I’ve been dreaming about travelling to Morocco since I was around 15 or 16, around the time when I discovered my two favourite books of all time: The English Patient and Le petit prince. They just painted this picture for me of the vast beauty and solitude of the desert. I became fixated.
Granted, I know very little about northern Africa. And I know the Sahara is huge and spans several countries, and The English Patient was set in Egypt, not Morocco, but there always seemed to me to be something about the spirit of Morocco that echoed the reflective, lyrical spirit of these books I love.
And I think you can see the Moroccan influences creep into certain aspects of my design and decor sensibilities. The colours, the patterns, the metals…There’s just something about Morocco that speaks to me.
Needless to say, the tile work was magnificent. If I were rich, I would have bought a whole crate of tiles and shipped it home, even though I don’t need anything tiled at the moment. You never know. And of course the lanterns and lamps were beautiful. I lugged one home in my backpack and will perhaps be featuring it in an upcoming post when I change out one of our light fixtures!
I really wish people built homes like this here. Supposedly, we were in a “middle-class” riad. But I’m not even talking about the grandeur and opulence. Why don’t we pattern our plaster? Why don’t we tile the floor and walls and ceilings? Why? I painted our front door red and was like, “Oh, no! Did I go too crazy…Did I make a mistake?”
No. No, I didn’t go crazy enough.
I was quite enamoured with the donkeys that were everywhere. I guess I had never seen a donkey in real life, now that I think about it. They are just so cute! Look how big their ears and eyes are. And how short their legs are!
The highlight was definitely visiting the Sahara Desert. It was just as breathtaking as I imagined, although it wasn’t as tranquil as I expected. The camp we were staying at had a couple of dozen people there and although that’s nothing in the vast expanse of the sand dunes, because it was so quiet, you could hear everyone talking from hundreds of meters away, as if they were only a few feet in front of you.
If you go, I recommend trying to find a smaller camp, away from very many other people. Or leave enough time to hike somewhat far away from the camp before the sun goes down. Regardless, it was one of the most unique experiences of my life and I definitely want to go back.
And don’t get me wrong. I love gardens and flowers, lush landscapes and rolling hills. But there is a kind of quiet, magnificent, dignified beauty in the desert that is so unique and powerful. I have a lot of things I want to do in my life, but visiting the Sahara was near the top.
And with that, I’ll leave you with this short excerpt of The English Patient, my favourite part:
“And all the names of the tribes, the nomads of faith who walked in the monotone of the desert and saw brightness and faith and colour. The way a stone or found metal box or bone can become loved and turn eternal in a prayer. Such glory of this country she enters now and becomes a part of. We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves. I wish for all of this to be marked on my body when I am dead. I believe in such cartography—to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings. We are communal histories, communal books. We are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience. All I desired was to walk upon such an earth that had no maps.
I carried Katherine Clifton into the desert, where there is the communal book of moonlight. We were among the rumour of wells. In the palace of wind.”