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?
Irish Trad Seisiun at #WorldFiddleDayNB.
Hatch Street Studios @southcoastlessons
Painting old instruments to decorate the South Coast Lessons studio space. #WorldFiddleDayNB
The New Time String Band at #WorldFiddleDayNB
Aren’t these the cutest? These are the cups that went down on the outside of Alvin to 4400 meters. The intense pressure shrunk them. @painternik9 drew the Dumbo Octopuses and I colored them in. We also signed our names and marked off 1 inch so you can see how much they shrunk. You can see them at the #FlyingDeep launch party @8cousinsbooks in Falmouth, MA at 2 pm TODAY (5/19). @jillcorc @charlesbridge
It’s been a whirlwind of a day and I have so much to share. For now, I’ll start with this: Bruce Strickrott and I were on “The Point” with Mindy Todd on our local public radio station to talk about Flying Deep. I started out feeling a bit nervous, but Mindy and Bruce put me at ease. I could talk about Alvin all day, so I had a blast. #FlyingDeep
@charlesbridgepublishing @jillcorc @painternik9 @kbworld2001
Here’s the latest remote controlled airplane made by my son @dantecusolito. He designed it and built it himself. Watch for the parachute that drops out at the 9 second mark. Watching this test flight yesterday was pretty exciting. #STEM #STEAM
I took this photo the other day, but it seems like a good one to share on Mother’s Day.
My husband and I planted this tree on our 10 year anniversary when we renewed our vows surrounded by our family and closest friends. That was before we became parents, but now the tree is in full bloom every Mother’s Day.
#nofilter #HappyMother’s Day
These are one of my mom’s favorite flowers. They’re also the favorite flower of the subject of the picture book biography I currently have out on submission. #TopSecretSubject (Unless you’re an editor who has it in your inbox. Haha). #SpringIsHere
Look! That’s me, delivering our cups to WHOI a couple of weeks ago. Swipe left a few times to see the cups getting ready to go to the seafloor and then tiny once they came back. So cool! All photos provided by @WHOI . Photos 1 -3 are courtesy of Tom Kleindinst @woodshole_ocean
You could be the lucky recipient of one of those cups if you preorder Flying Deep from @8cousinsbooks http://www.michellecusolito.com/my-books/
Review of Flying Deep From @sljournal "A captivating story that introduces and encourages scientific study, specifically the field of oceanography. A great addition to STEM collections." #FlyingDeep #nonfiction #kidlit @WHOI @charlesbridge @painternik9