I was sitting in the trunk of a Moroccan family’s car when I asked myself, “Why am I here?”
We decided kinda last minute we wanted to go to Morocco. We had originally planned to go to Spain but for whatever reason we changed our minds. It was Matt and I’s first extensive backpacking trip and we were learning how this whole traveling thing worked. We were on the budget any 18 year old would be. The type of budget that left us eating nothing but crackers and biscuits from time to time. It was tight. As we landed, and stepped out of the airport badgering taxi drivers bombarded us. They were saying their prices and Matt and I thought we were getting ripped off. So we walked back into the Airport to talk about what we would do. It was getting dark and we didn’t know where we were heading. A man came up to us and in his mix of languages asked us if we wanted a ride with his family. We didn’t take long to come up with an answer.
So maybe after nearly a month of traveling I developed a trust in strangers. Maybe it was because I thought it would be a cool experience to catch a ride for free.
I wondered why a family would let two American boys get in their car and drive them somewhere. This Moroccan family gave us donuts and milk as we sat in the trunk while we watched hundreds of Muslims praying and exiting mosques on the first night of Ramadan. I had a similar experience driving through Sosua, Dominican Republic on Easter day in 2012. The streets were packed with people walking and motorbikes weaving through the traffic jammed streets on the way to Sunday mass.
The more I think about why this family offered us a ride, the more I believe that they just wanted to help because they could. It makes me question what motivates me to lend a helping hand. I equate it to a conversation I had with Matt a few years ago. I was pestering him. Asking what he would describe as deep questions about life. I was trying to make a video of him and his passion for art. Matt hates being on camera so this was a difficult pursuit. I asked, “Why do you do art?”
Matt responded in a way that struck me at first but makes sense now. He said, “ I don't sit around thinking about why I do this. That’s a stupid question. I do art because I like it. It is that simple. Stop asking me this.”
It is often that simple. We do what we do because we want to. There doesn’t need to be a bigger reason. People help others because they can, and that is the only reason we need. So why were we in the the trunk of a mini-van in Morocco? We simply needed a ride.
After an hour of driving, the Moroccan family dropped us off on the side of the road and started talking to us in a mixture of French and Arabic. I speak neither of those languages. I couldn’t understand much: except the word “taxi”, some laughter, and a finger pointing in the right direction. Matt and I smiled, shook hands, laughed back, then found ourselves once again lost.
That wasn’t the only time we ended up riding in the trunk of a stranger’s car on that trip. Just our favorite.