Tea in Tangier

It’s been over half a year since I returned from my month-long journey in Morocco. For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out how I wanted to write about the trip. Looking back, what stands out the most is seeing the stark difference between Moroccan life and American life. I’ve decided to write this blog in the form of a short story that will give you a small glimpse into Morocco.

So the story begins…

We were wandering the narrow passageways between buildings that made the Medina feel like a maze, so easy to get lost in. Locals would even stand outside pointing lost tourists in the right direction, hoping to get a few Dirham in return.

Vlad and I had arrived in Tangier one day earlier and were beginning to ease into the new setting by exploring town with Tommy, a new friend from the hostel.

Tangier Medina Morocco Travel Blog My Story

The three of us stopped to look at our maps. At that moment, a man standing outside asked if we would like to come in to his restaurant and join him for some tea.

We were quickly learning that this kind of tea offering from a stranger was an accepted custom here. After exchanging glances, we decided it was safe to go in.

Next thing we knew, we were walking into a gorgeously tiled room with low lighting, candles and the finest mosaics. There was a table set with intricately painted plates and bowls. If this restaurant existed back home, it would be booked solid every day, I imagined.

Tangier Restaurant in the Medina
Photo credit: Vlad Shapochnikov @Vladshap | vladshap.com

The man brought a tray of mint tea and sat down at the table with us. He wanted to know everything about where we came from and what we were doing in Morocco.

Two hours later, we were still chatting with him. He told us about growing up in these small rooms with his eight brothers. Later in life, he turned the downstairs into this restaurant, where his mother would cook and he would serve. At the end of the conversation, he expected noting in return. He did not charge for the tea and barely tried to sell us on coming back for dinner.

Later that night, we went back on our own will—of course we had to try his mother’s cooking! The restaurant looked even more enchanting at night. We were served five courses of some of the best home cooked food of the trip. He told us more stories, excusing himself when it was time for the nightly prayer. We stayed until he was about to shut down for the night.

Tangier Restaurant in the Medina

Sure enough, not another person came for dinner—nor had anyone come during lunch. I realized we may have been his only customers that day—and yet by the end of the night, he was still smiling and enjoying what he was doing.

Friends in Morocco
From left to right: Tommy, Me, Vlad, Our new Tangier Friend


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