As we move into Ramadan this year, it comes at a time where we are already forced to self reflect, sacrifice our freedoms and build as a community. If you had the privilege of visiting Morocco, you may have experienced its famous Moroccan hospitality. As a tourist, you will be welcomed as family and treated as such. As a Moroccan, there is an understanding among each other that is inherent with living here. Most travelers fall in love with the simplicity and beautiful philosophy of life here…to enjoy every moment, express gratitude and believe everyday is a gift. Know nothing is promised and that tomorrow may be better, inchallah.
The Magic of Morocco
There are magical moments you will cherish for a lifetime. Witnessing the Sahara Desert for the first time or travelling through the Atlas Mountains. Those iconic alleyways in the blue city of Chefchaouen, or the leather tanneries in Fez. Stargazing in Sidi Kaouki, listening to Gnaoua music and dancing to its rhythm. Embracing the call to prayer from mosques that reach out to your soul. The simple moments you share at tea with someone and reach a deep level of conversation that goes far beyond buying a handcrafted artisan carpet. A short conversation with a stranger that connects you for years to come. Maybe you are lucky enough to cook a Berber-style tajine on the fire, a culinary process taking hours as you listen to the fire crackle and dogs bark in the distance.
Morocco is a place most people come to explore with curiosity and takes you perhaps a different world better than expected. Here, it is a slower pace of life, call it “island time”, that almost stands still. Many people complain about how slow everything is, paperwork, administration, service or whatever the case. But this slower sense of time is what makes it special. What makes you appreciate how precious time really is. The moments you stop for coffee and watch the sun fall into the Atlantic Ocean. Or buy your fish fresh from Essaouira’s port and wait for it to be grilled right in front of you. The small surf and fishing villages like Imsouane, where the waves move as long as you want the day to last…
The People of Essaouira
Of course, you hear about merchants that call after you, ‘harass’ you and try to lure you in for a sale. These stories are not what represents Morocco and are not common to Essaouira. While many tourists look for the best price and try their hand at haggling, keep in mind your sale may be the only for that month. Those few coins you saved is what might feed them for a week. They are self-employed, with no health benefits, unemployment insurance or the means for the next month.
Here in Morocco, you meet so many people who offer you nothing more than good courtesy and kindness, because it is ‘their duty’. The people you meet who live simply and see life on a wider lens. The best conversations about life are spent with those who have or came from nothing. They understand there is more than the material world. They touch your heart and most often you don’t even remember their name. The kind of wisdom gained from life experience and humility.
There is the random person on the street who takes time out of their day to show you to your hotel to ensure you safely get there. Those surf instructors that go far beyond a surf or kite lesson and what is required from their job. Who patiently answer your (sometimes potentially insulting) questions they may have heard a million times but still smile and appreciate your genuine curiosity about their culture, religion or daily life. It is the people and the beauty of its community that make Moroccan hospitality so welcoming. Not too mention the incredible landscapes that sweep you away and steal your heart.
Essaouira is known for the Swiri people, the people of openness and welcoming attitude to foreigners. The town filled with expats and tourists, as well as Moroccans from outside of Essaouira. It’s a small town where people help each other and other businesses, despite being competitors or not. The sense of community here is not only limited to Essaouira or its surf community, you can find this around the world. But it should not be only Ramadan, or ‘these hard times’ that we share this wonderful sense of community. These values should be constant and everlasting. The world is changing quickly and before our eyes in a way we have yet to understand. Take the time to reflect on what traditions have kept humanity to move forward in the past, and will continue to as a global community. Whether you are religious or not, spiritual or whatever your beliefs may be, there is something we can all take away during Ramadan and lockdown. That is love, support and community will bring us into a new way of living. Sharing is still caring.
Reflect, grow and surf forward
With isolation, most of us are reflecting back on our lives, on old friends, relationships, achievements, the beautiful moments we have experienced as well as the mistakes or choices we have made. Take this moment to let go of old beliefs, past grudges, forgive those who have hurt you, and forgive yourselves for your mistakes. Focus on tomorrow, the dreams and new adventures you want to take. Dream. Inspire. Grow. Most of all, be kind to one another and to yourselves.
Remember even in surfing you have to fall a few times before you catch that perfect wave.
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