Running Tales: An Unlikely Guardian Angel

Coffee maker

The last couple of weeks I have been running in the mornings with a fellow Scot, Linda. We start off at 7.30 when it is already as hot as any British summer, but relatively cool for here, and do about an hour. This morning we began about three miles from my house from the base of the Koutoubia, Marrakech’s iconic mosque.

I drive there and leave my car at a local car park with the Guardian. Here in Morocco, there is a Guardian for bikes, scooters and cars at every parking spot, outside every popular cafe and at strategic street corners. For 2dhs  (about 15p) they will make sure that it is kept safe.

Our run this morning was a bit of a slog. I got a stitch, due to too much talking and not enough breathing and then had to spend the next couple of miles calming it down and getting in enough air. Linda asked me how my legs were which immediately made them feel as though they weighed two tonnes each and had never run further than a metre in their lives. “Ok,” I lied, and was delighted when Linda confessed to a twingy hip. Solidarity amongst runners!

Part of our route is on a trail and in the midst of it, a magical moment as we came across two mounted policemen exercising their horses, galloping through the olive trees.

The end neared and we finished off in fine style, sprinting up through the formal gardens, past the horse-drawn carriages and a large group of very excited Italian tourists.

Flooded with the natural smugness of having done my run, pushed through an annoying stitch and with the day stretching ahead, I got back to the car. Right beside it, was a local coffee seller with his big kettle full of spiced coffee, bag of sugar and a rows of little plastic cups. “Coffee, one dirham. Coffee, one dirham.”

I reckoned I deserved a treat, so got my cup and handed over my dirham. Immediately, the coffee seller’s smile turned off and he demanded more money. I was a bit annoyed but ready to pay him a bit more when I was stopped. The parking Guardian, came running up. “No, no, no, ” he said, and brought out another dirham to give the man.       ” She shouldn’t pay more because she is a foreigner. Shame on you.”

He took my thanks but refused all repayment or tips, stopped the oncoming traffic for me to pull out and waved me on my way. A Guardian, indeed.

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