I am captivated by Morocco. My fascination began with the 1956 film The Man Who Knew Too Much, with Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day, where, during a family holiday in Morocco, Dr. Ben McKenna and his wife, popular singer Jo Conway McKenna, find out about an assassination plot; their son Hank is kidnapped and clues lead them to London. When I watched this film in my early twenties, I was entranced by the exotic markets of Marrakesh, the men and women walking around in jellabas, long flowing robes with hoods or headscarves, and traditional slippers. After seeing the movie, the music and language followed me around, whispering in my ear. A vision of the place lingered.
I am captivated by the varying landscapes of Morocco, from the deserts and oases dotted with palms, to Berber fishing villages, beaches and ramparts in coastal areas, to the mountains in the Rif and the Middle and High Atlas.
I am captivated by the history of Morocco, from its Berbers to the French and Spanish controllers, to other exotically-named characters in the country’s long history: Almoravids, Almohads, Saadians, Merenids, Barbary Pirates, and Alwawites.
I am captivated by books I’ve read set in Morocco: The Seamstress (also called The Time In Between) by Maria Dueñas (set in Tetouan and Madrid), The Tattooed Map by Barbara Hodgson, Tangerine by Christine Mangan, and by interior decorating books that feature Moroccan decor.
I’m captivated by the architecture of Morocco, from art deco villas, Moroccan geometric details on European façades, fondouqs (creative courtyard complexes with ground floor artisan workshops and upstairs rented rooms), hammams (public bathhouses), kasbahs (fortified quarters housing ruling families), ksour (mudbrick castles), medersas (centers of learning), mosques with their minarets and domes, and riads (mansions with arcaded courtyards and bhous, or seating nooks), and especially by souqs (covered market streets). I’m captivated by calligraphy on tiled walls, inside stucco arches, and on woodwork. By zellij (ceramic tile mosaics) on fountains, mirrors, tables, and interior courtyards of riads.
As someone who loves shopping and is easily enticed by colorful and exotic items, I am captivated by lively souqs in old medinas selling everything from woven rugs, blankets, silver, antiques, silks, pottery, carved wooden furniture, silver damascene (metalwork with intricate silver thread), leather goods, ceramics, textiles, to babouches (slippers).
I am captivated by exuberant colors and patterns on carpets. By nature-inspired embroidery and colorful silks. By leather book covers, handbags, and lampshades. By brass teapots and copper tea trays. By pierced brass lamps and tin lanterns and inlaid knives. By the scent of woodwork from orangewood, cedar, lemonwood, and pine.
I am captivated by the combination of Arab-Andalusian music, combining the flamenco-style strumming of Spanish folk music with stringed instruments and percussion of classical Arabic music, by Berber folk music, by the sounds of the Arabic language intermingled with French. I’ve studied Arabic before and lived in an Arab speaking country, and know a little of the language. For years, I’ve listened to Arabic music, its exotic notes lingering in my mind, a soundtrack that won’t stop.
I am captivated by the muezzins’ calming call to prayer five times a day, which I experienced while visiting Egypt in 2007 & 2010, Jordan in 2012, and while living in Oman from 2011-2013.
I’m captivated by Moroccan cuisine: Moroccan pancakes and doughnuts and French pastries, olives and local jiben (fresh goat’s milk cheese), khoobz (Moroccan-style pita bread), bessara (hot fava-bean puree with cumin, olive oil, and paprika), rghaif (Moroccan pastries like flattened croissants), brochettes (kebabs), merguez (spicy lamb sausage), pizza, shwarma (spiced lamb or chicken roasted on a spit), and tajines (Moroccan stews), mezze (salad course), and couscous. I’m captivated by the drinks: mint tea, coffee, and even beers (Casa & Flag) and local wines. Oh the list goes on!
I’m captivated by the multitudes of Instagram accounts I follow, with their colorful photos of medinas, Ait Ben Haddou in Ouarzazat, Volubilis, Ouzoud waterfalls, camels in the Sahara, blue boats in Essaouira, Marrakesh souqs, Hassan II Mosque, mosaic courtyards of riad guesthouses, leather tanneries of Fez, the snow-covered Atlas mountains, and the beautiful blue city of Chefchaouen.
Finally, I am captivated by two videos set in Morocco, created by my favorite store, Anthropologie:
I can’t wait to leave for Morocco on Thursday, April 4, 2019.
“THE CALL TO PLACE” INVITATION: I invite you to write a post on your own blog about what enticed you to choose a particular destination. If you don’t have a blog, I invite you to write in the comments. If your destination is a place you love and keep returning to, feel free to write about that. If you want to see the original post about the subject, you can check it out here: imaginings: the call to place.
Include the link in the comments below by Wednesday, April 24 at 1:00 p.m. EST.
My next “call to place” post is scheduled to post on Thursday, April 25. If you’d like, you can use the hashtag #wanderessence.
This will be an ongoing invitation, on the fourth Thursday of each month. Feel free to jump in at any time. 🙂
I hope you’ll join in our community. I look forward to reading your posts!