NOTE TO SELF: “Be careful what you wish for”…
Mysteriously woven in the threads of time and space, a tangible and palpable cellular change begins to take place in our bodies. It’s the eve of my birthday; the moon is ripe and full in Scorpio bliss. Being informed on our arrival that the Medina is not the safest place for tourists to be at night and that perhaps it would be wise for someone local to show us around on our first day, we graciously accept an invitation for a brief and private tour by a friendly and spanish speaking young man named Rabi (meaning God) and enthusiastically go on our way.
It’s a warm and sunny day here in Tangier, Morocco. A pair of luminous clouds appear high above in the morning sky. Rabi meets us at the gateway of the Old City, conveniently located below our cozy nest, nestled in-between the cliff and the sea.
Spanish quickly becomes our second language, as we are not familiar with the Moroccan twist of the tongue and with Tyler’s ability to speak pretty well and mine to hear, we’re pretty confident that combined, we will all get along just fine.
Rabi starts us out at a brisk pace ushering us by several small mosques and shops, while pointing to several sacred relics from the ancient past. He graciously slows down upon our request. Passageways greet us with surprises around every corner, whether being of an architectural delight, or meeting the presence of an interesting person along the way.
Everyone knows Rabi on the streets. We stop several times as he connects with his friends, family and neighbors. “I am a good boy,” Rabi tells us. He appears to be in his later twenties and is married with two young children. He loves his family. And He LOVES his mother. An elderly woman with bright eyes, smiles down to us from her balcony above. Rabi waves to her from down below the tiny cobbled stoned path. “Esta es mí madre.” Our eyes meet. Hers are as bright and sparkly as the turquoise sea.
My fingers strum across the cracks and crevices of the walls, feeling and listening for the heartbeat and the stories of this remarkable city. I look up. My eyes meet those of a beautiful mama Sycamore Tree. I take a moment to commune, while Tyler and Rabi enjoy some time together on the edge of the road.
I join back up with the guys as we make our way to the famous Casbah, an old herstoric architectural delight. Rabi gives us a “heads up” that he will meet us on the other side of the passageway. You see, Rabi is not a legal guide, and authorities don’t take kindly to that. “No problemo, we say. We’ll meet you on the other side.”
The Casbah is truly a wonder of the world, timeless in nature throughout all time and space. Her presence spins a tale of a vibrant and colorful past. Her heart beats eternal and bright. Cosmos swirl and spiral on this well worn path, inviting travelers from all around the globe to feel the magic within. A small drum circle captures our attention as we step inside the center of her magical Universe.
Rabi leads us back down the path below the Casbah where his father greets us with a warm smile and a wobbly wooden chair to sit upon. Upon meeting, his father turns to me and says in Spanish, “Tiene los ojos de un gato” (“You have the eyes of a cat.”) I smile. Meow….
Rabi and Tyler sit on the steps to the right of me, relaxing and having a good time. Rabi has something fun to show us. “You will like this,” he says. He points to the apartment building across the way. In one big wave, out runs a wild and vivacious brood of chickens. Wildly excited, they run down the stairs toward us playing and roughhousing with each other, while strutting their stuff. Rabi plops a dusty and scruffy chicken in Tyler’s lap. The chicken shakes it’s booty, flapping its feathers, doing the “happy dance” all over the place. We laugh.
Rabi rolls a joint, part tobacco, part hashish. He kindly passes it on to us; we graciously decline.
Laughing and kidding around, we enjoy the sights of tourists and locals passing by on their way up to the Casbah. I notice that Rabi disappears and reappears after what seems to be a really long time. Just when I was about feeling antsy and ready to continue on our own, he reappears in good spirits and cheer ready to continue on our adventure together.
NOTE TO SELF: “Be careful what you wish for”….
Rabi leads us with gusto back into the streets of the Medina. Just a few streets down the hill, Rabi stops us in front of the entrance of a shop and kindly introduces us to the Traditional Rug “Museum” shopkeeper. Rabi invites us inside for a private tour of the “museum” and says he will be back for us to take us to a good place for lunch. Somewhere along the way, I stopped listening to the details of Rabi’s tour. Oops. Tyler and I were both genuinely uninterested in a tour behind the tourist shopping veil, however we accepted the invitation, so as not to offend.
The jovial gentleman escorts us up the stairs into a rich and colorful room with gorgeous rugs strung from floor to ceiling. “It is our tradition to serve our guests our Moroccan çai. Would you like sugar?” the shopkeeper asks. I ask for mine without sugar, while Tyler accepts. Between the two, it took fifteen minutes to appear with çai in hand. Interesting.
Rug after rug, the shopkeeper lays out his finest. They are beautiful, no doubt. “We are traveling light, so we will not be purchasing any today.” I say. “No problem,” the shopkeeper says. We have smaller ones, you’ll see. We have beautiful ones that you can roll up and fit it in your bag. Like this.” He demonstrates with great enthusiasm, while calling over his friend. He clearly has not seen my bag, I smile to myself. Finishing up our traditional çai, we conclude with a warm and kind “no gracias.” Genuinely he says, “No problem, I am just doing my job. You are not obligated to buy.” “muchas gracias,” we say, with a sigh of relief, and carry on our way.
Stepping out from among the rug shop, Rabi is there to show us to lunch. “There is a great traditional restaurant over here. You like couscous? Chicken?” “Sí,” we say. So, here we go, back in the direction from which we started our little tour and where we were guided just the night before.
Thoughts stirring in my mind, I begin to feel the wool unraveling before my eyes. Patterns forming, images flashing, I turn to Tyler and say, “I feel weird. Do you feel anything different?” “No I feel fine, Your probably just hungry,” Tyler says. “Yea, I am definitely hungry, but no, that’s not it. This feels different. And are you ok with Rabi leading us to the very same restaurant his friend led us to the night before. Because, you know, that is where we are headed?”
“Yea, I know. “I’m ok with it, if you are.” Tyler says. “We know the food is good and we both felt fine after eating there last night, he adds.” “Ok, thats fine with me too then as I am super hungry,” barely having a proper breakfast meal this morning.
As we make our way through the narrow streets of Medina towards the restaurant, I begin to see with greater clarity the patterns forming before my eyes. Body buzzing and feeling kind of spacey, I take a moment to listen within. “What is this I’m experiencing?” I wonder to myself.
We enter the restaurant, choose a table and set our things down. I excuse myself for a visit with the WC (water closet). Squatting above, the oh so very familiar Turkish toilet, I relax into the space. I feel into the energy surging through my veins. When, Shazam! It hits. The light switch turns on, I got it. That old yet familiar feeling comes flooding in like a freight train. Aha! I know what this is, “I’m high!” But how? Contact high…impossible. Could it have been the traditional çai? After all, something did look and taste a little unusual. Hmmm. What a mystery this day has turned out to be.
Stepping out from the toilet, I notice with surprise Tyler waiting for me right outside the door. With my purse and jacket spilling out from among his arms, I recognize a familiar look upon on his face, one very similar to mine. “I am feeling kind of weird, too.” I am letting the waiter know that we are leaving.”
The owner graciously excuses us, as Tyler asks the young waiter (a young kid we met the night before) to point us in the direction of our hotel. (I guess in case we “loose it” all of a sudden) Both feeling hungry, and not knowing of another option close by, we kindly ask for a piece of bread to take on our way. The owner graciously offers us the biggest and roundest loaf of the bunch. With a quizzical look on both the owner and waiters faces, they most likely wonder what is up with “these two?” Did they see a ghost or something? We simply tell them that we suddenly don’t feel well. No need to get into the story, as we don’t have a clue to what it is yet.
Our bodies buzzing floating lightly in space, I wonder to myself, will we be spending the rest of the day peeling ourselves from the Morrocan wallpaper in our hotel room? Will we even make it to our little nest of a room, our cozy safe haven to come back down to earth? What is in store for us today? What on earth are we on, anyway? Has it even fully hit us yet? How unsettling it feels to not know or not to choose, for that matter.
Once we stepped foot out of the restaurant, everything started to change spontaneously. The patterns set earlier in the day now melting away in the dusty streets. A few windy streets through the Medina towards our hotel, I spontaneously feel a great sense of peace and a good natured feeling about it all. “Hey, let’s just enjoy it, whatever this is, Tyler.” I am already feeling better being on our own. My body is feeling quite relaxed and my body is feeling quite pleasurable, actually. How do you feel? I feel fine, too, Tyler says. “Let’s keep going then. We know how to get back to the hotel if we need to. It feels more fun to be out and about, plus it calls for rain tomorrow. Here, let’s eat this loaf of bread, I offer enthusiastically. This will help stabilize our energy, and help bring us back down to earth.”
Bread never tasted so good! Heading back up the hill through the old city and the medina, we pass by a fruit stand selling bananas. We buy a couple. In the distance, a grove of friendly trees poke their heads out from within the sanctuary of St. Andrews Church inviting us in.
Greeted by pines and tombs, we find a peaceful spot to rest. Tyler visits inside the church, while I enjoy some time among the trees. My hands touching the spiralling bark of the trees, the bottoms of my feet sinking their roots deeply below the rich soil of the earth. I call my presence back down to Earth, as I am still feeling a bit floaty and spacy. I touch the earth with my hands. I listen. I feel. I feel at home. I repeat a few times as to truly feel my roots upon and inside the very crevices of the earth.
Just a few moments inside the trees, I unravel the mystery. A great big smile bursts out from my lips, as I suddenly let out a great big laugh at my own expense. Mystery no more, as I recall the very moment in time that I set this “reality” in motion.
I recall to myself the very moment in time, just a few days ago when Tyler had asked me what I was interested In doing in Tangier on my birthday weekend. I responded with. “No plans. I am happy to just wander around and “trip out” on it all. So psychedelic and old-school to say, I know, but seemed fitting at the time, as this was a vibrant and buzzing place to be “in the day,” (one of them at least) with the likes of Hunter S. Thompson, Jack Kerouac and many cultural creatives of the day.
Who knew my wish was to be received by the Universe so literally? Of course, I know better the answer to that! You reap what you sow. I am the creator of my reality…ring a bell?
We never did resolve the details of the mysterious opiate elixir.
It spontaneously left our bodies anyway!
with a sense of humor and adventure,
Ali Sun Trees