A new pace of life: Moroccan style
Community is love. It is acceptance and care. Community is a feeling that you know you can belong to it and be supported by that unconditionally.
A time that I have continued to reflect is the time I spent in Morocco. In Morocco, I was welcomed with open arms, Moroccan kisses, unconditional love, tea time, and couscous Fridays.
A time where I felt extremely out of my comfort zone was when I had finally landed in Morocco and realized the immediate cultural change. I was eager to experience Morocco, their food, their culture all of it, but what I didn't realize was how difficult and truly uncomfortable you feel in the middle of all of it. I struggled so much with the language. I began to learn more and more and it became less frustrating over time. A drastic change was definitely the contrast in the pace of life.
A terrace where my roommates and I would watch the sunsets
Something that was interesting to adapt to was definitely how Moroccans live at a different pace. I remember when I would go to my internship and they said see you at 9 am and I would arrive at a little before and no one was at the center to let me in. I was shocked, like where is everyone how rude they didn't show... but I quickly learned the Moroccan time.
If you agree upon a time you have a 15 minute window to arrive and that is still on time. Being late in Morocco is hardly a thing and I learned time after time when I would arrive to class before my professors, or was meeting a friend for tea. The funniest story I have about this would be when some of us Americans were meeting up with some of our Moroccan friends. We all had agreed upon a time and us Americans went by Moroccan time, while our Moroccan friends went by American time. When us Americans were late we discovered that our Moroccan friends had been waiting; it was hilarious to realize that both of us were trying to show respect to the other, we had a good laugh though.
I grew to love the slower pace of life and now I reminisce about the sweet sweet tea times, siestas, and couscous Fridays just chatting away. Couscous Friday is an all day event. It is similar to in the West when we have Sundays and eat together after church. In Morocco, they spend the whole day doing this and it is a very rich tradition. Couscous became such a popular tradition that in Morocco often on Fridays it will be hard to find anything but couscous served in the restaurants. I spent my Fridays reflecting upon my week, relaxing, eating couscous, drinking Moroccan mint tea, and not planning to do a whole lot. You had to adapt to this way of life, because the shops wouldn't open until the afternoon, couscous is the dish everyone eats, and who says no to a nap? :)
Couscous is ate on Fridays due to the majority Muslim religion. Fridays are the holy days and are spent visiting the mosque and spending the rest of your day with family, friends, and your community. I was welcomed so many times into the homes of my Moroccan brother and sisters, that I felt such a strong sense of community. It was like nothing I had experienced before. I was invited into tea sellers homes for tea time, taxi drivers became my good friends, and the local women at my center became my Moroccan mothers. That is how strong Moroccan community is, they welcome you with hospitality, acceptance, endless tea, and delicious food. Moroccans are great conversationalists, hosts, and linguistic masters.
The pace of life is so drastically different from the West, but I love tea time and think about how essential it is to incorporate a break in your day. Better yet than to accompany it with a sweet glass of mint tea and great conversations. I think we all could learn from this and remember to check in on those we love and slow down every once in awhile.
Writing this I can just taste the sweet, hot, and delicious mint tea while sitting on top of a terrace in the medina, in the Sahara, or in the home of one of my kind friends....
But for now, I will just patiently wait until I can experience tea time on a terrace in the medina until the next time I am in Morocco.