Watering Holes, or the Magical Qualities of Tea

Watering Holes, or the Magical Qualities of Tea

I do not feel a strong urge to revisit Europe these days, perhaps with the exception of Spain. Africa, though? Yes. I most definitely wish to return. The places where I hear the call to prayer in the mornings (no, I am not Muslim) and the animals still roam free, that is where my heart is.

Many years ago, I ran away from home to Europe and North Africa. I turned 21 in Morocco. I did not make it to the Atlas Mountains or the Sahara. I was a poor young traveler/adventurer. We are considering visiting Morocco next year with friends, and then crossing the waters to Spain. I went in the opposite direction the last time.

Sharing a cup

Why do I always seek these places? They quiet my mind and my heart. If I believed in past lives, and there might be a part of me that does believe that I would have been Turkish first, and second Moroccan or Israeli (politics aside everywhere). There is a part of me that loves the desert. Clearly, that is one reason I love New Mexico.

One of the things I love about these foreign places is that wherever one goes, there is always a cup of tea. This is an offering of hospitality and good will. As the animals join together at the watering hole, we humans gather for a cup of tea. Tea is the most civilized of drinks. There are so many lovely varieties, and there are even times when Lipton fills the bill.

The comfort of tea

Tea is comforting. When I have a cup of tea with a friend, I feel more connected. Tea helps me to be more aware in the moment. And that is not all it does. If you add honey, it soothes the throat. If you sip on it slowly, it soothes both a cough and a sour stomach. Life is just better when one can stop to drink a meditative cup of tea. I drank it every day in Morocco.

In the Negev, my husband and I were taken to a Bedouin tent where we were served tea. In France, our friend took me to the loveliest of tea houses. I took a friend to a high tea right here in Albuquerque. I gave a high tea in New York when I finished my training, and I continue to threaten to give one here. It is on my “to do list.”

My mother drank lots of tea, and my father had a cup of tea after dinner every day, always hot tea, even in the summer. My sister and brother-in-law always offer me chai, an East Indian tea made from black tea, Indian spices (chai masala). My sister grinds the spices herself (She being East Indian in a past life). And what is even better is that she sends her homemade mixture to me. It is better than anything you could buy.

Turkish friends always offer çai. Sounds like the East Indian chai but completely different. I love them all with one exception. I’ve never been able to drink green tea since a nearly fatal train ride from Miyajima and Hiroshima back to Tokyo. My only choice of drink (non-alcoholic) was a can of cold green tea. I spent the entire train ride in the bathroom. Now I did have stomach poisoning before I drank that tea, and it is possible that drinking hot mint tea would have brought about the same result, but I have not been able to consider drinking green tea again yet. I am sure I will one of these days.

Arthur and our guide at the 3 p.m. tea, served daily in the bush, on safari in South Africa. (PHOTO BY AUTHOR)

Arthur and our guide at the 3 p.m. tea, served daily in the bush, on safari in South Africa. (PHOTO BY AUTHOR)

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