We sat close to the giant cacti in the Jardin Majorelle, though not too close, because a blue fountain was spraying water high into the air of another very hot day in Marrakech. The delightful garden of abundant greenery and water features offered a similar escape to the oasis near Taroudannt, yet this place was designed and created by a French painter.
I thought about the modest garden at the Treasurer’s House in York, where the fountain wasn’t always working, though England didn’t normally have such high temperatures to contend with. If only we had been back there already, it wouldn’t have mattered if it had been pissing down with rain, because we would have felt safe behind those walls.
The main square of Marrakech was a few miles distant, but in the daytime it was not the lively pantomime of every bustling evening, where a shy English person might feel intimidated by all the unfamiliar and thrilling activity.
‘Will we make it back ?’ Jess asked.
‘I trust Omar; but I’m most worried about crossing to Spain in a fishing boat. I just hope the sea is calm, and we’re not arrested along with all the other refugees trying to escape Africa.’
‘I wonder what happened to his son ?’
‘Sounds like he was just another unfortunate victim of that bloody policeman.’
Jess went for a look round the Museum of Islamic Art, which formed part of the garden, but I preferred to remain outside in the shade. There were quite a few tourists, but it was by no means busy, which allowed one to be mostly undisturbed in contemplation, forgetting about the harsh realities that lay beyond the small oasis.
It was only midday, and it felt like a long time until Omar would collect us from the riad, as though time had come to a standstill, and we would always be trapped in a strange country of both beauty and pain. I laughed to myself, thinking about all the newspaper adverts saying that Morocco was a country that ‘nurtured the soul’, which you couldn’t argue with if all one’s time was spent in surroundings like the Jardin Majorelle.
‘There’s some wonderful jewellery in there.’
‘I know such things are not your cup of tea.’
‘It’s not that, I’m just so happy sitting in this tranquil garden.’
‘I think we will get back.’
‘What’s the worst that can happen ?’