Morocco, on our two-week ClothRoads/Thrums Books artisan tour, felt familiar in a way. Joe Coca so beautifully photographed the people and places in Women Artisans of Morocco, and Susan Schaefer Davis introduced us so vividly to the artisans and their families that I had a strong sense I’d been there before.
And yet, how can we truly know a place until we have held hands with its people, lived in its light, explored its color?
Like that rose-colored earth that rises to the sky in ancient adobe dwellings, in casbah walls, and borders of rugs, piled and flatwoven.
Or the colors in the High Atlas Mountains in early evening when the sun acknowledges stone and textures it red and gold and orange. You’ll see it repeated in minarets of mosques, in rugs woven in rocky Berber villages, in painted cedar ceilings of palaces, in woven brocade and the weaver’s fez.
There is a blue you’ll discover in bright woven belts hanging in the sun, camel saddles, silky thread for hand-knotted buttons, the color of Fes embroidered lovingly stitch by stitch.
And green, the color of Islam in piles of tiles waiting for rooftops, baskets of olives ripe for the eating, intricate mosaics, cedar, palm, pine.
And the light–of new friendships, lifelong admiration, pride in the triumph of mothers, kindred spirits.
Last night I sautéed vegetables with the signature Moroccan spice Ras el Hanout—a mixture of 35 spices all working together to create one perfect flavor. That’s a perfect metaphor for Morocco: layers and layers of flavor, color and light, distilled into a single joy.
The next best thing to being there.