In slightly over 12 hours from now, we will be boarding a plane for Morocco. I will admit that I am pretty nervous about the whole thing, as I’m anticipating that even my newly expanded comfort zone will be stretched rather thin. All the guidebooks and reviews I’ve read have one word in common: overwhelming. The colors, the people, the smells, the sights… “sensory overload” is another phrase I’ve read often.

Now, I’m already prone to sensory overload, even in the most tame of situations. I have no filters, no boundaries, so I notice and remember everything — from the color of that girl’s handbag to the way that man just smiled at her while holding his wife’s hand, look what the wife is eating, I like her shoes, oh, I can hear what they’re saying, what language is it… and on and on and on, until I fill up to the brim and want to shut myself in a silent room alone and curl up in a little ball while I detox from all the input.

Needless to say, I can’t handle crowds, unless of course I can find a safe place to sit and watch, in which case I love them. Loud noises make the back of my neck itch. And yes, concerts, sport arenas, and casinos are pretty much all my worst nightmare.

Even yesterday’s trip down to Belem on a sunny and very crowded Palm Sunday made me jumpy and irritable — that is, until I could sit down at a table with a glass of wine and watch the parade of people, children, and dogs go by. Then I was perfectly happy, and vastly entertained.

Hence my trepidation at diving in to the souks and medinas of Morocco. However, living here has also taught me to use my oversensitivity for good, and not evil. If I can process everything I’m taking in through a lens, either my camera or my writing, I can remove myself just far enough from reality that I can appreciate it and not get totally overwhelmed. I’m hoping the same will carry over into the “overwhelming sensory overload” that is Morocco.

Either that or I’ll go back to the hotel and pop a Xanax when it all gets too much for me. Hopefully that won’t be the case, but either way, I’ll be sure to write to you about it.

Below are pictures from our trip to Belem yesterday, including a man dressed up as a medieval knight, first counting out his money and then using the pay phone. I thought it patently unfair that his uniform didn’t include a cell phone. What’s a knight supposed to do when he wants to call his fair maiden?!

And now… we’re off to scrape together some semblance of a seder dinner, brought to you by the “ethnic” food section at the giant supermarket in the fancy Spanish department store up the hill. Ah, the life of an expat. Always thrilling.

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