Picture this – Mardel and I are buying produce from a little shop, a store that most Americans could fit into one part of their two/three-car garage. We’re scooping up tangerines, buying little bananas, scoping out the apples, and the whole time Mardel is speaking Rifi with the shop keeper. Her enthusiasm is high, and she’s exuding warmth, this I can tell even though I can’t understand a word she’s saying. We gather our fruit; she talks; I wander; she talks; the shopkeeper talks; I wander; she talks; the shopkeeper talks; I wander. In essence, what would have taken me two minutes in the states is taking 10 minutes here? Here, in Morocco, relationships are central, even with your local shopkeeper.

I see this over and over as our week progresses. We smile at (and Mardel talks with) the supermarket clerk. He chats back a bit and hands the baby with us a toy rabbit filled with candy. We see a neighbor in the street, and Mardel takes us over so we can greet her; we kiss both of her cheeks, hold her hands, smile, nod, wave; we spend time with her. We eat together, digging communally out of a common bowl; we talk; we laugh; we spend two hours over a meal.

Everything in Morocco goes more slowly. Not once when I was there did I feel rushed – none of those pushy folks in the grocery store line who look at your with the evil eye when you don’t have your credit card swiped and pen in hand for when the clerk finishes; no beeping when you don’t floor the gas at the red light; no gobbling a sandwich in the car between appointments. Here in Morocco, moments are savored and people appreciated more than time or efficiency. It is glorious.

So now I find myself back in the States with this driving thrum of time around me. I talk faster, I walk faster, I pee faster. So much to do . . . no time to chat with a colleague . . . no time to linger for lunch. And I get sad, feel my shoulders creep toward my ears, sense my chest tightening. Then, I breath, lean back, and think of Morocco. As my friend Kevin walks in, I stop what I’m doing, turn toward him, shake his hand, and listen. It feels good.

Slow down, you move too fast; got to make this moment last. — Simon and Garfunkel

A Communal Meal