I have arrived home from Morocco and it has been a hectic past few weeks! Just before leaving for Fez and Marrakesh I was not only dealing with the stresses of starting a new job and completing uni assignments but the unexpected death of my grandfather from just a week before. Although, obviously, the passing of a family member is always a horrific experience, there was comfort in knowing I was to spend the next two weeks with the comfort of family.
To get to Fez took 26+ hours, and was an immediate culture shock even simply getting off the plane and getting to where we were staying. Firstly, it was boiling (35-45 degrees most days. Secondly, just seeing with my own eyes a place with such poverty was saddening but overwhelming. People were outside in the sweltering heat, doing anything from pretending to be taxi drivers, to selling fruit on the side of the road, in order to make money. Thirdly, the amount of satellite dishes EVERYWHERE was absolutely insane.
Over the next week we stayed in the middle of the Medina in Fez, where there is no cars and is extremely busy with restaurants, markets and shops. It is too easy to get lost within the small, winding streets, and even locals admit they’ll sometimes get lost within them. At first, I found walking through the souk markets intimidating, not only from how seriously congested they were, but from every effort every shop owner would take in order for you to buy something off them. From sweet talking about how “beautiful” you are, to dressing you up in their products, shop owners will try to coax you into buying anything. their specialties however are leather goods, rugs and metal, which were beautifully made and presented in the old shops.
We also went to the tannery, where the leather goods are made, dyed and sold and witnessed the grueling work put into making the products.
We spent most days exploring, and once arriving in Marrakesh did the same. In some areas, it is much more modern than Fez, but the Medina in which we were staying wasn’t. One night we spent on the outskirts of the Sahara desert, in a small camp, and it required a 2 hour camel ride to get there (never doing that again). n the way home we were introduced to a camel who refused to drink anything but coke, sprite and beer.
My favorite places in Marrakesh was the Casaba that only a few people still lived in and was virtually just used now as a film set, and the memorial gardens for designer Yves Saint-Laurent. They were both so tranquil and luscious escapes from the fast paced, busy, dusty and dirty environments you are surrounded by, and ultimately beautiful comparisons.
Overall the trip left me comparing my experiences and life at home, to what it would be like living in Morocco. Absolutely everything is different, to how people interact with one another, clothing and the requirement to be covered up, lack of money and funding, severe importance of religion etc. The subject I focused capturing however, was the life of the animals in Morocco – in particular the abundance of “stray” cats. How they are treated and their surrounding environments is what I aimed to capture and document, throughout my time in Morocco.