I scampered around Volulibis with my camera, and then jumped back in the taxi. Back to Moulay Idriss. Then 20 more dirhams for a front seat again back to Meknes.
I wandered towards the train station, and stopped in an upscale pizza shop for some food and air conditioning. Though the pizza shop was expensive, it was much cheaper than the tourist restaurants I'd frequented for the last few days.
Then, as I was walking back to the train station, a woman carrying a container of hair mousse and one of hairspray appeared in my path.
She started rambling on, pleading in French, waving the hair products. I picked up "enfant" in her barrage of words, and realized I was being asked for money. She wanted me to buy her hair products so she could feed her kid. Or not. Who knows. In New York, we ride the subways every day listening to the saddest stories imaginable. We all learn immunity here quickly. If you don't toughen up, you'd crack from the endless barrage of sob stories.
But here was this woman in my face. I couldn't ignore her. I wasn't sure if I should. I am always kind of baffled in begging situations. Do I give? Not give? What do the local people do? Follow the local example. But I hadn't noticed if local people were or were not giving.
Since she was standing in front of me, I had only two options. I could ignore her and brush on by and feel like crap, or I could give her something and scuttle on down the road to the train. I handed her 16 dirham ($2).
What happened next was completely unexpected.
She grabbed my head like it was a watermelon and pulled it to her chest, in one, super-fast motion. She hugged me tight and clung as I frantically pushed her away. Yikes! I am not huggy, even with people I know. And oh did she ever stink! She stunk of beauty products and heavy perfumes. I assume this was to cover up some other smell.
I pulled away and snarled "CUT THAT OUT." I quickly scurried on to the train.
I could still smell her all the way back to Fez.