Monday, April 16, 2007

Morocco

To continue the theme started in my recent posts - here is another story about the Muslim World. This one is about Morocco. I also decided to write this story now because recently I saw a new movie, “Babel”, a part of which takes place in Morocco and I can definitely say that the movie doesn’t give this country justice. And don’t get me wrong, the movie is great (actually it is in itself a great international experience since the action unfolds in 4 locations: USA, Mexico, Morocco and Japan) but they way it portrays Morocco is horrible it doesn’t show any of the beauty and charm of this African jewel so I decided to restore the country’s reputation in this abstract.

If Dubai has the “future” look of the Muslim World, Morocco has the past (in the good sense of this word). Naturally, your hotel will be as modern as anywhere else but outside its walls there is a totally different world. The only truly modern city you will find in Morocco is Agadir, the resort city on the Atlantic coast, but it is modern only because a terrible earthquake entirely destroyed the old city in the middle of the 20th century. It is funny how, in fact, Dubai, is trying to imitate Moroccan heritage: one of the most famous hotels in Dubai, Madinat Jumeirah, is built in the old Moroccan style.

Morocco made a major impression on me in three ways:

1. UNUSUAL SIGHTS: I always had a misconception, as many of you, my readers, probably do too, that Africa is hot and there is no snow there except for the top of the famous Kilimanjaro. Imagine my astonishment to see snow covered mounts on the background of Moroccan sun burnt landscape in May, which turned to be the Atlas mountains. They look magnificent!

Another amazing sight, which I have never seen before – goats on the top branches on trees! (I don’t remember the name of the tree but goats love its fruit (or leaves) and they climb all the way up to get some!)

The most remarkable sight though is the main market square (the square in front of the souq) in Marrakech: fruit and sweets traders, acrobats, magicians, snake charmers and other performers – the picture out of a fairy tale indeed…

2. SMELLS: the amount of various extraordinary smells embracing you on your trip: eucalyptus forest (camel ride through which is a hilarious experience), cooked lamb, freshly baked bread, spices, Agadir seafood market and the famous Moroccan mint tea everywhere…

3. COLORS: the amount and brightness of various colors like in Morocco I have never seen before: the colors of the souq (everything from carpets to silk scarfs of all colors of the rainbow, really), the colors of the Majorelle Botanic Gardens (which not so long ago was taken over and restored by a famous fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge – it combines pink and red flowers, bright blue buildings, green foliage and red-brown paved walkways), mosaics in the mosques, palaces and restaurants, etc.

My story-telling ability is not too good to be able to describe in words all the richness of this country. If you are intrigued you can read more in Paolo Cohelo’s book “The Alchemist”, but better still go there and experience it by yourself – trust me there is nothing in the world like Morocco.
I will be posting some photos of Morocco later this week: they won’t be able to reproduce the smells but I will do my best at the sights!

1 comment:

Samira said...

I think the reason so many of us find Morocco enthralling is the contrasts between new and old, along with the beauty and the gentle friendliness of the people.The best cultures and backgrounds make Morocco an interesting and memorable country to visit. More people visit Morocco than any other country in Western Africa. This is no surprise as the government of Morocco has much to offer for the visitor: historic culture, lively arts, breathtaking Morocco property, a good nightlife, friendly and hospitable people and last but not least one of the best cuisines in the world.
You made the good choice. I like Morocco, it is so fascinating.