After our walk through the oasis at Tinghir, our driver Saeed picked us up in the van to take us to Todra Gorge. On the way, I put my hands over my shoulders on the back of my seat to stretch my back, and Father Anthony, sitting behind me, told me that by the look of my fingernails, I needed to take more calcium. I said I had a big container of calcium and vitamin D on the counter in my kitchen at home, but I always forgot to take it. He said if I didn’t start taking it, I was going to get osteoporosis. I said, “You’re talking to a brick wall, because if I don’t pay any attention to my doctor, why should I listen to you? You know, I don’t care much for unsolicited advice. One thing I’ve learned through the years is that you should mind your business and I should mind mine.” This is something I’ve learned the hard way in attending Al-Anon. He finally dropped the subject, but my traveling partner reiterated Anthony’s remarks, as if she were the arbiter of good health. As if my life were any of her business.
Why is it that people are such know-it-alls? And why do people feel compelled to offer advice when no one has asked for it? Don’t people know that to offer unwanted advice is making an assumption that the other person is incapable of making her own decisions? It’s an insult of the highest degree. If I go to my doctor, of course I am asking for her advice, and she’s right, I should take my calcium, but I forget and don’t have a routine for it, and so I don’t take it as I should. I already know this and am reminded of it every time I go to the doctor and get reprimanded. Every time I visit my dentist, my dental hygienist also reprimands me for not using a water pick. It’s the job of health professionals to give advice, and by my showing up at their offices, I am submitting to, and even asking for, their advice.
To have random people off the street give me advice on how to take care of my health, how to eat, how to drink, how I should dress, how I should behave, how I should love my family members – the list is endless – this is the ultimate insult, as if I don’t know these things myself. For whatever reason that is solely MY BUSINESS, I don’t do things as well, or as consistently, as I should. Or, alternately, I do them just the way I should. It is MY life and MY business, and no one else has any excuse for intruding.
The road from Tinghir passed palm plantations and Berber villages, then high walls of pink and gray rock closing in on the road. The gorge was lined with palm oases and ruined kasbahs.
We got dropped at Todra Gorge, which is a massive fault dividing the High Atlas from the Jebel Sarhho. At some points it is just wide enough for a crystal clear river and single-file trekkers.
I felt that Todra Gorge was nothing special, with a wide road alongside a river in a steep gorge, an abandoned hotel at one end, and various commercial vendors selling rugs, scarves, droopy-crotched colorful pants often seen throughout Asia, jewelry and musical instruments, notably small finger cymbals. A Berber man played a flute while Gabe from our group clicked a rhythm with the finger cymbals.
Abandoned buildings and terraces sat at one end of the gorge.
My traveling partner complained that the rock climbers all around weren’t properly outfitted with helmets and proper climbing shoes. I was so glad to learn, once again, her ideas about how other people should be behaving.
Back at the hotel, we sat in the dining area and were served the dinner we’d ordered earlier. I had a Moroccan soup with chick peas and a little vermicelli and a Berber omelette cooked in a tajine pot with tomatoes, onions and peppers. We also had a little pastry, multi-layered with white icing, chocolate drizzle and strawberries, along with sparkling water. I felt like I’d been eating way too much food on this entire trip.
I started teasing Father Anthony about the calcium. He said I’d already chewed him out once and he got it. He and Susan continued to press me that I should take calcium or I’d be sorry. I felt like they were on the attack. I said that luckily I am healthy and Anthony would probably be long gone before me (he’s 76 after all), and he and Susan said not necessarily, and they both agreed they knew absolutely about what a person should do to be healthy. I said, “You two are so judgmental!” The others in the group tried to distract us from the growing tension. Shortly, I got up and went up to the room, I was so pissed. Self-righteous people who think only their way is right annoy me to no end.
I could not wait to get out of this group, and I wished I had come alone on the group tour because then I could just wander off on my own without always ending up stuck with a person who seemed to rub me the wrong way at every turn.
*Monday, April 15, 2019*