Accident in Morocco

Trip Start Jan 31, 1996
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Morocco  ,
Thursday, April 26, 2001

The man on the motorcycle didn't stop, or even slowdown. Ellen and I both saw him coming, but we were helpless. I instinctively turned the wheel hard left, into the opposite lane. It was impossible to avoid impact. He crashed into the right side of our car. Because I had cranked the wheel so hard to the left, the impact was deflected. The motorcyclist flew off the bike, head slamming into the passenger side window. When our car came to a stop at the edge of an embankment, we jumped out to find the cyclist motionless. A pool of blood surrounded his very still head.

We had been driving through the town of Er-Rachidia, just east of the High Atlas Mountains in central Morocco, returning from the Sahara Desert, when split second timing changed everything.

The man lay very still in the middle of the road. Within minutes we were surrounded with by-standers. No one seemed to care. Ellen screamed for someone to call an ambulance. I hurriedly covered the man with a blanket. A fellow who spoke English appeared and said, "don't worry" that it wasn't our fault. Ellen said that we weren't concerned about fault, but about the probably dying man in the middle of the road. His response was "this is Africa, life goes on". After 30 minutes the man began to regain consciousness. I tried to soothe him as others now joined to try and keep his movement limited. At the one hour mark police arrived. They were far more concerned about my documentation than about the man lying in the middle of the road. As we waited another 30 minutes in the heat of the noon-day sun for an ambulance the man's son appeared. The poor boy, about 14 or 15 years old, broke uncontrollably into tears. When I saw this, I broke into tears. Everyone wondered why I was upset. We were in Africa - life goes on.

We spent the next three hours in the police station, being questioned, as reports were typed on an old mechanical typewriter. Photocopies were required. The police station didn't have a photocopier, so they sent Ellen and I down to the local grocery\stationary store to have photocopies made of the documents. Kebir, the Sergeant in command, didn't have any money so we had to pay. When all was finished at the police station, Kebir asked if we would like to spend the night at his home. We explained that we still had many kilometres to travel and thankfully declined. He then offered to take us to his home for food and tea. Being invited to the home of a Moroccan is considered a great honour. We accepted the invitation. Kebir's wife, who stayed mostly in the background, laid out a fine feast of couscous, meats and boiled eggs. My adrenalin rush had brought me to the brink. I quickly consumed Kebir's food, my food and was about was about to reach for Ellen's plate when a slap on the hand brought me to the realization that I was even hungry.

It was time to go. After bidding Kebir and his wife farewell, we were off again
westward, minds weighted by the day's horrid event, into the bright setting sun and the High Atlas Mountains.
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