View Morocco Photography
I’m sure you might be surprised that I didn’t use the obvious title choice for this Moroccan send-off post – Rockin’ the Kasbah… I did actually think about it, but that’s not what I think of when I examine my parting thoughts about Morocco. From the moment I started journeying around Morocco – I was struck by the color…brown. I kept imagining that if the world were a painting palette, Morocco would represent the brown splotch of paint. Continuing the thought, New Zealand would be green, Greece would be blue, Thailand would be purple, and Italy would be red, Bali would be yellow, and Cambodia would be black. But as I spent more time in Morocco, acquainting myself with the cities, the culture, the food, the language – I realized that Morocco had much more depth than just brown. Sure, the landscapes and the Kasbahs had a brown hue, there were few trees, little water, and even the camels and donkeys were shades of brown; however, I started making other observations, colorful ones.
When I’m in a country for a long amount of time, I like to share my perspectives on it, the things that bewilder me, that make me laugh, that frustrate me – but things that capture my mind none the less. I’ve compiled my thoughts on Morocco by color – because that’s how my mind will remember Morocco.
Green abounds in Morocco
Morocco’s national drink is mint tea. We drank mint tea everywhere, in the desert, in the mountains, in Berber villages, in cafes – everywhere. There’s a whole ritual about the tea – when the pot of tea has finished brewing, they lace a number of juice-like glasses , and they pour the tea into the first glass. Then they promptly put the pot down, open the lid and pour the tea from the glass back into the pot. Every time, the first glass gets poured back into the pot. Never mind how hard it is to drink piping hot tea out of juice glasses…think about it – there’s really nothing to grip onto except for the rim of the glass – therefore, you have to drink your mint tea very carefully! The tea consists of a handful of fresh mint leaves for each glass, and about a ¼ cup of sugar per glass. I’m not joking – Moroccans LOVE sugar. It’s actually like drinking a mint syrup at times – I really couldn’t take it. If you ask for it with no sugar, the locals look at you as if you had two heads. Sure, I love frosted flakes – but in Morocco, I think they would add sugar to their frosted flakes! This does explain why Morocco has been some of the poorest dental hygiene that I’ve seen on my travels…I’m convinced it’s the tea! There’s lots of teeth that have gone missing in Morocco!
Morocco puts Florida to shame when it comes to orange juice. The OJ is truly amazing in this country – and it’s everywhere. Since there is very little alcohol in the country, I think they compensate with orange juice…it’s so good it could be alcohol! There are orange juice stands everywhere…kind of like Starbucks on every corner in Manhattan. When you order it, they pull out about 5 oranges, slice them and squeeze them right in front of you…pure and sweet. I would never normally order orange juice with my dinner, but in Morocco, I actually craved it. They had also turned this sweet colorful fruit into a wonderful dessert. Strangely, even though sugar was a big staple in the Moroccan diet, they didn’t really have any gooey, sugary desserts that they ate. Instead, the typical dessert was sliced oranges….with cinnamon sprinkled on top. This sounded absurd to me at first, but you really should give it a try – it’s delicious!
Well, the obvious answer for yellow is the brightly burning sun. I never normally give much thought to the make up of the sun…I simply expect it to come up every morning and go down every night. However, while in Morocco – I gave a lot of thought to the sun, an infernal burning ball of gas. Most days it felt as if that ball of burning gas was two inches away from my forehead, flames licking the tip of my nose sapping energy out of me in order to gain more energy for itself. However, my most vivid memory of yellow was the soft, gold glow of the lights in the hammam that I attended in Essaouria. It reminded me of a dimly lit bar: warm and glowing. It was the perfect place to site around naked and socialize, I can see why Moroccan women make it a part of their daily lives – it’s relaxing, and it’s a place where they can be themselves.
Red – tagine pottery
In all of the markets, you would see stacks of pottery – conical and normally a deep reddish color. The conical pieces came in all sizes, and they could also be found in every kitchen in the country. They were tagines. Tagines are the main dish in Morocco – you’ll find it on every menu at nice restaurants, in Berber villages, at roadside shacks…everywhere. Tagines could be chicken, fish, vegetable, whatever – they are all pretty tasty regardless. The word tagine though is really referring to the style of cooking as opposed to the dish itself. Kind of like a stir-fry wok or a roaster – a tagine is a two part piece of pottery – a plate, and a conical ‘hat’ that fits over the plate. The plate is placed on a flame, and the food is cooked inside…always producing a tender, yummy meal that was on every menu in the country.
Blue sky for miles
I get a picture in my head for blue – and it’s not Chefchaouen (the blue painted town in the hills). I remember the bright blue skies – never a cloud in it, just blue sky as far as you could see. In the Sahara Desert the cloudless, blue skies in relation to the sand dunes were brilliant. Add to that the Berber robes that were worn – always the color of a bright blue. When I would see the Berber men dressed in their bright blue robes and headdress, it sort of reminded me of Genie in a bottle, yet I don’t think any of them were granting wishes. However, they did stand out, making the Berbers always appear bright and happy.
Black is for olives
I’m not sure, but the it seemed like the next largest crop behind oranges was olives. Salty, dark, wrinkly olives. The olive stands were works of art – designed painstakingly each morning by the shop owner, trying to make a design of olives that would catch your eye and make you want to buy. It actually made the devious side of me come out – I longed to go pull an olive out from the bottom of the pile and see if the whole beautiful work of art would tumble – or would it stay in place.
Pink toilet paper
Throughout Morocco everyone had some pink in their home…in the form of toilet paper. After 3 weeks, I think I only saw white colored toilet paper twice, once in the Sofitel hotel and again in my upscale Riad that I stayed at. White toilet paper was definitely reserved for the well off. The rest of the country used pink, signifying recycled toilet paper. Recycled from what? Well, there are some answers that you are just better off not knowing the answer to. The pink toilet paper was everywhere…that is when they had toilet paper. The rolls of pink weren’t bad, they were just a little weird to me. New rolls barely had any paper on it – which really kept any potential excessive usage in check! There was never enough to go around, which necessitate us hording it from motel to motel. If you had looked in any one of our backpacks or bags, you would have found multiple rolls of pink toilet paper!
Memories of culture and color
My 3 weeks in Morocco were memorable, and I enjoyed how the country grew on me during my stay. It was a rich, interesting culture, full of magnificent landscapes and terrain. During my stay, I felt like I was able to experience most of what Morocco had to offer! My favorite experiences were the unique ones – camping in the Sahara, going on an expedition to see goats in trees, and simply walking the medina in Fez. I doubt that Morocco has ever experienced a rainbow…mainly because there’s never any moisture in the air or rain to reflect light off. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not a colorful country.