I Got a Lot of Dates in Morocco
Let me begin by clarifying, by dates, I mean the fruit. Although I was offered various Moroccan husbands along the way in exchange for camels, my dignity, etc., a plastic bag of dried fruit was one of the most memorable pieces of my trip.
I was on the way to go camel trekking and camp out in the desert, typical Monday. Our van driver stopped abruptly on the side of the road and said, “Go get some water at that store over there. There’s no water in the desert, so this is your last chance.” I being a naïve little traveler thought that half a liter of water would be sufficient for one night (it was). However, the driver convinced me otherwise, and thus I reluctantly headed across the road.
After locating a massive water bottle, I proceeded to wait in line patiently but hoping to get back in the van soon enough for a pre camel trek power nap. Since I heard some Brazilians speaking Spanish with the cashier, when it was my turn I decided to give my rusty Spanish a try…“Hola!”
He replied with a smile, “Bonjour!”
For some unknown reason I then belted out, “Hello!”
The cashier stopped what he was doing, gave me the most intense eye contact I’ve received from a stranger, and in broken English said, “I really like you. You’re nice. Merci. Thank you.”
Now that may not seem too significant and in most situations in Morocco, a sales person would say that in preparation to rip you off. In this case, I was already buying the water bottle and he was actually being sincere. I thought that was the end of the encounter, but no, there’s more.
I had gotten back into the van and was ready for the camel trek, which I would later learn is one of the coolest yet most physically uncomfortable activities. The cashier came out of the store and waved at me. At first I assumed it was just a cute farewell kind of thing. Then he put his hand on his heart and started making all sorts of affectionate gestures I wasn’t sure how to interpret. I of course reciprocated with plenty of hand on the heart motions and air kisses. I thought that was the end of the encounter, but NO, there’s more.
This charming fellow motioned for me to come back inside the store. By this point, the entire van was laughing and I was getting a bit skeptical. I continued to hesitate and smile politely from the van. Before I knew it, our driver was chatting with the cashier and clearly discussing me. The driver looked at me from across the street with a huge grin and pointed towards the store. So, I ignored all precautions I was supposed to make as a white single girl in Morocco and trusted the driver who I had met about five hours ago.
When I stepped back into the store, the cashier and the driver were standing in the corner giggling like schoolgirls. More rational people may have walked out then. I followed them into the corner. The cashier then presented me with a plastic bag, full to the brim with dates. He gazed up at me and said, “Take these please. Your face is a thing that I will never forget in my life.” I thanked him profusely, walked back to the van, and immediately gave the dates to my friend because dates are gross.