We wrap up our three months of travel this weekend. Our last new country is Morocco, where we’ve been this past week. It is, of course, different from Europe, especially in terms of navigating the Muslim/Arabic culture. But there are similarities as well, due to its proximity to Europe, and its history as both a Spanish and French colony. It has not been uncommon for me to speak in four languages (Arabic, English, French, and Spanish) in the same sentence in order to communicate with people here.
My preconception of Morocco as a desert country has been rocked by the cerulean blue of the Mediterranean, the astonishing glory of the Riff Mountains, and the quilted beauty of the rural agriculture. And while it is definitely a Muslim country, it is known for being both secular and moderate. It’s not Taliban controlled Afghanistan, that’s for sure. There is a confusing variety of costume here, especially among women. I see everything from western-dressed women in pants and blouses, to the average hajib-scarfed woman, to a full eye-slit-only black burka. (However, I saw far more burkas in Hyde Park in central London in one afternoon than I’ve seen here all week.) Add to that the striped outfits of the Berbers, the tasselled-hat outfit worn by water sellers, and the variety of overcoats (kind of like burlap sacks with pointy hoods) and hats worn by men, and it’s quite a fashion show. I wasn’t surprised to hear that the creators of Star Wars picked up many of their costume ideas here.
We took a drive out to Chefchaouen, a famous little walled city of blue-painted buildings in the Riff Mountains, and had a lovely drive through the countryside.