My point of view #19

MY POINT OF VIEW 19 (by Tatiana Sisquella)

“Salam alikum”, “bonjour”, “merci”, “can I trust him?”, “does he trust me?”, “what's the name of the hotel?”…I think that the stress produced on arriving in a country that is new to you should have a name. Likewise there should be a word to define the discomfort passengers experience when there is too little space between seats on planes. I think it's a sensation shared by most of us who, for one reason or another, decide to discover another city: it has a pinch of fear, a handful of insecurity, a generous helping of hope, a little mistrust and the whole lot is sprinkled with the urge to have a good time.

This is how I felt on arriving in Marrakech. And now, after four days of the mixture being marinated in the atmosphere, the people and the food of this city, I can say that the resulting combination is a great improvement on my expectations.

When several days and nights have gone by, and the first thought that comes to your head when you think about the time you've spent there so far is: “I want to come back here,” then you certainly will go back there. Suddenly you realize that between you and that city a bond has been established that will be very difficult to break.

My stay in Marrakech leaves me with different reflections:

A place is its people. Here the people are mirrors. You smile, they smile back. No need for explanations, or words, or reasons: action reaction. These last few days I have seen one-toothed smiles, tired smiles, tender smiles, movie smiles, sincere smiles and smiles with an ulterior motive. All in all: smiles.

Quarrelling hardly ever gets you anywhere. Moving around the streets and alleys of Marrakech can only be done by the natives. The streets are clearly defined, the road signs are coherent and clearly visible, and all the traffic lights work with admirable efficiency. But none of this is of any use. Here the traffic regulations are established by common sense (of each individual), intuition, agility, nerve and experience. I don't have details concerning the number of accidents that occur on the streets of the city centre, but after my experience I can honestly say that there are definitely less than you would expect. Drivers cut each other up, overtake, push in, but they never quarrel or shout at each other. Quite the contrary, two different points of view on who has right of way in a street usually ends up in a handshake.

There are more stars here than there are there. I know that the atmospheric and light pollution in large industrialized cities such as Barcelona makes it difficult to see the stars, but I'm beginning to think that this is not the only problem. Let me explain. Every night, after dinner, I take my drink, mint or fruit tea and I go and sit on some cushions on the terrace of my "riad". I lay my head on some smaller cushions, take off my shoes and stretch out. Above me there is only sky; sky and stars. I could spend hours staring at the tiny lights that decorate the ceiling of the world; my mind seems to travel with greater agility and less luggage when it has this kind of scenery before it. And suddenly, when you least expect it, your whole body and your head are saturated with happiness. And then I wonder: are there less stars in Barcelona or is it just that I don't look so often?

The food here gives me a sense of longing. Back home I never turn my nose up at any dish, I like tasting everything and I'm not scared of experimenting with the most avant-garde cuisine. But there is something about the dishes that I'm served here in Marrakech that fills me with a yearning. It is as if part of my past (my grandparents, my country, my roots) was somehow mixed in with the potatoes, carrots and lamb in the 'Tajine'. Or as if the conversations that were had years ago with chairs on the streets could be heard inside the kitchen where they prepare the chickens, the vegetables and the flour to make bread. I have eaten what has been offered to me: in the central square, in the hotel, in the middle of the street, in a cafe…and each time I swallowed, it felt like I was gobbling up a piece of the Maghreb.

I have felt at home here. This is partly because I have been. I have been staying at the Riad Amazigh (EQUITY HOSTELS) and I have been treated like a friend, a special friend. During my stay in Marrakech I have met Mexicans, Japanese, Americans, Moroccans, Spaniards…strangers who suddenly you find yourself sharing your experiences and sensations with. I like listening, late at night, when I am resting on my bed with the window open, to the laughter of a group of people who are talking about who knows what on the sofas on the patio. I like having the sensation that everyone can do whatever they like, in the way that they decide, at the time that is right for them. I like the fact that there are no keys to any of the rooms and that you share tables and rooms for relaxing, reading or writing. I like being so many kilometres away from home and feeling like one of the family.

ANSWER: Because there's so much that I haven't mentioned.

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