When my husband and I traveled to Morocco with friends, we visited some of the usual places. We toured Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, navigated the medina in Fes, and rode the Marrakesh Express from Fes to Marrakesh. We also visited the neighborhood where my great-aunt lived before she married my mom's uncle and moved to the States.
Toward the end of our trip, a guide picked us up at our hotel in Marrakesh and drove us over the Atlas mountains, through the moving making- town of Ouarzazate (Movies such as The Mummy were filmed there) to the village of M'Hamid. We ate a late dinner, then loaded up a land rover and drove to our campsite in the Sahara Desert. After sleeping on blankets on the sand, we packed our bags and set out on a camel trek. Exciting stuff, right? Sure enough. The stuff of great stories (Can you say runaway camel?) But here's the thing. The stories I most like to tell folks who want to hear the more intimate stories of Morocco involve moments of connection with the locals or my friends and husband, not stories of high adventure.
We made a point to get to know our guides. One guide was deaf, so we watched the signs they had developed to communicate (no ASL there) and did our best to communicate with him. One night after dinner, our guides gathered around a campfire a distance from us. One man had improvised an instrument- he was drumming on our water jug while the others sang along quietly in Arabic. We asked if we could join them. After a while, we shared that our friend used to be a drummer so he played some of his American rhythms on that same water jug. We also bonded with our friends while suffering from “Traveler’s D.” I know that sounds weird, but it’s true. Working through some level of adversity together can bring people together. I also reconnected with an exchange student who had lived here in Massachusetts 6 years before. My husband and I visited his home and met his wife and daughter.
One of my favorite moments, however, happened on our drive back to Ouarzazate. Our guide, Mokhtar, and I opted to sit in the way back seat of the land rover. Working with a mix of English, Arabic, and French words, we began telling each other our cultural stories. I wish I could remember all we shared that day. What I do remember is that it went something like this…
Mokhtar told a story. I said, “Oh! We have one like that!” and I told him a fairy tale from my childhood. Which lead him to a story from his childhood and so on. We went on like that for at least half an hour. It felt like time simultaneously raced ahead and slowed down to a crawl- what experts call “flow.” The storyteller in me was reinvigorated that day, for sure.
Mokhtar still has a special connection to our family. The night of the drumming, Mohktar gave us and our two friends Arabic names. The name he gave to me is the name we gave to our daughter. (People who know me personally, please note that I do not share my children’s names on this blog for safety/privacy reasons. Please don’t put it in the comments. Thanks.)
Mokhtar started as our guide but became a friend. For years, we communicated via snail mail and email. Now we message or IM on Facebook.
So here’s my point. Sightseeing is nice, but don’t get sucked into the trap of racing from one attraction to another. We saw lots of tourists in Morocco. They’d arrive on giant tour buses clutching their purses, fearful of pickpockets, only to be herded from one site to another. I’d venture to say they left Morocco knowing no more about the country than when they arrived.
Slow down. Stop and meet the locals. Ask about what’s important to them. You’ll likely find their desires are the same as yours.
How about you? What stories do you have to share about meeting the locals in your home town or from across the globe?
#RochesterLife 63: Woodchucks.
On a farm, they’re dangerous. If a tractor wheel goes into a hole, the tractor or wagon could tip and endanger the farmers. When I was a kid, my grandfather was on top of the hay wagon when it hit a hole. He fell about ten feet when it rolled over.
Here in my back yard, however, it’s fun to watch them twitch their little noses and nibble weeds while I drink my morning coffee. #nature #ruralliving
New Bedford, MA at #HatchStreetStudios, home of a bunch of amazing visual and performing artists, including @southcoastlessons
#RochesterLife 62: Raspberry Jam.
Made by my mom and sister with berries picked by my kids, niece, and nephew. (And this is only our share of the bounty!) #yummy #RuralLiving
Woods Hole Draw Bridge.
I was in Woods Hole today to do some early research for a new project. I’m just digging into this one, so I won’t be sharing any details, yet.
I also signed copies of #FlyingDeep at the @woodshole_ocean Science Discovery Center. They have plenty on hand, as does @eight_cousins_books if anyone is seeking signed copies. #STEM #STEAM
A little snippet from yesterday’s Old Time Fiddle Session at Brick (wood-fired pizza) in New Bedford, MA. Thanks to Jeff Angeley from @southcoastlessons for organizing. #livemusic #familyfriendly
Seeing my book on display will never get old.
And look, @skortch ... yours, too! #FlyingDeep #STEM
Here are some images from my program at the Joseph H. Plumb Memorial Library on Monday. We had a nice mix of familiar faces and new kiddos who attended. These first few pictures feature kids examining the 3-D printed model of the sphere that keeps people safe inside Alvin. Others show kids peeking out the Alvin view port or listening to me read and share insider details. #STEM #STEAM #KidLitWomen #Epic18
Tagging @charlesbridgepublishing and @painternik9
Gorgeous sky yesterday.
#RochesterLife 61: Cervelli Farm. I’m so happy every year when Cervelli Farm stand re-opens each May. Today’s purchases included local tomatoes, corn on the cob, and Great Hill Blue Cheese (made in the next town). #buylocal #nofarmsnofood #locavore
My “office” for a few hours today. Yes, I kayaked a little and floated a little, but I DID get some work done, too. I set-up my research notebook for a new project and read a bit of one of my resources. I didn’t get as much work done as I would have at home, but it’s been pretty busy around here and the break was nice. I’m home now and back to reading. #amwriting #amresearching