The King And I – When All Hell Breaks Loose
In this peaceful nation, there are various attempts on the life span of King Hassan II. I am present for two of these. Mom is safely back home in the states when dozens of diplomats and Ambassador Rockwell attend an outdoor birthday party for King Hassan at his summer palace by the sea.
Though it’s a stag celebration, I’m there to take photos for our embassy newsletter. I’m outside the primary area with the rest of the staff when we hear gun shots and screams coming from the opposite side of the wall. We’re ordered to lie face down on the gravel and not raise our heads. In a reversal of allegiance, among the king’s most trusted friends, General Mohamed Oufkir, is leading a military revolt to assassinate him and overthrow the monarchy.
When your face is squashed into gravel for any length of time, you either suffocate or try to breath through the side of your mouth by furtively turning your head. Some folks get rid of control of their bodily functions while others lay whimpering and praying. Someone grabs my camera while I am praying and I never see it again. I love that camera, but I’d gladly swap it. I didn’t survive a year and the Tet Offensive and a half in Saigon to die in Morocco-by-the-sea that is beautiful.
Suddenly soldiers loyal to King Hassan II overpower the rebels, seize General Oufkir, and save the monarchy. In the barrage of bullets many diplomats are killed, although ambassador Rockwell is secure. The local media claim”that the traitor Oufkir is dead from multiple bullet wounds.” Implementation or whether suicide remains within the royal family’s archives.
Another attempt on the life of King Hassan occurs in the heavens over Rabat. Thuraya, the gorgeous Moroccan lady who looks after me and my flat, has left for the day. When mom was here they were great pals, exchanging recipes in the kitchen, and carpeting haggling in the souk. 1 afternoon Thuraya took mother and me to a Hemmam. Similar to a bath, when we entered the steamy room, a gaggle of women surrounded us and began scrubbing and washing our bodies into a glow. It is amazing what comes off the skin. Afterwards, about the Sahara, we listened over glasses of mint tea. Many Moroccans believe invisible jinn spirits inhabit the desert. I’m soon to find out for myself.
Britannia Rules The (Air) Waves
But I’m alone in my flat. No mom. No Thuraya. I’m getting dressed for dinner, singing along with Carly Simon’s”You’re So Vain” when I hear the buzz of an airplane and loud explosions. My terrace windows are directly across the road from the royal palace. They shatter into in a million pieces-glass everywhere. He informs the king is flying back to Rabat in his private airplane to me While I relate to him what’s occurring at the palace. The local radio station has been compromised and our embassy is getting its information via BBC wave. When I turn in my own Grundig short wave radio I hear about the attempted military coup in the country I am living, from the other country outside that nation. It is the 1970s. No mobile phones, no internet. Hail Britannia!
While the palace is being bombed and strafed, four Royal Moroccan Air Force jets fire on the king’s Boeing 727 as it heads for Rabat. The fuselage was hit by them but don’t bring down the plane. King Hassan, an experienced pilot rushes into the cockpit and orders the pilot to give the controls to him. The king was murdered and I’m landing the airplane.” The cool cat with nine lives jumps into his car and speeds off, leaving the amazed insurgents more to be rounded up and detained by officers after landing the plane. Later, through flower pots and my shattered windows, I see that his little sports car through the palace gates to security to the king race.
Brief Encounter At A Sea of Tranquility
My footprints are in the three million square miles of the Sahara’s unforgiving wilderness. Blazing hot, freezing cold, the desert is a riddle of invisible roads and quicksand that swallowed Roman Legions and African kingdoms. About 375 kilometers from Rabat a scorched plain known as the sand seas, or erg, leads to Merzouga, a huge emptiness at the end of the world. The 21st century will bring some vacationers. Today there’s only me and three friends.
We’re at a sand sea of tranquility, where spending a night or 2 in pure silence can put you in a modified state once we hit the dunes. Walking over the thousand foot dunes, I stray from my friends and I’m lost. My cries for help are muted by hills of sand. From the white heat that is , everywhere looks the same as everywhere else. Someone once explained,”when you feel you’re heading east you could be heading west!”
In the stillness I can hear the steady thump of my heart. A lusty wind whistles down blows sand in my head, the dunes and obscures the sun. I think, ‘Oh my God, I will be buried alive; they’ll never find me. Do not think about water. Do not think about water’ From from the shimmering haze, a lone figure is walking toward me. When on the dunes, a young Berber boy beckons me to follow him moving in that undulating rocking gait they do. Together with his pet Monitor lizard trailing behind him the boy guides me back. He knows exactly where he is. It’s his ancestral home. I have miles to go before I figure out it.