Karima opens the door. She wearing a fleece zipped up robe like someone decided to stop making snuggies and turn them into 1950’s house dresses. Immediately, I thought of my favorite childhood blanket and soft stuffed animals that rubbed against my cheek at night to help me fall asleep. Karima gave the air of a stirn mother you never wanted to disappoint but felt you could spend endless amounts of days in her home. She invited us in. The riad opened up into vast atrium that reached three or four stories high collecting smoke like a chimney the air filled with the smell of cooking. Two french children sat cutting vegetables. Sarah and I sauntered, struggling to carry our abstruse backpacks to the sitting area. We did as we were instructed by our newly found den mother and sat down. We both looked at eachother concerned, “Why aren’t we going to our room?”
She comes out with a tray of ornamentally decorated glasses. Fresh mint leaves peek through the brightly colored designs.
In the West we live in a go, go,go culture. We usually get what we want and don’t take the time to sit and relax. It’s custom to share mint tea with your guests in Morocco. It’s so common, that its absence becomes glaringly obvious. We pressed the tea close to our lips, the warmth of the glass transferred to the palms of our fingers. Our tongues lapped up a sweet almost syrup like taste and swallowed the smooth warm tea.
We heard that a when man is courting a woman, the family makes it known if the suitor is appropriate or not by serving bitter or sweet tea. I'm still trying to figure out how to incorporate this tradition onto my Tinder dates...
Being the impatient Americans we were, being led to our room was such a relief. Hospitality is something we’ve lost in America. We no longer have sitting rooms, our traditions are often blurred and technology can steal time away from actual human connection. By the end of the trip, we became accustomed to sipping mint tea.
So much so, I had to buy a teapot of my very own.