By Heiko Eser
Over twenty five years ago I wanted to go to Morocco…
I had left my boring and badly paid job, borrowed a hundred marks and got a lift to Spain from friends of mine going on a holiday.
Unexpectedly and probably somewhat perplexing to them, I jumped out of the car somewhere in northern Spain, hitch-hiked towards the south, slept rough, stole food from supermarkets, broke into houses in abandoned villages in the Pyrenees and then tried to get a boat from Gibraltar to Tangier.
The ferry at the time was stopped due to too much illicit trafficking, so I ended up working as a hired hand on a yacht to Gran Canaria and abandoned my dream.
I hadn’t been too preoccupied with money, personal hygiene nor comfort at the time. I wanted Experience. The more intense, the better.
This somewhat changed during the course of time and I started to use Couchsurfing and unemployment money from different countries to conduct my movements around Europe and about a year ago, I got confirmation to be on a back to work scheme as a musician, that allowed me to properly travel again and the old flame of the dream to leave Europe flickered and finally burned bright again.
I went to Portugal and except a people that still lingered in the death throes of a vanished empire, I found little I hadn’t seen before.
Relatively recently, I had revived my interest in making music, especially drumming and I knew that in order to push further towards the core of rhythm, I had to go to the cradle of drumming and civilisation itself. I also wanted to go to an Islamic country to equip myself with the necessary personal and cultural information to deal with the onslaught of anti Muslim propaganda that currently sweeps the west and also to find out more about myself and my own culture, by confronting myself with a totally different way of life.
My Irish friend Brendan, a fishing guide and music aficionado, and myself decided, after having a laugh or two around Kerry, to travel together and what better place to wreak some havoc away from home. “Africa. That should be a giggle!” we thought. Little did we know what was in store for us.