Trip Start Jul 05, 2011
19Trip End Aug 21, 2011
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Where I stayed
What I did
My first break fast experience was in Chefchaouen after I'd moved from an extremely cheap hotel to a maison d'hote because I had an early bus and needed to be near the station. My room looked like a warm little hobbit hole complete with tiny, stainglass circular windows. The owner offered me Ftur (the name of the meal with which you break the all day fast) adding his 10 year old son to keep me company and practice his french. Though I've been thinking in french these days, my confidence in my ability to speak it still wanes and I'm not about to pretend I can teach anyone how to converse in french. Still, Papa wanted Samir to sit with me. After I ate my harira (delicious, spicy lentil soup), dates, and cookie-like-thingies, Samir proudly showed me his garden and told me he wanted to be a conductor when he grew up. He also couldn't wait to get his license and was fascinated to learn I had a car - he giggled at my picture when I showed him my driver's license. Just you waid, Samir....though based on how people drive here I would be surprised if any of them had licenses...
The third time I broke fast was with another Mohammed who laughed at me when I said I wanted to go to the hot springs outside of Fes. It's Ramadan you stupid tourist, how exactly do you think you're going to get back to Fes? Well
If you haven't caught on, it is customary to invite a guest to break the fast with your family. It doesn't, obviously, have to be someone you don't know it just needs to be someone outside of the family. Yesterday, I was Mohammed's family's Ftur guest and his mother was out being someone else's.
Mohammed spoke enough french for us to communicate but his family spoke only Arabic. In the almost month that I've been here I've picked up a shamefully tiny amount of Arabic so I ate and they talked. Tarek, the 12 year old who reminded me so much of my brother Tyler, had just been punished -physically- for drinking milk without permission (huge no no when the rest of your world is fasting) and at first he was very shy, sad and embarrassed but the moment I showed him pictures of my siblings and Canada, he opened right up. He told Mohammed he wished I were staying longer so he could go out into the medina with me and show me around and then I could come back and stay with them
It's been a challenge, finding genuiness (yes an awkward word but one nonetheless) in a sea of scams but when I have it's just been that much sweeter. A poignant and charming realization that the truth of Moroccan people lies in their genuine heart. Despite the perils of tourism and it's creation of greed, I will hold the above experiences nearer than any negativity I've had to endure. It's all par for the course - the tourism industry has created this reliant monster and we can't blame it trying to eat us alive.
Ramadan is about forgiveness, generosity and cleansing your soul. May I be as generous and genuine as the kindness I've been shown.