Early Morning Confusion
Cliff shoved my shoulder. “Wake up.”
I squinted and realised it was still dark. The shutters act as my alarm clock but they weren’t due to rise for another half an hour. I ignored him and rolled over.
“Get up,” he said. “It’s your birthday.”
I put the pillow over my head.
“Wake up! Come on, you have to get packed.”
“You aren’t really sending me away because I’m old, are you?”
“Yes,” he said and then grinned when my eyes opened. “It’s a do-it-yourself birthday present. Get packed.”
I admit I was relieved when I saw that he was packing a bag as well. Suddenly I understood why he’d turned down a drink the night before. I’ve been on a diet and he said to wait to have a drink until my birthday – but of course he knew he’d be flying. Still, he wouldn’t tell me where we were going.
“Take three days worth. Expect warm days and cool nights. Make sure you have walking shoes and evening wear.”
That didn’t narrow it down much. “Give me a hint?”
“It’s a single hop.”
That narrowed it down considerably. I drew a circle in my head. “Portugal, France, Northern Africa,” I said.
“All of Spain,” he added. “And Gibraltar.”
“You’d be bored to tears if we spent three days in Gibraltar. And I wouldn’t need evening dress.”
I packed for Paris. I didn’t like to tell him how obvious it was, so I pretended that I was still thinking about it. A weekend of good food and expensive wine sounded quite nice and I could catch up on anything I missed at the hotel.
I admitted I’d worked it out on the way to the airfield. “Oh no,” he told me. “Too cold.”
Oh. I considered the other half of the circle.
Suddenly it clicked. A place I’d said repeatedly I wanted to go to. The sights of the souks, the comfort of the riads, the taste of chicken with preserved lemons and olives followed by mint tea, the sounds of the mosques calling the Muslims to prayer. The land of the Arabs and the Berbers.
I’ve talked about going there for years and even got so far as to investigate places to stay once, but something got in the way and Cliff was never that interested. Now I was finally going to go to this place I’d heard so much about. I was going to Marrakesh!
As we arrived at Málaga General Aviation, it dawned on me. “It’s a Muslim country. What about my birthday drink?”
“I suppose you’ll have to wait until next year.” He grinned as he got out of the car. “Happy Birthday!”