Editor’s note: “A Better Life” is a weekly column by the USU Extension – Tooele Office that focuses on a variety of topics intended to enhance quality of life.
For a kid whose only dream of traveling was to go back to my grandparents farm in Moab, I have been able to visit a lot more of the world than just Utah.
During graduate school I had the opportunity to work in Russia for six months on a collective farm. That was certainly an adventure. I’ve been to England and Scotland, The Netherlands and Belgium. I went to China in 2008 where I presented a research paper about work I have done in Tooele County.
I think Morocco has been the most intriguing place I’ve been, which I wrote about for this column in the April 11 edition, but it might be because it is the most recent place I’ve been and still on my mind. However, it might also be because Moroccan or Arabic culture is much different than any other culture I have experienced. Morocco was a cultural, geographical, academic, scientific, spiritual, emotional, visual, aromatic, culinary and social experience, among others.
Of all the things I experienced, my favorite was the people; not just the Morocs, but people attending the conference from all over the world. I met Australians, Algerians, Tunisians, French, Brits, Kenyans, Pakistanis, Russians, Germans, Mexicans and so many others I can’t remember them all. What I’ve learned about people is that when you get a group together with a common interest and purpose, you almost always have a great time together. We sure did.
I met some Australians when I got to the hotel. They invited me to go to dinner with them. The last thing my wife told me was to drink only bottled water, so when the waiter asked me what I wanted to drink, I said “bottled water.”
He replied: “With gas?”
Thoughts of drinking water with gasoline in it ran through my head, but I quickly realized he wasn’t talking about unleaded or no-ethanol gasoline. He meant carbonation.
I thought, Hey, I’ll live a little. Everyone else is drinking wine; I’ll have water with gas.
“Yes,” I replied to the waiter. “With gas.”
Yuck! It tasted like Alka-Seltzer. When I said Morocco was a culinary experience, that is not what I was referring to. I had so much good food I’ve never heard of before, it would take another column to tell you about it.
Our hotel was really something; very big and palatial. In fact, it was called the Palais de Roses. In its day it must have been a five star hotel. It was old and needed updating, but it was still a grand palace. My room didn’t come with soap and shampoo like I thought it would. I hopped into a taxi and asked to be taken to the market.
In Morocco the market is called the Souk, which is an open-air extravaganza the size of a city block. Anything and everything can be bought there, from fresh food — some of it live on the hoof and talon (roosters were crowing) — to clothing, jewelry and electronics. It’s a visual feast with spices, olives, fruits and vegetables, housewares, shoes and robes. You name it you can find it.
Some guys were squeezing sugar cane, some squeezing oranges. There were a lot of fresh, giant strawberries, piles of dates and olives, and spices in large pillars. When I would pause to look and even when I didn’t, the merchants would beg me to come in and buy whatever they were selling.
I finally found some soap and shampoo. I paid too much for it, but what is a guy to do in a strange town, in a crazy market where they could tell I was a “rich” foreigner. I did my best to haggle and get them down a few dollars or Dirhams as Moroccan money is called. At least it was Johnson’s Baby shampoo, something I was familiar with. And hey, I didn’t give in and buy the over-priced Argan Oil.
Linden Greenhalgh is the county director of the USU Extension – Tooele County office, which is located inside the Tooele County Health Department Building, 151 N. Main, Tooele. The phone number is 435-277-2400.