About a year and a half ago I crossed paths with a young man in Kosovo. He had unfortunately arrived at the hostel on a week when we were full, and he had no reservation. Fortunately the owner allowed him to sleep on the couch. The following day I told him I had discovered an NGO looking for volunteers and offering to help them find lodgings. “Shall we go talk to them?” I asked. We did and, we ended up doing some volunteer hours as well. He did not get lodging, but instead started helping out at the hostel and stayed after I had left.
During our time together I was able to connect him with people who could help him. It wasn’t that I knew a bunch of people in Pristina, Kosovo. It was that I have no trouble introducing myself and asking questions. At one point about a third of the way through our “relationship” I asked him if he believes in coincidence. He said “no”. I asked then, why he thought these opportunities for paid work, meeting locals who could help him and his showing up at the right time to help the NGO create a video happened. He replied, “it’s because you talk to EVERYONE!”
So, that’s the secret!
While wandering around Chefchaousen I met more than a dozen people. Some encounters were brief, some casual like the two American students I shared a lunch table with. The girl was studying Arabic in Morocco and he was studying in Spain, but they had met at university in the US.
The most interesting there, were a group traveling together who had come to Chefchaousen to volunteer with the charity group RIFCOM based in Gibraltar. All English speakers, but from different places.
This group couldn’t stop talking about RIFCOM and the local project they were joining. I almost wanted to go with them! If you are traveling to this part of the world (or even if you’re not) check out the good works of this organisation. I did!
Later I encountered representatives of a Bedouin weaving co-operative from the southern desert area of Morocco. They naturally would like to sell me a rug, blanket or shawl. It is difficult to convince them that everything in my suitcase is an accumulation of various weights and that the airline’s have limits. ” But, look, it weighs nothing!” they say. A bunch of nothing eventually weights something. Lovely, but no thank you.
I learned a couple of facts: they not only weave wool they also weave natural grasses (vegan rugs); and the men weave rugs, the women weave blankets and wraps. Lots of weaving going on in this community.
Like music? This artsy place was where I met two American gals studying in Morocco; and, a Japanese guy studying in mid-west America. Captured them making music on bongo drums.
Leather tooling is also a major handicraft here as well.
Last but far from least are the hospitable people of Chefchaousen who open their doors to thousands of visitors. Remember, in the previous blog I told you that this community was closed to christians until 1920.
When you visit Morocco, don’t miss this.
I’ll be leaving on a jet plane Tuesday, for Spain, where I’ll be house-sitting for 5 dogs in a town 30 minutes south of Valencia. Hasta la vista!