Tea and tajine

22 09 2015

As I sit in Marrakech on my last day in Morocco, too hot to move anything more than my hands, I’m thinking about my last 6 weeks in this crazy country. I think it has been the most “different” place I have traveled, in comparison to the culture I grew up in. As a solo Caucasian female (three characteristics that make me stick out in the crowd), my travels have been far from easy and have required constant diligence. But with this experience, I leave Morocco tomorrow with much more than the 10 kg carry on that will be on my back – figuratively and also probably literally, but hopefully Ryan Air doesn’t notice the latter.

  1. Food tastes better when shared. The traditional style of eating here is from a large shared platter in the middle of the table, more often than not, a tajine – a type earthenware pot with a cone-shaped lid. And typically, you eat with your hands – no cutlery. I have come to appreciate this way of eating because in this way, you are truly sharing a meal with your company – not just sharing each other’s presence, but actually sharing the food. And best of all, no plates and cutlery to wash! Be prepared if I have you over dinner sometime…

    Tajine in the making...an art!

    Tajine in the making…an art!

  2. Lack of trust makes life harder than it needs to be. Unfortunately, I was told by Moroccans time and time again not to trust anyone. Coming from a place where I leave my doors unlocked and often my keys in my car, this is hard – but I followed their advice. Not sure which is the chicken and which is the egg, but this lack of trust seems to permeate through day-to-day life. There is particular lack of trust for the government, which translates to low voter turnout. I was consistently overcharged for items. For example, a bread could cost me anywhere from 1 dirham (which is what locals pay) to 10 dirham (equal to 1 euro). This makes one leery of every business transaction, trying to discern if you are getting ripped off. While I’m in no way supportive of this lack of transparency, to some extent, I made peace with the situation because of my privilege and just focused on whether it was a price I was willing to pay. Further, Moroccans are usually turned away from hostels with the unconvincing justification, “We’ve had problems with Moroccan guests in the past.” This generalization and lack of trust inhibits Moroccans from travelling affordably in their own country! While the importance of trust (and more broadly, social capital, as I studied in my undergrad thesis) seems obvious, it is also something I often take for granted. Hopefully that will change.
  3. Nothing says welcome like a pot of hot tea. In contrast, I have found Morocco to be very hospitable, as I described in my last post. This hospitality often comes in the form of complimentary mint tea – upon entering a Moroccan home, arriving to a hostel, or after dinner at a restaurant without even asking for it.

While this tour of Morocco certainly deviated from my original plans, I’m grateful for those original plans because they made me buy my ticket! This place is so full of sights, sounds (I hear prayer calls and drumming in Place Jemaa el-Fnna as I write this) , smells and lovely people that I’m sure I won’t soon forget. Hamdullah!




3 responses

24 09 2015

Another well written post. We are looking forward to the platter.

24 09 2015

Thanks for reading, Nigel. Maybe an idea for your Thanksgiving dinner!?!

25 09 2015

Thanks for the blog. We are all fortunate that you survived your stay in Morocco. May the remaining month be a little less difficult, however, you are not home on the Bruce yet, so keep your diligence.(just some more parental advice)

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