Thursday, July 8, 2010
I'm sitting in the sub-Saharan town of Zagoura where you can float in the pool and stare up at date palms, do group yoga by the pool while listening to goats in the background, and fill up on okra tagine and mint tea until you're so stuffed that all you can do is crash on the overstuffed cushions while the warm air of the desert surounds you. Each day I find myself saying, yet again, "I can't believe this is my life!" Fortunate doesn't even begin to describe the sense at being invited to no fewer than two Berber weddings (and we're only in week 2). The first one showed a very exhausted-looking, over-celebrated young woman decorated in layers of colorful shawls over her dress, and adorned by layers of jewelry and a crown made from old coins. The fact that the crazy foreign women were given a special blanket to sit on and served the first tea illustrates how important hospitality is in Morocco. Last night's wedding (with us as the "invited" crashers) had a different feel, with 12-15 couples getting married at once. What does that look like? Close off a street and have everyone in it singing and dancing - brides opposite of their grooms - and that sums up the first day of a three-day celebration. I could barely survive one wedding day, with all the stress and planning, I can't imagine three! Our days are so packed it's hard to remember to record all that we've done, but in a nutshell, in the last few days we've gone from the "erg" sand desert, riding camels into a camp, to the "reg" rock desert, where the 46 degrees Celcius of the sub-Sahara found us eating our over-ripe melon under an acacia tree. In our driver Azaddine's village of Tinghir, his family graciously fed 15 hungry Americans a four-course meal, gave us the proper nap time afterward and even put decorative henna designs on our hands - and all this is something that Moroccan families relish. It makes me want to try to be more gracious to new people I meet near my own home. Tonight we're off to tour through the oasis and see the place where the caravans left on their way to Timbuktu. It just keeps getting better each day.