I know that sounds really vague and dreamy, and makes me sound like I should be hugging a tree or pondering life by a lake or something. But over the few countries I have been lucky enough to travel to, I have realised that the culture, the sights and the people you can come across in other places can be ultimately remarkable to experience.
For me, a trip to Morocco last summer was what suddenly set me off on this “friend of the earth” kind of wave length- and I thought that since it was one year on from my time there, I would share all that I loved about the whole hot, dusty, donkey-smelling country.
Some of Morocco's hot and dusty Atlas Mountains
Simply getting there was a surreal experience in itself. You expect a country’s border to consist of tall wire fences, a fairly civilised, slowly moving queue of cars and a quick check of your passport – but not in Morocco. There, on the verge of the Spanish owned city of Melilla, was where life simply descended into chaos; and with a sweaty 5-hour wait in a pick-up truck, we found ourselves getting totally caught in the middle of it.
Women would stroll past with the blatantly obvious shape of fifty counterfeit shoes beneath their robes, children would come to your car window to sell you whatever they found lying around (we purchased a very handy half-used box of tissues); all while a few Moroccan policemen tried to flirt with you in an unusual Arabic-English mix.
And life beyond the border is equally as chaotic and colourful. The narrow streets of old town Fes are the best example. Tiny stalls line the alley sides, each of them like an alcove filled with glassy lanterns, gold ornaments or bright red spices- while multi-coloured shutters hang above your head- keeping the sun out and an interesting kind of leathery/sweaty smell in.
One thing you do need to adjust to though is the random spontaneous shouts of Arabic men. Something that sounds like “200 camels” as you walk past is probably an offer of what they’ll give to buy you- made worse for me by a guy I was travelling with who tried to pawn me off to some locals for free.
A friend and I get dressed by some local burka merchants