Sunday, July 5, 2009

La Barca, Morocco?

Yesterday right outside of Quarzazat we stopped to eat at a restaurant called Labaraka. This interested me because my wife’s family comes from a city in Jalisco called, La Barca. In looking at the two names, I am convinced that La Barca, Jalisco derives from Labaraka. Labaraka in Arabic means benedictions. I am sure the people of La Barca, Jalisco would not have a problem with such a positive meaning.

It is interesting to note that many people in La Barca, Jaliso pride themselves in cooking birria, a specialty goat dish. Here in Morocco, the people have perfected lamb and goat tagines, which are very tasty as well . As of yet, I can’t decide which I enjoy more. My wife’s family owns a restaurant chain in Los Angeles. I am going to try and get them a large sign with the Arabic name and spelling of Labaraka.

Along these lines, I am learning that other Mexican cities have names that have Arabic origins. He have Valladolid, Guadalajara, and Salamanca among others. Guadalajara, for example, means rock in the river. Salamanca means peace to the Anka family. As my list grows, I will have more things to share with my students.

There also many Spanish surnames that have Arabic roots like Medina, Garcia, Guzman, Gomez and Torres. There are a lot more just like many words such as alcohol, algebra, algodon, and most of the words that start with “al”, which means ‘the’. Why wasn’t I aware of so much of this information?

Today while the group took a hike along the Dades Gorge, I got a kick out of walking past pomegranate trees, fig trees, almond trees, cilantro patches, yerba buena fields, peach tress, tomato gardens and donkeys carrying firewood. It was as if I was walking along a river in Guanajuato or Michoacán where young kids frolic in the water. It was beautiful. It is amazing how much of my heritage is connected to Morocco. The longer I stay in Morocco, the better understanding I have of my identity. For too long I have been ignorant of my African roots. It feels great to know of all the great cultures that have fused together to create me: the Mexican.

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