Monday, 27 January 2014

MAROC: a techni-colour dream

Morocco is such magical place. Everything about it, from it's beautiful ancient cats and old men in hooded thobes to its aromas, olive trees, and pastel colours. It was strange, as my mate H and I travelled around it was as though time and space ceased to exist. It was so dreamlike that it almost didn't feel real---- any of it. During our short time in the country we met some truly incredible people, gazed at awe-inspiring landscapes and experienced a sense of boundless freedom and possibility; the freedom of being a stranger, the possibility of being a local... of belonging to a new city... the city of Marrakech...

In all honestly, I didn't really what to expect from our trip. Neither me nor H had planned for it much. I did however manage to buy a small Lonely Planet travel guide from Foyles a day before. I think I briefly leafed through it before the flight. I also decided against taking a suitcase, speaking from experience, there's nothing worse that dragging around a suitcase especially on the tube! So instead I just stuffed my trampy eastpak rucksack with some clothes, a notebook, my camera (equipped only with the smaller 50mm lens) and my passport.

Our time at the airport was relatively easier and less traumatic than the last time we travelled together. When we last went away it took us over a half hour to get through security, in fact we came really close to missing our flight. I remember watching incredibly frustrated as this one very stern looking man searched through ever crevice in my bag, finally and wholly hesitantly, he let me go through. However-- this time--- nothing. It was almost too easy. In truth, I was slightly worried I'd get a lot of hassle on the other side, especially as my passport is filled with stamps from when I travelled to Syria and Egypt and Pakistan and Arabia... fortunately however we got through passport control just as easily. And so there we were --- three and a half hours later, in a completely foreign, yet wholly familiar land--- Maroc.

Our days were strung together by a series of events, each of which connected the other--- in a way that travellers know well. On our first day, a friendly Moroccan guy named Mustafa took us to meet a women off the Djemaa el-Fina square who arranges excursions, through this short encounter we somehow ended up camel riding and rock climbing in the foot hills of the Atlas Mountains, this then led us to discovering the beautiful coastal town of Essaouira where we met an an interesting local named Said who showed us around. And so finally this series of events led us to serendipitously cross paths with Mustafa in Djemaa el-fina on our last full day in Marrakech and so we spent our remaining time hanging out in the Menera Gardens and in the square by evening.

I wasn't going to take my camera, I only decided to last minute. I'm glad I did, but even more than that I'm glad I didn't take too many pictures. In fact considering the many people we met and places we went, I took very few pictures! Some memories can never be captured and that's what makes them so beautiful---to be in the present moment is something I've been working on for years, for it's so important--- to live, to witness, to listen, to really listen, to smile and to be present.  

I loved Morocco; the mysticism, the energy, the culture, the people. Berber and Moroccan people are beautiful, and so kind and warm! In our short time in Morocco, my mate and I went camel riding, rock climbing, we wandered through the Christian Cemetery, hung out in the Menera Gardens and Jardin Majorelle. We sat by the beach, and beneath the shadows of the beautiful Katoubia mosque, we haggled hopelessly in the souks, jammed in the Djemaa el-Fina in the evening, visited the Bahia Palace and Sardinian Tombs, made friends with numerous cats, walked countless streets unknown, drunk cups and cups of mint tea, rode on a horse and buggy, chilled out in the cyber park and just tried to learn and re-learn the art of being--- Maroc style.

After our magical journey it was really depressing coming back to Gatwick and getting the train back to London in the evening, we watched as the sky darkened and the rain lashed against the windows, both of us already feeling those all too familiar post-travel blues sink in. After we parted ways, I got the tube back to Tooting, rucksack weighing me down still, but with a feint smile on my face remembering the beauty of our journey and of life. A truly magical experience and I couldn't have shared it with anyone more special than one of my best friend's H. We were blessed enough to share a lot of moments. A moment; A brief, indefinite interval of time of value, importance or beauty. A moment, something you'll never forget, something that will make you feel something, maybe bring a smile to your face. Below I've listed my top ten moments in Maroc. 

Top 10 Moments in Maroc
  1. Wandering through the Medina in Essaouira with an interesting local Berber man named Said. 
  2. Sitting by the waterfall in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains after a difficult climb up. 
  3. Contemplating life in the Christian Cemetery in Marrakech
  4. Saying goodbye to another interesting and kind Beber man named Said in Ourika. Said, the mountain guide with secret eyes....Said the mountain guide who saved my life...
  5. Wandering around the olive groves listening to Kuch Kuch Hota Hai with Mustafa and H in the Menera Gardens....
  6. Lying by the beach and thinking about nothing
  7. Riding a camel by a mountain roadside
  8. Watching the theatrics of Djemaa el-fina with Mustafa and H in the evening after the athaan.
  9. Saying goodbye to our friend Mustafa. Ah goodbye's-- so bitter-sweet, to know you may never come to see someone again. To wonder if it would have been better if you never met so you wouldn't feel so melancholic after parting ways.... but nahhh, that's life.
  10. Lying on the grass outside the airport with H, staring at the red flag, the blue sky and never wanting to go home. 
For more photos; check out my flickr set (forgot I had a flickr account...)