The people make it special

This post is part travel blog and part commentary on the friendliness of the French, Spanish and now Moroccan people.

We have had some wonderful experiences since we came to this side of the world, scenery that is wonderful, food that makes my mouth water just thinking about it but the thing that makes a holiday special is the people you meet.

Right from the start we have met people that are enthusiastic about their countries and are eager to tell you what local restaurant is good, what attractions are worth seeing, what can be missed and where to go next.

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The two people that I think have been the most interesting and friendly we have met in the last week. Yesterday we went on a walk (25 kilometres) in the High Atlas Mountains where the terrain and views were about as far removed from New Zealand as you can get. It was a beautiful walk but what made it special was the lunch we had at the home of a Berber man named Mohammed. He was the perfect host, a man who enjoyed life and seemed to see the positive in everything around him. He tried to teach us a few words of the Berber language, which was a challenge for him (and me) but even without any language in common he seemed to be able to put us at ease very quickly as if we were old friends. Mohammed needed to go to the Souk in the local town so he walked back with us and even after living all his life in this area (or maybe because of this) he still seemed very interested in the herbs growing along the trail, the river terraces where most of the areas produce is cultivated and was pointing out the highlights of the area to us. In Kiwi terms “he was a good bloke” and I would recommend a visit to his home to anyone.

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The second stand out person was the hotel owner in Orcival, it was a basic two star hotel (Hotel Notre Dame) with simple meals served in their restaurant. I would go back and stay again without any hesitation. The owner, Christine didn’t speak any English (I understood some of what was being said but Kate and her had a good conversation about how she could fit in a suitcase to come to Morocco to get away from the cold) but her personality portrayed a sense of fun and she made the stay a pleasurable one.

One thing I have noticed on this trip is that the people with English as a first language sometimes have an expectation that the other party should be able to speak English. Having some language in common does help with the communication process but sometimes it isn’t necessary to get a sense of the “good” in people.