Fresh back from Morocco and one of the very best and most intense trips of my life. Note to travelers: if you are considering going to Morocco and want a relaxing, do-nothing vacation, you might want to choose another destination. Sorry for the cliché, but it was an overwhelming feast for the senses. Actually, it was more like complete sensory overload. It reminded me of how much lies “in between the lines” when you are reading a travel article: all the stuff they can’t really tell you about a place like Morocco. All the things you have to experience on your own, and let shape you. A trip like this changes you.
We spent most of our time in Marrakesh, and then ended with a few days in the mountains (which reminded me in many ways of the mountains of Montana). We threw ourselves into experiencing the intensity of a different culture, the souks, the mint tea and the food (the FOOD!), the hammams, the architecture and history, the swirling, pulsing, intensity of North Africa. We’d come back to our riad in the afternoon, shut all the shades and just lay there quietly, decompressing. I love this quote from Tahir Shah, in his book The Caliph’s House, about Marrakesh: The medina there is an emporium of art and craft like no other; the narrow streets are packed through the long, dusty days with a frenzied tangle of life. There are donkey-carts piled high with pots, armies of vendors laden with brass lanterns and silver lamps, and swarms of small boys touting rough wooden toys. There are blind men soliciting alms, sunburned tourists with cameras in hand, pickpockets and undercover cops, bicycles and scooters, fortune-tellers and snake charmers, madmen and hustlers.
I’ll be sharing lots of reflections from this travel experience over the next week. But I wanted to start with what may be my favorite memory of Morocco: the Islamic call to prayer. Five times a day, the muezzins of the mosques remind Muslims of their duty, via loudspeakers. The first of these is at dawn. You might think that for Western non-Muslims, this wouldn’t fall into the fave category. Especially not the dawn one. But that one was indeed my absolute favorite, as it would pull us gently from sleep and remind us where we were, waking us up to the possibilities of the day ahead.
The call to prayer made me wonder what it would be like if we could all be reminded five times daily to pray, express gratitude, or just reflect on all the blessings in our lives. To dedicate ourselves five times each and every day to the vibration of positive energy. I’m not Muslim, but it was a reminder for me, a call to my own prayer. It’s going to be a souvenir from Morocco that I hope I can continue to do in my own way, long after the henna tattoos have faded. Namaste.