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Monday, 14 March 2011

An almond, and the world.

In The Souk

“La Personne citée sur ca certificat a subi une opéeartion churgicale  pour retirer le colon et a une iléostomie . . . .”

“. . .Se fosse necesarrio esaminere la sacce, é richiesta la presenza di medico qaulificato . . .”

“ . . .Cualquier interferencia puede causer fugas y que la persona sufra molestias e incomodidad. . .”

The certificate firmly clasped in my hand, I stepped through the metal scanner at East Midlands Airport. No problem. Apart from the certicificate itself being scanned (unread) and I was waved through.

I had been slightly wary in anticipation of this moment for a few days now. The certificate checked and re-checked along with a letter from the doctor as often as my passport. It was the first time I had flown since my operation in 2009.

I had, in the midnight madness of dreadful dreaming, imagined being escorted to a small room and ordered to disrobe, de-bag, explain, undergo searches, and finally suffer several years of imprisonment in solitary confinement. Such is the leaping power of imagination in the dark hours.

But there was nothing to it.

Marakech is a place of smells, satellite dishes, colour, mopeds, spices, noise, snakes and monkeys. It is also hard to get away from from cous cous, chicken, olives, peppers, tagines, and salted almonds.

I love salted almonds. I love them a lot. The mysterious taste of almond which is not quite sweet or savoury. Mmmm. I wanted more and more. There is something in animal nature that knows when the body needs more of something. My mum, for example, ate coal when pregnant. There is something in almonds that I want.

After a few days of Marakech in which I am eating a low fat, low alcohol, low danger diet my body is right up to the mark.

Eventually it’s time to go home and in Marakech airport I face the security procedure again, and again I’m nervous.

I’m waved forward through the metal detector, and subjected to a thorough pat-down. I am going to jail for sure. I point out that I’m still wearing my money belt.

The man dismisses this explanation and starts feeling around my middle with methodical hands. He is giving the top of my bag a bit of a squeeze. I am feeling a rising panic about this, and reaching round to my back pocket for the travel certificate with widening eyes. This is momentarily quite invasive - I mean who wants their bags felt in public by a stranger.

“Passe”  he says.

I Got home last night late, and realised that my gut was becoming blocked.

So if you are in a similar situation; don’t worry about international security, worry about the almonds.

By the way: 
You can obtain a Travel Certificate from National Office. Either e-mail, or telephone IA free on 0800 0184 724

The certificate is printed in English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic and Chinese.

Also getting travel insurance with a medical condition is tricky; without moving into advertising I thought I would just point out this company actually know about insuring people with pre-existing conditions. 


  1. hope it's all sorted out now :D - my friend just came back from there with her family and had a great time...did you go and get harasses in teh markets and see the monkeys & snakes have have photos taken with them?

  2. Snakes and monkeys everywhere in the square, but we avoided them.

    The Atlas mountains were beautiful, and the clamour of the bustling streets was breathtaking.

  3. It is with regret that I read the recent news of the bomb in Marakech and in the main square. In fact the café that was at the epicentre of the attack is somewhere Clare and I have been and drunk mint tea.

    Such a painfully destructive thing. There must be a better way of making a point than slaughter.


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