December 30, 2006
I am finding it interesting to travel through the region, finding myself comfortable in these spaces. Suddenly, I feel as though I know Morocco, how it works, what makes it tick, especially in comparison to my friends and family who have not – and may never – visit these locations. At the same time, I recognize that I could not possible understand these places: my time is too short, my understanding only of the façade. How do you rectify insufficient exposure with some experience? Am I qualified to talk about Morocco – or even The Hague – as if I know the place?
January 2, 2006
There is a central square in Marrakesh, the Jnaa al-Fna, where the most incredible sights exist. Daytime brings snake-charmers, monkey-trainers, and orange juice vendors to the vast square. Nighttime unveils fifty restaurants, complete with grills, benches, and an incredible selection of delicious foods:
We eat elbow-to-elbow with a host of Moroccan characters and international tourists. Our dinner tonight was a veritable feast of delicious foods, cooked right in the middle of the square. Sour, sweet, and spicy dips are brought out to complement the complex flavors, from pickled olives to bastilla, my favorite spiced-chicken-and-cinnamon cake-like food (center-right, below).
At night, the Jnaa al-Fna is a truly beautiful sight from the cafes and restaurants overlooking the excitement, minarets dotting the horizon and the call to prayer echoing throughout the city:
I found traveling with my brother to be a whole new experience as we are learning how to know each other as adults and travel companions. His excitement is infectious, from enjoyment of the perfectly-squeezed fresh orange juice in the morning to animated bargaining for anything that struck his eye. I recognized how much his personality spurred my own, and how our different observations and interests were mutually inspiring. There is something wonderful about traveling with him, especially in a land so foreign to each of us.