December 16, 2009: Tea of the Year.
If there’s one thing the Moroccans eat its bread. A whole TON of it. If there’s one thing they drink? Mint tea. It’s what they affectionately call their Moroccan Whiskey. The very first night I was in Fes I was hanging out with this hilarious spanish couple, Nani and Rodrigo, whom I had met in line at customs when I got off the plane. We decided to share a taxi, which lead to us getting a pension to stay at together right in the Medina. After wondering the streets of the Medina (Fes has 9,500 of them.), and somehow not getting lost, we ended up at this restaurant where we had to try two very Moroccan things: Mint Tea and Shisha.
I was instantly hooked on both. Especially the tea. I had to get them to cut back on the massive amounts of sugar they used but once I got it to the right sweetness that didn’t put my teeth in jeopardy, I couldn’t get enough of it.
While I was in Marrakesh we wound up in the spice markets, getting the royal treatment at one particular stand. Free tea, smelling all sorts of spices and Anneke even got a facial. She ended up with several bags full of cooking spices and while I couldn’t justify getting half a kilo of cumin or cinnamon, I could justify getting half a kilo of mint tea. I mean, where else could I get something so yummy?
The only problem was that it looked eerily like marijuana. All green and crystallized and shit. I knew I’d have a problem with it going through US Customs but I thought I could use it up before then. I pulled it out in the hostel in Seville and had a tea making party right there in the lobby that caught the attention of the owner who was watching on a video and came in to see what all the fun was about. Once you smell it you know immediately that its NOT pot (i wish it was. That would be one hell of a big bag of pot!) but it still draws a lot of attention.
I had completely forgotten about it by the time the end of my trip came up in Paris and when I was halfway across the ocean, filling out one of those customs sheets, I realized IT WAS STILL IN MY BAG.
At customs I was asked to go over to the side table to have my bag checked. I was sure that I was going to get thrown into lockdown and yelled at by the FBI for smuggling drugs from Amsterdam (the stamp I was positive they must have seen in my passport). Two women were my handlers and I thought I was in for it.
They then asked to see the tulips I was carrying.
Oh. Yeah those. Never had to show the rest of my bag and I managed to come into the country with a bag of Mint Tea That Looked Like Pot without them even realizing it.
Now if a FBI agent shows up at my house in the next day I’ll know why…