A Universal Language
My favorite travel experiences always end up being the ones off the beaten path and beyond what I see filled in my Instagram and Pinterest feed.
One of the most authentic experiences during my travels in Morocco was at a homestay in the High Atlas Mountains at a family’s home known as the Berber Cultural Center.
One of the most important things I learned and emphasized during my stay at the Berber Cultural Center is that what the land provides belongs to everyone in the village; the wheat in the fields, the olives in the tree; it feeds everyone and everyone works together in cultivating it. One afternoon was spent picking wheat with the mid-day sun beating down on us but time was also taken to sing, dance and have fun.
I was surprised when a woman came along with her donkey and set up a table complete with bread, olives, honey and mint tea and we all enjoyed a break under the shade of the swaying olive trees.
That evening there was more music and dancing accompanied by a delicious tagine meal to celebrate and as a thanks to all that helped with the harvest for this family. Because in this small Moroccan village the wheat from this harvest will provide bread for the entire village until the next harvest.
Another language in itself is the custom of drinking mint tea, also called “Berber Whisky”, you don’t need to know Arabic or the commonly spoken French because everywhere you turn someone is welcoming you to sit down and enjoy mint tea with them, which I gladly accepted every chance I had.
One drizzly morning we visited the local market where we wandered rows of fresh produce and gathered ingredients for dinner. After all the ingredients were purchased I was taken to an underground area where locals sat on rugs, preparing their own tagines and mint tea.
I wasn’t able to linguistically communicate with anyone around me but there was a man that prepared the best “Berber Whisky” I tasted during my 3 weeks in Morocco. While my glass was constantly being filled with mint tea, another man was preparing a delicious egg tagine.
Once the egg tagine was done we all huddled around a small round table on the floor and passed fresh bread
You know it’s time to eat when the bread is being passed around the table because there’s no utensils just bread to scoop up all the delicious flavors.
My time at this homestay were spent not being able to speak with anyone so you learned to use other forms of communication.
You learn to speak through actions of hospitality, kindness and sharing. It’s a universal language that knows no barriers and as a traveler you’ll continue to notice it the more that you travel.berber food mint tea morocco