Travel Writing_2011

A French woman walks hand in hand with a Moroccan man in the grand boulevard. Or maybe she is not from France at all but from Morocco. I would not know even after this long time in Morocco. I am in Ifrane and Ifrane confuses me.

I ask the taxi driver:

“Where are you from?

He says:

“Why, of course, from Ifrane. I was born here.”

I say to him:

“How is that possible??”

There is a small male donkey chasing a female donkey with his dingus rising and shining. The lass kick him with her behind legs but the lad rushes to follow her anyway.

I eat my lunch at the park overlooking rows of many neat and clean houses. A group of men in the silvery hair-tail fish suits and hats pass by with same bags. Military? Businessmen? Students?

Ifrane is in between Meknes and Azrou in the Middle Atlas. It is very strange to be here. I think I will pass Azrou and head to Beni Mellal. I finish off my lunch as quickly as possible and get a grand taxi out of this town.

Travel Writing_2011

I still remember clearly the emotions I had when I was arriving to Tangier by ferry from France. I was very excited, of course, but strangely enough, I felt as if I was coming home. I’ve never been to Morocco, let alone, anywhere in the Africa continent and I knew no-one who lived there. It was very strange because I got used to everything around, the minute I landed on this strange but attractive land. Then, it was the same when I went to the desert through M’hamid. I felt as if I belonged there for some reason. I cried hard. I didn’t know why I was crying. Perhaps because the nights were too beautiful? Or an awareness of many the spirits who had come before me could have affected my feelings? Maybe just because it was too quiet around me. Unlike the city, when you enter a place that is really quiet surrounded only by nature, you start having a real ‘personal’ experiences. I quite doubt that I will travel by myself like this in the near future and I am glad about it. I like to enjoy and share the fun with people I love. Nevertheless, I treasure this ‘experience’ very much for I learnt a lot and grew more.

Les dunes paradoxales

Je suis de ce voyage

le tien

a vivre en errance

en avance de mon temps

de mon lieu

de ma naissance

enroule dans la nacre du silence

je suis de ce reve

a rever de vide et d’inconnu

d’ecriture en promesse de Desert

que j’ecoute

dans la beatitude des mots

ces signes que nul n’efface

le doigt pointe

dans la direction de nos traces

de nos cris

nos oublis

— Abdelhak Serhane ‘Les dunes paradoxales’

Abdelhak Serhane is a Moroccan writer. I got this book from Librairie des Colonnes on the 2nd day of my stay. I over-spent this day on many different books (an old weakness but a great pleasure) and managed to find two books by the native writers. I did not read this 45 dirham book, written in French until I finished all my travels. I was there in May (already 2 years ago). I don’t know where I will be in this coming May of Year 2014. Wherever I am, I hope I am not dreaming ‘de vide et d’inconnu’ but ‘de plenitude et de connu’

Travel Writing_2014

The days I stayed in Cusco, Peru were all sunny but loud everywhere. Quechua people, indigenous ethnic group of several South American countries, were wearing very colourful clothes. Like their clothing, their works of art were colourful, too. I encountered a lot of paintings done by the local artists, and most of them used primary colours a lot. There were not the grand-type museums and galleries we easily find in any famous city, but I thoroughly enjoyed running into small spaces that were full of paintings and artifacts in the streets of Cusco.

One of the clichéd paintings that many boys were selling in the street was that of Macchu Picchu. Those paintings were all done in the same angle, made exactly same perspective, and the colours were more or less identical too. Furthermore, they always focused on the illusion of man’s profiled face against the mountain peaks behind the ‘lost city of the Incas’

One boy, with crummy folder of sketches and paintings, ready to fall out, approached me while I was sitting on the bench in the square. He said, “I am Picasso.” I replied, “No, no, YO soy Picasso!” Then the boy said without smile, “No, you are Mona Lisa.” I guess Mona Lisa must have been the first name that came to his mind as a woman’s name to do with art? When I told him that I am Picasso too, I simply meant that I paint too, like you do. He realized quickly I was not going to buy his paintings, so he left me and disappeared through the streets of tourists.

The city of Cusco was crowded with tourists. I suspect it may be the same as I am writing this article. They were from all over the world and all of them carried big cameras with them. Some even had several cameras, including the smartphone. I noticed that many people passing by the great monuments or the famous statues, without even looking at them with their own eyes, were busy clicking their cameras. I think that their first viewing of let’s says some old Cathedral in the middle of the main square was done by the guidebook they held in their hands. Their 2nd viewing would be through the lenses of their cameras. Their 3rd viewing would be, ghastly put, when they are tidying up their hard disks 5 years later.

Oh, I forgot. Perhaps they might look at them again while replying to the comments made by their friends back at home who writes “OMG, I envy you so much!” on the Facebook. This may sound a little bit harsh, but I cannot help noticing it. I always feel that the way people are so busy capturing the scenes and monuments through their camera is like the great Empires attempting to occupy as many lands as possible. I, personally, feel, when I take photos, that I am taking part of something from something’s or someone’s soul. The way I try to be careful with camera has nothing to do with any artistic value of what are good angles and what are good views.

Since a close friend of mine suggested that I should become a film director when I was barely 13 years old, I did really start wanting to make films. Just as any film buff would do, I was enthusiastic to see all sorts of cinemas for many years. Talking with other people, at some venues in the cinema, about the film we watched was a great fun. Now I still love watching films, especially the old ones, but I am not as excited as I used to be when I went to the cinema in the past.

The abundance of images tires me immensely. Every day whether we want or not we are faced with some sort of images including moving images everywhere. Even if you don’t watch TV, you’d still see a lot of advertisements as you walk in the street. Eyes have no time to rest in this modern life. In Baudrillardian sense we are losing the grips of ‘reality.’ Of course, there is no ‘moral’ reason why one should not enjoy this brilliant medium of photography and moving images. I only wish that the sacredness, of things/people before our eyes, were considered before yielding the printed/recorded. Now, I think, I should have told that boy in Cusco that he is not Picasso but Alejandro.