The Bedouin Girl was really from California, adopted by the Bedouins, ancient nomads of the Sahara. She fled hell in California and found heaven in the Sahara.
After Barcelona, I hitchhiked through Costa del Sol, quickly visited the Moorish mosque at Granada, and headed for Algeciras. I took a boat to Ceuta, gateway to Morocco, my target. Morocco marked the beginning of Phase Three of Eastwind, the great leap to the unknown. In Spain, you could be jailed for smoking grass but alcohol was legal. In Morocco, you could be jailed for drinking alcohol but keeff (local grass) was legal.
(Excerpt from the book WINGS AND WANDERLUST – DISCOVERING YOUR INNER SELF).
eastwind journals, December 14, 2021, (archive tr185)
At Tetoan in Morocco, I met a chubby California girl, Cherry (not her real name) who played fantastic American folk songs on her guitar. We became instant friends and ate dinner together often. Once, she suddenly shooed me away. She pointed to someone coming, her burly Moroccan boyfriend who always got jealous and violent. He had a nasty look in his face and was approaching like a steam roller.
I had two choices. I could run, but he might run after me. Or I could just stay put and keep my cool. Finally, I jumped forward to greet him with a big smile, “You must be Cherry’s boyfriend Abdul. She says you’re really cool.” The ice was broken. He shook my hands. Whew, close call. They spoke in French. Cherry was my interpreter.
CHERRY – Bernie is a musician like me.
ABDUL – Where is your guitar?
ME – Nope, no guitar
ABDUL – Let me hear you sing. (To Cherry) Go get your guitar, darling.
I played a simple Filipino tune. Cherry applauded. Abdul was impressed. It was Cherry who gave me the idea to travel with a guitar. I would buy one in Las Palmas soon. Cherry and I had long talks. I probed into her inner life. I was curious what women drifters were made of.
ME – (When Abdul was not around.) Aren’t you afraid of being raped here? It’s very dangerous traveling alone in Morocco even for a man. A lot of aggressive gays. What more for a woman.
CHERRY – There’s a secret to it.
ME – Tell me.
CHERRY – A Moroccan boyfriend shields me from danger. I sleep with him but I don’t get raped. In fact, he’s over protective. He gets very jealous and violent. But that’s alright. Better than getting raped.
Cherry and I and a Moroccan friend, Ahmed, often smoked together, not the crude harsh keeff but the premiere brown Moroccan hash. After all, society condoned hash. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
Cherry and I never spent money on hash. Ahmed was our supplier. He was friendly to backpackers and that made me suspicious that he might be a pusher. I was warned to be careful of traps. They would give you some hash, then tell the police. Foreigners could be arrested for possession of hash, but not Moroccans.
I didn’t care. We smoked our lungs out. Sometimes I sought danger instinctively. I wanted to find out what it was like. There was no logic to it but danger excited me, food for a thirsty soul. Once, Cherry and I were in my room talking. Ahmed was too shy to intrude, so he simply let the hash smoke through the keyhole and filled my tiny room with heaven.
Cherry had been on the road for three long years. That was quite a feat, compared to my four months. That made me respect her a lot, although sometimes I felt she was cheap giving her body to men only to avoid danger. But that was survival on the road for her. Who was I to judge her?
Cherry stayed in the desert with the Bedouins for three whole months. She lived in a tent with nomads who travelled with their animals across the inhospitable desert.
ME – Wow, that was something. They didn’t rape you?
CHERRY – (Angrily). Why do you always ask about rape? You think all people here are just into rape? Why are you obsessed with rape?
ME – (Ignoring her sarcasm.) They didn’t?
CHERRY – No, they didn’t. They are one of the most beautiful people in the world. A Bedouin family took care of me like I was their own daughter. They loved me and I loved them. It was heaven in the desert. And they were the true ancient nomads of the cruel desert, masters of the Sahara.
CHERRY – (Tears starting to flow.) They treated me better than my own family.
ME – Ah, so, that’s why you’re on the road. You’re escaping from your family.”
CHERRY – Yeah, why not. My alcoholic father would maul me and my mom when he was drunk.
More tears. Like me, running from a computer career in New York, Cherry was running from her family, and found refuge in another type of desert, a real one, and another type of family, more loving. I told her about my kind of desert in New York. We shared each other’s pain. She held my hand and put her head on my shoulders. It felt good to have an instant friend on the road, a real friend, even just for now. A few days are like years if you have good friends. I looked around for her boyfriend.
CHERRY – (Laughing.) Don’t worry. He’s not around.
ME – People become drifters because of pain, not because of romantic dreams.
CHERRY – Drifters become tough and numb. Look at me. I used a guy as a boyfriend to protect myself. But I learned more from the Bedouins in three months than from my entire four years of college back home.
ME – Wow. Theoretical wisdom is nothing compared to experiential wisdom. Drifting can open up and warm your heart, like the Bedouins did.
CHERRY – After the drought, the deluge.
ME – After the storm, the lull.
CHERRY – (Her hand going up and down.) Like a roller coaster ride, right?
Eastwind headed south, intrigued by the stories of the Bedouin girl. I crossed the edge of the vast Sahara to Laayuoune in the Spanish Sahara, then a ship to Las Palmas in the Canaries, the winter paradise for Northerners.
You must jar your ordered life, if you are to really live. Order is a form of disorder that enslaves the spirit. Order is boring, disorder exciting. Order limits your view. Disorder widens it all the way to the horizon. Eastwind.
AUTHOR’S BOOK NO. 1 – Wings and Wanderlust – Discovering your Inner Self. At age 26, the author hitchhiked 25,000 kilometers in Europe and North Africa for three straight years. In this book of his wild adventures, he learned deep insights that changed him totally, which he wants to share with readers. It also a guidebook on how to plan your own adventure.