During my stay in the Mountains of southern Morocco inspiration to write came to me in abundance. I will start this post off with two quotes that I wrote while enjoying the familiarity of love and friendship amidst foreign customs, language, and comforts.
As I watch an an Oud player weep after each song,
"To be completely satisfied, to not need appreciation for art but to feel it so completely and natural like the vein of life itself. Allow it to wash over you like the first life understood by the newly born person."
As I watch a father delighted and satisfied with the company of his family, friends, and their myrth together.
"Ain't life almighty? Do we not enjoy to rise to such height because we fear such a long fall? Does not darkness exist without light? Love speaks the same language across all that is and this thread that binds us unites us as children under the same sun. And the sun loves us because we love it. For what does not exist does exist because the mind of our kind is eternal as is our soul.".
My new friends and I travel further up the mountain to a village whose name I forget. This is a common stop for people who live around and also the occasional tourist. The attraction here is a watering hole carved in a cavern that provides a narrow but deep pool of crisp cold water surrounded by steep rocks which serve as jumping points. The pool I estimate to have a diameter of about eighty feet and makes a more or less circle with water that depths, they say, at forty meters. The water is like ice and runs off in from underground passageways carrying melted ice water from the mountain peaks. It is the only cold thing I’ve seen since landing in Morocco. The pool provides much needed refreshment and a chance for me to get to know Reda’s sister and their family a bit more. I learn that Amina does speak english and we have a chance to chat here and end up going over the marvels of my Chawell.
We stay in the pool for about an hour and as the sun begins to dip we make our way out and back to our vehicles. The road trip commences again and this time we take Outman and Abdolla along with us. They like to leave the side doors open as we curve around steep mountain sides on narrow roads. Smiles illuminate all of us constantly, we are enjoyers of summer and I feel like a child. Along the way we stop for pictures and I continue to snap the beautiful vistas and breathtaking sights.
We follow the car of Ali, Sihame and Amina as the paved road gives way to dirt, potholes and boulders. We weave in and out of this terrain and the sun hides behind the mountains that surround us. Darkness consumes most of our visibility while dust consumes the rest. We arrive, after what seems like an hour, at the wrong house and turn round to try another dwelling. I notice that some addresses are simply spray painted on rocks that face the road suggesting there is a house around the jutting rocks.
When we arrive at our destination we are greeted by a family whose every member I hug and kiss. No one here speaks English, I think, except the party of us whose members alose speak the native language. The house is beautiful and blends in with the surroundings. The main entrance brings us in a rectangle made of high walls but lacks a roof. I stare at the stars and bright moon while I am led into the main receiving area of the house. The roof is thatched with bamboo, clay, and cement. We are led to the living room area and asked to sit while we wait for our first meal.
There are about thirteen of us dining in this house. We are served traditional tagine with lamb. The father of the house welcomes me and asks my translator, Reda, if I need a fork or knife. Reda tells the man that I do not and I have no idea this conversation ever takes place. Later Abdel-Slam, the father, tells Reda he is happy to see a foreigner eat with his hands. I tell the man his home is beautiful and he tells me that it is my home.
We eat this meal and it is delicious. I become stuffed quickly and am not used to eating such large meals. I have to keep eating though, due to politeness and general taste infatuation. I am told I have to ‘strategically’ because if I finish they will serve me more but if I stop they will wonder why and cut my meat for me and put it in front of me. I eat until I am ready to burst and the plate is finished. I am told that this was just the first meal and we will eat again in a hour.
During our wait period I laugh and speak as best I can with my hosts. I get to know Ali and his family more. I use the washroom and everyone laughs. There are no toilets here and the facility is the cleanest I have ever seen. The host family notices a scorpion, they corner it, defang it and chase Outman around with it. We eat again and I overcome my belly's resistance and do what I think is a good job of tackling the cous cous. I am found out though to be feigning as I do not eat as strategically as the rest. They begin to cut meat and serve me directly. I force it down which is not exactly difficult due to taste.
Once this second meal is finished the family brings out plates filled with fruits of apples, bananas, peach, nuts, dates, and plums. I am baffled that we are still being served. The young daughter of the house catches on that I am very full and trying to be polite by still eating. She cuts my apples and serves me bananas while I eat them. I ask Reda to take me out back and shoot me but he declines.
I hope one day to come to my memories of this place and describe them further. There are so many little details that I would love to share but have to cut out due to the brevity required of these posts. From the way we wash our hands before dinner to the way we eat all together from the same plate with our hands. The magic these communal practices drums up seems abundant to me but then again it is foreign to me. A different practice to what I have become comfortable in. The intention of these practices though rings similar feelings of my time with my family and friends back home. Our desires to please each other and provide shelter, warmth, food, and most importantly love. That is why I have chosen the title of this post. For when I look at the father of this house. Abdell-Slam, and see him resting comfortably along his couch, surrounded by a beaming family whose friends come to enjoy upon the supply of his labor, his practiced smile and relaxed eyes speak a very easy to understand language. He is satisfied. There is no alcohol here. We enjoy each other's company with bursting laughter and togetherness. Abdell is satisfied and it so plainly written on his face. I see here and now that the language of love is universal. That if it was it would be God’s tongue. I love you. I want to you to be well and taken care of. Let me share this with you because it is my greatest pleasure.
Community and the universal language of love.
Reda and I, his sister and husband Ali, Amina, Abdollah and Outman depart the house with lengthy goodbyes. We twist and turn again through the blackened night turning up dust with our vehicles to again another location. We arrive at the house of Ali deep in an ancient mountain town. We prepare matts and blankets on the roof and sleep outside staring at abundant stars. I watch stars shoot across the sky as morning begins to break.
Reda, Ali, Outman, and abdolla sleep soundly next to me but I find it difficult to sleep. The dogs barking and snoring of my compagnions begin to slightly annoy me but at that point the morning prayer broadcasts. The voice on the loudspeaker, before the sun even cracks, seems to me to be the voice of god and somehow silences both the dogs and the men’s snoring. More stars shoot across the sky as the moon's reflective light no longer blinds my vision. I sleep.
In the following days in this mountain village we enjoy robust breakfast of barbecued lamb, rice, fruits, and bread that is freshly baked and offered to us by the adjacent neighbor. For dinner we eat at the neighbors house. It is here at these dinners that Amina translates the voice of its owners to me. The conversation I have with the women here after the males leave is what inspires me completely to believe that love is the same across the world. They express great gratitude to dine and eat with me and I return that as best I can. I feel completely blessed to spend time here and that I must aspire to spread this kindness.
I spend three days here and am privileged to take a hike up the mountains led by Outman who climbs its heights with ease while Reda and I lag behind in the laborious sun. Outman out paces us so much that he rests in the shade while Reda and I catch up. The view at the top is congruent with the journeys constant beauty. The land gives a constant refreshing zest of life. I observe the town and watch it inhabitants and how they live. The commerce of this town rides on the backs of donkeys and the fruits of its labor assure fed bellies and the assurance that you will live to work another day. The people are happy, grateful, smiling and friendly. They remind me of home.