Life in a Cocoon
The wonderful gift of leaving the United States for a short hiatus is that you get a fresh look at what seems normal.
And discover some stuff’s not so normal.
For example, I left my laptop and tablet behind when we travelled to North Africa, which put a dent in my morning ritual of scanning headlines.
Mind you, I could use my cell phone to check the news, but I resisted.
To be honest, we couldn’t get wifi, except for our brief stay in London.
I wanted to leave behind some of my poor habits, and checking the phone is one of them.
So: we were forced to engage with each other and with the landscape and with the local folks.
We even decided to stay in hotels that had no television sets in the rooms.
My sweetheart and I put away our electronics for a delightful supper at a French-inspired restaurant at a coastal town in Morocco.
We savored every mouthful.
Vegetable soup garnished with yogurt, grilled monkfish, and grapey red wine were served for dinner, followed by a honeyed pastry.
Our waiter—a Moroccan denizen–learned our names and thanked us for enjoying each bite.
At the next table, two young women from China ate their meals with eyes locked on their cell phones, except for the moments when they snapped selfies.
We discovered some tourists preferred their vacation delivered in a cocoon, and they communed with their phones rather than with each other and their surroundings.
Instead, we took time to ask questions, learning about the cities and the country-side.
We shared meal-time with a Moroccan family that had formerly lived as Bedouins in the desert.
They invited us—complete strangers—into their home and we ate tagine chicken like natives: you dig into the communal plate of food with your spoon (or, traditionally, with your fingers).
No plate. No napkin. No parachute.
For dessert, the mother of the household brought out peanuts and tangerines and set them in the middle of the table.
She offered traditional Moroccan mint tea with a flourish: she poured hot tea from the pot into one glass, then into another glass which she tasted, then poured the first glass back into the pot, then poured another glass, took another taste, and poured the liquid back into the pot, until finally, satisfied, she raised the pot to her shoulder with one arm and poured a stream of tea into each glass.
We found the Moroccans sincerely warm and welcoming, and seemingly happy to have us visit their homeland.
Photo (c) Cynthia Coleman Emery
31 December 2017