Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Shukran (Thank You)

I've just spent 8 days in Mysterious Morocco and it's time to blog about it. When I write, I usually like to start at the beginning, build up the story and end with a bang - for maximum effect. This time however, I'm going to start at the end. That's because the best experience I've ever had on holiday took place on the last evening.

Firstly, allow me to introduce you to Ismail Hamzaoui, a fine young gentleman who works at the Residence Amina, where Li Ki and I stayed. His was the first smiley face to greet us when we checked in all forlon, without our luggage. Ismail assured us that all was well and that our bags would arrive the next day. Sure enough, they did and he arranged the airport transfer without even being asked! From that moment on, we became firm friends and Ismail was our "go to" person for everything from broken lightbulbs to camel rides in the desert. On our last day, he invited us home to dinner with his family and we delightfully accepted.

(L-R) Joanna, Rasheed (youngest brother), Zahara (mum), Ahmed (dad), Li Ki

Latifah with the basin for washing of hands before dinner

Zahara showing us how to roll couscous balls before popping them into our mouths!
There is nothing more heartwarming than sharing of food with family and friends. Zahara, Ismail's mum, served up an enormous platter of delicious couscous with vegetables and chicken. While eating from the same platter, Ismail said "Whatever we have, we share. This is our custom." Those words touched me very deeply. Especially when a family like the Hamzaouis invite total strangers into their home to share with them a dose of Moroccan hospitality.

Their generosity and warmth continued after dinner when Zahara presented me with an ethnic scarf from southeast Morocco, where the family originted from. Li Ki received a more modern scarf which matched her outfit beautifully. I was touched beyond words. The gesture of genuine friendship required no translation nor interpretation - it simply said "We're friends."

So here's a big SHUKRAN to the Hamzaoui family and may we meet again, insya allah.

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