An Ode to Morocco on the Financial Times

An Ode to Morocco on the Financial Times

The charm of Morocco with all its picturesque landscape, enchanting centuries-old cities, and enchanting cultural diversity, arts, cuisine and smells were neatly woven in a story by the Financial Times’ travel editor Maria Shollenbarger, who gave the reader a sense of the Morocco experience.

Shollenbarger traveled with her 80-year-old mother who came all the way from California to fall under the spell of the North African Kingdom with all its time-honored architectural, culinary and hospitality traditions.

Navigating through the alleys of the old town of Marrakech, Shollenbarger “sampled and savored” with her mother as she believes the Red City “can overwhelm at any age.”

Her article, entitled “What happened when the HTSI travel editor Maria Shollenbarger took her 80-year-old mother to Morocco?”, is a story-telling masterpiece that captures the moment, while successfully using words to describe the depth of the feeling of being dazzled and enchanted by the Moroccan magic.

As they both leave Marrakech to discover the hinterland, Shollenbarger takes the reader into a journey of a shifting landscape from “the old souks, encircled by their thousand-year-old walls” to the Atlas Mountains.

“Within an hour the landscape was utterly changed. Stands of poplar and birch – mountain trees, their leaves glittering like coins sifting through fingers – filled the gullies between volcanic peaks. When we descended into the desert plain hours later, she was transfixed by shifts in scenery: the orange earth fading, as soil mixed with sand; steep slopes ceding to low mesas, some covered in the faintest down of green. Beyond, the emptiness of stone desert,” she said.

Her story-telling shuns western commercially-minded tourism cliches as she delves deep into Morocco’s past and present distinctive features describing both what she and her mother feel during their journey. She eloquently zoomed on the genius of Moroccan ancestors in managing scarce resources like water, using the Khettaras, subsurface irrigation channels that have for long kept oasis alive.

Her story also smells of mint tea with a diligent description of the making process as she experiences Moroccan hospitality.

“Three times rinsing the leaves; add muddled fresh mint; three more times, rinsing and pouring,” she said as “the cloud lifted from the tops of the mountains and the red crescent of the sun cast their summits in relief.”

Her Morocco immersion was also infused with feelings of love for her mother adding a personal sincere touch and shrouding her journey in Mother-daughter love and the finite character of our experiences with parents.

“Thank you for this wonderful gift,” she quoted her mother as saying in an afternoon. “By which she means not just the trip, she continues, but the chance to step into my life – for her, an experience as foreign, as meaningful, as Morocco itself,” Shollenbarger said.


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