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An African Surf Documentary

The distillate of Morocco’s exoticism

The Beyond Surf Movie Travel Journal
Day 28 / Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Photos by Felix Gänsicke, Judith Recher
Text by Mario Hainzl

We leave Marrakech. Honestly, I expected a little more from this city given it’s reputation of being this distillate of Moroccos exoticism. Though Casablanca is the Moroccan capital, Marrakech is where cultures merge. The northern farm culture, the easterly nomadic desert culture and the southern Berbers, they all come together here.

And sure, there is Jemnaa El Fna, the big square in Marrakech where musicians, story tellers, snake charmers and other animal tamers gather their circles of audience around them. I might have seen it in a whole other depth if I had been able to understand Arabic, if I had been able to laugh with the other bystanders to the comedians jokes and chime in on Moroccan folklore songs that where sang there, but personally I doubted the authenticity a bit. How much was being done solely for the purpose to keep a romanticism about this city alive? Was this just another tourist hustle?

Leaving Marrakech we went through the small villages again. We passed by a horse market, old men in their traditional clothes, young boys running through the market crowds, dodging donkey chariots and women packing groceries. Somehow that seemed far more authentic. The true Morocco felt way closer than in polished Marrakech where modern aspects mix carelessly with threads of ancient tradition. I asked myself again, why we as travelers have the underlying wish of other exotic countries to stay the same for our viewing pleasure? There’s something egocentric and disturbing about it, isn’t there?

In the Atlas Mountains the land is vast. As usual when I travel, I tried to comprehend how people deal with this degree of separation from the rest of the world. Modernity is like this big force that we want to keep from romantic places so they’ll remind us of the world of yesterday. It’s a mental experiment to think about moving to such a little village in the mountains. After a couple of months of living there the romanticism of hiding from modern world seems like it would be stripped from naive thoughts and disillusion. The feeling of shortage of all things would set in. Playing with this thought I realized how far we really are from the lives of other people in other places.

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