Sunday, November 4, 2007

May in Morocco

Early last May I went to Morocco with a group of herbalists, herb growers, massage therapists, healers, and producers of herbal products. We visited spas, healing retreat centers, herb farms, herbal doctors and even a rose oil distillery.

Here’s our tour leader having a healing footbath. It was inspiring to me since I also grow medicinal plants and create my own herbal products.
I discovered ingredients used traditionally in Morocco, but still not well-known in the United States and have been making my own products with them. Watch for a link to my website where you can find out how to get them.
We also did some of the usual tourist things like ride camels (I love camels). How could anyone ever say that camels are vicious? Isn’t he the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen? We visited the historic kasbah Ait Benhaddou, where they recently filmed a movie.

Did you ever see goats in trees?
Here they are eating argan fruit.
A wonderful oil is made from the nut inside that is used both for cooking and skin care. Whoever came up with the expression “a hard nut to crack” must have been talking about argan. We got to try cracking them at a women’s collective.

Thanks to the French I learned in the Peace Corps many years ago, I was able to talk to the locals. One afternoon, I was talking to the young man who works at the hotel desk. He asked me why, at the height of the season, there were no Americans, besides us, at the hotel. “We built this place especially to cater to American tourists and you’re the only ones here. Why aren’t Americans coming to Morocco anymore?” Part of me was surprised at his naiveté. “You really don’t know why?” “No, not at all. We love Americans.” I felt so bad telling him that to the average American, all Arabic speaking people are the same. Most people think they are all terrorists. Even some of the people in the group I was with were so on edge about something happening, that every normal setback or misunderstanding (common while traveling anywhere) was seen as a deliberate attempt to upset and derail us. He was so sad to hear this. “But don’t they know that Morocco is completely different than that? We don’t want fanaticism here.” “No they don’t know that,” I replied. He said it was my job to tell them. This was my second trip to Morocco. I loved it so much the first time that I wanted to pack up my life and move there. This time was no different. The focus of this trip brought us to more rural areas than I experienced last time and we had a chance to meet and interact with lots of people. I saw how I could live there and perhaps that will be part of my future.

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