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29.1.08

A Moroccan Adventure

This past week I've been transported back in time to a very mysterious and magical place of complete and wonderful sensory overload; it's called Morocco. I've attempted to post something about my trip since I first arrived in the bustling westernized city of Casablanca, but I couldn't get a handle on it. What is the real Morocco? In essence it's an African country with a European influence. The larger cities Casablanca and the capital, Rabat, are more cosmopolitan, while the majority of the country tends to be conservative, with five calls to prayer wafting from the mosque beginning at sunrise every morning; it's a beautiful feeling.

I am told that, due to the influence of its new king, Mohammed VI, and a supportive coalition government, it's a modern rapidly changing place with many highly educated, sophisticated citizens. It's also a country of mosaics, lush fertile agricultural lands, arid deserts, and the centuries-old lifestyle of the walled medinas, filled with characters and personalities that would influence many artists and writers, the Indiana Jones movie series, and most definitely the cast of Star Wars.

My cynical voice tells me that this is a charade for the tourists, that no one actually lives this way. Well, through my brief experience I found it's a little of both, and as you travel about the country it becomes clearer: what is authentic (Fez) and what is more a Disney-esque production (Marrakesh), complete with Moroccan handicrafts made in China. Because of its rich history of conquests, trade routes, and pirates, this country cultivates a little wariness in any traveler.


Most Moroccans are warm and very friendly people eager to assist in any way, especially on long inter-city train trips; we made many friends. Besides being constantly dazzled by the amazing tile work, fabrics, crafts, and architecture, I am going to miss my morning coffee, fresh juice, and great breads, not to forget the incredible dinners you can cook in a tangine! I'm hungry for more.

Pictures tell the story so well. I have loaded many from my trip, with details on my Flickr site and will continue to load more as my internet connection allows.

Mark Barry (www.markbarryportfolio.com) is an artist who usually lives and works in Baltimore.

7 comments:

libby said...

Poor chickens. I think their goose is cooked.

Mark said...

and wow did they taste great!! He actually was very humane.

roberta said...

Beautiful! love the pictures and commentary. What a great trip!

Mark said...

Thank you young lady. I can see Libby in a burkha, strolling the markets.

Anonymous said...

Hello
Very nice blog and picturs. Just a little correction here it's Tagine not Tangine.

Although I find it unfair that you mention Burkha...Morocco is not Saudi Arabia. How many Burkhas did you see in Casablanca? or in Marakesh? Unless you confuse Djellaba for Burkah in which case I would suggest doing some research to understand that Djellaba is a traditional Moroccan dress and has no religious dimension whatsoever.

It's tiring to see Americans confusing Morocco with countries from the Middle East and the Gulf.

Mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark said...

The Burkha reference was a tease to my friend Libby, here in the comments, but fair enough Annon, spelling correction accepted.

I was lucky enough to spend time, living and eating with local Moroccan friends in addition to the beautiful variety of Djellaba's we also encountered the occasional Burkha.

I'm not confused, most of the time anyway, Morocco is a very diverse and wonderful country. I found jeans to be the most common dress by far.

Looking forward to my return soon as I found the people of Morocco, friendly, charming and most hospitable.