Morocco … how is it possible I got through this country without writing a single word before today? Honestly, I am having difficulties with this post, not because memories have faded with time, but because there are so many sharp images vying for attention, for their well deserved moment in centre stage. It would have been prudent to write about my experiences while I was actually immersed in the sights and sounds, but I was so busy soaking it all in, moving from place to place, and making new friends.
To help get the words flowing I have typed ‘Morocco’ in Spotify’s search field hoping to fill my ears with the sounds of the medina, Berber blues, the festive nights in Marrakesh, an auditory counterbalance to the chilly view of snow covered slopes and bare trees outside the window of my Canadian winter hideaway which currently holds sway over my visual domain.
I spent close to 4 weeks roaming chaotic urban centres and wild, isolated landscapes, my first visit to an African country. My departure was unexpectedly sudden, a rush northwards to meet with an old travel friend to catch up in Spain during a short break in her busy schedule. Turning my back to a long list of places I still wanted to wander, I told myself, ‘That’s ok, I will come back.’
There are few countries I feel a need to return to, it is hard to explain why Morocco is on that list. I always felt safe, but it is far from what I would consider an ‘easy’ part of the world to become comfortable in. There is extreme poverty, filth, blatant gender inequality, poor hygienic practices, street harassment, and many more qualities this lily-white Canadian has had little personal experience with.
I was reminded on a near hourly basis that my primary role while walking the maze-like streets of the medinas started and ended with the contents of my wallet. Regardless of how interactions began, the vast majority finished with the request for a sale. Intellectually it made sense, emotionally it was exhausting.
My desire to keep plastic bag and bottle use to a minimum was often challenged. Vendors made reusing bags difficult: at best I would be frowned at, but most often my request would simply be ignored. I carried a water purification kit, but was not always prepared well enough in advance, running out of pre-purified hydration and leading to a need to buy bottled water.
And yet I would go back in a heartbeat.
Morocco is alive with colour, design, details everywhere – and my senses were set a hummin’. I threw myself into the messy labyrinthine medinas with not much more than a raggedy sense of direction, ate nothing but tagines, couscous, avocado smoothies, and crispy pancakes for a month without complaint, but started ordering my mint tea sans sugar after the first week, slept in crowded hostel dorm rooms, shared stories with fellow travellers on rooftop patios while watching the sun set over a sea of satellite dishes, and sunk my toes into the sand dunes along the western edge of the Sahara Desert.
I will be collating my thoughts and writing about my time in Morocco over the next couple of weeks. For now, here is a selection of my favourite images taken as I wandered from Tangier to Chefchaouen to Hassilabied via Fes to Toudra and on to Essaouira before turning around.
My first morning, the view from the hostel rooftop patio.
Enchanted by how the light bounces around the enclosed spaces of the medina.
Tiled corridors leading into mosques.
The blue city.
Finally, the desert.
Red rules here where green is so sparse.
Colours and textures to complement the red walls of the canyon.
Back to the ocean but still with Sahara sand in my shoes.
Stay tuned for more Moroccan details.