Camels, donkeys, and sheiks oh my!
Five things I love about Morocco have to include the donkeys. Fez has the best donkeys. Marrakech has the saddest most ill used looking donkeys, and in Rabat and Casablanca they are thin on the ground. The handsome chocolate and fudge colored Fez donkeys carry twice their weight through the narrow, winding canyons of the Medina – Coca Cola in wooden crates, Booda containers of gas for stoves and water heaters, wool and thread piled so high and wide you can barely see the animal underneath, and anything else that needs to make its way in or out of the Medina – they rule the passageways. They travel alone, in pairs, and in caravans with their handlers pushing, pulling or extolling them up the hill.
The shoes of Morocco are a sociological tale all their own. The native slide with pointed toe and tattooed patterns is ubiquitous, and always in yellow for the men. For the women they come in all colors, in all shades, leather, embroidered velvet, or camel skin. The women in djellabas, jeans, skirts, slacks, or dresses overwhelmingly choose to wear the 1960’s version of the stiletto heel with a toe so pointed it doubles as a rapier. On the sidewalks, on the cobble streets, on the dirt roadways, on the pot marked rocky paths of Fez, on the rock pavement of the Medina the Moroccan woman moves like silk across your line of sight.
Hustlers, musicians, pirates, charmers, guides, princesses, students, athletes, sisters, sons, brothers, sisters, daughters, babies, toddlers, teenagers – the children of Morocco will capture your attention with their beautiful faces and steal your heart with their smile. The men and women young to old are more seasoned versions of the children. Seasoned now to manners and ceremony that make friends and strangers alike feel welcomed and treasured. The most valuable resource of this beautiful, exotic, country is the people.
A fruit for all seasons has Morocco. When we arrived September last it was the delicious sweet melons and pomegranates. Then arrived the carts full of the sweet and portable Clementine oranges with the big brother larger version that followed. Next on the hit parade were strawberries that were large and so succulent it tasted as if you had put the crème inside the berry.
Skies of Morocco are brilliant, albeit it seems more like one sky with many moods. It is endless; from horizon to horizon it is a clear permeable blue and soars overhead until you feel dizzy standing still. For the winter months in Fez there were five days of low-grade clouds and drizzly rain, the rest of the year the skyscape is post card perfect. In Rabat and Casablanca the sky does at time reflect the mood of the sea by giving up a rolling mist so thick that you can see nothing beyond its border, but it is fast moving and fades to blue like soap bubbles on a summer breeze.
These five entries are only a brief look at this wonderful country which is fighting for a place on the world stage with a young, involved, progressive, and caring King and populace. It does not cover the ever present mountains of delicious cookies, the delectable fare of couscous, tangines, and mint tea. I did not get to talk about the beautiful clothing, all hand made and the needle lace that you watch come to life on the pillow. The sense of history, ancient and living, all around you daily, and the heat!