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|Morocco's Extraordinary Donkeys|
by noteworthy at 5:15 pm EDT, Aug 30, 2009
The roads in the medina of Fez are so narrow that bumping into another person or a pushcart is no accident; it is simply the way you move forward, your progress more like a pinball than a pedestrian, bouncing from one fixed object to the next, brushing by a man chiseling names into grave markers only to slam into a drum maker stretching goat skin on a drying rack, then to carom off a southbound porter hauling luggage in a wire cart.
It was that stoic expression, of course. But even more, it was seeing, in that moment, the astonishing commingling of past and present--the timeless little animal, the medieval city and the pile of electronics--that made me believe that it was possible for time to simultaneously move forward and stand still. In Fez, at least, that seems to be true.
The brain creates its own time, and it is this inner time, not clock time, that guides our actions. In the space of an hour, we can accomplish a great deal -- or very little.
As far as I could tell, the donkey was alone; there was no one in front of him or beside him, no one behind. I wondered if he was lost, or had broken away from his handler, so I asked the porter, who looked at me with surprise. The donkey wasn't lost, the man said. He was probably done with work and on his way home.
"Tell me, what is the price you want to pay?" Mohammed asked.
There used to be a time if you didn't have money to buy something, you just didn't buy it.