A Successful Search

I searched with success for a particular item last Monday, but
the connection between the result and the process by which it occurred
seem inexplicable. There is just no reasonable, nor rational
explanation for what happened.
We have no stove in the apartment in which we are staying and
wanted to be able to make coffee in the mornings. In some Moroccan
homes we have visited, we had seen people use a small bottle of butane
gas (Butagaz) with a burner attached directly to the bottle, the
burner surrounded by a small, metal frame that would support a pan for
cooking or in particular, a coffee pot. We have a couple of coffee
pots which brew coffee when a flame is applied directly to the bottom,
forcing in a reservoir up through the coffee, and then through a stem
as the pressure increases to the upper half of the container where the
brewed coffee is collected.
There are several hanutes, essentially small, corner grocery
stores in our neighborhood that sell bottled gas. I thought that
perhaps one of them might have the required accessory. A fruitless
search to five or six of the strores netted me only a name for the
item, with which I could at least ask for the item directly without
having to try to describe it in my fractured Arabic. I widened my
search to a few shops that had hardware items, paint, and work
implements like small tools displayed in their windows, but still came
up empty. However, I did confirm from the advice I received that I
needed to concentrate my search in the section of town called Atlas,
well-known for being replete with hardware stores and all types of
building materials.
Monday afternoon I hailed a taxi near our apartment and asked
the driver to take me to Atlas. He said he had another client, who
was just getting in the taxi, but that he would take me after dropping
the other passenger. I agreed, implicityly by not getting out, that I
would pay a little extra even though he would start out in the wrong
direction. Or so I thought!
The driver turned the taxi around as I expected, but did not
take the route I assumed he would based on the information I thought I
heard. I became a little anxious as we moved farther away from the
location where I thought he would the other passenger, and directly
opposite to where I needed to go.
When he made another left turn into a new residential
development, I knew I was in trouble. Within a couple of minutes he
pulled near a building, turned around to me in the back seat, and
asked, "Is this O.K"? Too embarrassed to say anything else, I
agreeed, paid him the seven dirhams I owed ($1,00) according to the
meter, and even tipped him another dirham, I suppose for putting me
out in a place I had never seen.
As I exited the taxi, I noticed some butagaz bottles in front
of a small hanute right next to where the driver had stopped. As long
as I was there, I decided to nquire if they might have a "tourndeau"
and wonder of wonders, they did. It was exactly what I had been
searching for.
Somewhat elated at my good fortune, I decided to walk the mile
or so back to the apartment to increase my awareness of what else was
in the neighborhood. When I got back to the main road, I began to
piece together what had happened. I saw a sign advertising a new
subdivision called Anas. That must have been what the driver heard
when I said Atlas. Furthermore, before turning leaving he said to me
"fer-rouge." Unforturnately, I only heard "fer" meaning iron or steel
in French. I assumed some reference to some store in Atlas, where a
lot of metal items are sold. I had assumed I would be close to some
store that could me anyway.
However, "fer-rouge" is the normal French term for red-light or
stoplight which Moroccans have brought over into their dialect. Sure
enough, the driver had turned off the main road at he street with the
I could recreate the the scenario that left me on foot in front
of a hanute in an isolated location a few miles from where I wanted to
be. For the life of me, I cannot determine why that driver would
deliver me to the very store that supplied me with exactly what I
needed. There must be a lesson in here somewhere, maybe a guardian
angel looking out for people like me with such poor communication
skills and a reluctance to admit my mistakes.
By the way, we have been having great coffee for the past few days!


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