Ever had a God designed unexpected experience in life? Hassan and Moroccan mint tea is one of those for me. Because of it, I’m a better human.
I have this really great Army green vintage jacket that I found in a boutique in Crested Butte, Colorado. When I saw it, I knew it was mine and I had to have it. Perfect for traveling. Wrinkled, washable, pockets.
And, best of all, on the back this message ‘I’m in love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met.’ Yes, those 14 words sum it up in perfectly.
This is why I love traveling. This is why I love adventure. It’s the people.
Living in a ‘small world’ as in the same place, seeing basically the same people, doing the mostly the same things has its good points. But, for me, it limits my horizons. It stunts my new thinking. Traveling globally and right here in the United States is an antidote for that ‘ailment’.
Food in Morocco
Don’t get me wrong. But, stepping beyond those known boundaries of life, while sometimes scary, unpredictable, challenging and more, can and will make you better.
From sites and places to the people and the foods. You don’t have to go to a foreign country. You can push those boundaries and tiptoe onto the other ‘side’ wherever you are. It’s just a matter of doing it.
One thing I hope I’ve given to my now adult children and currently (yes, more coming I’m sure!) to my eleven grandchildren is this zest for exploring all that life has to offer. Different races. Different cultures. Different ethnic groups. Different foods. And, there’s not a more beautiful people than the Berber people.
Moroccan Tea Ceremony
And, there’s no better way to do this than with traveling. I mean I would never have had the privilege of this Moroccan tea ceremony had I not traveled. Yes, there’s a distinct allure of Morocco, and here’s why for me.
Even if it’s a local road trip where you’ve packed a picnic and want to journey off the beaten track, do it! You’ll not know what lies ahead, but once you get there, you might just find something magical that touches your heart and soul totally unexpectedly. And, knowing that mint tea is Morocco’s prized possession, I had no idea what I was to have ahead of me.
Moroccan Tea Pouring
That’s what happened to me in Morocco. A journey into the Sahara where I thought I’d get the cool experience of riding a camel and camping under the stars was sidetracked by a 4×4 ride to see what life is really like in the desert.
I had no idea what was to happen. It was scorching hot and as we journeyed further and further over sand dunes in scorching sun and into the bleak desert, I was about to see what Moroccan tea pouring the hospitality was all about.
Can you imagine it? I learned so many things, in general, on my time in Morocco. From how the people grow their gardens in the desert with having access to water ONLY three hours a week in a communal water trench of an oasis to weathering the harsh conditions year round. I did get some first-hand experience.
Seeing things like this makes you realize that many of us, including me, are so insanely spoiled here in the United States. We have no idea what sacrifice or ingenuity is about for survival. I see that in these people, noble and inventive finding ways to conquer the abject temperatures of the desert which can top 115 degrees in the summer. Check out my tasting Singapore blog for more delicious recipes.
I was invited to have tea at the home of Hassan, a seven-year old little boy who lives with his mother. It was full of class and hospitality. My guide, Mohammed, knew the family well. His first thing to do for Hassan after greeting and kissing, cheek cheek, was to help fix his little pink banana bicycle.
Hassan’s mother, quiet demur and with no eye contact, quickly went about preparing the ‘salon’ tent, their special place for guests with offerings. Yes, I was a guest in their nomadic home and I never felt more welcomed.
Some bread, olive oil, nuts and, of course, wonderful hot tea.
Premium ingredients and food that was being shared with me, a total stranger.
Taking off our shoes, we sat around a small table in the salon tent. This tent was constructed from whatever could be found and salvaged from the surroundings. Tree limbs, tattered blankets, billowing fabrics, rugs and rug remnants, pillows. Yes, a true boho hodge podge of colors and beauty in my eyes.
Soft winds blowing, the sun beating down and warming the barren landscape, the vibrant colors of the patchwork tapestries and pieces of rugs let me know that this home had immense love and care in it. I felt at home.
It was a huge honor and I’ve not been welcomed any more warmly even by my own family.
I was offered even more to eat. Cooking on the open fire had been done in the Moroccan tajine. Yes, using a tagine is an ancient form of food preparation that continues to be used today.
Berbers in Morocco
Hassan and his mother are Amazigh Berbers. The Amazighs are an ethnic group indigenous to North Africa, mainly Morocco and Algeria, and their rich long history, culture, language, traditions and life is intriguing and dates back to about 945 BC with Shoshenq I Berber Pharaoh, founder of the Egyptian 22nd dynasty. The word ‘Amazigh’ means ‘free people’ or ‘noble men.’
Moroccan Mint Tea
If you have a bucket list, then you want to put Morocco on it. If you don’t like to travel, don’t want to or just have other reasons it’s not going to happen, then jump on my magic carpet. I will share the adventures with you.
One day on this trip instead of going with the group, I talked to Mohammad, one of our guides and interpreters. I asked him for a most unique excursion. One that would be probably more memorable than any in a lifetime. He said that he had a family that he knew in the desert, the Sahara Desert.
Tea in Morocco
Explaining that this was a single mother who totally supported herself and her son, she would welcome us to have tea in her world.
Moroccan Food Recipes
While I have always loved Middle Eastern cuisine, many of my Moroccan food recipes have been created because of my inspiration from this travel. Taste some of the deliciousness of this strong culture.
Berbers in Morocco
I have a hashtag about doing things in life. It’s #ifnotnowwhen. So, take to the cyberspace exploration and read more, just Google it, about these beautiful people and their history. In the meantime, ride with me into the desert for tea with Hassan.
The Berbers in Morocco live in scattered communities across many areas including Niger, Mali, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Mauritania. Open yourself to another beautiful culture, the Amazigh. You will be better because you did.
Yes, that is what I discovered with this unexpected gift of tea with Hassan and his mother.
People who are not like me. Yet, people who are just like me. We share the same wants and desires. As a mother, Hassan’s mother wanted the best for him, and she was providing that to him. Just like me with my boys and wanting the best for them.
Love and families have no boundaries, skin color or religious differences. Understanding this truism happens even more poignantly when you see a world that’s not even conceivable in your head.
After several hours of being with Hassan and his mother, who would not let me lift a hand to help with clean up, Mohammed and I watched as Hassan, like any six year-old happy boy showed us tricks on his bicycle. How fast he could ride. His ‘wheelies’. His squeals. His smiles. We play ball in the “yard” that’s one of the largest deserts in the world.
I think of my own boys. Their lives. Their worlds. I wonder if some where some place in time they might meet. Their paths cross. Who knows what life has in store for any of us?
When we get ready to leave, you can imagine my emotions. I’m sad. Yet, I’m blessed. We get in the 4-wheeler to make the journey back to the oasis. We ride away as Hassan furiously smiles, runs with us and waves. My heart literally feels so pliable and real. It’s a God-given feeling of the Holy Spirit changing me.