Four things you need to know about Morocco, a country rich in history and beauty.
If you haven’t noticed yet, we’ve been shining quite the light on Morocco this week, to coincide with the launch of the new December catalog. The experience was nothing short of life-changing; a learning experience that I will never forget. Alas, I can hope only to share my stories. It is truly a magical place, quite like stepping through a thaumaturgic door and into a world far different and more romantic than the one I am used to. But isn’t that the beauty of travel? To learn and share in different cultures, to be inspired…to experience others? My spirit wants nothing else but to gush about every since thing I saw, and tasted, and felt…but time is not on my side. (Well, unless you have a few free hours to chat/read?) So won’t you allow me to then describe four quick things that I learned and loved during our stay in Morocco?
Visit the souks! One of the best ways to experience cities such as Fes, Marrakesh or Chefchaouen is to meander around the souks, or open-air marketplaces. These maze-like labyrinths often serve as the heart of the city, where men countrywide travel to the city to sell their goods to locals and tourists alike. Souk paths twist around the city, often in the form of narrow walkways, and are lined with small shops, cafes, street vendors and snake charmers. Be ready to bargain, though — a price is never set in stone. City souks are larger (often hectic) and are open regularly; countryside souks are on a smaller scale and occur on different days.
Morocco is carpet heaven. While touring the souks, a visit to the rug merchant is a must. As you browse the rugs and tapestries, expect conversation and an offering of mint tea. Purchasing a rug is not simply about completing a transaction between seller and buyer, it is about befriending a stranger and learning about their culture. Each tribe has its own design and particular way of creating the rugs — no two are ever the same. Moroccan rugs are famous for their saturated colors and rich yarns made of wool or camel hair, and are dyed naturally with vegetable dyes, henna, indigo and other organic variants. They are so meticulously and carefully crafted that they will most likely last hundreds of years.
“What is everyone wearing?” The fashion in Morocco is simply beautiful. Men and women wear full length djellabas, or long garments, that promote modesty and cover the majority of the body. The men tend to wear lighter-colored djellabas in order to keep cool from the hot sun, while women often wear brighter colors such as pink and blue. Women’s djellabas (and sometimes caftans) are detailed with elaborate, decorative stitching. Stunning scarves are used to shield their heads from the relentless sun. In the desert, Berber men (an indigenous group to North Africa) wear turbans (long, breathable cotton scarves) on their head to prevent sand and sun from hitting their faces.
Ride a camel (if you can!) One of the most beautiful and memorable moments I captured in Morocco was watching a Berber man, fully cloaked in a deep blue djellaba, lead a pack of camels across the Sahara. Though vehicles and bikes are becoming more common, riding a camel is still one of the best ways to traverse the desert. These gentle creatures were conditioned for such an arid climate — their long eyelashes keep the thick, hot sand out of their eyes and they can often go long ways with little food or water.
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