Few countries have done what Morocco has to me. It claimed all of my attention. It slowed down my wild rhythm. I drank in the landscapes, the oriental architecture, and the food. Wide valleys with snow-capped mountains in the distance. Ruby red soil by the road. Old Mercedes cars everywhere. Curvy brown hills with clumps of green bushes and trees. Mountainous plains with grazing goats. Fields of poppies flanking the highway. Palm oases hemming the river in an otherwise parched desert. Fluffy white clouds in a brilliantly blue sky. Dunes of golden sand in the desert, and groves of argan trees near the coast, in the West.

I guzzled down gallons of sweet mint tea, which is referred to locally as Moroccan whiskey. I consumed countless tajines and couscous dishes. I sampled brain of lamb served with olives, and camel meatloaf. I smoked hashish on a terrace at night and got soaked on a hike in the mountains. I slept in sand dunes and ducked out of the way of donkeys in the narrow streets of the Medina. I let my skin be rubbed raw at the hammam with black (olive) soap and a loofah as coarse as sandpaper. I watched storks on the tops of minarets and glimpsed the striped boxers under the translucent white gown of a distinguished gentleman. I lost and found myself in the crooked streets of the Medina. I baked bread in an outdoor oven with Berber women. And haggled at the market.

It’s a vast and enchanting country. Close as well as distant. Smiling and troubled. Their Friday is our Sunday. They count on their fingers from the opposite side. A man can have four wives and the muezzin chants wake you up before dawn. You won’t find any signposts in the Medina, telling you which way to go to the mosque or the market. The locals know their way, and a tourist will naturally be happy to pay for directions. But it’s beautiful here. And if you accept that the rules of the game are slightly different, you’ll not only have a wonderful time, you’ll want to return as soon as possible.