In 2012 Annelies and I were vacationing in Spain with our pal Roland. It rained for a week. From the balcony in a clear moment we could see the Rock of Gibraltar in the distance, and beyond it, across the Mediterranean Sea, the shores of Africa. An hour's drive and another hour on the ferry landed us in Tangier. Three more on an overnight train took us to Fez, the oldest continuously Muslim city on Earth.
We hired a guide named Seyed who dressed like Obi Wan Kenobi and he took us to the medina, the old walled city, and down into the souk. They say this 9th century market has nine thousand unmarked streets and alleys, and wandering there I had no reason to doubt it one bit. We visited a tannery and a carpet merchant and a silk weaver. And as we wandered we got very, very hungry.
We asked to eat where the people eat and Seyed took us to the Berada Family Restaurant where smoke from the hibachi in the doorway vented around the roof beams into the alley to lure passersby with the aroma of lamb and goat on the grill. The dad was a crazy man in a turban doing handstands in the dining room to entertain his guests. His walls were covered in cuckoo clocks and the top of the hour was a raucous occasion!
The menu was useless to us: we neither read nor spoke Arabic or French. The mom grabbed Annelies by the hand and took her to the kitchen where with one spoon she sampled every dish on the stove from pot to mouth and back again. I eyed the order of the guy at the next table and mom grabbed a bite from his plate and carried it to my wide-open mouth in my wide-eyed face. She ladled another one for Roland, all with the same spoon, all while the diner shrugged and smiled.
This photos shows a Moroccan dirham, a coin worth about 12.5 cents US. It was change from that restaurant, the most fabulous meal we ate on the entire trip. The whole meal for three cost about $15. And for me, this coin represents three things.....
POSSIBILITY: A few years ago I never imagined I would do something I love for my living.
PROSPERITY: I never imagined doing something I love would give me the means to travel the world.
PERSPECTIVE: The trip gave me opportunity to shift my paradigm in ways I could never have imagined, to see what's important from another culture's viewpoint, and to realize how our lifestyle here in the US has deluded my notions of abundance and prosperity as perceived by the majority of our Western society.
I say we've got it wrong here: connection is where the real wealth lies: through family, friends, food, community, meaning, history and tradition. Learning this, my life has improved ten-fold. I wear the dirham as a reminder to savor every single morsel.