Cathy Grey, Morrocco

Mint Tea and a Mint Attitude

Morocco, one of the MOST exotic countries I've ever gone to. Every day was a different adventure, and each one equally exciting and informative. I don't know which was the most fun, being named "Cous Cous" because I was told I was delicious (politely) by a Touareg in the Sahara, sipping tea with the comical, yet brilliant Aziz de l'Oaziz in the Oasis of Fint, or bargaining for Tee-shirts and photo shots of charmed King Cobras in the market square in Marrakesh. The people are so warm not just to tourists, but to each other. They still GENUINELY care about their fellow man.

My guide: when I had to go to the ladies room, this man made sure the bathrooms were more than acceptable before I went in. He also stood "guard" outside, as I was a solo female having to pass through hoards of men. He asked if the music (native) he was playing was ok--of course I loved it, and he and my driver schooled me on the various types of music, and loved all the questions I asked.

The ultimate: after lunch one day he stopped in town and disappeared briefly--the guide said he went to buy bread for the dogs in the hills! This man wasn't Rockefeller....but took some of his hard earned money to feed "feral dogs"..I was so touched, I jumped out and found him and said I want to buy some too, and how about some meat. He said meat is about 800 Dirham--forgetting the exchange, I said, ok--he looked at me quizzically, and said "are you sure?"...I recalculated and realized it was over $100!! Turns out the meat is sold by the carcass!

So off we went with the bread...not much later, we passed through the hills,and as soon as the dogs saw the van, they came running, and we tossed bread out to them which they hungrily grabbed. Shortly after, we passed 3 heavily laden women with 3 very heavily laden driver stopped, gave them one of the loaves of bread, and a liter of water from the back, which we always kept on board for the road. My guide said, because they are poor. Just like that. I was in awe and just had such respect.

My guide and I bonded like sisters, and stayed up late talking about everything from men to religion. She was so sweet, and so knowledgeable. And going in to the shops, and bargaining, chatting.....oh I had such fun talking about everything with the shopkeepers.....I came to really enjoy the teas.....very few were too pushy.....some were flirty (LOVED that), but NEVER disrespectful. And everything is so relaxed.

I came back not only renewed and refreshed, but with a new (mint) attitude, which I am trying very hard to keep alive. I am more than ever appreciative of what freedoms I have in this country, which 99% of us have no idea how much we take for granted. On the other hand, I have come to realize just how TOXIC my job and the American (particularly New York ) lifestyle has become.....rush, rush, more, more, bigger, bigger, worry, worry, money, money, money, and all at whatever and whomever's cost). I am determined to live more like a Moroccan, caring better for my fellow man/woman, taking things more in stride, and having a cup of mint green tea with sugar almost every day! P.S.--pick FOUR shots!!! Good grief, how? I took 2000!!!! (no joke)