If you ever want to do some people watching or get an idea about how efficiently a country runs, go to the post office. In Italy, it took Aaron a chaotic hour of being shuffled from window to window to buy stamps to send postcards back home; in Vienna everything is clearly sign-posted and people stand quietly in straight lines waiting their turn.
Today we’re in Marrakech and we’ve been standing in line now for 90 minutes to organise postage back home of an oud (homework: what’s an oud?) purchased in the Souks from a shop endearingly named ‘Bob Magic Music’.
We were told to get to the post office in the morning to avoid queues. I’m not sure what the queues are like during peak periods, but right now it’s crazy. There are makeshift lines, but no one seems too concerned about remaining in one queue. I believe there are five people working behind the counter at the moment, but their commitment to any one queue is also pretty ad hoc. I’m sure that by the end of the day everyone gets what they need, but right now, it looks incredibly disorganised.
So, I’ve had plenty of time to people watch and standing here waiting I’ve wondered, not for the first time, about diabetes in Morocco.
Yesterday, we were in the Atlas mountains, eating lunch on the terrace of the house owned by the local imam. At the end of the meal, as we were served mint tea we were asked ‘Sugar okay?’ Aaron and I both nodded. ‘It’s because of diabetes that I ask,’ our tour guide explained. ‘Is there a lot of diabetes here?’ I asked, thinking of all the kids we’d seen playing out on the roads. And I thought of the examples of manual labour that were apparent everywhere here – men dragging carts full of vegetables; woman crouching by water holes washing clothes, goats being herded by old men. There didn’t seem too many opportunities for sitting back and doing nothing.
Our guide mentioned it was becoming a problem in the city, but up in the mountains where most families are self-sufficient and electricity is relatively new in some villages there is limited diabetes.
Last night, back in bustling Marrakech I became aware of the Coca-Cola signs everywhere – in the souks, out in the Jamaa el-Fnaa square, down the tiny alleyways.
I wonder how many people standing in the post office are living with diabetes and how they navigate their healthcare system. I wonder if we share stories of burnout and frustrations at numbers that don’t make sense. I bet we do. Afterall, diabetes is a universal language.