‘Mahaba’. I’m knee deep in a Moroccan adventure with my friends, reflecting on the intense public space of my second home as the ‘salat’ or call to prayer vibrates through the dawn.
All my senses are alive as I usher my ogling companions through the Marrakech ‘souk’ or market. In their bright colours and large backpacks, they send a hum through the marketplace.
I am listening for the ‘balak, balak,' ‘watch out, watch out!’, of the man diving into the crushing stream with laden donkeys.
A scooter with a Moroccan Beyonce in mirror glasses and hijab shoots past me in the narrow street.
I hear the ‘clop clop’ of donkey hooves on ancient cobbled stones and recoil at caged turtles floundering on their backs in the baking sun.
Proud dark men shove T-shirts, sunglasses and snakes in my path.
My mind and body have adapted to this new world, this new life.
Leaving her sleeping baby, a henna woman chases us, in the hope of a sale. We are their meal ticket. To be respectful, a local leads us though the intricate etiquette of bargaining.
In Morocco, every man is a business man, feeding western wanting. Yet no man would shame himself to make a sale.
The generosity of ‘Mahaba,' you’re welcome, is one of the pillars of Islam. Still our buying is contributing.
My mind and body have adapted to this new world, this new life. My western ways have been chipped away.
All that I knew is useless. What is of value? A parring down, a re-evaluation, a renewal. This intensity not only includes my body, money and manners but also my feelings, thoughts and prayers.