I arrived in Morocco the first time at midnight in springtime. I was traveling with two women friends. We drove the long dark highway to the coastal town of Essaouira, known as old Mogador. Seagulls welcomed us as we walked the dimly lit pathway to our hotel in the wee hours. We fell into a deep slumber and awoke to birdsong, Moroccan pancakes with honey and the aroma of sweet mint tea. Instantly, I fell in love with Morocco and that beginning has only been the doorway to which all other delights have spilled.
“When I meet fellow travelers in North America, I ask them,
‘What did you expect to find here?’ Almost without exception,
regardless of the way they express it, the answer,
reduced to its simplest terms,
is a sense of mystery.
They expect mystery, and they find it,” said the writer Paul Bowles (author of The Sheltering Sky) of his beloved Morocco.
When I reflect on this mystery, certain images appear. A narrow alley that bends in the medina, quiet and filled with natural light… an entire ancient city made of earth… a riad surrounded by rooms with an open roofed courtyard… the call to prayer… Khobz~bread baked in clay ovens… succulent meats bathed in spices and dried fruit and cooked in a clay tagine… old men coming down from the hills, riding their donkeys sidesaddle, panniers full of mint… Jma al Fna square… snake charmers, monkey handlers, fortune tellers, fire breathers, pyramids of spices and olives in the souks… olive gardens, aromatherapy gardens , the lush apple growing valley of Imlil… argan trees and their nuts cracked and ground by Berber women for their life-giving oil… goats in trees… goat hair tents… colorful carpets… biblical fruit trees, mandarins, endless wheat fields… every man a musician, every woman a dancer… vast starry skies at night, cloudless blue by day… various forms of transportation some ancient, some modern – camels, mules, donkeys, old Citroens and Mercedes… a simple life that goes beyond our concepts… a sense of joy and humor, strength and honor and a sense of hospitality that defies contemporary life… the moon and stars over the desert…
It’s a land of generosity and kindness… of curiosity and contrasts.
There is mystery in the air and it’s thick.
We can talk about the food and the impression it makes, but this is only one of the elements that make a trip to Morocco memorable. The vast starry skies and stretched out landscapes have to be experienced, as does the palpable mystery that makes Morocco tick. Join us during our Culinary Adventure in Morocco. In March of 2016, we will have the addition of two artisans to our program. Yogini and Chef Ashley Mulligan Shutz, will join us for daily yoga, simple and nourishing, allowing our experience to penetrate a little deeper into our senses. Travel Photographer Stephen Smith, will invite our eyes to capture Morocco in pictures, sharing tips on composition, lighting and training the eye to see.
This promises to be a deep dive into savoring Morocco on many levels.
We hope you will join us for the one-of-a-kind “Feast for the Senses.”
Learn more about Peggy Markel’s Culinary Adventures and Slow Food Tours. Click here.