06 November 2007

Morocco: in words

Here are some snippets of my impressions of Morocco - pictures are coming, I promise. (Speaking of which, does anyone know how to make a mosaic of different images using Photoshop? I'd love to create one for you, but I haven't figured out how yet.)

First off let me say that Morocco, as I find is typical with many non-western nation, immediately penetrates all of your senses the minute you leave the plane. These places are vibrant with smells and sounds and colors, there is a sort of immediacy in everything that lacks in the more subtle, more contained and manner-focused western societies. I will try and share with you my impressions but I am sure that it will only begin to capture the feeling of the place.

Moroccan smells: donkey dung, jasmine oil, mint tea, baked earth, hyacinth flowers, tannery pits, new leather, fish, dust, smoke from the pottery kilns, the occasional smell of sewage less then expected, the smell of sheep that have been in the desert and often long without water

Moroccan sounds: the buzz of the muezzin early in the morning, the sound of the shuttle from a weaving loom, pounding on metal as artisans created the famous pounded silver, laughter, friends calling out to one another, tinny taxi horns, Arabic, French, and the clicking noises of the Berber like a bird in the brush, the hooves of donkey feet in narrow stone passages, loud shouting of men through the night (and how, I wonder, do they manage to get up for the 5am prayer?)

Moroccan visual: narrow, labyrinth streets, tall buildings, colorful mosaics & clothing, women dressed in gorgeous saris, leather works, pointy toes leather slippers, walls & gates to Medinas and around ancient cities, the dry Atlas mountains with onions piled under stone crates, Barbary apes hanging out with donkeys in a forest that seems too dry to be a home for apes, tiny steps and narrow passageways, homes dug out of the earth with put upon door fronts, symbolic colors: green for holiness, blue doors for Mohammad, red for Fatima, plastic bags strewn across the landscape as far as the eye can see, men holding hands or walking arm in arm down the street even a couple of policemen walking down the street hand in hand

Moroccan tastes: almost everything is sweet in Morocco with the exception of the olives which come with every meal. It is no wonder that so few Moroccans seem in possession of good teeth.


  1. Was it as warm as you thought? I am always surprised, when I come back home from travel, how I can smell the earth at my house.

  2. I can't even tell you how long i DREAMED of going to Morocco.

    Dude, i am so jealous. What a wonderful adventure. The pictures below are awesome.

  3. sigh. SIGH!

    dammit, i want to go to morocco.

  4. mmm. I can feel the heat. see the colours. taste the food.

  5. Such an evocative post!

    And this line?

    ...there is a sort of immediacy in everything that lacks in the more subtle, more contained and manner-focused western societies.

    You're so right.

  6. I smiled to read about the labyrinthine streets and tall buildings -- as I have been studying, this is very typical of Islamic cities -- creating shade as a defense against the dry, hot climates.

    Have I mentioned that Eric and I are both very jealous of your travels?

  7. qt ~ indeed it was. Haze of heat coming off the landscape. However, despite the heat it was distinctly autumn and that surprised me.

    christine ~ glad you enjoyed them! Hope you get to go sometime!

    jen ~ I thought about packing you but I'm not sure the suitcase was big enough.

    crazymumma ~ oh good! That was my hope!

    slouching mom ~ thanks! It's the thing that always hits me most when I return from such places.

    froghair ~ and indeed it does create cool places. In the Riat the building was some 5 stories tall and at the very top there was an intricate roof over a middle courtyard with side vent effectively allowing all of the heat to escape.

  8. the words and the pictures are fabulous. thank you for sharing all of this. I love feeling like my world is being expanded.

  9. maypole ~ so happy that you feel this helps expand your world!

  10. Morocco is one of those countries that if you fall in love with it's charm, it'll be hard for you to go back from where you came.
    Morocco is the place where east meets west, north meets south, modern complete tradition, you can see snow and desert sand in one day,fascinating Morocco property, poor don't envy the rich, warm by it's people and by it's sun, stained by corruption of some but praised by all, centuries of history and culture, we've been kings of the world at some point only to be under the French rule for sometime....
    Morocco is best described by the late king Hassan II quote : "Morocco is like a tree, it's roots are well deep in Africa, but it's branches are all over Europe"

  11. Moroccan women don't wear saris...Indian women wear saris. I'm kind of perplexed that you said you saw "women dressed in gorgeous saris" as the Moroccan visual :/

  12. Moroccan women don't wear saris...Indian women wear saris. So I'm perplexed as to how you claimed to have seen "women dressed in gorgeous saris" in Morocco. Maybe you actually went to India and didn't know :p

  13. Wayfarer you forgot the addictive musk smell.
    Samira said it best, it'll be hard to go back from where you came!


Please leave your messages here...I am always delighted to have comments!