same bottom league.

So, for the rest of the trip another Aussie crew member called me lard arse and THEN on the way back decided that he'd call me Pumba - like that fat warthog off The Lion King. I was ok with him saying it because we're both Aussies and could have a laugh about it. I retaliated by calling him Timone, after that annoying chatterbox of a meerkat or whatever Timone is.

See, it might be a source of pride in Africa, but NOT with me and being told you've got a big bum is so not cool in Australia. I applaud full figured ladies but I'm not really a fan of my own backside. Anyhoo.....

I'd heard on the cabin crew grapevine (which has more clout than an official Whitehouse memo) that Casablanca was THE worst trip one could ever get stuck with and after it I'd want to either:

  • resign
  • blow a slide and run away
  • cry
  • sit in a corner and cry
  • eat a truck-load of comfort food
  • become a hermit and never utter another word to ANYONE

Interestingly enough I wasn't moved to do any of these things. The flight was long, at 8ish hours per sector but it was fine. Granted, I was on the preferred side of the curtain for these types of flights and when I did pop down the back to deal with Duty Free, it was pretty gross. Up the front we only had a half cabin and it was pretty cruisy.

Once we got there, Aussie boy and I embarked on a whirlwind tour of the local markets where I bargained my way into the hearts of the locals. I bought a gorgeous aqua tealight candle holder that had stars and moons carved out of it and some absolutely stunning blue and white bowls. I couldn't fit it all into my cabin bag on the way home, so entrusted the candle holder to Aussie boy who BROKE it. Anyway, it's fixable. I'll just put the smash at the back.

The markets were interesting. A lot of shady characters and also some very nice ones. I'd been warned by other crew to hold tight to my belongings and not to flash my money or wear any jewellery. So keeping this in mind, I decided to take a small clutch bag and jam it into my armpit - thinking that no-one would try to get at it there. While I was buying some of the finest bananas I've ever tasted, a man at another stall called out to me and told me to be more careful with my bag. Any more careful and I'd have to ingest it! So Aussie boy took charge and burried it in the deep dark depths of his man-bag.

There were fake dvds, cds, traditional clothes, leather shoes and coat shops, food, fresh fruit, piles of hot fry infested prawns, bags of spices, live chickens in cages, pottery stalls, children's clothes and all sorts of things. We came across an incredibly set out stall selling olives. Now normally this wouldn't excite me, and prior to moving to Dubai I could hardly stomach looking at them, let alone eating them, but these were amazing olives! They were available in a rainbow of colours and had been painstakingly arranged in neat curved rows like you might see apples at a grocery store. I cheekily wondered what would happen if I pulled out one from the bottom row. The stall holder let us try them all and we both decided on a small bag of chilli olives - that's right, formerly woosy-with-her-food Lauren decided to buy something that scorched the back of her throat. They just tasted so good! To give you an idea about how hot and tasty there were, my fingers were stained orange after just picking one up between my fingertips!

Next stop - FOOD.

Aussie boy convinced me that we NEEDED to get some KFC chips, so I dutifully followed him. The interesting thing about Morroco is that the people speak Arabic and French. And little else.

So, after painfully explaining that I wanted chips and a pepsi (lucky it wasn't a gourmet menu!), we then waited for about 15 minutes. I'm not sure what we were waiting for but Aussie boy did order half the menu, so this might have caused some confusion. We could see that all the food was already prepared and going cold behind the counter but it just wasn't making its way over to us. There were a few other people in line and it just took forever. I'd hate to see it at peak hour. I decided to change my pepsi to a fanta at the last minute and that threw a spanner into our multi-lingual works.

Finally armed with a bag so big it could have fit 5 shoe boxes and Aussie boy toting the same, we scooted across the road to tuck into our dinner. I was having deliciously salty thoughts of the KFC chips from home - lightly crunchy, piping hot and practically drowning in chicken salt. Not so. They were the lamest chips I've ever seen and the fact that I waited 15 minutes for them didn't help! They were cool, limp and totally devoid of any salt traces.

Out came the bananas and olives.

I woke with a start at 8.10pm and realised I was 10 minutes late for the traditional Morrocan scrub I'd booked myself in for. I'd heard rumours that the scrub would leave me with glowing skin and would strip so much dirt from my skin that I'd be embarrased! I'd also heard that I'd be require to get naked. Butt naked.

So filled with fear about baring all in public for the first time since I was about 4, I fronted up at the spa which was located at a seemingly secret squirrel part of the hotel that took 5 minutes on foot to get to! My booking hadn't been recorded anyway so no worries that I was late. I was taken into the change room by a very large lady who had a towel around her hair and was wrapped in a robe. She handed me an identical robe and a huge bath sheet and a locker key, instructing me to put on the robe. I asked if I had to take everything off and in a no nonsene voice but with a kind/amused by my modesty smile said 'everything off' and walked out.

She came back and lead me to a sauna and gestured that I should take the robe off and lie down on the wooden bench, complete with wooden pillow. Even though I was alone in there, I compromised and lay UNDER the robe. Well it was hotter than hell and certainly hotter than ANY day I've ever experienced in Dubai. It was so hot that after 20 minutes in there I had fantasies about bursting out the door and gasping for breath. Luckily right at that moment she returned to let me out. As I was leaving, she ushered in Katie, who was also on my crew. I was about a foot taller than both of them and as I glanced down to warn Katie how hot it was, I noticed that one of scrub lady's breasts had burst free from her bathing suit and was swinging in the breeze! I then realised that in a very short moment I'd be wearing nothing at all and that sobered me up.

Into the scrub room we went. The traditional name for the room is Hammam, and it was beautifully tiled with gorgeous mosaics and had a huge big stone bench in the middle of it. Let's call scrub lady Yasmine, that sounds nicer. Yasmine took my towel from me and told me to hang up my robe. She put the towel on the bench and told me to lie on it.

Slightly mortified, but more at ease than I expected, I complied. She sprayed me with water and then set upon me with a large black mitt. I'd envisioned that I'd be scrubbed with gorgeous granules and exfoliating products and was quite excited. What I didn't expect was the mitt. It was course and harsh but after the first few seconds it was rather soothing. When she asked me to turn over, my back was stuck to the bench and it made a massive sucking sound as I sat up, not dissimilar to a whopper of a fart. I was absolutely mortified, but then realised I didn't even have the language skills to ensure her it was my back fat that made the noise, not my Pumba-sized bum. Ha ha ha, I still laugh just thinking about it.

After the mitt I was left to lie on the bench as copious amounts of steam poured into the room and threatened to blow me out the door. I started to get a bit claustraphobic and wanted out of there. Finally it was time for some soap and I swear I thought I was going to slip and slide right off that bench onto the floor! It was all over as quickly as it started and then it was back to my room for another banana and some comatose sleep.

The flight home was uneventful. We all said our farewells and staggered onto buses and made our way home.

I'd actually be happy to get another Casablanca - the bowls from the market are exquisite and would make gorgeous presents and a scrub like that once a month would make my skin perma-glow!

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