Have you ever traveled to Marrakesh, Morocco? If it wasn’t for our eldest daughter, I probably wouldn’t have traveled to this imperial city, sometimes spelled Marrakech. But many years ago, our daughter wanted to visit Marrakesh. With me.
She was living in southern France at the time. I, in New York.
“After seeing some of France, we’ll fly to Morocco,” she emailed me.
Why not, I thought.
Before leaving New York, I went to the closet and pulled out the big green book. The World Atlas.
Thank goodness for indexes but searching and aligning cartography coordinates still required patience on my part to locate where I was going. France I could point to on the map but not Marrakesh. Not even Morocco. I learned its basically south of France, flying over the Alboran Sea.
Marrakesh sits west of the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. The description was vague. Words in my head. But off I went.
In southern France, we galivanted through historical spots for a few days then headed to the airport to catch a plane to Marrakesh. The particular airline we booked with didn’t bother to assign seats. It was a race of the fittest and the fittest got to the plane first and selected all the isle seats. The rest of us had to climb over them to get a seat.
After arriving in Marrakesh, we took a cab but were dropped off in a tight spot and told we’d have to walk the rest of the way. A boy, looking about nine years old, confidently offered to lead us to our place of stay. We followed and gave him a tip.
I’ll add here that our daughters know how to travel affordably. We don’t go to touristy (read, expensive), places of stay. I’m the forty-, or fifty-year old staying at hostels with a bunch of young backpackers. Fortunately, they don’t give a hoot and we all eat macaroni and cheese together.
In Marrakesh, we stayed at a place in the medina, the older part of town with narrow, maze-like walkways paved in brick. The medina was built before cars. A long time before cars. Therefore, the reason the cab dropped us off outside the area.
During the week, we listened to prayers throughout the day, amplified over loudspeakers throughout the town. We admired gardens, palaces, mosques, and got lost while sharing walking space with donkeys and carts and vendors. We took a cooking class. The teacher made us go to the market to buy our ingredients and spices.
After forming bread dough, we carried it to the local baker. A man, situated down a few stairs, adeptly moving in front of a large stone oven. He wielded a long-handled paddle to put bread dough in the oven and twenty minutes later bring out baked loaves.
“Return in an hour, after cool, get loaf,” he said.
It was a community oven. One oven for surrounding neighbors.
Surely, it saves on air-conditioning personal spaces. Marrakesh became more than words in my head. It became a genuine place of interesting experiences, knowledge, and traditions. My souvenir? Images of hardworking, sincere people, willing to take stands for safety and understanding one another.
Trust in the Lord, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.–Ps. 37:3