T.I.A.

Morocco is an amazingly elegant country.

Yes, I even still say this as someone who walked into Tangier on the Muslim holiday during which every household sacrifices a sheep and roasts its head in the street. (No pictures of this… mostly because I was too shocked at the time, but we’ll say it was out of cultural sensitivity.)

Here, at almost any time of the day, you see dozens of men sitting in cafes together drinking mint tea and talking and people-watching… and no one is rushing or on their phone or demanding the check. Kids play in the streets, families congregate around public fountains, people make music everywhere, and a siren goes off five times a day signaling prayer time.

Even the annual sheep murder can be called an elegant tradition, with at least a third of the carcass donated to charity. (And, the meat was also delicious.)

I am in Chefchouen, “the blue city,” and it is beautiful and peaceful and I honestly don’t think I ever want to leave. Yesterday we went to the hammam, a steamy public bath where you can get a complete scrub-down and massage for about $5, and today we went for a hike in the nearby Rif Mountains for a swim in a waterfall (okay, it was really cold so I didn’t really swim). And there is mint tea and banana milkshakes and markets and new friends.

My only gripe about Morocco: women still seem to be mostly treated as second-class citizens. I have seen no shorts here, and local women are not allowed at the cafes. There must be some better compromise for living in a country with so much culture, but for now, I guess I will stick with wearing my new Moroccan baggie pants if it means I can wake up to this view.

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