Wednesday, July 15, 2009


How can I do it justice? What a weekend. What a HUGE thanks I owe to Samira for sharing her hometown, family and friends with me. It’s not like she didn’t have anything else to do the 4 days I was with her-there were handymen, cleaning people, construction people there any time we were in the house, as she and her husband Bayan continue to complete their beautiful condo overlooking the bay in Tangier. So here are the highlights and snapshots…..

Spending the day on the beach and swimming in the remarkably clear Mediterraean Sea just east of Tangier
Poolside lunch feast at Souad’s house with Samira’s lifelong friends
Karim driving us everywhere all weekend long
Dinner and drinks at the historic El Minzah Hotel paid for by Samira’s family’s friend
Fish at every meal possible-can’t get enough
Getting to celebrate Samira’s birthday and graduation
Manicure/pedicure in the house

Tourists from Spain getting their picture taken on a camel on the beach
Sitting on the couch enjoying the Mediterranean breeze coming in the window
Breakfast every day at Comedy Cafe
Watching Samira’s graduation CD in the cabana poolside at Souad’s-congratulations again!
Nighttime view over the bay
Conversations that are a mix of Arabic, French, English and Spanish
Souad’s professional kitchen-a dream! Heck, her entire house-like a palace!
Moroccan schedule: Bed at 2am, breakfast at 11, lunch at 4 or 5, dinner at 11 or 12
Cyber café that’s actually a café-get internet and a ns ns

So much more about Samira’s family-her father, her absolutely amazing mother, where she grew up, etc.
Head scarves are a relatively recent phenomena-the jelaba/face scarf is the traditional veiling of Moroccan women
Traffic can be worse that LA-dare you to drive in Tangier!
Politics and corruption in Morocco-can turn her people away
California neighborhood where Samira grew up is in the hills overlooking the bay, with eucalyptus trees everywhere
One accommodates quickly to western toilets, tp, shower w/real water pressure

Next time….
Spain, only 35 minute ferry ride
Business trip to the countryside to check out potential import products

It was a study in contrasts, I must say. Samira’s Morocco and mine are quite different. If you only saw the Morocco I saw all weekend, you’d wonder why the Peace Corps is in this country. There is vast wealth and vast poverty, and little between the two. Tangier is wealthy, at least the Tangier that I saw. Private drivers. House full of help. Young children only speaking French. Lovely restaurants. But don’t get me wrong. Every person I met was truly wonderful. No one taking it all for granted. Down to earth. Delightful. A ton of fun. Moroccans are remarkably generous, hospitable and inclusive, regardless of their station in life. But it was quite a different side of Morocco to see.

It was an absolutely wonderful vacation. I am so grateful that Samira shared it all with me. I really love Tangier, and will definitely go back before I leave Morocco.

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