Monday, 13 August 2007

My Morocco

I see Karl Rove has resigned, isn’t that a bit like Hitler in his bunker saying, “I am sorry about all the bother but I’m done now. May I just go?” Only in Rove’s case I assume they WILL just let him go. What a world.

WE have a ditzy wasp in the room with an identity crisis that flies in the doors at least once a day and stays ten to twenty minutes. He thinks he is a bee and the straw ceiling decoration is a bloody hive. He dives into it, sits on it, preens for it –nutty as a bugger I tell you.

I stood on the outside Terrance just before sunset with the cool ocean winds blowing my clothes firm against my skin, and I saw a movement out of my left eye. Turning my head I saw coming up from the other side of the towering sandstone building on the far ridge, flocks of what had to be from this distance, huge birds. One, two, three mighty flaps of their black wingspan, then the white underpinnings could be seen as they settled onto the air currents like legions of hang gliders.

I ran back inside, and lunged for my glasses in order to get a better look. As I passed through the double doors to the Terrance I saw them - huge birds flying out of the setting sun in staggered bursts of formations.

Hurdling themselves forward, up out of the flames of the setting sun, they launched into the thermals above. It was magnificent. They passed over, high above our villa. This must be what it was like watching the British Spitfires during WWII as they leaped into the air, and flew out over the coast of Britain to defend her. I imagined standing on the cliff as they passed over.

The birds passed overhead, coasting on the thermals still. There is a bird in India, in the mountains, the Oriental Honey Buzzard who flies in much the same manner but alone, never like this. There is not so much sky in the mountains of northern India. I wonder what that feels like…

In Morocco The people of the North still look down on the people of the south as backwards. The people of Fez still say, "We only go to the North for commerce."

The charm that I remember from my visit here, now decades ago, remains. The faces of the beautiful women and the adorable children are still here. The Medina with its secret doors, winding passages, cool salons, and hidden gardens behind high walls is still here. The obnoxious hawkers outside the tourists’ shops and restaurants are still here. The fantastic food, sweet green mint tea, and wonderful coffee are still here.

The Sahara remains a political dispute, home of the Tribes, and a source of endless stirring to the imagination. The camels are still smelly, bad tempered, foul-mouthed spitting beasties. The majesty of the desert birds as they ride the thermals coming off the dunes is the same enthralling sight. The sounds of the dunes remain- dunes sing,did you know that? They make musical notes, different deserts produce different chords.

The skies at night remain the cerulean blue velvet colour I remember, with the brightness of the stars overwhelming as you gaze upwards at the vastness of the sky. The rains are still pernicious, and the streets dusty. You pay a nothing price for a meal fit for kings, and a fortune for paper.

The stunning architecture remains -the horseshoe arch, the ribbed vault, the street facade, the square minaret,the great domed space – all steeped in centuries of history and culture. The rich colours of bright reds, a thousand shades of bronze and gold, all the spectrum of orange, and blues in shades that defy you to name them all are still here. Intricate designs laid in tile, bright patterned rugs thrown on the sand, hanging on the wall, on the floors of palaces, homes, shops, and decorating a tent are still here. Sidewalk cafes crowded with men in robes and varying stages of western dress arguing, discussing, drinking endless cups of coffee or tea, acrid cigarette smoke, beautiful women with smoky eyes that hold the secrets their mothers passed on, the prayer call at four a.m. ringing through the city –remains as before. The noisy bazaars, the great haggling in a polyglot of languages, dust, dust, dust, beautiful horses, and spitting camels continue as they have for centuries.

Movement in this part of the world flows like silk, as do the desert sands. It rubs up against you rather than pushing; time slides by rather than ticking. The impish smiles of the children as they peek ‘round the skirts of their mothers, or laugh out loud at my Arabic pronunciations is beyond joyful.

I have seen the destructive environmental damage when “modern civilization” comes clashing up against a society that has no infrastructure for it - desertion of the countryside, migration to cities without the capacity or social structure to care for huge influxes of population, mounds of plastic water bottles thrown down the nearest hillside or gully, Coca Cola cans and bottles, plastic refuge of every description in piles and mounds of trash; and health problems that could be solved with organization and the application of sanitation and rudimentary vaccinations ..that is here as well.

The women have made many steps forward since my sojourn in the 70's. The mode of dress continues in the cities to be a matter of choice. You see the djellaba, in various stages: with and without the hijab, loose, fitted, cut to the knees with flared trousers, and in a hue of pastel colours. When you see a woman in Fez in a black burqa, your automatic response is, "Ah a tourist. Not from 'round here."

As you may know the djellaba is a feminist statement. Before around the 30s I think it was, the women here wore the haik, that resembled an Egyptian shroud, and allowed just about as much free movement. The djellaba was restricted to men; the women have (as one salesman distastefully said to me) “girly –ed it up with the tassel on the hood”, and they have made the colours their own.

And you see the women, mostly but not always the young, in western style. I must say we have noted, if the style is Western it is "fitted"; no baggy jeans, no oversized t-shirts, and no basic black.

The young women my daughter has made friends with here are smart and ambitious. All is not rosy by any stretch. I do not mean to imply that at all, but it is progress.

Are there individuals in Morocco who are corrupt, vile, poor, rich, ignorant, highly educated, wife-beating, enlightened, chauvinistic, charismatic, sickly, healthy, bastards, saints? Yes.



Sparx said...

God, it sounds wonderful... although your posts have been making me want to visit Morocco since the first one. I've spoken about it to the Frog and we're considering it - however although you say it is not difficult to bring a child I am still concerned... Thanks for another amazing post.

lady macleod said...

As long as you make sure he is protected from the sun he should be fine. I see so many tourists traveling with children from infants to teenagers. You can borrow M.C. baby pen while you are here:-)

thank you for coming by.

jmb said...

Interesting post Lady Mac. I need some visuals for the djellaba, although I know you say it is not polite to photograph people there. I'll have to do a google image search.
You make us all want to visit Morocco. But I'm trying to get everyone to visit Vancouver.

Stay at home dad said...

That's a pretty extraordinary post on many levels. Greatly enjoyed it.

lady macleod said...


go back a couple of post I'm sure I linked the djellaba for you.

You have been successful, I am coming! and I am really looking forward to it due in no small part to your gorgeous photographs!

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

stay at home dad

Coming from a writer of your caliber, I shall take that as a compliment sir. I'm pleased you enjoyed it.

thank you for coming by.

rilly super said...

I knew a woman from Morocco once ( really I did) I think she was from agadir. She was clever and funny and very beautiful. She spoke french very quickly so I probably never caught 'its grim down south' . I wish I wasn't so crap at keeping in touch

cathouse teri said...

That's a big world you live in!

Kaycie said...

The more you tell us, the more I want to see it for myself. Before reading your blog visiting Morocco had never even occurred to me. You, m'lady, are good advertising for Moroccan tourism.

lady macleod said...

rilly super

Agdal? That's right over next to Souissi in Rabat. Write a note and have her tune into your blog, that's what I've been doing - the lazy woman's e-mail.

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

cathouse teri

I love your user name by the way, conjures up all sorts of possible situations. It is indeed a big world, and we have not even started on the Sahara - that's for the winter.

thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...


Do you think the King would let me have one of the SMALLER palaces for my contributions? Just a suggestion...

thank you, and thank you for coming by.

Graf von Straf Hindenburg said...

...Hurdling themselves forward, up out of the flames of the setting sun, they launched into the thermals above...

Hey, I want some of that stuff you're on, Inspirational Blogger.

lady macleod said...


Sure thing but you have to come down here as I don't think they will allow me to cross the border..

Thank you! I shall post the award on the morrow!

thank you for coming by and making my day.

Pamela Jeanne said...

About Rove, I must add that I imagined him wiping the dust from his hands and saying, "well, I think I've done enough damage here, time to move on..."

Good riddance, I say.

lady macleod said...



thank you for coming by.

Lord Nazh© said...

"I see Karl Rove has resigned, isn’t that a bit like Hitler in his bunker saying, “I am sorry about all the bother but I’m done now. May I just go?” Only in Rove’s case I assume they WILL just let him go. What a world."

One could only assume that you were a better person from reading your blog, one would have been wrong.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Wonderful post, Lady M. What an evocative description of the flight of those birds! And I love your description of movement there... I didn't know that history regarding the djellaba so thank you.

Ruthie said...

"Hurdling themselves forward, up out of the flames of the setting sun, they launched into the thermals above."

You describe it so beautifully that I can almost see it.

Layla said...

Your post reminded me my trip to Morocco. Morocco is a beautiful country, with its ancient towns, coastal resorts and snowy peaks. This North African kingdom boasts 1,400 miles of coastline, year-round sunshine and an open invitation to tourists and investors all over the world.