Before talking about Marrakesh
We Italians, and we Europeans in general, have always been used to looking at North African countries as the place of our younger brothers, the poorest, the most quarrelsome. A haughty point of view, ours, all to be justified of course, which arises from centuries of dominance that have seen us exploit them. Needless to say, these filters, although often denied by most in order not to be accused of being racist (but profoundly present in 99% of the Italian and European population in general), have always made me particularly laugh. In a bitter sense it means. Yes, because in my mind the concept of nationality does not exist, there are people and that’s it. Whether they are white or black, men or women, straight or otherwise, I don’t care: in work as in friendship I have always and only chosen on the basis of a single criterion, to have only the best next to me.
These preconceptions I was talking about turn out to be even more unsuccessful when you try to frame the nature of a city like Marrakesh, in Morocco. What do you think if you read this name? Most likely your image (especially if you have never been there) is animated by great noises and confusion, those of the bazaars of Piazza Jemaa el Fna, which with its open market, full of people almost 24 hours a day, is a symbolic place of the city on a touristic level.
Well Marrakesh, what I have been able to appreciate in these days at the end of May is this but it is much more. And if I had to try to summarize its essence in a single word, I would use the term “simplicity”. Spoiler alert: in this post you will find repeated I don’t know how many times words with the root “simple”. Follow me and find out why.
Marrakesh was for a long time the capital of Morocco and for this reason you can find dozens of palaces and other royal buildings typical of places of power. But is that what made me fall in love with Marrakesh? Absolutely not, as mentioned, the key element that struck me much more than these places is the extraordinary sense of “simplicity”, an implicit and therefore undeclared religion, much more rooted than the official religion of these places, Muslimism.
The rule of simplicity
Marrakesh and Morocco in general are simple. A simplicity that we can find everywhere, even before in the aesthetic standards of the place, both in the elegance of the most sumptuous historic buildings, and in a sunny window colored by flowers. A simplicity that you find in people, even those outside Marrakesh, to be clear, those who live in rural areas or even in the nearby desert, people who are always ready to welcome you into their home (and I stress home, and not in a room of an extra-luxurious tree. ) with a smile and a great simplicity of mind, without expecting something in return from you. Maybe I’m not used to this free relationship, but I don’t hide from you that it made me make peace with the human being, feel welcomed in the house of perfect strangers, immediately ready to prepare a tea or let me taste some typical local product, and not because they necessarily wanted to sell it to me. No, in this part of Morocco, a bit like I said before, simplicity and, I would add, hospitality are a common habit of mind for everyone, young and old, rich or poor.
Illuminating in this context is the example of my driver. I met him as soon as I arrived in Marrakesh and with his availability, his smile and, I repeat, his simplicity, he accompanied me for all the days of my stay there in the city, with great self-denial, striving to give me first of all a great human experience (obviously linked to the beauty of the places you visited).
Smiles and simplicity that helped me feel good. And this I will never forget. But there is a particular moment, almost cathartic I would say, of my stay in Marrakesh that I want to tell you about. One day, sitting enjoying the start of the cooler evening air while sipping another tea, I began to take stock of the holiday a bit. From there many considerations and one in particular: how good are we, accustomed to the ease and speed of European metropolises, to unnecessarily complicate our lives, from all possible points of view.
We complicate our lives first and foremost from a material point of view. We have everything but instead of enjoying the things we have, we become slaves to them; in fact, we are not even able to imagine our lives without all our appliances, our fast cars, hot water on command, and the ball current for the air conditioning. The people of Marrakesh, and in particular the inhabitants of rural areas, have little or none of this, yet, I assure you that rarely in the world (and as you know I have traveled it all) will you find someone more serene and accomplished than them.
But we “expert navigators of the city”, quoting Raf and Umberto Tozzi, are also incredible “complicators” of personal relationships. Nobel laureates in messing up our lives and those close to us, all of us feeling the center of the universe that exists only in our heads and that just a few centimeters from our nose makes no sense. You arrive in Marrakesh full of you of your life, and then you know personal stories that would fill 10 Netflix series, but that do not authorize their protagonists, the people of Marrakesh, to lose that value of simplicity that, if you had not understood, is the leitmotiv of this post. Do you know what the secret is? “Simply” in those parts, humility and simplicity are two clothes that everyone is not afraid to wear, and not out of modesty; only because they understood here, in Marrakesh, that if you learn to live – by keeping it simple -, in the end – simply -, you will live better.