In my eyes, Morocco is a land of peace. It is a bridge between lands, encompassing culture, language and landscapes from afar. An African country adopting Middle Eastern philosophy, with Arabic, French, Spanish and English spoken widely. From the desert, to the mountains, towards the sea and through the jungle… a friendly face is bound to welcome you along with some mint tea, sweet as can be. Upon arrival to Marrakech, we were greeted with a scene out of something carnival-like. The medina square was alive and in full swing, despite it being the middle of the night. Drum circles were gathered, snake charmers wazzled away and horses rode past pulling carriages. We took it all in. Once daylight arrived, we wandered around the medina’s maze, filling our hands with henna and coming across hidden gems, of which Marrakech is not short of (go find Earth Cafe!!). Our hostel itself (Equity Point – the most luxurious yet affordable one I’ve ever stayed in) revealed a hidden panoramic view of the old city, which was a perfectly picturesque spot we hadn’t anticipated. The view ranged as far as the eye could see – from the faded mountains in the distance, across the flat rooftops to the huge mountains at the other side. A flock of birds would fly over our heads before dark in dance and song. We said goodbye to the day and welcomed the night of this new, still unfamiliar world we were entering (whilst hoping the birds wouldn’t poop on our heads).
~ Plodding along the dunes ~
On the outskirts of the Sahara, we camped in Zagora for a night. Camels are magnificent creatures (extremely clever, very chill and enjoy oranges), but they’re difficult to ride in comfort due to all the sloshing weight of the water in their bellies. Or maybe it’s the humps. Either way, prepare for potential bruising. Under the night’s sky, we learnt constellations, glimpsed shooting stars and buried our feet and hands in the still-warm sand as we contemplated our existence. After the most delicious home-made tagine we had eaten, the Berbers taught us some bongo drumming and we introduced them to the delight of Bonobo’s Bambro Koyo Ganda. Whilst this was an enchanting brief encounter, it would seem the more time you spend in the desert, the more attuned you become with its ways. The Berber’s reminded us that ‘the school of life’ is where we learn most.
~ Overlooking the Atlas ~
Essaouira was worlds away from Marrakech, with a laid-back beach vibe that sunk into us instantly. People continuously welcomed us with smiles and offers to do fun things (quad biking, wind-surfing, galloping a horse along) as we walked by the sea. Camels, horses and dogs roamed on the sand, happy and free, greeting us often. Tiny kittens crawled around the streets with their high-pitched mini miaows. Our hostel, Surf n chill, felt like family soon after we arrived thanks to the hospitality of some very special humans (especially Reduoane, aka ‘Red Wine’). On our last day, we were taken to the fishing port where the locals bought fresh fish from the day’s catch, then took it to a local cafe to be prepared in a feast for equivalent to the English sum of 5p (!!!). We had ourselves a memorable time in this charming area of the world, sun-gazing, sharing stories, enjoying delicious seafood, exploring, dancing and feeling the genuine love between friends.
~ Baby James giving camel cuddles ~
Fes is a hectic maze, but trying to make sense of the lively labyrinth is an amusing challenge. Having got lost in these 9000 streets of the world’s largest medina, I found a haven away from the bustling streets below. Peace amidst the madness. These are always my favourite spots, outside the box. The people of the city reminded me of New York in some ways – the homely pride along with the abrupt movement of those used to the speed of life there. In all honesty, I wasn’t keen to stay for long. We’d just missed the world music festival days earlier, which would’ve been a nice way to harmonize with the energy of the place.
~ Fairytale streets ~
Travelling on, we moved to Chefchaouen – the bluetiful city. We found ourselves enchanted. Blue has a very calming effect, alongside the giant mountain overlooking the place. On our first night, we climbed up to the Spanish Mosque amongst a gathering of others to watch the sunset. As the last of the light dipped over the hills, a horn-like sound boomed out, which transformed to an Oummm and then broke into song. We gasped in realisation that it was the call to prayer after the first day of Ramadan. The beauty of the moment swept us away as more voices arose in unison, announcing the breaking of the fast. Overlooking the city, a thought occurred to me…. Despite humans having brutally taken over the world, we do own it quite beautifully at times. Everywhere, people wonder in awe at the same things, whether musically, visually, spiritually, physically or emotionally.
As we returned to our guesthouse (Dar Besmellah – by the recommendation of our free-spirited friend Ronaldo), the family invited us to share their meal. We were honoured to be a part of this act of holy gratitude. Their generosity overwhelmed us and we were conscious of how much we ate, but they encouraged us to help ourselves.
The day after, we went on an adventure towards the Akchour waterfalls, but being unprepared for the amount of time it would take and the amount of climbing needed, we made it as far as the Bridge of God. As we were attempting to make it all the way up by ourselves without direction, a man used to the path befriended us and ensured our safety the entire way there and back for no other reason than kindness. At the top, we took a dip in the FREEZING cold water. It was refreshing, although I’m 99% sure my body went into survival mode as I swam around to keep warm. Nevertheless, a dip in nature felt good for the soul.
Morocco is a unique place with a beautiful way. I knew upon leaving that this would be somewhere I’d return to much sooner than most. Perhaps for a festival in the desert, underneath the stars…
~ Dima zwima ~
~ Always beautiful ~
~ ديما مزينة ~