Nomads At Heart - What Madonna taught me about life

by Natalie Wolf (Germany)

Making a local connection Morocco


A cold December night somewhere between Marrakech and the Sahara desert. My friends and I are on the desperate search for beer in an Islamic country and ended up wandering around a dark abandoned village. After two kilometers, we finally spot a small house with an open door and dim light coming from the inside - my friends are convinced that this must be the shop where they sell beer, simply because Google Maps says so. We slowly approach the house and hesitantly knock on the door. A man, probably in his fifties, with dark, leathery skin and a big drunk grin on his face makes some wild gestures which we interpret as an invitation to come in and sit down. We must be totally crazy. The “house“ is no more than a bare grey room with a small white plastic table and some chairs around it. Our host, who only speaks Berber and a few scraps of French, introduces himself as Anamar. He pours a transparent liquid from an old Coca Cola bottle into a dirty glass and we all take a polite sip - it tastes like there is at least 90 percent alcohol in it. Our host disappears, mumbling some incomprehensible words like „voisin, il parle Anglais“. A moment later, a man in his twenties wearing a turban and holding an iPad in his hands enters the room. Well, this is how the party started. The only song on the device: Madonna’s hit Frozen to which we will be dancing in a loop for the next few hours. How can life be what you want it to be You're frozen When your heart's not open. Every few minutes new neighbours flock into the tiny room. Soon it feels like the whole village is crammed in Anamar’s home and everybody seems to know that he received unexpected guests from another country. We talk, drink, smoke, dance and laugh together. We laugh a lot. Goodness, if my Mum knew that I was the only woman at a party in the middle of the Moroccan nowhere smoking hookah, dancing with Berber men and drinking dubios alcoholic beverages out of insanitary glasses, she would definitely have gotten a heart attack. Madonna keeps singing her song over and over again and suddenly it all makes sense. How can life be what you want it to be when your heart’s not open? We may live in different cultures and our traditions and believes may be entirely different. We don’t speak the same language, but we don’t need to. That cold December night in Morocco, we opened our hearts, sent a smile and got back a lot more. Madonna was so damn right back in 1998. Aren’t we all nomads at heart?