When I landed in Casablanca on March 18th, the Mediterranean climate was a great change and comfort from the harsh Chicago weather. Although it was my very first time landing in the African continent, I didn’t feel any different. A big reason could be that my friend, Safia, was waiting for me at the airport, and I felt very safe and completely at home somehow even though I really didn’t know her all that well. But she is one of those beautiful people whose kindness shines through completely, and I was so damn lucky that she was there to welcome me.
She lives in Rabat, the capital of Morocco, which was over an hour from Casablanca. When we finally arrived in her home and I was shown my room, I was, again, thanking my lucky stars! It was full of light, just plain beautiful, and I even had a terrace overlooking the city with unobstructed views. Palm trees were right there! I didn’t unpack right away because lunch was pretty much served upon my arrival. There were servants at the house, and my first meal was a gorgeously prepared chicken tagine along with many small side dishes. The prunes in the dish stood out as I never had such sweet, tender, and delicious ones before. I never really cared for prunes…but the ones in the tagine were absolutely delicious. What was somewhat strange to me in hindsight was meeting Safia’s parents. Her mom spoke only a few words of English and her dad couldn’t speak English at all. However, strange as it may, it’s as if I knew them my whole life. I find such beauty in people–how we manage to get along without communicating in words but through body language and gestures is so, so beautiful to me. And instead of being uncomfortable with the unknown or strangers, I find both to be wildly attractive if this makes any sense at all.
It was time for some tea as tea is served after every meal…my first Moroccan tea! It was served on the terrace, and I will never forget the beautiful presentation, although everything was probably “normal” in their eyes. The tray was served with a linen mat on a pretty linen table with pretty cookies with pretty, colorful tea glasses. The flower blossoms from the orange tree were in a small bowl to add to the tea, and the aromatic blossoms along with the mint leaves will never, ever be forgotten. I wish I could have some now.
When I went to my room to unpack, Safia already had a present for me. She bought a beautiful traditional Moroccan dress for me which I couldn’t believe, and although I didn’t have the opportunity to even try it on there, I look forward to wearing it someday…someday very soon, I hope.
My first small outing on my first night in Rabat was a trip to Safia’s aunt’s house which was pretty much a palace in my opinion. Every inch of the place showed hand crafted detailing, including all the ceilings, and I wish I saw it when it was light outside to admire it’s beauty. Instead, we had to settle for a view of the gorgeous sunset from the 2nd floor balcony overlooking the city. After some pictures it was time to head back to Safia’s house for dinner.
My first dinner in Morroco was a soup of harira–a tomato and lentil soup. There were numerous side dishes: eggs, dates, figs, along with some pastry-like, fried dishes of which I didn’t know the names. What impressed me about each meal was the presentation and the abundance of side dishes. Oh, and I must mention that Safia made sure that the kitchen staff knew I couldn’t eat red meat or pork. I never had Moroccan food before but I was thoroughly enjoying and devouring everything in sight. I already felt comfortable in rejecting something if I didn’t like it. However, I was honestly enjoying everything in sight. Dessert was some type of pudding with heart decorations on it that were made from ground almonds. It was the size of a large cheesecake. What seemed ridiculous to me was the cornucopia of food! It was very hard to deny all the servings on my plate, especially since I wanted to try everything. That first night in Rabat I must have slept like a happy baby…I don’t remember, although it was only two weeks ago since this writing. I only remember the beautiful meals, the Moroccan tea, my beautiful room, feeling completely at home, and then…it was the following morning.
My first Moroccan meal of chicken tagine.
Moroccan tea and cookies!