My trip to Morocco begins with, ahem, Spryte. I’ve obviously changed a letter but it will get us used to the interchangeable y/i in Arabic. Of course in fact it is actually known the same here as everywhere else. So we start with sameness rather than difference.
Having arrived at Gatwick airport hot and thirsty I am confronted with the choice of paying £2 for either water, Spryte or a whole host of other fizzy drinks. Beyond the x-ray border where bottles are headed for the bin, if I want hydration, it’s this or drinking from the tap, and (this time) I don’t have time for that. A big lady in a fantastically purple dress and matching headscarf says £2 is too much and I agree. However, I also know how fast I dry out on the plane so this time I hold onto my health and just compromise on price. Although I’m not happy, water should be free! Didn’t some friendly international lawyers establish somewhere that we should always have access to water?
On the plane we have the same choice of water, sugary juice or fizziness. Furthermore, the lack of alcohol marks the transition into a slightly different culture. The woman in the seat next to me foresaw this and has a small bottle of gin in her bag in one of those containers designed for shampoo. She’s lovely, headed with her son straight to Agadir for a holiday in the sun after a year working in a hospice without a break.
I think the idea of going to another country usually comes from the desire to encounter difference. Different weather perhaps, a different culture, different people, something, some difference that has motivated us to go through passport control and risk losing our luggage for a few days. Yet, perhaps the airport administration and the-businesses-that-be know better than we do. When we arrive, a little wary and weary, what we want is something we recognize, something we understand, not yet ready to navigate the difference we came to see. Thirsty, and tired, I see what I need…. Spryte. Of course I don’t really ‘need’ it, but it seemed like I did. For the same ransom of 20 Dirhams, or just under £2. My token of homogenized sugary water this time bought me the time and the permission to sit in the airport train station café and gain the role of ‘consumer’ rather than ‘lone female looking lost’. Of course I would have preferred a home-made tea and cake, but in lack of it, I have to recognize that the sugar water was my friend.
Over-priced sugar-water is actually quite an apt introduction to Morocco. With the high temperatures that can make you light-headed with low blood pressure, sugar is welcome. Usually it comes as tea, or maybe as orange juice with added sweetness, but either way, the size of the cubes are testimony to the size of the popularity of sugar, with or without the tea.
So what does Spryte say about being at both ends of the journey to Morocco? Well, it says everything you want to hear, it says, no worries, I’m recyclable (with the little symbol for those of us who care); it says, what’s the problem? I’m just lemonade, with the symbol of a lemon on the front but no lemon in the ingredients, and then it talks to us in three languages. It has two prices, the one I paid and the one written on the bottle. It says, you can see what you want to see, but you’ll never understand it all.