Saturday, March 27, 2010

Travel Writing about Morocco #30

It is a while since we took a look at travel writing about Morocco. You will find our series archive here: Travel Writing Index. Our occasional series usually looks at professional travel writers and journalists, but today Ibn Warraq turns his attention to blogs. Here is his report.

There are some superb blogs about Morocco. In my view a top list would include Talk Morocco, Ibn Kafka, Morocco Blogs and Pres du Puis. By the way. Talk Morocco has been shortlisted for the Deutsche Welle Blog awards... you can vote for it on the link. However, what about travellers who drop into Morocco and blog about it? Fortunately many of these are fun to read. Then there are the "others"!

Today I came across one of these "others". The blog post was so startlingly ill-informed that it is worth a read, much like a cautionary tale. While it is true that on a first trip to a new country it is very easy to be a little disorientated. Happily, most people do a bit of research before touching down. Sadly, some don't.

The blog post, Young, Broke and Abroad, makes interesting reading. Now it would be petty to critique someone's "first impressions", but basic observational skills would have been an advantage to the blogger. Here are the opening paragraphs...

Travel gives me perspective. My view of life was sharped by a trip to Morocco. Over a five day journey we ventured into Morocco and drove all around the country. We stopped in Casablanca, Rabat, Marrakesh and Fez.

We saw the “real” Morocco of the small towns in the Berber Mountains – we even met a Berber family and had mint tea in their home. While in Fez, the biggest city to the East in Morocco – I became wildly aware of how GOOD we have it at home. This old City center or Medina is in the top 100 world heritage sites – which is a fancy way of saying it operates exactly how it did 200 years ago.

So far so good, apart from the comment about 200 years ago which ignores education, literacy, Iphones, Facebook, internet, WIFI, ATMs, credit cards and so on, which are all part of the Medina. But what took my breath away was what followed.

Running water is almost non existent and meat is cut with lumberjack looking saws that hang and drip blood everywhere. Meat is packed in lard and plastic due to the lack of refrigeration.
For a start, the water supply to Fez has been around since about the 11th Century and is a marvel of early engineering that has been the subject of many international studies. Water is plentiful. And refrigeration? The Medina is full of refrigerators... and look... what is that behind the head of the camel in the photograph? Mmm... yes, a refrigerator.


The author of the blog, Chandra, kindly took the time to respond to us, for which we thank her. It is always good when a conversation can be entered into. Here is part of what Chandra had to say.

"In response to what you posted about my personal blog entry: Yes, we are very well aware that technology has come into parts of the old medina - but, it is not everywhere. Also I said a lack of refrigeration, not NO refrigeration. Yes, I do know there were some refrigerators... like in the picture, that is why I said a "Lack" of refrigeration, not that the technology does not exist. In the section of the old medina we were in, almost every vendor was NOT using running water. I just wrote a blog entry of what I saw."

Chandra says that she wrote only about what she saw that day and that's fair. Hopefully she will return to Fez and we can show her more of the Medina. Inshallah - Ibn Warraq

To see all our travel writing stories go here: Travel Writing Index


Vago Damitio said...

That's a great piece. Thanks for sharing it. Was the picture part of the posting? Too funny guys!

I have to admit that I've been guilty of some bad first impressions too, but still, you've given me a good laugh once again.


Helen Ranger said...

Hi Vago
yes, the photo came with the post. Glad you enjoyed it!

Mike said...

I thought your comments were very fair, in fact, I would not have been so kind. Keep posting stories like this, I need a smile from time to time. I buy my meat in the souqs and find it always from a cold-store.

Mary the Penguin said...

It seems a pity that so many people fail to do research before coming to Fez. With even a little bit of preparation the experience of the Old Medina can be enhanced. I love Fez and Morocco and visit every year. Thanks for your blog it is simply the best.

Mary (Ohio)

Idriss S said...

It is so good that Chandra responded. I saw the rewritten post she did and it looks great. As Ibn said , good to have an exchange of views from which every one is a winner!

dining room table said...

I know that it is going to be so good to travel in Morocco. I always wanted to visit Morocco but I don't have time. But I want to thank you for sharing this post. This is a relief for me.