Meeting people, not easy in Marrakech…

Yesterday, as we walked to a restaurant, we wondered why the souk was less busy than usual.

There’s nothing, per se, wrong with Marrakech that would inhibit an opportunity to make friends over the long haul.  For us, with a short two and a half month visit, almost half over, the likelihood is slim. 

Marrakech is a city of busy locals serving the needs of the tourist, trade, and the tourists they serve. Tourists in general, usually staying for a week or less, logically, make little to no effort to engage with other travelers. 

As a result, we haven’t had an opportunity, no matter how friendly we may be, to make new friends while living in Marrakech, let alone interacting on any level with English speaking visitors.

Not all the nooks and crannies in the souk are ornate and pretty. 

Last night while out to dinner, a lovely couple sat at the table next to ours. At the exact moment, we both heard them speaking English and looked at one another in awe. 

In no manner are we prejudiced by non-English speaking individuals. But it’s impractical to develop relationships when not speaking the same language. It’s tough enough to make new friends when we do speak the same language.

In a year’s time, how often does a couple make new friends with another couple? Hum…not that often.

This construction site is a landmark we’ve used when finding our way through the maze-like souk to find restaurants.

Since arriving in Morocco over one month ago, we’d yet to have a conversation with another English speaking couple. When the woman turned to us, making a comment, we enthusiastically responded simultaneously.

We chatted back and forth with Judy and John from Wales, during our entire dinner, sharing our mutual experiences in Marrakech and telling tales of our world travels. As it turned out, we’d been to many of the same places.

This pleasant interaction reminded us how much we’ve missed the opportunity to share time with friends since leaving South Africa a little over a month ago, where we had a very busy social life, compared to our time in Belize a year ago.

As we purposely navigated an unfamiliar alley, we spotted this glass-enclosed motorbike shops. Many locals use motorbikes to get around the souks, including many women wearing the traditional Muslim garb. 

It’s ironic how in some locations, making friends has been easier than others. As we reflect, it’s clear to see the circumstances under which we’ve found it easy to meet people.

In Belize, living in the lovely condo on the main floor facing the ocean, we had an opportunity to chat with owners and guests walking past our veranda and also when we spent time lounging at the pool. Those two situations proved to be ideal for starting conversations which ultimately were the source of all the friends we made.

After leaving Belize, we cruised off and on for over two months until we landed in Tuscany, Italy for the summer. While on six cruises during this period, we made many new friends. The circumstances precipitating the opportunity to make friends was due to the nightly dinners in the main dining room, where we selected “sharing” as we approached the hostess stand, requesting to share a table with as many as four more couples.

As we walked toward this opening, Tom commented that this had previously been an archway, broken down to make way for more overhangs for the shops in the souks.

Dining with six or more each night opened up many opportunities to develop relationships. In many cases, we dined again and participated in excursions with the new friends, some over the entire course of the cruise.

Much to our delight, we’ve maintained contact with many of these couples who continue to write and stay in touch via email, commenting on our posts, or through Facebook. 

This single fact is highly instrumental in our continuing desire to cruise with two more upcoming in the next six months. We gladly put up with the crowds, the small cabins, the at-times mediocre food, and the long lines to participate in activities. 

This shop sells tassels, lots of tassels which are commonly used in Moroccan decorating such as on drapes and pillows. This colorful shop was a feast for the eyes.

In some countries, we’ve been in isolated areas with few opportunities to meet people. In Tuscany, Italy, our remote location and the language barrier prevented any interactions. Later, in Diani Beach, Kenya most of the homes in the gated community were unoccupied during our stay leaving no opportunity to meet the neighbors.

Luckily, while in Kenya, we’d made fast friends with the owners of the house, Jeri and Hans. But, over the entire three month period, we never had an opportunity to meet other couples. It was certainly not a result of our lack of friendliness. We were often the only diners in the many restaurants we frequented at night.

Missing family and friends is a reality we’ve accepted as one of the many sacrifices we chose to make when we decided to travel the world. It’s a decision we took very seriously knowing the possibility existed that we’d seldom make new friends.

It’s important to look up when walking through the souks.  There are many signs worth noting if one in fact is into shopping, with many shops located on upper levels at certain locations.

Almost daily, we interact with old friends via email, Facebook, and comments posted here. All in all, we don’t feel isolated, especially when we think of all of our worldwide readers who share our daily experiences. For this, we thank each and every one of our online friends.

Photo from one year ago today, April 5, 2013:

This was the pool at LaraBeyu where we lived while in Belize one year ago today. Every day, we’d lay by the pool for one hour of sun and chatting with the wonderful friends we made. At that point, we were leaving Belize in four days to go on a cruise. For the full story from that date one year ago, please click here.