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Published: October 17th 2018
After having our morning coffee in a little cafe in an alley way, frequented mostly by workers in the neighbouring stores and hair salon, we left Marrakech. Next stop Essouira.
As much as tourist destinations rub me the wrong way - there are too many other white people and it always feels too much like I’m taking the “safe” route - I must admit that Marrakech is a beautiful city. Yes, secretly I’m a travel snob. The city is clean somewhat orderly, but not too orderly thank heavens. Between Casablanca and Marrakech, the later is definitely the prettier sister. We did visit the famous market, although a bit too late at night to see it in full swing. We went only to see it and not buy a thing - kind of like visiting a museum. I’m saving my money for the markets in the south. Like all markets in third world countries, the sales pitch is aggressive and there are too many unsupervised children begging and walking around selling things like packets of tissues and gum - children just ripe for the picking if you are a pervert or a human-trafficker. That really bothered me years ago in Brazil too: children as young as seven or eight walking the beaches and streets selling peanuts to strangers for the equivalent of pennies. In the life that they must live, the risk their parents take is necessary for the survival of their families.
We ended up renting an apartment for the night rather than a hotel room. The apartment came by way of a perfect stroke of luck. Right place, right time, right person. The apartment was in a French colonial building in the Art Deco style. I fell in love! High ceilings and a grand living room with a chimney between it and the master bedroom. The original marble facade of the mantle was still in the master, but the hearth was closed up and part of the facade was broken in one spot. This French gem had marble stairs; Art Deco railings, doors and windows; and a luxuriously large balcony overlooking the French embassy and an eight-hundred year old mosque, inaugurated by king Youssef Ibentachfin himself, head of the Morabiteen tribe, who waged a war on Spain and conquered Andolous. Yousef was an immensely powerful King who ruled Maghreb (all of North Africa, now the name of Morocco only), the Subsaharan regions and West Africa. He is described as the “Builder of Marrakech.”
Out here on the highway between Marrakech and Essouira, I’m looking out over vast olive tree plantations and I can see the Atlas mountains in the distance. We are driving just about parallel with the the mountain range. I am actually looking at the Atlas Mountains and I am freakin’ thrilled about this people!
Soon we will begin to see forests of evergreens and argan trees...
This journey to the Sahara feels like a pilgrimage to me. Soon I will look upon the desert that only the heartiest people have passed through, exchanging goods such as silk and tea from Asia, and cotton from Egypt. On their merchant travels to the four corners of the old world, they also exchanged flavours, music and culture. The Sahara is the passage way of Ignawa, beginning in the subsaharan countries and finally finding its way into the south of North Africa. I am in love with Ignawa. Listening to the trancelike rhythm is like listening your way through history - like a window through which the echoes of the ancient world reach your ears...
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