Blog for the First of July
We've been in Morocco for two weeks but I feel as though we've lived four here thanks to our incredibly varied program and the fact that something as simple as where we wake up and how we begin our ablutions is an event of sorts. We are en route for Essaouira having just left our homestay families from the douar (small village) in Ourika. Yesterday was a full day; alongside the Dar Taliba gardeners and lots of hardworking local students, we helped to finish up the planting. Once the olive trees were freed of their black plastic and set in holes of rocky red clay-like soil, we moved on to the salle de cours for some theater by the students who joined us for these past several days at Dar Taliba. Two girls performed a fable in French about the importance of keeping one's pride in check. Four student acted a longer one-act in Tashlhit (my phonetic spelling for the local Berber language) called L'Ecole de la Vie / School of Life. This showed the generation gap/clash that can exist between a young man who wants to continue his studies and a father who is illiterate but knows so much about life and wants to convey much to his son about a good, spiritual, hardworking life. Symbolic and important – both of these plays' messages tie in nicely to what we've been learning from the people with whom we've spent our mountain time.
(We just drove past a man biking along with a milk crate full of 5 palm trees. I have great appreciation for the various means of transport we've seen here. Bikes and small carts, donkeys and tri-pod motorcycles... so far my favorite personal transportation scenes are donkeys with loads of hay (or mint!) wider than the donkey is long, the man atop, bobbing side to side as his donkey moves forward. It's almost peaceful watching them advance at their steady but slow pace.)
Walking back to the douar after a hike/climb to the first (of seven) waterfall at Sitti Fadma, I asked our local guide Mohammed what his favorite moroccan meal is. Framed by the gracious appreciation that seems to be such a pillar of Islam, his response was typical. Perhaps I should have predicted it.
“Le repas que j'ai devant moi.” / The meal that I have in front of me, he said. “Any meal that is served to me is a meal for which I am grateful and which I will enjoy with whoever shares it.”
We've come to Morocco with little to no depth of experience with Islam; perhaps we've done some reading or have Muslim acquaintances. But through conversations with so many welcoming, generous, peaceful and warm Moroccans, everyone in our group has come to acknowledge the appeal of this religion. I listened to Mohammed's thoughtful explanation of sharing a favorite meal and formulated my question another way so as to get to a preferred menu...