Morocco is a land known for its exotic appeal and incredibly varied cities like Tangier, Casablanca, Rabat, and Meknes. While beautiful and chaotic Marrakesh is a must-visit city for anyone going to Morocco. I got to learn that Morocco is more than just Marrakech.
The best taste of the culture is found in her rural cities, when you cross the Atlas Mountain Range and meet the Berber. One of the special treats of getting away from the typical tourist path is finding places that haven’t adapted their culture to an onslaught of foreign visitors. You get to see an image of daily life as it really is.
Moroccans tend to be a very laid-back people, but you don’t get to see that as much in the larger cities. All the hustle and bustle, the eagerness to sell in the markets in the medina, creates an impression of rush that is not natural to the culture.
In rural Morocco, rush is something that is just alien, unless you’re a taxi driver.
As an example: If you “arrange a meeting” with someone, it won’t be at 14:30 of the next day, it will be “during the afternoon” of the next day.
You can get a feel of what I say just with the simple ritual of having some tea. On all my travels through southern Morocco (Berber), I found myself delighted by the ritual of “pulling” the tea back and forth between the pot and the glass until the level of sweetness was perfect, and the tea had been properly aerated. As you stretch your arm and watch the greenish liquid pour into the small glass, you find yourself tempted to see just how high you can pull the stream without spilling it. Tendrils of steam rise from the glass, carrying the delightful minty aroma into your nostrils. People sit at the cafes for hours visiting and sipping tea.
You can learn and see what I mean with Tinariwen “Iswegh Attay”
When a friend is spotted across the street, they will cross the road to greet them properly. Here one does not simply wave in recognition. Hands are gripped, friends are hugged and given a kiss or three. Family members are enquired after with plenty of “Allah willing” and “Thanks be to Allah” tossed in.
You don’t even have to be a long-lost friend. If you are respectful, polite, have a smile on your face (even if you don’t understand a single thing that they are saying) and willing to listen, you are “a friend”.
We consider ourselves “more civilised”, not a “third country”, but we don’t have this anymore. So, I wonder, taking away our “modern gadgets” are we really civilised?!
This experience is the main one in our tours, as it takes us closer to the culture and gives you time to talk and understand the Berber culture. So listen and learn. If you talk you just repeat what you already know. If you listen, you might learn something new.
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