“Coffee or tea?” Abdul asked when I entered the breakfast room. It was November 30th. I had woken up, gotten ready, and gone to breakfast as usual that morning — although it was anything but a usual day.
“Coffee, thank you.” I sat at one of the breakfast tables and unwrapped a few slices of my gluten-free bread on which I generously spread the butter, honey, and jam Mohammed had laid out.
Abdul came later, with the coffee. And I thought, as I sipped, about what the day might bring. Abdul had been helping at breakfast that morning and was also there to ensure everything went smoothly for my excursion.
Not your typical excursion: after breakfast I was scheduled to meet the English-speaking driver Abdul had organized to assist me on my mission. We would depart the Fez Medina and head east to try to find the forty-plus-year-old address of my birth father, who passed away thirty-seven years ago in Germany at the young age of thirty-two.
Half way through breakfast I realized I was feeling fairly tense. I really did not know what to think that morning. It’s only natural that I was full of the feels. After all, I had only been wondering what I might find at that address since I was eight. What would the day bring? I had no idea. Continue reading “Morocco Beckons: Finding My Roots”
My alarm barely made a peep before I switched it off and got up. I brushed my teeth and got dressed, putting on my jacket and scarf. It was sure to be cold out.
I unlocked the double doors separating my room from the breakfast room, trying not to let them creak. Stepping out, I was surprised to see Mohammed asleep before me on a breakfast-room bench.
He stirred, looking up at me as I entered the common area. I had no idea he’d be there and felt terrible for disrupting his sleep. But he put his head back down as swiftly as he had raised it. I shut the door behind me, heading out the adjacent entrance to the stairwell leading up. Up. Up.
It was pitch dark. I didn’t dare switch on one of the lights, so I used the display of my phone to see my way up the narrow stairs.
After a careful ascent, I stepped into the cold, fresh air. It was still dark, just beginning to show signs of light. And it was quiet. Shapes began forming as the dimness dissipated. Deeply breathing the crisp air, I enjoyed my solitude up there immensely.
“I’m almost half way to Fez, Morocco. My flight departed at 12:40pm — a delayed departure, so we should arrive in Fez around 4:00pm Central European Time. I’m not sure what time that will be locally, but I’ll find that out when I get there. This is a moment I’ve been anticipating most of my life…”
That’s how my November 28th mid-flight journal entry began.
I had departed Germany’s Frankfurt Hahn airport and was anxiously anticipating my arrival in North Africa, in the medieval Arab city of Fez. My journal entry continued with a brief synopsis of thebackground storythat had led me to take this flight, and then proceeded along the following lines:
Because of these events, I’ve had an acute awareness, ever since, of how my life would have been different had I not been adopted. Would my father still be alive? Would I be living in Morocco? Would I be Muslim? Would I speak Arabic and French? Or would German be my mother tongue? Would I cover my hair with a head scarf?
The myriad might-haves are endless.
Would I have grown up in Germany and passed easily between two cultures: the Moroccan and the German? Or would I have left Germany as a baby and grown up in Morocco? What would my place in society be as a Moroccan woman? Would I have wanted to travel? What would my outlook on life have been?
Recently I found myself back in Germany, only two-hundred kilometers northwest of my birthplace (Mainz) in the city of Düsseldorf, strolling along the Rhine River with my friend,Tracy. I’d first met Tracy at a German-language meet-up in Seattle over seven years earlier, before she moved back East, to Boston.
These days Tracy’s been living abroad in Deutschland, working on her PhD, and exercising her general awesomeness in day-to-day life. So, I was super-excited to be able to catch up with her in Düsseldorf — a Germanic metropolis I hadn’t yet visited. Being able to explore a new town and meet up with an admired friend makes a great travel twofer in my book!
Wilkommen in Düsseldorf
I arrived in Düsseldorf on November 20th, and my plan was to spend a little over a week in Germany, visiting family as well as some parts I hadn’t wandered through in over 18 years — back when I was learning German in Limburg an der Lahn and in Wiesbaden.
I recently returned from an eight-day solo trip to Morocco, or al-Maghrib as it’s called in Arabic, meaning the place-where-the-sun-sets. Morocco is a country I have wanted to visit for most of my life. Or since I was eight years old, to be precise.
There are many wonderful reasons a person would want to explore Morocco, such as to do any of the following:
Trek across Morocco’s diverse countryside, climb its craggy mountains, or meander through one of its sun-kissed beach towns
Join a camel caravan making its way through sandy Saharan dunes
Experience the famed imperial cities of Fez, Marrakesh, Meknes, or Rabat
Partake of delicious cuisine while sipping on Moroccan mint tea
Marvel at the existence oftree goatsand snap their pictures
Or, perhaps, simply to rock the Kasbah, rock the Kasbah
Another compelling reason for visiting would be to experience Morocco’s rich culture, which has been influenced by so many peoples: the Arabs, Sub-Saharans, Romans, Andalusians, and originally, the Amazighs (also known as Berbers), who are the indigenous people of North Africa.
These are all pretty dang good reasons to go.
And they all sound very appealing to me too, now that I’ve written them down! But they’re not why I went. They’re not why I’ve spent thirty-two years thinking about going to Morocco.
Before I talk about my recent experiences in Morocco, I figured I should first explain my reason for going. That’s what this blog post is about.