They say a picture is worth a thousand words – it can be a means of expression, a way of preserving a moment, a method of story-telling, and so on. However, sometimes we can’t truly appreciate a picture until we know the story behind it.
For this reason, I decided to create a subsection in my blog called, “The Story Behind the Picture”. Here, I will take some of my favorite travel pictures and turn them into short stories. These moments and interactions, for me, are what make traveling so enriching: they open your heart, broaden your mind, and ignite your soul.
Thanks for allowing me to share my stories with you! xo
We were four hours into the eight-hour drive to our destination – the Sahara desert! I swayed back and forth as our van hugged the winding roads that were carved along the mountainside. I continued to stare out the window at the dry, desolate environment that surrounded us. Looking into the distance, I noticed some sparse patches of vegetation that were peppered along the hillside. Occasionally we would pass a local, who seemed to be wandering aimlessly with no apparent origin or destination.
My view was interrupted as our van pulled into a small rest area. Our G-Adventure guide, Youssef, had planned a roadside picnic as an opportunity to break up the drive. He had even taken us to a grocery store the night before to pick out our food. We eagerly disembarked the vehicle, excited to dig into our smorgasbord of snacks. Mine was a combination of Moroccan meats and cheeses, mixed with North American comfort foods, such as Pringles and Red Bull.
The area that he chose was perfect: there were large tiles used as flooring with manicured clusters of palm trees to provide ample amounts of shade. It seemed to be a place that the locals enjoyed as well. Further in, there was a small group of people taking turns collecting water from a tall, stone fountain. They all kept to themselves and paid very little attention to us.
Youssef spread out two large, wool blankets onto the tiles for us to sit on. We each sat knee-to-knee around the outer edge with just enough space to fit all fourteen of us. We eagerly dumped out our grocery bags of miscellaneous food into the middle circle, similar to children comparing their loot after a night of trick-or-treating.
As I began to build a sandwich, I noticed a man sitting behind our group on a concrete bench staring at us. He stared at us the same way you would stare at a campfire … blankly with very little authentic interest. Just a fixation point for your eyes while you allow your mind to wander. He was an older Moroccan man with leathery skin and age spots. His narrow face and bony arms gave him a frail appearance. The rest of his physique was cloaked behind baggy clothing. He dressed in a toque, a few layers of long-sleeved shirts, and a loose pair of pin-striped pants. On his feet, were a worn pair of sandals.
I folded up my sandwich and slipped away from our group. As I walked over to him, he seemed as intrigued by me as I was of him. I sat down beside him and tried speaking French; however, he did not seem to understand. I gave up on the idea of verbally communicating and instead, pointed to myself and slowly said “Amanda”. He nodded his head as if he understood. I smiled and handed him over my sandwich. He took it and quietly smiled back. There was an awkward pause and then he began trying to tell me something. I couldn’t understand what he was trying to say. Was he introducing himself? Was he telling me that he’s hungry? Did he want something else? Wait … was he gluten intolerant? Then I began wondering … Are people outside of North America gluten intolerant? … There was no way for us to be able to communicate aside from sign language so I just continued to stare at him as if we were partners in a game of charades. My lack of understanding made me realize why I was always picked last for charades…
Finally, I understood what he was trying to tell me!! He pointed to his mouth and opened wide. Ohhhhhh!!!! He had no teeth! Nothing but gums!! He was trying to tell me that he had no teeth to chew the thick and dry bread from the sandwich! After I understood what he was trying to tell me, I had to chuckle. He smiled back with his empty mouth and proceeded to gum the bread of his sandwich.