Meet Nabila. While trying to figure out how many dirhams we needed for our last day in Fes, I noticed a woman sitting by the ATM watching us, smiling. She followed us—and eventually talked to us—helping us when Aimee was trying to buy tea for her mom. None of us being fluent in Arabic or French, we were having a terrible time trying to explain to the store clerk what we wanted. But Nabila spoke Arabic and French and English. And she was so happy to have an opportunity to try her English out. Aimee bought her tea and Nabila then invited us to her home for hot tea. We were thrilled.
The next thing I remember is being linked arm in arm with Nabila, walking and listening while she chatted away, asking so many questions, her mother (we think) following behind. We weren’t quite sure what we were getting ourselves into but I remembered reading in my Lonely Planet Morocco book to consider yourself lucky if you’re invited into someone’s home. We learned, once in her home, that she lived with only her sisters—and right or wrong, knowing that, we felt safe.
We were served more of that delicious hot mint tea and cookies. She and her sisters took so many pictures of us and we of all of them (on Shruti’s camera, not mine). We taught her a few English phrases (although she knew so much) and she taught us Arabic (by the way, “sahabat” means “friends”). We exchanged addresses. And as we left Nabila’s apartment she and her sisters watched us walk down the darkened street, waving, waving. Lucky, indeed.
“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” —Tim Cahill