My friend Sebastian almost died on the floor of our Taghazout apartment the other night.
I woke up at 4am to what sounded like someone being tortured. Sebastian was groaning like he had a knife in his belly. Since he’s been battling a hectic case of measles the past two weeks, I figured his agony had to do with the fever. The groans sounded so atrocious, I got out of bed and walked into his room to check on him.
When I opened the door, I found him on the floor. His head was bobbling against the wall, and his eyes were wide open and rolled into the back of his head. His primal groaning continued as I tried to break him from the trance. I was grabbing his arms and shouting for what must have been over two minutes, but couldn’t get a response. He was having a seizure along with difficulty breathing, and looked a lot like the girls the other night (see post below).
I quickly stood up to head out the front door to grab someone with a car so we could rush him to the nightmare Agadir hospital, but as I began to move, got light headed and almost collapsed. At that point it registered that the room had filled with poisonous gas, causing the deadly situation. Luckily I was able to blast open the front door without passing out, flushing the house with fresh air.
My next move was to turn off the gas cylinders, but only one shut off. The gas control on the second cylinder, which was delivered completely full and hooked up in our apartment earlier that evening, was locked open. After opening every window in the house as quickly as possible, I got back to helping Sebastian. Since our place was 4 stories up really steep indoor stairs, there was no easy way to carry his 200 pound body outside with my wobbly legs.
After flushing his face with fresh air from the windows for a few minutes, Sebastian finally broke the seizure and his eyes focused on me. He wasn’t able to stand up for a while, and looked seriously hurt. I helped him get to his bed, which laid along a big window I had just opened, and sat down next to him.
At that point my head was throbbing, lips were going numb, and I was feeling really dizzy, even though fresh air was circulating through the house, so I rested my head on the windowsill.
Thankfully after Sebastian collapsed, his primal instinct kicked in with the horrific groans. If I hadn’t heard them, he’d be dead, and I may have been next since the gas was probably leaking under my bedroom door.
We ended up riding out the rest of the pre-dawn hours with our heads on the windowsills, as the loud Muslim chanting blared over the town’s loud speakers for the long 5am Islamic prayer. It was time to get out of Morocco.
After spending a few hours dry-heaving with migraine headaches in the Agadir airport departure lounge that morning, we got on a flight to London. Sebastian still has a crazy rash all over his body and is battling a longstanding fever from the measles. Both of us are really looking forward to getting home.
I’m still in disbelief that I came upon three unresponsive, seizing, friends bodies (one of whom is like a brother) over the past three days, all due to gas leaks.
When traveling through areas supported by old gas lines and containers, I’m going to turn off the main cylinder when not in use.
Photo: Truck delivering gas cylinders to our apartment, and Sebastian Slovin during the first week of our trip.