Côte d’Ivoire?

I shook my head no.


I shook again.


Now he was reaching; unsure but determined to figure it out.

“American,” I offered with a smile. His turn to shake his head. “you are African,” he grinned at me, confident in his assessment.

He wasn’t alone in noticing me or in guessing my origins. Here, at least, the assumption is African. Later came Senegal and Ghana. But never American. Even after my more-than-butchered French with a helping of Spanish and a smattering of poorly pronounced Arabic – even after my perfect English – I was anything but…

Whatever I am, I have been well received. Walking through the medina in casablanca I came upon an open air bakery (one of the seven essentials for any Moroccan neighborhood) where women were expertly flattening dough onto hot griddles, dipping their hands in melted butter and then drizzling over the browning bread.

I’m from a long line of bread eaters so I was sold. Or rather I was trying to be sold. But the language barrier proved difficult to pass. The woman I’d been watching flip the long flat bread with such deft and precision pointed me to the counter. There, I tried some unsuccessful Arabic. A woman, purchase in hand and heading away from the counter, coached me on the pronunciation and then bid me farewell. Her kindness was followed by a man and his friend who helped me price and order – all while trying to figure out where I was from. Later, while I drank mint tea and happily munched on the simultaneously moist and flaky bread with oil glistening fingers, he sent over some Moroccan sweets.

The kindness continued. When I stopped to have some traditional Moroccan soup (different in every region) at a table amid a dozen other tables in the food portion of the plaza the old woman dishing out the tomato-based soup waved my payment away.

I ended my night evening with a hot shower…the first hot shower in seven months. Full, warm, and clean…sleep found me contented.

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