• Michael Haas

Travelling in Marocco Mitsu the Cat Part 1

Beginning of a Friendship

Mitsu crossed my path in Morocco in 1986. Or, actually, she hit me on the way because she was kicked by a boy of about ten. "What do you think you are doing?" I snapped. "I'll kick you right back." This happened in Casablanca. I came to Casablanca as young people get somewhere: on a whim. I loved the movie “Casablanca” starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. I wanted to see if the city on the Moroccan west coast was like this classic.

During this trip I visited and photographed Fes (without the cat), Marrakech and climbed and photographed the Jebel Toubkal in the High Atlas (with the cat). We visited Granada together and crossed several borders, as they existed still in Europe in 1986. Casablanca was not like in the movie. The city had kept little of the old flair in which the Vichy Régime fought against Free France and Rick (Bogart) against the Nazis. But "Rick's Café" still existed. The most important thing that happened to me in this city, however, was the encounter with the little cat that had been kicked rudely into my life. After I had driven the boy away, I took the cat with thumb and forefinger by the collar and carefully lifted her to the table I was sitting in front of. I thought about how to call her. She walked from one corner of the table to the other. Mitsu, I said. It stayed that way while we were together.

"We are responsible for what we have familiarized," says the Fox to the Little Prince in the story of Saint Exupéry. And that's how I felt about Mitsu. Because I was - in Casablanca, not far from Rick's Café, a few blocks from the harbor - in gaining Mitsu's trust. Red - white striped. A feral cat whose mother I could not find. Maybe three weeks old, I guessed. I ordered a glass of hot milk and poured a little bit into the saucer of my coffee. Mitsu drank. The little tongue darted down, forming a small spoon, retreated, and sped forward again until the last drop had disappeared in her mouth.

Mitsu, I said. Mitsu walked to the near edge of the table, ducked, stretched, jumped off and landed on my thighs. Rhythmically, her claws pulled on the fabric of my jeans. I was traveling with a “duck” (Ente in German), a small, low-powered Citroen with high tires and a rubber roof that could be opened easily. I had the analogue camera equipment with me and a wind-surfboard on top. The plastic mast had broken in the waves of Gibraltar. I had replaced it with an aluminum mast.

We stayed in the coffee shop for a while. It was getting dark. I ordered a second café au lait, the milk separated from the coffee so I could refill Mitsu´s saucer. The sun sank with lovely colors in the sea. When Mitsu had drunk, she sat down again on my thighs, spread her claws again, purred and fell asleep. The city lit its lights.

"The bill please," I said in French to a slim waitress. When I picked the cat up, she awoke. I put her on my left arm, which I held horizontally. Interested about what was going Mitsu turned her head following our way to my dark green car. We drove to the budget hostel where I stayed. Mitsu walked around the room, his fluffy tail proudly raised like a flagpole. "Feel like home," I joked. The beautiful bedspread, which was placed over the bed, reached down to the floor. Mitsu climbed up, using her claws like crampons, pulling and shoving, and sitting up a little later.

"No," I said. "You can share the room with me, the car, even the food. But not the plates and cups and not the bed. "I put Mitsu on the floor. She climbed back onto the bed. The whole thing repeated itself several times. Then I locked her in the bathroom where Mitsu began to meow miserably.

I met this cat in Khao Lak (Thailand). It´s quite similar to Mitsu from Morocco. I don´t have any picture from the cat I met in Casablanca.
I love Cats

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