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Morocco in Focus

New Zealand Herald

14 Apr 2009

When you're in Morocco colour is inescapable. The contrasts, hues and shades that make up this North African country are evident from the moment you land. Travelling through the country is an unbelievably vivid experience, an intoxicating blend of colours, photo opportunities mixed with spicy smells and the strange sounds of a foreign land.

No photograph can ever capture the chorus of mosques in evening prayer. And even when the camera does freeze some spectacular scene it risks looking unreal.

At the edge of the Sahara, the sight of the mighty Erg Chebbi dunes looming over an ancient desert fort, reflected in the mirror of a tranquil oasis, seems too perfect to be true. Similarly, like an elusive mirage on a sea of yellow, the Auberge Yasmina looks impossibly beautiful.

Round every corner the images continue. One day I am standing in the stark whiteness of Midelt, feeding nuts to snow-covered Barbary Apes. The next, my eye is caught by a red jellaba framed against the intricate Moorish architecture of Fez.

Like an elusive mirage on a sea of yellow, the Auberge Yasmina looked impossibly beautiful.

Then there are Essaouira's blue-hued fishing boats, rainbow-coloured rows of shoes, multi-hued piles of spices, pink babouches and palm-fringed Kasbahs all demanding attention.

But, above all, it is the people who leave an indelible image.

From the curious Berber boy with pre-aged hands to the wary guardian of the medersa, every "Salam a Lakum" opens the door to another room in culture that is best described as proud. Each Moroccan I met knew that they lived in a beautiful part of the world... and who could disagree.


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Original publication: New Zealand Herald

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