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A Taste of Morocco

Morocco

Djellebas are everywhere. In a shaded narrow alley, a man is bent over with his wrinkled face looking down as he carries layer after layer of goatskins on his head. The checks of his green and pink djelleba get smaller as he moves down the alley. Smoke wafts from a charcoal brazier nearby.
 
So much colour. So many jars. I touch one of the stones piled in a woven basket and my fingertip comes away blue. “Indigo blue used for dyeing, from Ourzazate” says the Spice Square shopkeeper as he touches the adjoining shiny silver rock. His finger comes away black. “This is kohl, the Moroccan eyeliner. “
 
Back at the Djemaa el-Fna, the water-sellers dressed in red, with a coin-adorned goatskin bag across their shoulders and brass cups dangling from their waist, try to entice tourists to take their photograph, for a fee; a crowd gathers forming circles form around storytellers and acrobats.
 
After visiting the Saadien Tombs, Bahia Palace, Badi Palace, Ben Youssef Medersa and Marrakesh Museum I venture outside the medina. Here a pathway flanked by green, blue and yellow painted pots containing succulents and geraniums, leads to a jasmine-covered arbour, with an electric blue villa visible at the end. This is the Jardin Majorelle.
 
Heading to the coast I reach the beach town of Essaouira with its small but fascinating medina. A man with a grey moustache wearing a purple coat and white crochet cap with grey wisps of hair escaping at the base, stands behind a cart on two bike wheels. My mouth starts watering as I see the large pile of lush deep red strawberries on the cart. Instead I head to the fish stalls, collect a metal tray and select a red snapper and prawns. After a short detour to the BBQ, they plus some bread and Moroccan salad (diced tomato, onion and capsicum) are my outdoor lunch while I watch the world go by. To experience more of the outdoors I then head to the ramparts, the huge stone walls that Orsen Welles used in “Othello”.
 
An alternative to the coast and a short distance from Marrakesh is the High Atlas Mountains, an ideal place for hiking. From a couple of hour stroll, an overnight hike to a trek to the top of Mount Toubkal, north Africa’s highest mountain, there is an option to suit everyone. Hiking in the mountains is an ideal opportunity to experience and learn first-hand about the Berber culture. This is their land that they have inhabited for thousands of years.
 
Crossing these same Atlas Mountains in a vehicle, via the Tizi’n’Tichka pass, gives the opportunity to visit Erg Chebbi and Merzouga or Erg Chigaga, the western edge of the Sahara Desert.
 
Approaching the desert, the dunes are obscured by a sandstorm with the grains of sand blowing nearly horizontal. When I reach the auberge, the mud and daub built basic hotel, the windows rattle as I wait for respite and the opportunity to ride the camels into the desert camp, but it never did stop.
 
Further north is Fes, a city and centre of learning for hundreds of years. The narrow, rambling alleys of its medina that is home to more than 200 000 Farsi provides surprises at every turn.
 
Red leather with black and white stars, sequin stars on striped lime, mauve, blue and pink fabric; black leather embroidered in green or yellow or with sequin flowers in lime and blue. These are the babouche, the Moroccan slippers found through the Fes medina and elsewhere in Morocco. Worn by Moroccans everywhere, they are the perfect, colourful accompaniment to the ever-present djelleba.
 
Then just in case that is not enough to overload the senses, there is the blue mountainside town of Chefchaouen, the regal and relaxed Rabat – Morocco’s capital, and the hustle and bustle of Casablanca where a replica of Rick’s Café is all that remains of the infamous film of the same name. Whether you like cities, food, the outdoors, the beach, architecture, photography, mountains or desert, then Morocco has it all. You just then have to decide what djelleba to buy: blue with striped brocade trim or crimson with gold trim or . . . . . . . .

 

Article By Heather Farish
Stock Photos of A Taste of Morocco
More Photography From Heather Farish

Tags
Morocco, medina, Marrakesh, Atlas+Mountains

WordCount: 718
Published: 11/3/2009 11:09:29 PM

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