Wednesday, 7 December 2016

MAGIC CARPETS AND ALI BABA - MOROCCO

The scents and colours are still swirling around in my mind - magical Morocco, a country of contrasts and unforgettable memories.  We had intended to visit Turkey again this year but the unrest and instability caused our Travel Agents to cancel the trip.  They offered us a few alternatives, one of which was the North African Kingdom of Morocco.  

I had my sketch book ready as we boarded our number 41 bus.  Our travel guide was a wonderful man called Sedat.  He was an educated and charming gentleman.  His wife was German and he had a young son of 13 years.  They live for part of the year in Istanbul and the other part near Munich.  His knowledge and patience were remarkable.  

We visited the four Royal cities, Marrakech, Rabat, Fes and Meknis.  We also spent some time in the famous city of Casablanca.

The King and Princess of Morocco are a modern pair with a mission. They met whilst studying at a university in France. His passion lies with the youth of the country and the need for education.   His mode of dress (apart from State occasions) is casual; jeans and a black leather biker jacket.  Young folk respect him very much and his outfits have become almost like a uniform amongst the youth. The princess concentrates on the rights of women. Her emphasis has been on establishing co-operatives for the Berber women who are for the most part totally illiterate.  They are, however, extremely talented at carpet weaving.  Thousands are part of these co-ops and earn a salary and have medical insurance.  In the morning they weave and in the afternoons they are taught to read and write.  This has done a great deal for their self-esteem.

Although the Muslim religion is a polygamous one, the King of Morocco has encouraged monogomy with an interesting twist.  More than one wife is permitted on the condition that the first wife agrees wholeheartedly.  Now can you imagine her saying 'Of course you can darling.  When is the big day??'.  I think monogomy is definitely on the rise!!  

One of the first things the King did after his father died was to remove the 40 odd concubines from the palace and send them off with a good pension.  No doubt this was encouraged by the Princess.

The countryside is varied from sandy desert dunes, to beautiful beaches and lush plantations of olive trees and citrus fruits as well as flourishing vineyards.
The beauty of the landscape is breathtaking with its vast plains and clear skies.

I loved the buzz of the markets where buyers and sellers haggle over the prices of colourful spices, carpets and clothing.  

Jews, Arabs and Christians live peacably with each other. Mosques, churches and Synagogues are all part of city life and respect for each other's religion is an integral part of community living in Morocco.  Long may it last and not degenerate into the chaos which reigns in other Muslim countries.

I would recommend anyone with a love of travelling to visit Morocco.  It's a wonderful country and an unforgettable experience.

Here are few of my sketches of my trip and photos of King Mohammed the sixth and his lovely wife Princess Lala Salma.
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Hope you enjoy them.


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