• Michael Haas

Travelling in Marocco Mitsu the Cat Part 2

"Wait a minute, little one," I said, "I'll just finish your house quickly." I emptied a box of dirty clothes. If I did not want to or could not take care of her, she would have to put up with it. He had plenty of room to sleep and to walk a few cat steps in one direction and a few in the other direction. When I put Mitsu in, she inspected the layers of toilet paper, the cotton balls I had put into the upholstery, the flat plastic plate with water that was difficult to tip over. Also, I had put in a sweaty T-shirt so she was less lonely with the familiar smell. That evening, I went to Rick's cafe. A pianist played "As time goes by", the tune Rick (Bogart) had reminded of Ilsa (Bergmann) and whom he did not want to hear so as not to be remembered. When I left my room, Mitsu breathed calmly and deeply. The small heart caused a slight, regular trembling on the red - and - white striped coat. I ordered a whiskey like Rick had drunk when he missed Ilsa and how he drank it when she unexpectedly reappeared in his life. In 1956, eleven years after the Nazi ghosts had evaporated, Morocco became independent. I thought of Rick, who fearlessly had fought Hitler's henchmen. At first glance, he seemed cold and serene, disappointed with the course of his own life and history. But this cold hid an inner vulnerability and sympathy that showed in the considerate contact with Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), Elsa's husband. When I drank my whiskey, I was convinced that Bogart would have treated Mitsu as I did. He would have said to her, "Look into my eyes, little one," called to Sam, the pianist, and asked him to get some milk. Then he would have lit a cigarette and watched the cat sip the milk. When I got home, Mitsu was lying on my pillow.

Two days later we came to Essaouira. For Mitsu, Essaouira was the first stop on her journey. The wind blew wildly over the beach promenade when we arrived. Waves threw themselves against the wall separating the city from the sea. The water rose vertically up the wall. The pillars of water stood, sparkling with sparkling drops, before the roaring sea. Then they clapped on the promenade. I parked the car a few hundred yards away, safe from the flying saltwater, in a side street. A large café on the promenade offered views of the windswept foaming waves on which surfers made rapid maneuvers. Mitsu looked out to sea from my arm. "What does she see?" I asked myself. Did she even see that far? I knew cats looked bad. Above all, they recognize people by their voice and smell. But the water, which almost clattered to the terrace, scared her. "What would you like," said a waiter in a white, worn, slightly too tight jacket. "Did the jacket become too small for him during long years of work?" I mused. "A coffee and a little warm milk." The waiter brought the coffee and the milk and watched us for a while, until he abruptly turned away, as if an inner voice had reminded him of the duty of his position. When I paid, he said that he preferred cats rather than dogs. The next day we spent many hours on a kilometer-long, white beach. Mitsu was hunting crabs that were flying over the beach. One retreated to a hole in front of her at the last moment. For a while she saw where the animal had disappeared, waiting motionless until her attention was attracted by one of the other runabouts. We were alone. The colorful surf sails in the distance were only as big as dots. We had a picnic. At the market of Essaouira I had bought a cheap plastic blanket, which I spread on the white sand. Mitsu inspected what I had to offer. French bread from a bakery run by a former foreign legionnaire. Milk, cheese, a bottle of red wine. Mitsu drank the milk, I the red wine. In addition we ate the baguette, from which I broached Mitsu a little in the milk. She did not like the camembert. Maybe she was full. I really liked it. When we finished eating, we slept in the shade of a coconut tree. Mitsu crawled on my stomach, which bulged a bit well filled. I stroked her head. She stretched all fours away and leaned against my hand. I could feel her growing a little more warm with each of her little breaths. I thought of the fox who had reminded the little prince of his responsibility. Did she know what happened to me? No of course not. She just lived in the here and now, like all little children. On the way back we saw a one-legged man moving with a crutch like a goat on the city walls. When I came closer, he shouted, "God is great. There is only one God, we Muslims know that and you Christians are aware of it. " I laughed. That annoyed him. He hopped up at me with astonishing speed. When he was only two yards away, he lifted the crutch and hopped on one leg in my direction. I fled down a narrow staircase towards the city center - Mitsu pressed close to me. When we had left the one-legged opponent, I put Mitsu on my arm and went on slowly, breathing heavily. "What should I have done? I can not beat a one-legged one. That would not make me fame. "She licked my hand. At the hotel I told about the one-legged. "Ah, Ali. He considers himself an unrecognized follower of the Prophet. He has visions very similar to those in the Koran. If you had quietly listened to him and shown your respect, he would have recognized you as a true believer and left you alone. Once we locked him in a madhouse. But he annoyed the orderlies with his sermons. They let him go after a month. He is not really dangerous. If he has caught someone with his crutch, he immediately leaves him. " "Nice to know," I said, ordering a hookah and sweet tea. Mitsu sat down beside me on a large red cushion and watched the smoke play. In Marrakech we found lodgings near the Djemnaa el Fna, a huge square that is bursting with life from all the paving stones. We sat down in front of one of the food stalls run by an old wrinkled Berber and his young, round-faced wife. They both opened their eyes when I ordered goats milk for Mitsu and put them on the table. "Where did you get that from?" The old man asked. I told how the little boy had kicked the cat. "The little girl is lucky that times have changed," said the man. "Earlier, when Islam was respected in Morocco, that would not have happened." "You think Islam forbids abusing cats?" I asked. "Yes, Allah, the Almighty has told Mohammad through the Holy Quran that the cats are the allies the people are. Cats are under the protection of Islam. "" I know that dogs are considered impure and barely enjoyable and can be killed. But I do not see any significant difference between dog and cat. " "You are from Germany. For you, divine commandments are important only if you understand them. Believing Muslims do not question the Koran. He is absolute. "He smiled and continued," But in this case, the difference between dog and cat is clear and even obvious to people like you. Cats catch rats and mice. Which dog can do that? The cats are the keepers of the granaries. That's what it says in the Koran, our holy book. " I refrained from talking to him about the possible usefulness of dogs as guardians of the houses and tasted a portion of vegetables and couscous. He looked at me like I was coming from the moon when I told him I was a vegetarian. But he also refrained from teaching me and telling me what I already knew: that Allah through Mohammad has given animals for food to humans, with the exception of pigs and all predators. Because it says in the Koran that the properties of the eaten animals pass on to humans. I was glad that Mitsu was a cat and so - with him - enjoyed the respect the Koran had for their kind. A nearby snake charmer was sitting on a rug, playing whining music on a trumpet that he moved back and forth in front of the broad neck of a cobra. He He had a turban on, his chin covered with a white beard. On the carpet lay coins that had been thrown by spectators. The cobra followed the man's movements as if she were hypnotized. Slowly, the man lowered the musical instrument in front of the head of the cobra, which, following it, made smaller and finally reached the bottom of a basket. When the rolled-up snake body had come to rest in the basket, the man locked it with a braided lid. He looked at me: "Small cats are a favorite food of cobras." "I know," I said. "But they will probably have to settle for mice and frogs. This one is not available. "" You Westerners are weird, "he said. "Eat pork, live with dogs ... brrr, I run it at the idea already cold down the back. And every cat makes western men sentimental like women. " I had no desire to explain to him my attitude to life and explain to him the rules of Islam for dealing with cats, which he probably disregarded to annoy me. Or to listen to his excuses, if he knew them and left, in short greeting. Firebreaks held burning torches in front of their soot-smeared faces and blew bright flames into the black night sky. Mitsu hid in his jacket pocket. Encouragingly, I scratch her neck. Jugglers mingled with the firemen, throwing cones in the air, catching them, spinning on their own axis. The cones flew through the flames. I counted seven with a juggler with sweat on his forehead. One who blew extra big bursts of fire from his mouth fired at the others: "Yalla, yalla," he repeated many times. The next morning I had breakfast with an Englishman, whose jeep was ready to leave in front of the restaurant. I told him that I wanted to climb the Toubkal. He was about fifty years old, gray-haired and had a straight sporty posture, polite and pleasant in language, he praised my intention as courageous and dangerous. "I too will move out to a tupkale expedition in a few days," he said. "You can not underestimate the mountain in any case. There is a lot of snow up there. Besides, you are not a mountain mate and yet you are not alone. "He glanced at Mitsu, who drank her warm morning milk on the table. "Not the weight of your companion will cause you any trouble, but the responsibility you carry for her." He laughed. "Thanks," I said. "I'll be careful." "If you want, you can join my expedition. Two customers from England will arrive tonight. There is still a free seat. " I did not accept the Englishman's offer, and the next morning I was on my way to Imlil, the place from which the hikes started on the Toubkal. On the way to the foot of the Tschebel Toubkal I thought of the warning of the English adventurer. "It is very dangerous." He was very stressed and also dangerous. The Toubkal is over 4000 meters high. In the higher elevations there is snow. Maybe there is a danger of avalanches, I thought. The altitude itself did not seem dangerous. Certainly I had to expect a strong headache if I ran up the road too fast. An overnight stay on a hut on the way to the summit was planned. I worried about Mitsu. The burden was certainly not natural for the young animal. But at least she did not need to go and could enjoy the view. Every few hundred meters the landscape continued. I looked back. The hills seemed endless to the horizon. Did Mitsu see what I saw? Whether the breadth of the horizon could mean something to her? I read that cats perceive the world differently. A village of houses made of coarse stones lined our way. Again children cried: "Toubkal, Monsieur!". They pointed upwards where the mountain lost itself in clouds. The boulders on the small path became larger, walking more difficult. Mitsu lay curled up inside the jacket pocket and slept. I breathed faster, sweating. Because of the strong wind, I had pulled up the zipper of the jacket. I sat down on a rock, my back to the summit, from which the wind blew. I scratched Mitsu's neck. She blinked, opened her eyes, pushed herself up in her jacket pocket and looked down into the valley. Deep down, there was a green dot on the duck. In a side valley was a Berber village. Red-brown mud houses with small windows painted white painted along a slope. The houses were surrounded by green terraced fields. "A barren life," I thought. "The people here will rarely leave their village. Their world is made up of the mountain, the green fields, their children, the community and their religion. " In the guidebook I had read that the Berber culture was characterized in contrast to the Arab matriarchal. I took chocolate biscuits from the backpack I had bought in Marrakech. Mitsu looked up at me and meowed. "You do not like cookies," I said. "Cats do not like biscuits." She climbed up the white loose pants I'd bought for the tour and again demanded a portion of my food. I put her down on the floor, put her a piece of the biscuit. She smelled interested. "You see," I said, "you do not like it." No sooner was the sentence pronounced than she had eaten the biscuit down to the last crumb. From the valley fast steps approached. A man with a Kraxe holding two jerry cans and other provisions smiled at me as he saw me sitting. "Tired?" He asked in French. "Yes, where do you want to go with your heavy luggage?" "On top of the hut. See you there. "He walked lightly on, as if he were marching without luggage on level ground. "Come Mitsu," I said. "See you up there, ha. It's not that easy to overtake on the wayside." I took a sip of water, put Mitsu in my jacket pocket, shouldered the heavy backpack, and marched faster than before. But despite my efforts, the figure of the wanderer before us became smaller and smaller, until finally she was no longer visible in the high fog. "Good Mitsu, we'll see him upstairs," I said. It had been an hour since the man with the Kraxe passed us by. Thanks to his incentive, we made good progress. I got some fish and rice out of my backpack for Mitsu, which seemed to taste even better than the biscuits. The cloud cover opened to reveal a glittering snowfield over which the hut lay. Their walls were made of massive brown stones. The window openings were not much larger than loopholes. "To keep the cold outside and the heat inside," went through my head. Up on the roof, the Moroccan flag was blowing. An hour later we were there. The fleet-footed man sat on the terrace. The Kraxe was leaning against the door, empty. He stood up. "Hassan, I'm the landlord. Well, you left. You are not used to mountaineering, "he said in French. And then: "A little cat. I think that's the first one to reach Toubkal Neltner Hütte. But that is nice. Where did you get the?" When I answered him, he showed me the dormitory. Then he invited me to have tea with him on the terrace. For Mitsu he had a little warm goat's milk. The sun was shining. The temperature was 10 degrees. The hut was at 3200 meters. The snow-covered summit of the Tupkal greeted us too low. A group of hikers entered the terrace with heavy crampon-proof boots. They wore dark sunglasses, which also protected against lateral light. "If you keep the cat with you under the blanket, you can take her to the dormitory." Hassan laughed. "There are no rules regarding animals at our cottage." Mitsu slept quietly next to me under the blanket. I had headache. The climb had been fast. Around midnight I fell into a restless sleep. Hassan woke the mountaineers, who continued to sleep as I did when the first began to fasten crampons to their heavy shoes. "Come on, it's time," he said. "There is no wind in the morning. This is the best time to climb. "I borrowed crampons from Hassan, left twenty dollars as collateral, and shook his hand. "The road is easy," he said, "see you later." It was true. The tracks in the snow had been treading tight. The crampons also kept my feet on icy sections. Mitsu slept in his jacket pocket in a warm sock. From time to time I felt how it moved. As long as she did not meow, I did not need to worry about her. At the top, the world opened to all sides. In the distance lay Marrakech. Among us was Imlil. The smaller ones Sisters of Toubkal greeted us respectfully. We had reached the highest point in North Africa. Far to the south I saw the edge of the Sahara in the morning mist. I took Mitsu out of my jacket pocket and put it in the snow. She tried to escape the cold unfamiliar white stuff, raised a paw, as if she could lift her whole body over the snow with it. She tried to have the diagonally opposite paw as well. For a moment she stood like a yogi in a pose that certainly required concentration. Then she lost her balance, seemed only to tilt sideways, could catch the lateral fall and fell head first into the soft fresh snow. Her face looked like powdered sugar as she struggled free. I bit back a laugh so as not to offend her. She hopped on my thighs, which were easy to reach as I sat in the snow. The climbers with the heavy boots began the descent. "All the best," I said. "Bergheil," they answered in unison. We sat for a while. Mitsu snuggled up to me and purred. Days later we took leave of Morocco in Tangier. The passport formalities ran smoothly. Mitsu slept when the border guards controlled. Then we had swallowed the car ferry with the duck. I sat in the belly of the ship for a while and was grateful that my little friend had gone unnoticed. Mitsu breathed calmly. Silently, I called her name. She stretched her paws forward, raising her bottom, bringing her chest down and yawning. "What do you think about the passage to Spain on the upper deck?" The metal steps to the upper deck were steep. It was humid. Mitsu sat in my jacket pocket and followed the way up. On deck, a fresh wind was blowing. A blond tourist was photographed by a male companion as she smiled at him with blowing hair. A group of Italians were photographed by a member of the group, who rejoined to be picked up by another. The loading hatch was rusted, and the large-limbed chains that had rolled over a man-high winch were brown with rust. The coast of Morocco departed from us. I looked for whales. They are to swim through the Strait of Gibraltar regularly. A dark wave I took for the back of a humpback whale. I looked at the cat, who had put her paws on the edge of the jacket. We had skipped the first hurdle. Until Germany were to pass further checks. Borderless Europe was still in the future. The Spanish inspector smiled complacently. "Do you have grass with you?" "No, and if I did, I would not tell you." He liked my answer. "You do not look like you're smoking. Your car already. And what's in the box? "" Dirty clothes. " We drove through Andalusia. Christianity and Islam had coined the area together for centuries. "Whoever has not seen Granada has not seen anything," the Andalusians chauvinistically say about their most beautiful city. Mitsu slept in the passenger seat as we drove into the center of Andalusia. I found a small place near the Alhambra. When the luggage was stored in the room, we went to eat. The cat hung, head out, in a linen bag that I had hung over my shoulder so that she had a clear view of the future. The landlord grinned when he saw the cat and asked how many others we had met: "Where did you get them from?" I told him the story. "You were with her on the Toubkal? I've never heard anything crazy like that. " He brought tapas and fish for Mitsu. Their hasty haste during the meal had quietly made room for safety. She had gained weight, her eyes were clear, her coat was clean. The landlord joined us. The table was made of old wood. I stroked examining with thumb and forefinger on the table top. "Teak," he said. "That lasts forever. If it's not nice anymore, you'll wipe it off and it'll look like it did before. " "What would you recommend for a tour?" I asked. "What not," he answered. "Granada is a Gesamtkunstwerk. But if you really want, I'll make a selection for you. " "Shoot!" "The Alhambra," he said. "The Alhambra is the soul of Granada." "And what else?" "That's enough for days when you have attentive eyes. The Alhambra against the mountain peaks of the Sierra Nevada. At night, by moonlight, the walls look as if they were made of shiny silver. In the glow of the setting sun they shine golden. Take this transformation in you like the multi-faceted soul of a woman. " Hours later, I stood before this stone equivalent of a female soul. Defiant walls told that the Alhambra should fend off enemies. Playful turrets told of their time as a palace. The little houses reminded her that she had also served as a city. "Like a woman she has to show that she can fight back," came to my mind. "Before she opens herself to the prince and gives him home and is home to his people and his children." A tour guide told of the first builders of the Alhambra, of princes who had continued the construction, of the fact that a Christian king had conquered the fortress in 1492, that the church was entering and a Franciscan monastery. That the palaces were used as lodgings by the troops of Napoleon, that they blew up part of them when they withdrew. Mitsu woke up as two cats on one of the old walls delivered a threatening duel. Anxiously, she heard the plaintive sounds. It was the time of the sunset. We left the reddish glowing Alhambra. A cheap evening meal on a board in front of a tavern contained a rich selection of tapas and red wine, which I appreciated. I ordered vegetable pas and a carafe of red and asked for Mitsu fish leftovers. "Gladly," said the landlord. I looked up at the Alhambra, which shone silvery against the dark sky. The wine was good. Slowly, present and history mingled under his influence. The next morning I strolled Mitsu in my bag through the streets of Granada. The Alhambra now rose gray against the mountains of the Sierra Nevada. Granada was beautiful. I understood the pride of the Andalusians in their city. But I wanted to continue. "There's a time for everything," went through my mind and the time I wanted to spend in Granada was over. As we drove out of town, the sun was low in the west. The Alhambra shone red. Mitsu lay rolled up next to me. A few days later we crossed the German border.

The Fox of the Little Prince was right. We are responsible for beings that we have become familiar with. But foxes are different than cats. They are like dogs. Anyone who has a friend or trusted a fox or a dog and has earned his trust has made a commitment. Dogs do not just pass from one person to another without suffering. Dogs are emotionally connected to people. Cats need the tenderness of humans, their protection against dogs and birds of prey, rightly claiming that they are fed when they start taking care of them. Because they are unlearning, to care for themselves. But cats are not associated with a specific person. Not Mitsu either. It was not hard for the little cat to accept that she was living with my sister's girlfriend. This friend had family, three children who loved Mitsu, they stroked whenever the little one with a proudly raised tail asked for attention. Food was more than enough. A litter box with fine sand was set up. Mitsu did not look back when Bettina carried her out of our house where she had spent a few days but could not stay. And so I realized that I was more attached to the cat than they to me. And when this thought came to me, I was glad little about it. Because with the little grief that I felt, I could probably live easier than a baby animal would have been possible.

Mitsu was not that small.

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