Contrast Through A Looking Glass
By Burcin Yetim
What to expect when coming to Morocco is a contrast itself and I am thrilled to contribute to untangle this riddle.
Colours paired in the most unexpected combinations are the amuse-bouche, the appetiser, in this conversation.
Nonetheless, the famous designer Yves Saint Laurent said that it’s Marrakech that taught him colour. As a very fond fan of all-black, I can see that I have been subject to this lesson…as everyone else visiting I guess!
Morocco is actually the place that taught me about colour AND contrast…and I am still learning so much, thankfully.
Thirst Of Instants
When such a huge slice of life from all over the world is available on social media, expectations are perfect projections of what we are dreaming. They help us sneaking out of the every day reality. Vividly printed in the screen of our minds like an Instagram feed where a filter and a studied shot build much of the contrast we see.
That is when we stop digging deeper and start looking to replicate other’s adventures, without looking furthermore than the surface!
Visual Contrasts & Stage Lights
This inebriating feeling that we get once landed on Moroccan soil, becomes overwhelming in the first hours while witnessing this incredible combination of utopia and dystopia. A unique example of organised chaos that could be a frame of the movie “Blade Runner”.
During winter time, we can experience the incredible view of palm trees, with a chain of snow-capped mountains in the background. And then a lush oasis before the desert. This particular image is indeed one of the most famous shots of Moroccan landscapes.
No wonder this country is one of the world’s favourite locations for snapping fancy fashion photo shoots and organising music festivals. Hollywood have been filming in these same souks, be those in Fez or Marrakech. The majestic mountain landscapes being the background of epic adventures and one of the most tribal music traditions alive.
A Pulse Made Of Bass Beats
Imagine the Gnawa musicians creating their vibes, mixing rock, blues and jazz in the Jemaa le Fna square, Marrakech. Just nearby a group of teenagers busy listening to the last modern trap/pop track suddenly hit pause to start clapping their hands at the rhythm of the tribal music. Percussion that causes the blood to boil and shoulders bounce. A tide that floods and waters the roots that are still so grounded for Moroccans.
An entire festival orbits around the hypnotic beats of Gnawa and African musicians from all over the world are coming to Morocco to contaminate the coastal city of Essaouira with their sounds and their own, special contrasts.
One, No One And A Hundred Thousand
While leaving from the modern airport, you will see an old lady in a hooded djellaba (local dress) cycling. Then a 4×4 waiting for a man guiding a donkey cart, to turn. The very small doors hiding big intimate courtyards. Even just the versatility of the Moroccan population in their physical features is remarkably confusing.
From blonde and light-skinned to freckled redheads, or even Asian looking Arab faces. Such a variety of landscapes stretched over this long country that surprisingly offers so much more than its world known Sahara desert.
We can count at least 7 cultures that crossed their paths in this country, 4 religions coexisted on the same land in the same cities in a peaceful manner, at least 3 still do. The majority follows a moderate Islam and people are so tolerant also for this reason, which is the same that makes Morocco one of the most welcoming countries.
In the souks, between bright warm sunrays and fresh shadows we will see motorbikes that quickly dodge a child and a cat. Then dart away in the narrow market in a cloud of dust. An experience that will never be forgotten and an adrenaline-filled memory to cherish.
Your Have The Watch – We Have The Time
Do you know the rules that society gives you to live a fast-paced existence? Well, that doesn’t apply as much, here in Morocco. Here, time is not an enemy to fight minute per minute. Instead, it’s a companion to dance with along the day.
The same concept of time that can drive a western mind crazy. The same philosophy that gives the masters of the crafts their main tool to create the world-wide famous Moroccan items. We crave having them in our homes. This special conception of time even creates one of the biggest incomes of the country, such as the fishing industry, largely using manpower in Essaouira, Casablanca, Rabat and Safi.
Diffusing The Lights – Fading The Contrasts
Arriving at night is such an intriguing example of contrast. One would not expect children running in the streets at 10 or 11 pm. The smoke raised by the street food grills fogging the little maze-like alleyways where you are being guided through lit and unlit parts. On the following morning they will show up as bright streets where the local vendor of cleaning supplies is pushing his cart, letting everybody know about his presence by using his little trumpet. Such unique time-travel experiences will follow up one after another during your visit.
We then realize we are half of the contrast that we see. That we can soften the edges of those defined shadows in a diffused glow. With a curious eye, and all the tools our mind has at disposal, we are able to change the settings of our internal camera. That way, we can better catch the true colours of our surroundings.
When the city gets quieter to respect the call to for prayer, you will think of a swarm of bees. All the daily life noises reduced or turned off to hear the call. You too will feel how is it to switch from a fluid chaos to a respectful moment of reflection.
This blog was written by Burcin Yetim