"Good evening," the familiar face behind the hotel desk spoke, handing me the roll of coins I'd asked
of him ten hours earlier, and my room key.
The tiny size of most hotel lifts in Europe and Africa, and the challenge of getting in shape at my age,
sees me taking stairs, often. I did this time. Thinking while I climbed, about the time lag between requesting
change (larger money made smaller, more usable), and receiving it. In the past fifteen years traveling Morocco,
I could not remember an instance where it took less than one hour. More often, four hours or half a day.
At first it tries one's trust. It does demonstrate how one becomes accustomed to things. After years of
traveling in north Africa, I pride myself on being able to keep straight the money transactions still incomplete.
But years ago it drove me nuts.
I read for a few minutes and watched BBC World Service. I'd been working on a panoramic photo shoot
from my hotel room window, shifting the camera about 20 degrees each exposure while it rested on the window sill with window
open. I went back to the task, repeating the sequence because the light was very different from the morning.
After recovering my Fanta Orange can from the bathroom trash and poking holes in it with my swiss army knife, it was useful in
helping me inhale three small tokes from the piece of hash in my pocket. I swiveled the camera on the window ledge for the final
exposure, dropping my finger to the shutter release. A loud ringing startled me and for a moment, I became disoriented.
Then I couldn't find the cell phone. It's continuing clatter helped me locate it, beside the bathroom
wash basin, charging.
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