Personal discovery…Impacts our future travels…More on the storm at sea…From one year ago at the end of today’s post…

Oh, please, would that I could partake of this scrumptious colorful confection?  Alas, a quick peek is all that’s in the cards for me. Tom said, “Red dye # whatever!  No loss!”  Food safety regulations so familiar to many of us from our home countries may be non-existent in some countries.

With 22 days left until we depart Morocco for the exquisite island of Madeira, Portugal, our activity level in Morocco has leveled off. We’ve settled into a comfortable routine with the acceptance that overly exciting experiences are not necessarily on the horizon over these remaining days.

Personal discovery becomes the adventure of the day as opposed to that of sightseeing. An important discovery, we’ve made this past almost eight weeks while living in Morocco, one that we suspected we each possessed, is that we are not “big city” people with crowds, honking horns, noise, and traffic.

These beautiful fresh roses were on a side table as we exited the restaurant.

In our old lives, we lived in a sleepy lake town definitely befitting our way of life.
A trip to the grocery store resulted in a friendly conversation with familiar faces, animated, and pleased to engage.

We had the blissful experience of this same type of familiarity while recently living in South Africa. Our expectations are high after those three months, a situation we may seldom encounter to that degree as we continue on.

There are newer areas in the souk that have been built or renovated as tourism in Marrakech increased in the past decades.

With several big cities looming in our near future with short stints in each location, we expect those visits to revolve around sightseeing which we anticipate with enthusiasm. After all, Paris and London for two weeks each? What’s not to love?

However, through personal discovery, we come to realize that we embrace culture when we have an opportunity to interact with the local people and their customs, which hasn’t been easy to do in this hustle and bustle tourist destination of Marrakech, Morocco. 

The momentum of the crowds in the souk leaves little opportunity for stopping for photos.

Most of the locals, hard working people, are entrenched in providing products and services to the tourist trade, which constitutes their livelihood, leaving no interest or time to interact with short term residents such as ourselves.

As we continue our search for the ongoing years of travel beyond May 15, 2015, we’ve learned a simple fact; that living in an area where we have an opportunity to meet locals and expats, is an integral part of the experience. 

Ceramic hand jeweled containers. We don’t ask for prices or we’d never get away with the shop owners determined to make a sale.

When one thinks of it, “sightseeing,” although pleasant during the process itself, is short-lived. Meeting people and making friends is a lifetime experience, we stay in close contact via email and Facebook with wonderful people we’ve met in our travels, a rich and fulfilling experience.

Of course, we’ll see the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and, Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London in London during our upcoming visits. However, most likely, we won’t have an opportunity to make new friends while spending a mere two weeks in each location. We’ve found that most tourists, other than on a cruise, have little time in cultivating friendships while spending a week or two “packing it all in.”

The ancient exterior of buildings in the Medina provides architecturally interesting appeal.

Don’t get me wrong. Tom and I fully entertained ourselves and each other in the remote Boveglio, Italy where not a single English speaking person was to be found within an hour-long drive. And, we were fine in Kenya, where we had little opportunity to meet people when our neighborhood consisted mostly of unoccupied houses, their owners living elsewhere during the heat of summer. When dining out, we only encountered other tourists, busy with their own pursuits.

A reality of both of our personalities is that we are both social butterflies, easily entertained by a lively conversation whether in a large group or small. Both Belize and South Africa provided this beyond our wildest expectations, leaving lifelong friends in their wake. How fortunate we were!

Some shops in the souk offer second-hand merchandise.

Cruising, above all, is the easiest way to meet people when we’re all a captive audience dining at “shared” tables for eight or ten each night of the cruise. One would have to be comatose not to make friends in that environment. This fact, in itself, inspires us to book cruises well into the future, cost providing. (The prices have gone up, up, up).

At this point, we’ll continue to explore the souks and narrow alleys of the Medina with an occasional trip outside by taxi both of which we both thoroughly enjoy. 

This colorful ceramic store had several tourists taking photos so we joined in.

This morning when I came downstairs to the salon where Tom was listening to this favorite radio show, my hot water for tea awaiting me in my insulated mug, I said, “It’s good to see you!” This was an expression I used every time he walked in the door after work in our old lives or when I  greeted our dogs upon returning home.

We grabbed each other’s hands, as we often do when we laugh out loud, which is many times each day, realizing that my expression is a moot point in our 24/7 lifestyle these days. 

Steps leading to a furniture shop in the souk.  Of course, we’d love to enter to take photos. But, most shop owners don’t appreciate photos being taken of their wares.

Our greatest personal discovery throughout all of our travels is that we’ll never tire of each other’s smiling face, even when the location in which we temporarily live offers little in the way of social interaction. 

Photo from one year ago today, April 23, 2013:

This was the very beginning of the massive storm our ship encountered for three full days after dropping off an ill passenger in Bermuda taking us on a different course, taking us right into the eye of the storm. At first, we were told the waves were 30 feet, 9.14 meters, later to be described by the captain as 50 feet, 15.24 meters swells, an experience we’ll never forget. For details of the beginning of this story, please click here. This story will continue over the next three days at the end of each day’s post.

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