Field 2: Morocco! ‘My current understanding of material culture and values’…of Marrakesh.

This January I’m starting my second field module, which includes a trip to Marrakesh in the second week. When choosing my Field modules, I can’t say that this trip was not a big intensive to choose this particular module; I love to travel and explore different cultures, the allure of the bight colours and culture of Marrakesh was great. I’m looking forward to getting to explore and experience this new culture, and how this might be reflected in the work that I produce while I’m there, both for personal enjoyment and to enhance my subject work.
My previous experiences traveling in and around developing countries has given me a good working knowledge of how to live and conduct myself in countries and cultures like Marrakesh; though the majority of my experiences have been in South-east Asia. I’m really looking forward to being in this kind of environment again, the hustle and bushel of the markets and the loud fast moving streets; also the fact that cities like Marrakesh give the distinct impression that on one ever sleeps, warring mopeds wising around the streets, loud voices and music at all hours of the night and morning. One thing that I know will be a prominent feature in the soundscape of the city will be the daily call to prayer at 5 or 6 am, I’ve experienced this daily ritual a few times before and remember vividly how loud and unforgiving of ‘late’ sleepers it is. Though it is really quite a beautiful sound and a pretty nice wake up call, even if it is far too early!
Another common feature in the busy streets of developing cities, are the determined traders and tour guides that would probably show you around your own hotel/hostel if you offered to pay them a ‘reasonable rate’. Something that I love about these sales men, is bartering; getting a good bargain on your trips, tours and market purchases is a much funner and involved experience than in the western world. It’s easily one of my favorite features of developing cultures and one of the best skills that I have picked up from my travel experience. Never pay the ‘tourist price’ and always try walking away from a bad offer to get a better one.
An experience that I’m very much looking forward to in Marrakesh is the variety of foods and spices that will be on every street corner. I first developed a love for street food in Vietnam, where all the best local foods can be found at the side of any road or street, and you can watch it cooked in a burning hot wok or stock pot while you sit on the small plastic chairs provided at the child sized tables. From this experience, I’m very much looking forward to tasting the variety of tagines and dhals that will be readily available at the souks and on street corners. As a spice lover, the wealth of flavours and scents that will fill the air, is another feature of Marrakesh that I am very much looking forward too.
Prior to the trip, I know only a small amount about Marrakesh and Moroccan culture, but there’s nothing like direct experience to learn more about a people and their culture. From the research and my prior knowledge of traveling, I feel like Marrakesh will be a whole new and exciting experience and will give me a great deal of creative drive and inspiration to try new skills and traditional techniques.

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