The following excerpt is from a blog i wrote on my psychology practice site. You can read the full story at https://www.drmarklesser.com/news/2017/4/19/the-benefit-of-knowing-nothing-a-lesson-for-business-leaders-and-consultants
I flew from D.C. to Casablanca on an overnight flight. When I arrived, I discovered that my ride was cancelled. My new driver, who I had never met, was a retired commander in the Moroccan military. We would be driving three hours to Marrakech. The next day we would drive another 7 hours to Tetouan. He only spoke only Moroccan Arabic and French. I only spoke French, which is a joke because my French is terrible. Well, my French is good enough to be polite. Anyway, it was the only common language to for us to work with. English and Arabic were wasted on each other. We spent 36 hours together, driving and sharing meals with a huge language barrier and absolutely nothing in common. He seemed about my age. When we had lunch in Marrakech, and I decided to share photos of my family. His face lit up. He shared photos of his family. We had something in common. Additionally, it is also pretty easy to express a mutual appreciation for red meat and beer. We were connecting and eventually managed communicate effectively. At the end of our journey, we were friends.
Once I arrived in Tetouan, I felt an immediate assault of the senses. My artist friend, from Australia, called it the Moroccan Stampede. I walked through the tightly wound medina with no sense of north. The sights, sounds, and smells are in itself a culture shock. There is an old poem about Tetouan that still holds true today. Loosely translated, it describes the air as poison, the water bloody (in the streets, not from the faucet), and its health could make you sick. And it did! One person in our group ended up in the hospital and went home early. Another was too overwhelmed to stay. Others had to lie down at random moments because it was all too much to push on as if it was just another day, or just another trip to a comfortable city.
While my description may not inspire you to bring the family over the winter holidays, the air was also filled with mystique, and echoes of the sounds of the call to prayer. Most importantly, there was lots of space for gaining personal insight and reflection. It is no wonder that each day, I needed to retreat to my Riad, Hotel El Reducto, to rest from this cultural assault. This daily rest allowed me to learn, adapt, and be ready to proceed to the next day’s life lesson.
The painting below is one in a series of #wallwhispering paintings i have created of my experience walking the streets of Morocco admiring the walls and their history. Click the link below to review.