I’m staring across the room blankly at the Gall’s Projection map I’ve tacked to the wall opposite me; a throwing dart between thumb and forefinger hangs at my side. With 195 countries from which to choose, it’s a bit overwhelming. What if I choose the wrong vacation destination? Is that even possible? Not entirely sure how to go about this, I do what any rational, intelligent adult would do—I close my eyes, raise my hand over my head, cock my arm back, and hurl the dart through the air. Looks like I’m vacationing in Morocco.
THE LURE OF TOURING MOROCCO
The shoulder of Africa, Morocco is one of only three countries to be bordered by both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, and is sandwiched between Algeria and annexed Western Sahara. It has long been a mysterious source of curiosity for me and countless others.
There’s a suggestion of deviant seduction, a mystifying atmosphere of secrecy.
The name itself, M-O-R-O-C-C-O, the way the consonants and vowels come together in an odd blend of passivity and aggression, a hard candy with a soft middle, elicits a sort of wild-eyed reverence that seems inherently provocative.
And the inspiration it’s afforded to some of my favorite writers (William S. Burroughs, Tennessee Williams, George Orwell, Anthony Bourdain—to name just a few) is almost too much for me not to just buy a one-way straight away just to see how Morocco would change me as a writer, as a person.
But a guided tour of Morocco, for now, is sure to stretch experience from the four Imperial Cities of Rabat, Meknes, Fez and Marrakesh to modern metropolises such as Casablanca, from coastlines and on through quaint towns located in the far reaches of the desert, where oases of date palm groves can be found. A little taste of everything, perhaps.
When I close my eyes, all of Morocco looks like a Salvador Dali painting. Sounds like one too.
MOROCCO AT A GLANCE
OFFICIAL NAME: Kingdom of Morocco
Population: 32,987, 206
LANGUAGES: Arabic, Berber dialects, French
THE RED CITY
Marrakesh is brimming with markets, palaces and mosques; and exploring the twisting tributaries of the historic Medina sounds … I spend so much time trying to find myself, perhaps losing myself for a change would do some good.
TRAVELING THE MERZOUGA DUNES
Few things in this life rival the experience of stepping into a really good book, and I mean like a rip-your-face-off-who-the-hell-am-I existential kind of novel.
Imagine, standing in a desert, surrounded only by sand, space, time and distance, then looking up at the sky, which is just as expansive, just as daunting, until the two merge into one impossible-to-reach point.
It is both terrifying and exhilarating, both an existential nightmare and an existential fountain.
When I read here that I could wander the sand drifts and massive dunes of the Sahara on camel-back and have a chance to realize just how small I really am by sleeping out in the open, more stars above me than are countable slowly winking me into a dreamscape of absolute silence and peace, well …
MOROCCO, I THINK THIS COULD BE THE BEGINNING OF A BEAUTIFUL RELATIONSHIP
To me, Morocco just seems like one of those few places where anything is possible and where everything probably is.
Tips from the Bottom: If you’re in Morocco and you happen to accidentally kill a mouse, say you were hungry, then eat it. It is illegal to kill a mouse unless for consumption.
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