I have trekked and travelled since I was a child. I was then at my happiest when I was walking in the forests or along a deserted beach; and today, none more so than when I am in open expansive spaces of the desert or Antarctica. Now that our own children are adults, I am travelling the world with my husband to places most people only have the opportunity to dream of.
I have so many stories to share, so finding a single one that stands out is extremely difficult. I have stories of my own personal challenges and achievements that mark a turning point in my life; and other stories that exemplify the goodwill present in humanity.
This day was a day where I felt comfort in the inherent good within human nature.
Max and I were travelling through the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, leaving the expanses of orange sandy swell behind us as we dropped in elevation from the rocky hillsides toward the flatter agricultural land toward the coastline. The dirt was hungry. Women’s calloused hands held wooden ploughs being pulled erratically by donkeys scratching marks across the undulating dust. Towns were intermittent yet we could feel the presence of communities on the song of the ‘call to prayer’ that wafted on the wind.
Penny, our 93 year old vintage car was our companion and carried us through so many worlds. Today was a day in Morocco where she ‘broke’.
The synchronized whirr of Penny’s engine was arrested by a horrid, bone scraping, mechanical grinding noise. We came to an abrupt halt and looked at each other with a nauseous knowing. We were literally in the middle of nowhere in Morocco and after looking underneath Penny... we realized we were in big trouble.
It became apparent that a part from the drive shaft had broken from the diff and dropped out - and we needed that part! Max started latching the Tourneau and I started walking back along the road, anticipating that the part dropped about 1km behind us and could have rolled anywhere. As I scanned the ground I was thinking it would be a miracle if we found it.
I walked a distance along the pot-holed, rough road scanning hopefully for a large steel disc; and out of nowhere a Moroccan man with a donkey and a cart was calling out in excitement and at the end of his outstretched arm; in his hand, like a trophy; was our precious part.
I ran to him with smiles and gratitude. “Shukran.. Shukran.. Shukran” I exclaimed and thrust a handful of dirham into his gnarled and weathered hand as he gestured an offering to drink of some of his warm milk in a well used old plastic bottle. “Shukran”...and once again the loving gesture of hand on chest and generous smile graced my life."
I ran back to Max and Penny and realized that even though we had the part required, we needed some more assistance. That assistance came in about five minutes when a man who was driving a white van stopped and I presume asked us in Arabic whether we were ok.
His overalls were somewhat of a giveaway that he was a mechanic, yet it was a Friday and all businesses were closed. I had learned a small amount of Arabic from a friend prior to our journey and after a short time I deduced that this kind Moroccan man was prepared to tow us five km down the road to somewhere where we could work on Penny.
It wasn’t long after being led by a man we had just met, linked by a blue strap and skin of different colours; that I felt a moment of deep comfort that was one of my most memorable moments of my many journeys around the world.
The moment which made me recognise the good in humanity; the generosity and kindness of those we had only just met; was when I was standing in the car service pit of a petrol station in an inch of urine; underneath the chassis of Penny; and I looked up to see the large farmer hands of my husband’s and the smooth dark hands of the Moroccan Arab whose eyes were kind and gentle, as I passed them both spanners from green canvas rolls from my hands with designs of beautiful henna; and looked to our host’s wife walking toward us with a silver platter of mint tea with small decorated glasses and a heaped bowl of couscous.
Not a single word was spoken that any of us could really understand. Gestures from greasy hands working together bridged the barriers between cultures and beliefs.
From the farmer with the donkey and cart to the man in the overalls and his family who had welders and tools and mint tea; all displayed a generosity of spirit and love for other human beings - regardless of language or religion. That day for me was ..... deeply comforting.