Mafi Mushkila in Tangier, Morocco

The first time we visited Morocco, Mike did all of the planning for our trip. Airline schedules, overnight accommodations, train routes — everything was thoroughly researched and beautifully mapped out well in advance. When we got off the ferry in Tangier and were ready to hire a cab to take us to our riad, we wound up with a battered old jalopy driven by a man who didn’t speak a single word of English. We did a lot of map pointing and nodding among the three of us, loaded the luggage, and were on our way.

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A view of the port of Tangier-Med at sunset from a rooftop in the city’s ancient medina, with Tangier-Sur and Morocco’s Maghreb Coast in the distance

Mike’s Arabic was rusty after 25 years, but as we bounced over hills and careened around the curves of the coastal road, he taught me some phrases I would need while we were in Tangier and Marrakech. Salaam alaykum: Greetings! Shukran: Thank you. Na’am: Yes. Laa: No.

It was nice to have the distraction, because the driver was going at breakneck speed through the little villages and herds of goats. I was certain the car was going to fall apart at any minute or else we would fly right off the road and over the cliff into the sea. As we barreled around a particularly sharp curve, the keys actually flew out of the ignition … and the car kept running.  

We looked at each other in shock. After a moment, Mike shrugged his shoulders and said, “Mafi mushkila!” The cab driver burst out laughing and repeated, “Mafi mushkila! Mafi mushkila,” his first words to us during the whole ride.

That phrase, which means “no problem,” has since become one of my favorites. When the best-laid plans go awry, it’s a reminder that everything is still fine. We have done our best, and even if things aren’t perfect, the world has not ended.

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The interior courtyard of our Tangier riad, the Hotel Dar Jameel

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The interior courtyard of our Tangier riad, the Hotel Dar Jameel

We enjoyed every moment of our time in Tangier, falling in love with the city’s labyrinthine medina that dates to the 15th century and the rugged Maghreb coast that has welcomed diplomats, spies, artists, and tourists for centuries.

In fact, we loved it so much that Tangier, Morocco, is currently in our top three choices for our new home.

But there’s much more of the world left to see.

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Tangier, Morocco, from the rooftop of Hotel Dar Jameel

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Rockin’ the kasbah in Tangier, Morocco

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A peaceful hilltop park overlooking Tangier’s 15th century medina

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Mike on the beach in Tangier, Morocco, gazing across the Strait of Gibraltar