Sometimes when I close my eyes, I can smell mint mingled with cardamon and hear a faint whisper of a call to prayer.
In my latest for the American publication, Paste Magazine, I do my best to convey the dreamy state of mind and being that is Marrakech, Morocco. (See below for the recently published article.)
For some reason still unknown, since I was a child, Morocco has colored my thoughts and dreams. Maybe it was tales dramatically read by my mother of Arabian Nights, or my grandmother’s love for the film classic, Casablanca. Or, maybe the sands of the Sahara simply seemed like the most exotic place in the world for a little girl growing up in snooze-ville Alabama.
As soon as I became a “traveler,” my compass pointed to Marrakech. I’ve had the privilege of following my compass and grand dreams, and through the process have experienced the bewildering beauty of Morocco enough to feel totally disoriented. It’s the kind of place where the more you know, the more lost you are. With each dizzying visit, the love affair strengthens and mystic grows.
More stories and images coming soon of time spent in Marrakech, the Sahara, Atlas Mountains, and Essaouira.
By Jess Simpson | May 10, 2016 | 3:00pm
“It’s not easy to find.”
Reviews for every attraction in Marrakech’s old city, known as the medina, usually begin with a similar warning. Maps and navigation apps are fairly useless here, which is an indelible part of the Red City’s charm.
From the desert a vast earthen city emerged nearly a thousand years ago as the central spoke of a trading empire. The strategic location ensured threat of invaders at every turn, so architectural ingenuity provided the key to defense. A dense tangle of narrow alleys was designed to snake through foreboding, indistinguishable sandstone structures rising above to shield the sun’s orientation.
Today the effect is the same on travelers as would-be invaders: dizzying disorientation. Fear of navigating the city’s maze and cultural customs often sends first-time visitors seeking package-tour comfort. For independent travelers, Marrakech’s greatest delights can be found by giving up control and embracing the beguiling bewilderment. Keep reading…