We checked out of our Riad in Sale’-Rabat, walked with our heavy backpacks through the narrow lanes, out of the Medina to the car park, where we left our car rental.
We tipped the day guard for watching our car, and gave him an equal tip to give to the night guard.
He smiled at us with a warm toothless smile filled and placed his hand on his heart, as a sign of sincere gratitude.
He was wearing a long blue doctor’s coat, so people will KNOW that he is a parking attendant.
We chose the coastal road and drove north towards Tangier.
We made reservations for two nights, at a renovated “Dar,” (large house, but usually smaller than a Riad), in the beach town of Assilah.
Along the way we passes small craft and artisans workshops, among them we saw mosaic tables and fountains, garden sculptures curved from yellow stone, and Terra Cotta pottery.
We stopped at a beautiful long stretch of sandy beach, which was undergoing a major transformation.
The whole hill above the beach was being developed with condominiums, a private Golf Course and an array of residential villas and townhouses.
Further north, we saw a beautiful bird sanctuary with a large lake surrounded by old trees and filled with birds.
At the nearest town, on dozens of tall telephone poles, white Herons built huge nests.
Most of them stood straight and tall in the center of their nests, and when I pointed this amazing sight to Jules, he asked me if they were sculptures…..
The Herons did look majestic, sitting on their collection of twigs, dry leaves and hay that they had artfully compiled into magnificent nests.
We stopped in the town of “Larache,” where we parked in the center of town by the water, and paid the parking attendant to keep an eye on our car, as we left all of our bags, gear and computers in the car.
Apparently, we paid him handsomely…. because he stood by our car dutifully… in his yellow vest and blue doctor’s coat, making SURE that our car was secure until we returned.
We had a great time enjoying the circular center of town by the Medina.
It was lined with beautiful old hotels and cafes, all spread around the inner circle.
We had coffee at a sidewalk local cafe, filled with toothless men who were getting ready to smoke a long pipe used for smoking “Kif” (also spelled “Keef”).
Kif is a hashish or Marijuana, which is smoked mixed in with tobacco.
We walked along the long newly built promenade, running along the ocean all the way to the busy fishing port.
It was sunset and large and small fishing boats were coming back into the port.
The sky had lines of gentle pink spread across it…. Sunset is the magic hour of the day… When it is time to put aside work, and invite some rest and relaxation…
We continued to Assilah avoiding the highway.
The narrow local road meandered along a vast agricultural area filled with fields of yellow melons, watermelons and pumpkins.
By the side of the road, farmers set up roadside stands to sell their melons and produce.
They had such huge piles of fruit, that they let the rest of the melons rot in the fields….
I know it is wasteful, but I must admit that it was a wonderful sight… The large brown fields dotted with golden-yellow balls of melons…
We stopped and bought some for an afternoon snack on a later day.
Assilah is a fabulous town.
I am SO HAPPY that Jules suggested that we rest there for a couple of nights.
It is located right on the water South of Tangier.
It has a great holiday feel, since it gets much tourism from Andalusia, from people who take the ferry from Spain to Tangier.
There is a beautiful medina and many restaurants and cafes by the water and along the main road.
Caroline from “Dar Azaouia”, met us on the road, to guide us down the narrow lanes where her beautiful renovated B&B Dar is located.
She is a charming Belgian women who has been in Assilah for over five years.
With a great sense of humor and a very relaxed attitude, she made us feel welcome while she shared with us a little insight into the Moroccan culture.
Over a delicious mint tea with orange blossom and some melt-in-your-mouth cookies, she answered some of our questions and bafflements…..
For example…… We asked WHY were we unable to get couscous in any authentic Moroccan restaurant?….
Sure….Said Caroline, Couscous is ONLY made and served on Fridays…
Traditionally Moroccans had no concept of weekends.
They worked seven days a week, with only a few hours of break on Friday afternoon, to rest and to enjoy the company of their extended family and friends.
This was when they took the long time necessary to make good Couscous…. soul food….. and to eat and enjoy it in mutual love.
Nowadays, many Moroccan people do take weekends off, but the habit of eating Couscous, even in restaurants, remains a tradition done mostly on Fridays….
Only tourist restaurants prepare Couscous on other days.
I LOVE our rooftop suite at Caroline’s amazing Dar.
It is spacious, spotlessly clean, modern but with Moroccan accents.
We have a HUGE outdoor rooftop courtyard with many white cushiony sitting areas to enjoy mint tea and to relax reading a book.
Out bathroom is TRULY beautiful… Everything is just so inviting and pleasant here…
It is nighttime while I write this…
My mind conjures up a scene I saw today…
On the boardwalk I saw a local young man meeting his friend who was sitting on the wall, smoking a cigarette.
When the young man saw his friend, his whole face lit up with true joy.
His eyes widened with happiness…
His voice had a softness of pleasure….
They kissed four times, two on each cheek, as is the tradition and hugged warmly.
It occurred to me that you must have a VERY light heart… A heart ready for joy and happiness, to generate SO MUCH joy from seeing a friend or an acquaintance on the street….
He must have seen this friend a few times a week, yet his joy was momentarily unbound, at this simple chance meeting….
I reflected on how far from this my own heart is…
When is the last time I felt SO much joy at seeing a friend that I usually see a few times a week?….. I have to admit that I cannot recall……
We are so trained to look for happiness where it does NOT lay…
In things like possessions or a good meal, a movie, a fabulous experience… That we lose the ability to be as happy as a dog… Who is so filled with happiness and joy, JUST because you came home….because you are there…..
And I foolishly think of myself as one of the happiest people….
I have to recognize that I have VERY FAR to go before I can be THIS joyful….
It reminds me of a joke:
HOW ENLIGHTENED ARE YOU?
If you can live without caffeine,
If you can be cheerful, ignoring minor aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining,
If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time,
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
If you can ignore a friend’s limited education and never correct him or her,
If you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend,
If you can face the world without ANY lies and deceit,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,
If you never hold on to grievances, but quickly forgive and let go of resentment,
If you can honestly say that deep in your heart you have NO prejudice against creed, color, religion, gender preference, or politics……, Then you have ALMOST reached the same level of spiritual development as your dog!
Wishing you a light filled day with a light heart,