What, you might ask, constitutes this day in Morocco as the Most Incredible Day?
The short answer is human connection.
What made this day so memorable was that we were given an opportunity to meet a number of family members and friends of our guides, leaving us with full hearts & memories that will stay with us for a lifetime.
Driss, our guide, grew up in a small village in the desert. His heritage is Berber, a heritage he is very proud of & one that has a long & interesting history. Driss’s mother had graciously offered to host us for lunch, thus giving us the opportunity to meet her & giving her the opportunity to see her son.
We were only too happy to accept her invitation.
Driss had explained to us that when he was 11 years old, his father had died, leaving his mother with 9 children to raise on her own. I can only imagine how overwhelmed she must have felt in those first weeks of losing her husband, figuring out how to manage & provide for her family. Through hard work, determination & pure grit, they prevailed.
Today, Driss’s mother & his 3 sisters live in a home he built 6 years ago. At 30 years of age, he carries the responsibility of providing for them, a responsibility he accepts with a calmness & a grace that leaves you feeling such admiration & respect for this young man.
As we drove into his village, we could sense his excitement about being home. Clearly when we saw the joy & pride on his mother’s face, it was evident the feeling was mutual!
The combination of his job keeping him on the road & the remoteness of his village, prevents him from visiting on a frequent basis. A trip home is cause for celebration!
We were invited to make ourselves at home & enjoyed a wonderful meal his mother & sister had prepared for us. I am not certain what it was called in Morocco, but we would compare it to what we know as a panzerotti. Unlike the deep-fried ones we are accustomed to, his mothers’ recipe is made from scratch & baked in a fire oven. Although she now has a more modern oven, Driss explained that her preference still tends to be the old-fashioned way! It was absolutely delicious!
Ahmed doing a fine job of pouring the mint tea! Us relaxing before lunch. Lunch is served!
For those of you chefs that might be interested, here is the oven that was used to cook our pizza. Don’t be fooled by the smile on my face for cooking is not my forte! I had asked Driss to show us how it was done & he wasn’t going to be caught dead posing for a cooking shot, so I was laughing at him!
After our lovely meal, Driss invited us to take a little tour of his village, reminiscing about his life here as a child, & sharing how he loved to run through all of the small little alleyways.
He then took us to see the home where he spent most of his life, up until 6 years ago. To say that this house was basic by our standards, is an understatement. As we walked through, we found ourselves speechless.
What we deem to be a necessity in our homes is embarrassing in comparison.
After we expressed our heartfelt gratitude & said our goodbyes, we made our way a little further into the desert. It would be our initial experience at off-roading, where roads don’t really exist.
Along our way, we came across this random little group of camels lined up in the middle of nowhere. One had tipped over, so Ahmed jumped out to set it upright.
Our next stop would find us being introduced to a Nomad family living in the desert. As if anticipating our arrival, we were greeted with enthusiasm & invited into their tent to share a glass of mint tea. This is common practice in Morocco, a gesture of welcome & friendship.
Whether you are arriving at a hotel, a family home, bartering in a shop or visiting a family in the middle of the desert, you will be offered mint tea. Moroccans love it with sugar, to have it any other way is considered a tourist version!
With the help of Driss acting as our interpreter on both sides, we engaged in conversation, learning about each others lives, leaving us once again, with such a sense of gratitude for having had this experience.
One of the things I have learned through travel is that when it gets right down to it, essentially we all want the same things in life.
Regardless of where we come from or what we have, we are all just people striving to live the best life that we can.
To raise our families in peace, protect them from harm & to seek opportunity where we can, to ensure success, whatever our definition of success might be.
Our last stop on our Most Incredible Day was in Merzouga, where we would take a 1 1/2 hour camel trek into the desert. At the outset of making the decision to travel to Morocco, the camel trek had been our main incentive, a cross off the bucket list so to speak.
We couldn’t have imagined that this trip would offer us so much more than a simple tick on a bucket list.
Our bare-footed camel
boy guide led us out into the desert, making his was to our camp, where we would spend the night. I think I can speak for my travel mates when I say that sitting on that camel, looking out across the miles of sand dunes, reflecting on the day we had just experienced, all felt a little surreal.
Arriving at our camp, we were more that delighted with our accommodations. We had the option of staying out in the desert for the night or being taken to a hotel. We had opted for what we thought was a very basic camp, one where we expected cots, no running water & most likely a hole the ground as a bathroom. What we found was a version of a luxurious MASH -like camp, complete with flush toilets & a shower!
If that weren’t enough, we were also provided with fabulous entertainment that evening around an open fire, under thousands of stars. The musicians were our guides themselves, along with another young man at camp.
Driss appeared with Ahmed in tow, looking very handsome decked out in his Berber desert attire. So much fun & just more reason these boys became like family to us!
We are so incredibly grateful for having had this Most Incredible Day & for the families who generously opened their homes to us. It truly was an unforgettable experience.
Have you ever experienced a day like this on your travels?