I arrived on a Dutch plane full of children, replete with four sets of twins. I sat between an elderly Berber couple who offered to share every bit of food they brought with me. They paid in coins for milky coffee, smelling of dust and sweat. As the plane landed, a herd of camels veered off into an argan grove. Bedraggled cypress stood at attention in rows, acting as wind screens for crops of oranges along the highway.
I arrived at the garden outside of Taroudant under a sliver of moon. Bread was baking in the heat of a clay oven's fire. Candlelight flickered over the faces of the French team on assignment from Cosmopolitan as we dined on poached pears and samosas. The Atlas Mountains stood in profile above the garden walls.
I awoke to the sound of birds, donkeys, roosters, and dogs welcoming the day. The air smelled of pollen, smoke and sunlight. A tortoise stood in the shelter of a fig tree surrounded by flower blossoms. Green toads leaped away from my shadow and dove under lily pads. Bees buzzed in the canopy over my hammock. I swam lazily back and forth beside a profusion of cacti.
Classical music and a nearby call to prayer mix in the courtyard, buried deep in the heart of town. The dar is well insulated from the concrete houses dotting the desert beyond the adobe walls of the fortress which stand as empty testimony to supply outstripping demand. The riad's nondescript exterior yields to an interior world all its own-- climbing vines, lanterns, the textures of wood, clay, wool and stone. Outside is a slurry of Arabic, Berber and French spoken by men on bicycles. Women glide by swathed in loose folds of cloth.
My plan while here is simple: Study, Eat, Walk, Rinse, Wash, Walk, Study, Eat, Repeat.