Arrival in Marrakesh, Morocco was truly a long journey. Given that I flew on multiple flights and had a six hour layover in the Netherlands, the effects on my body made me appreciate all the more what my ancestors had been through on their journey by sea going in the opposite direction. Just reflecting on this took me right back to the place and space of giving thanks for the blessing of being able to go to the Motherland to represent the Gullah/Geechee Nation especially for such a historic event.
When we arrived the entire airport and the city were lit up welcoming all of us. Signs were at the doorway as we walked the tarmac to get to the airport receiving area. Arrows were on the floor directing us to the COP22 welcoming desk.
After finally getting to the window to have my passport stamped, I was thankful once again when my documents were handed back to me and I was welcomed to step out of this area and into the main part of the airport. As others were told to place bags on some additional screening belt, we were pointed straight out of the door into one of the most beautiful airport terminals I had ever seen! Inside look pretty standard, but outside made all the difference in the world! It had only been opened shortly before our arrival. So, it was a blessing to be one of the first to walk through what looked like a glowing diamond in the dark.
Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com) arrives at the brand new terminal in Marrakech, Morocco for the United Nations’ COP22.
My driver sat outside amidst a sea of other drivers holding signs and we walked up to him. I let him know that although the name was spelled incorrectly, I was the passenger. We then proceeded to the car and down a long brightly lit set of streets that seemed to be celebrating our arrival.
Suddenly we got to a part of the city that did not share the same energy as where we had just passed through. The car stopped and the next thing we knew, the driver whose English was minimal started to put our luggage out onto the sidewalk of the driveway of a gas station while massive amounts of cars were trying to make their way around his. Immediately, there were strange brothers coming over speaking English to us offering us tours and such and greeting us, but there energy I knew very well-city hustlers!
Just as swiftly as these brothers came out of the darkness to converge on the arriving tourists, the police came to check out the driver. My eyes now went between watching my bags and watching the police. This is not the kind of cop I came here to deal with!
Suddenly, a shorter gentleman was picking up my bags while also saying something to the driver and then I finally heard his name, “H’mad.” I wanted to insure that I heard this correctly. So, I grabbed my bag handles as he did and asked him who he was. He said, “I am H’mad.” and nodded. The remaining hustler now said, “Yes, follow this good man here.” I continued to keep my eyes on this man, my bags, and this massive crowd so I had no time to roll or cut them in regard to this dude running game. I had seen his type so many times before! The wildest thing was when I asked H’mad as we rapidly pushed on through the crowd what this area was called he said, “Times Square!” I said, “And that it is!”
The Jemaa el Fna is the center of the city as is the Times Square had made a stop in before flying from New York to Marrakech. I thought for a brief second how there has to be some meaning in this, but decided I would meditate on that later after we get through this crowd safely in all this darkness.
Once we arrived in the guest house that H’mad is in charge of, the first thing that we were offered was welcoming tea. I immediately said, “Yes” since I wanted to share in the customs and also settle down from the adventure of the arrival to this space.
When the tea was brought out, H’mad poured three glasses with a finesse I have never seen in relation to tea! It was artistic! Now, I prayed that it tasted as good as it looked being poured!
When the tea was handed to me, I immediately recognized the smell and my spirit went back to my starting point for this journey-my beloved St. Helena Island! We toasted and then I tasted it to find out it was the same type of mint that I grow in the Gullah/Geechee Ga’dun! Disya a blessin fa e gee de Gullah/Geechee sweet mint tea!
I did not think drinking tea would have a major impact on me, but that was only the beginning of the cultural connections that I would find on this journey. More emerged the next day at COP22 when Kwame and I were offered tea by one of the ministries and we began to have a dialogue about our cultural communities. As I spoke of my traditions and cultural heritage, I heard those across the table speaking with passion about how you have nothing if you do not have your culture. This is why as much as Morocco was modernizing buildings and roads and such, they were still holding on to their traditions and their king was insuring that this take place. To that, we toasted tea once again!
Between the tea and the conversation, my soul warmed (because I needed my winter coat here, so it was not my body warming up with any sunshine for sure!). I gave thanks once again for this journey and will never forget the embraces from the Moroccan family nor the true return home that took place because of sweet tea.
Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com) and Kwame Sha of the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition (www.gullahgeechee.net) are greeted by members of the Moroccan ministry with a traditional glass of hot tea.