I was on a super low budget when I was in Morocco. I’d only started working a year earlier and my finances were not yet on a stable footing. So it was quite a surprise to me that I decided to spend more money on a carpet than I had ever spent on anything. But I liked it and travel made me feel reckless. It was also the first time in my life I had access to a credit card and the price of the carpet was the same as my credit limit.
A day or two later I left Marrakech to get the train back to the ferry and through Spain towards London. Not until I was sitting on the platform did I realize I had left the carpet in the boot of the taxi. The train was arriving imminently. The carpet was probably worth a month’s salary to the taxi driver and he knew he had dropped me to get a train to leave the country. The chances of every recovering it were minimal. The train pulled into the station. What to do?
In a second reckless moment I decided I had to try. There was one other train that day in a couple of hours. I ran back through the station to the street though of course there was no sign of the taxi.
It was increasingly obvious what a futile task this was going to be. It was a white Mercedes I explained to the station manager (in case you haven’t been, all taxis in Marrakech are white Mercedes). The driver had dark hair, a beard and a white robe. Also not a very helpful clue.
The station manager held out little hope but did in the end manage to find out for me that there was a lost property office for taxi drivers. Spending two of my last five dollars I got a taxi to the lost property place. What am I doing? I wondered as we weaved through the busy streets. What kind of hopeless mission is this? The taxi driver would have had to find the carpet, know about the lost property office, decide to give up a lot of money and then get round to taking it. The improbability loomed large and mocked my optimism.
As did the Lost Property manager. But he did agree to have a look. And there, to everyone’s astonishment, was the carpet. I was astonished and impressed. I had a stranger take a photo of me and the bag and the boy who had helped translate at the lost property office. A carpet that had been precious to me when I came across it had now become a symbol of honesty and integrity. The kindness of strangers. The value of trying, even if it seems ridiculous, even if all the odds are against you.
I made it back to the station in the nick of time for the last train out and I made sure I hung on to that carpet. I still have it and each time I look at it I remember and smile.