JNANE TAMSNA- my home away from home in Marrakech. The road winds through the Palemeraie to the village of Duar Abiad. Beyond the communal well
surrounded by colorfully clothed women, a flock of sheep and the odd local
soccer game, bouganvillia fall over the earthen wall where the tall palms
inside look noticeably healthier than the ones randomly growing about.

Past the gate and the gate keeper, looking anything like St. Peter, until he smiles.
He’s recognized me. If heaven believed in reincarnation, I imagine it
could feel somewhat like that. ‘Oh. It’s you. Back again eh?’ I entered the garden
paradise of Ethnobotonist Gary Martin and his renowned Designer wife
Meryanne loum Martin.

Samira has a skip in her step as she comes to greet me from the cab..
‘My darling Peggy, how nice to see you, we missed you!’ As I walk
up to the front door I run my hands through the rosemary hedge to
release that familiar smell that says..’you are not forgotten’. Rosemary
is for remembrance. I remember too, my visits here over the years
as if I have never left. I watched it grow from dirt and mud to a thriving
oasis in only 6 years. A seed goes in the ground, it gets watered and viola
it grows and green covers the earth.

Other faces come to greet me, Brahim the Maitre’D, Ne Ne from Chad,
an exquisite waiter, Neima the personal house keeper of Meryanne
and Habiba the oldest cook. We are happy to see each other.

I never count things. I have no idea how many trips I have taken in
the last 15 years of my business between Italy, Morocco and Sicily.
I know that over 1000 people have attended my programs, but I
don’t count. Every trip is new and it seems as if it’s the first. I can
hardly believe though, that maybe it’s been perhaps, in the neighborhood of
300 in all. I settle into a place and it’s like I belong. Do you count
how many times you’ve gone home to visit your family in the last
years? Who’s counting? Does it make a difference? All I think is,
here I am again. Have a changed? It’s a barometer for my growth.
Where I am still stuck? Do I still have the same reactions to things
or has my tolerance increased? Has my heart opened any more?
Not to mention, it’s good to be with people who love you.

Whisked away into my room, I know them all by heart. I’m in Taupe.
Not Tuareg..not Blue..not Edward. I am the one with the mosaic tiles
that Thaiz likes best. Thaiz and Edward are the children of Gary
and Meryanne now away at Kings Boarding School in Canterbury.
I still bring them Baci chocolates from Italy.

Everything works with ease at Tamsna. There is grace. They work
in harmony and whatever needs to happen, seems to happen with love
and no exaggeration. It suits my nature. I don’t like a choppy response.
There is a talent to transition from one thing to the next, which requires
attention. It can be a dance. I am not a big fan of being precisely on time.
I love it if I’ve been lucky enough to move at the right pace for that to happen, but rushing and stressing is of no interest to me.

The patio is pristine with vases of olive branches falling over themselves.
The tables are set with calla lilies and herbs from the garden. It’s a beautiful
day and the lavender is giving off a violet perfume worthy of delighting
the Gods, but in this case it’s only me. The palms shade the tables and the
other plants at her feet. She’s the mother tree and every palm in this palm
dessert tries to nurture what’s around it. Dates are produced and harvested
in the fall. She produces with very little nourishment, something dense
and substantially sweet.

There are delicate greens growing in the garden, along with fennel and her fronds, an allspice tree and rows of thyme and marjoram. Birds are happy here.
Water flows through an intricate path of ditches that reaches patches of produce
and momentarily floods them, like a good long drink of water. Dampness
in the garden is a sharp contrast to the warm breeze in the trees above.

I brought yet another group to experience the divine movements of the hands
when infusing steamed couscous with olive or argan oil. Baijah also shows and
explains the basic techniques of Tagine and how many different ways to prepare
them. We show how to cook the egg mixture for chicken pastilla in a spice
broth. The correct way to make a pot of Moroccan mint tea.

We are served our meals in the garden under the palms. What we have made
comes looking delectable and even though someone else serves it for us..
we are eating our own cooking!

to be continued….