Out of Our Comfort Zone

Not Smart Enough for College (40)

Medina, founded in 808 A.D., is 15 square kilometers (9.3 miles) of chaos, a twisting labyrinth of 25,000 buildings, 72,000 businesses, 350,000 residents, and 75,000 tourists who visit each day. I was immensely grateful it was the Moroccan driver we hired and not my son, Paul, or my grandson, Calvert, or even worse me trying to navigate those crazy, narrow streets alone.


Cars and trucks can’t even go into many of the streets in the middle of the old city, which is a maze where tourists get lost without a guide. Donkeys are still an integral part of doing business and you see them being led up and down the narrow streets loaded with merchandise for sale. In the butcher shops, live chickens are purchased, beheaded on the spot, and handed to the customer. Peddlers roam the streets looking for tourists to purchase their jewelry and other trinkets. 


Our hotel was over 600 years old and on a street far too narrow for a car. A man from the hotel came out to meet us and lead us to the entrance. I could stretch out my arms and touch the walls on both sides of the street at once.  I wasn’t at all sure about the whole neighborhood really or our safety. But when I saw the hotel entrance, I really started to worry. There were none of the expected trappings, no welcoming windows, no swinging doors, no doormen. What kind of a place was this?


As soon as we went in the front door, all my fears melted away. It was absolutely gorgeous inside. Rich inlaid mosaic tiles adorned the walls. Stunning arched doorways, ornate railings and towering carved columns beckoned us to explore.  


Even though it was well after 11:00 pm when we arrived, we had one more task. We were starving! We walked around the corner to find something to eat. We entered a restaurant in a building that was built in 1357 A.D. Like the hotel, it was not much to look at from the outside, but inside it was beautiful.


Paul and I must not have been feeling particularly adventurous and ordered chicken. Calvert took a leap and ordered pigeon. I’d never tried pigeon before, so I tasted his and it wasn’t too bad. A group of local Moroccan musicians played as we enjoyed our meal. Before long I was playing alongside them using a homemade instrument (soda pop bottle). People in the restaurant seemed to appreciate my efforts, and the musicians smiled and laughed as they played along with me. We had a great time socializing and interacting with them. I am certain these musicians had never seen the likes of three crazy Americans like us but when we left, we felt we had some new friends.


People and customs are unique and diverse across the world, but when we step out of our comfort zones and share food, music, a good time together, we can find our common humanity and create a new bond as we did that night on a street where untold thousands of our brothers and sisters have walked and talked and lived over the centuries. All it takes is a spark of goodwill and a step out of our comfort zone. 


Happy Failing Forward,


Calvert and Anne

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