Africa

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A fairly typical entry changing area

Reason 1,037 Why I Love Morocco: For $8 I can have a day at the spa (hammam) complete with a man who washes me, scrubs me, then gives me a soap massage.

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Moroccan butcher in Agadir

Reason 933 Why I love Morocco: Despite the rapid move toward modernization, especially in the massive metropolis of Casablanca, there remains a culture of trust and goodwill that permeates informal relationships.

The latest of innumerable examples: My local butcher, who’s known me only a week or so, sent me away with my purchase, even though I’d forgotten my money, and told me I could pay when I able. Incha’Allah.

Lost in Translation: Medical Edition

C.U.M.

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Reason 531 Why I Love Morocco: Midnight rides through the desert on a darkened bus enables an incredible view of the stars and moon without clouds or light pollution.

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Reason 401 Why I Love (Southern) Morocco: Due to the tremendous static electricity in the area, the simple act of turning over in bed at night creates an intense, personal mini laser light show.

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Reason 1,242 Why I Love Morocco:

The Marrakech medina is actually just many little medinas within one enclosure

Most neighborhoods, whether in a big city or small town, still adhere to a medina mentality, meaning most daily needs are within only a few blocks. Each small area typically has a butcher, a green grocer, a dry cleaner, a hammam, a baker (or community oven), a barber/hairdresser, at least four cafés, a pharmacy, hardware store, tailor, a dry goods shop, and endless small convenience stores. What’s not in a shop, is usually at a nomadic stand that shows up every morning. Often, there are also shops for clothing and shoes, doctors’ offices, gyms, and small restaurants.

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Reason 501 Why I Love Morocco: Unlike most of the West, where even eye contact is rare, you’re virtually guaranteed a salutary response, even from total strangers if you bother to make an attempt. Salamu walaykum.

Mauritania

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Reason 513 Why I Love Morocco, especially after being abroad: There is a camaraderie, a genuine friendliness among people, even toward strangers. Just asking a question at the airport in broken Arabic gets a warm smile and friendly touch on the shoulder.

Morocco’s Southern Coast