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Renewed Spirits in Meknes

Renewed Spirits in MeknesMeknes, MoroccoSeptember 27,2007Homepage: http://canciondelvagabundo.googlepages.com/North Africa Page: http://canciondelvagabundo.googlepages.com/northafrica View from rooftop.“Travelling and dreaming are part of the same phenomenon. If you don’t allow yourself to dream while travelling, you are missing half of the show.”I wrote these words but a few days ago. I think that I momentarily stopped dreaming here in Meknes. [...]

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Renewed Spirits in Meknes
Meknes, Morocco
September 27,2007
North Africa Page:

View from rooftop.

“Travelling and dreaming are part of the same phenomenon. If you don’t allow yourself to dream while travelling, you are missing half of the show.”

I wrote these words but a few days ago. I think that I momentarily stopped dreaming here in Meknes. I began going about my day as if I were programed: write, go to the internet café, find food, write, go to bed. It seems to me that people created computers to work on patterns that resemble human thought; but too much time on a computer can create a human who thinks in 111111’s and 000000’s. That is to say: become a mechanized, mechanical, computer of the flesh.

I must admit that I became a walking android for the past couple of days. I was beginning to feel worn out with Meknes, Morocco, Ramadan, and North Africa. I was beginning to loath the fact that I cannot get a meal here until 6:30 PM, and my steady diet of crackers and sardines was preemptively filling my mind with fleeting thoughts of anorexia. My daydreams were continually drifting north to Spain, which is less than a day’s journey away, where I could eat huge a breakfast of eggs and rice, a grandiose lunch of bean burritos and french fries, and I could wash down a big, cheap dinner with an even bigger bottle of beer while watching the sun set over the southern sea. All of this in a country where I could talk to people in their native tongue and dance with senoritas and run with bulls and all of that flaky Spanish dreaming jargon that you see in travel brochures at airports. But this was sounding pretty good to me.

And I was missing the show right in front of me.

Today, when I arrived home at the hotel I mounted the familiar staircase to my little room that sits patiently at the top. I was locked in the depths of melancholia and the programed mindset that comes along with working far more than playing. I was wasted, exhausted, and, yes, even bored- the sights of these busy Arab streets failed to interest me, the smells of the souq no longer roused my attention, and the sound of music was not warming my heart. But today I noticed something that I did not pay too much attention to before: the stairwell went up another floor! “Do these stairs go to the roof?” I asked myself. They did. I quickly ran up them. Once on the roof and out of the gloom of a midday hotel, I realized the majesty of the city that stretched out before me. “This place is ancient,” I thought. I knew then that this city was more amazing than what I was making it out to be. I stood out there in the cloudy afternoon sky, on top of a fortress looking over the rooftops of the city’s fortifications. I was recharged, refreshed. I leaped from my slumber and into the moment. I was in Morocco, I was at the northern brink of Africa I again felt that gentle smile of excitement comes across my face. I was back.

Streets of Meknes.

So I rushed out into the streets, laughed when two wrestling little boys wrestled themselves into me and noticed how funny turkeys look when a man is dragging them around upside down by their legs. I took in the entire street scene that was ever transforming and changing all around me: people talking, young men laughing and chasing each other into traffic, two Frenchmen helping an old beggar across the busy street, and the old lanes of the medina which looked as if they were groomed and molded my Time himself. “This place is amazing,” I said to myself as I ventured deeper into the old city.

I then realized that the old quarters of these ancient Arab cities look like great ant farms laid upon their sides- winding streets and lanes give way to even more curving alleyways and tight, dark corridors delve deep into the interiors of the colony. There are no real maps for these old quarters, as they seem to have been constructed before the age of planned architecture; these medinas are about as organic and natural a city structure that human civilization has yet spun out. Nothing that is organic can really be mapped. I relished the idea of this, and I took great joy in today’s wanderings around the old Meknes medina.

Sometimes in travel you just get a little tired, slightly unamused; sometimes in life you become wrapped up in abstract activities and forget to smell the beautiful flowers as you walk past. I think this is the way any lifestyle is. Sometimes you just need to be woken up to the splendor that blooms all around you.

Mira is good at doing this to me. She knows how to wake me up a little, like a good woman should.

Just outside of Meknes proper.

Filed under: Africa, Cities and Urban Development, Morocco, Travel Philosophy

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3705 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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