‘Made by hand’,,, ‘sensory abundance’. These phrases still ring in my ears after visiting Morocco a couple of months ago.
We were a mini-bus load of tourists from Cape Town on the southern tip of Africa. On the north western corner, Morocco balanced the continent with its land mass of 458,730 sq metres and called home by approximately 33 million Africans. Mostly Muslim with a good mixture from their surrounding neighbours: Europa and the Middle East also hugging the Meditarranean, the Atlantic Ocean to the West and the desert countries of North Africa to the East. Clearly therefore Morocco is in a location that invites an eclectic mix of cultures - rich in history, texture and colour to the mind and senses.
Whether through its crafts - kelims, ceramics, wooden objects - or through its unique adobe architecture, Morocco has proudly and effectively turned its traditions into a much sought after tourist attraction. Moroccans understand the lure of the exotic; the sense of connection a handmade object evokes.
The objects of desire my purse couldn’t resist are more than merely functional goodies. They are deposits of memory. They still link me to the precious moments shared with locals. Like Fatah Busseta, the carpet seller in Marrakech. When we had connection trouble with my bank back home, he saw no obstacle parting with the kelim rolled up under my arm. “I trust you,” he said, his blue eyes under the Berber turban clear and transparent. “You can transfer the money from South Africa.” How could I not forget that traditional Muslem law forbid women to clutch a man in an embrace!
Shopping through bargaining in dark narrow alleys in the souks of the medinas (old centre of cities in Fez, Marrakech and Casablanca) was only one aspect - be it a major one - of our trip.
We had plenty opportunity to sample the food, admire the rough texture of the mud-straw-lime adobe architecture, the exquisite floor and wall tiling, the stucco-wall decorations. Not only the official buildings and museums, from a polite onlooker’s distance. No, we shared a mint tea-ceremony in a traditional village at a private home ‘kasbah’. We slept and ate and languished on the side of tiled indoor swimming pools in boutique-small hotels - ‘Riads’ - once the homes of important people. And slept on mattresses in kelim clad bedouine tents at the end of our sunset-camel ride over the white dunes of Erg Chubbi. Then to be entertained by local siter-players and drummers under the stars at a candle lit dinner. It didn’t take much persuasion for some of us to get up from our long ‘family-table’ to join the desert drum-rhythms in dance.
All in all a dream place for the eye of a camera. And for frustration when you travel with that alien species that don’t call themselves photographers! How I missed my travels into the south western deserts of the USA a couple of years ago in the company of members of the Travel Photographers Network. That’s where I learnt about Hank’s “voice operated car-brakes”. Driving in our mini-bus through Morocco I often had to shoot from the hip through a window - often not open.
Some times I missed. Maybe a logical excuse for a revisit? If one needs logic if you wield a camera. You can see more images from my trip in the album "Morocco".
What about a TPN-trip meeting in Morocco, Walter, Jim, Vicky, Sarah, Bob, Matt, Hank?
Images of Morocco by Bettie Coetzee-Lambrecht