Like last week, dear readers, I’ve been aiming to achieve a balance between writing the blog and exploring my creativity.
Consequently I’ve tried to focus more on the drawing and painting. Also trying to be present were I am and talk to the people I meet, instead of obsessing about blogging; attempting to tell all the stories basically before they have even happened.
This week I’ve been fortunate enough to meet more people whom I’ve enjoyed my time with. I’ll introduce some of them too you in the following.
M – a Fellow Artist
After her one night stay in Meknes, Graphic Designer M from Hong Kong joined me back in Fez. As planned we spend time walking around drawing and painting together.
The first place we spend a long time was in the beautiful garden Jardin Jnan Sbil. After a French roommate had recommended it one morning, I had been there alone earlier. Then I sketched a peacock while a bunch of kids giggled beside me.
M and I installed ourselves in front of a lake in which there was a small island with palm trees in the center of it. I attempted my best to do a watercolor of the island and she painted me. Possibly making me blush, as she declared she was more inspired by my profile than the scenic view of the garden’s lake.
While we were painting a few annoying men tried to talk to us. They were impressively persistent considering we clearly said we wanted to be left alone. Especially one guy kept insisting. He said ‘hello’ every three minutes for almost half an hour, even though we first repeated we wanted to be left alone several times and later simply ignored him.
Another time a bunch of school kids came close and requested that M sketched one of the boys. I started sketching one as well and soon their excited outburst turned into hushed impressed whispers as we worked. The boy I drew got very happy when I offered him the drawing.
He posed proudly for a photo afterwards. The other boy M drew got just as happy when she offered him his sketch. Just about as happy as I became, when I saw how great M’s watercolor of me was. The roles were switched and suddenly I was the model. It was flattering that she found me interesting enough to paint. Her technique with the water color was impressive.
Comparing my water color to hers, I thought my attempt to paint the island looked pretty amateurish; which was only natural since I haven’t done much aquarelle and know I have much to learn. After she had done such a nice portrait of me, I tried to do a quick sketch of her on blue paper with the watercolor paint I had left.
Art after Postcards and Coppersmiths
Another time we went for an orange juice at Café Smile. On the way I bought some postcards with old Moroccan black and white photographs on.
I collect ancient photographs and love to draw and paint after them. In Kaunas in Lithuania were I used to study, I regularly come back to a specific antiquities shop and buy old photos. I like to think that those photos were taken for a reason by somebody at some point and cherished; but for reasons unknown they ended up forgotten in a cigar box in a dusty shop. I imagine that in some way my drawings and paintings can reanimate those lost memories.
Continuing our creative marathon we later also drew sketches by a square were coppersmiths shaped sheets of copper by hammering them silly. It was noisy but very interesting to watch yet another Moroccan craft. Once again it was wonderful to pass the time drawing together, while we sat comfortably in a café with a great view over the square.
Other than all that, we also sketched a bit in front of a restaurant and in a Koran school.
The last night before M went on to her next destination, I helped her buy a leather bag – which was a scary and taxing task since the salesmen are though bargainers. In the end we walked arm in arm, protecting each other from insisting salesmen or otherwise insisting males in general. We agreed to keep in touch and check in on whether we were both safe – as well as creatively productive.
Meeting More People!
A kind Canadian
After M had left I felt lonely and worried about having to walk the streets alone again.
Yet I didn’t have to be alone for long, as a sweet Canadian woman moved into my dorm. We hid it of quickly and the next few days we had some great walks and talks. Knowing at least some of the streets rather well I acted as a kind of guide showing her the Jardin Jnan Sbil, the square with the cobber smiths and the tombs of Merinides. However, I didn’t do much sketching – only a few quick ones of people in the streets.
Other than that we also went to a Hamman together, which was fantastic – I can’t remember ever feeling so clean. Another day we visited a rather dilapidated palace with some gorgeous mosaics and wood paintings.
This way, once again, I had made a new friend. And the newfound friendships didn’t even stop there.
A Kind Turk
Another time I met a Turkish guy at the hostel, who studied literature and wrote poems. We had great conversations about art and life on his last day before he took his flight.
He had been very unlucky one night in Marrakesh when some thugs had attempted to rob him and punch him on his arms so hard that he still had bruises. Even though we only spend half a day together, we connected quite fast and decided to be friends on Instagram – and even maybe meet up later during my travels if possible.
Before he took his taxi to the airport, he accompanied me as I checked into a guesthouse where I had treated myself to a single room. Even though I enjoy meeting new people, as mentioned in my previous post, I’m also quite the introvert and a type who needs me-time and a space to be alone in, so I was looking forward to having my own room for some days.
As my new Turkish friend and I waited for them to finish the paperwork, we drank mint tea close to the reception while talking to the owner. Suddenly the owner grabbed a metal container and asked us to hold out our hands. He then sprinkled what he later explained was orange flower essential oil in our palms, and declared that this was a blessing to wish us good luck with getting married.
I explained to the owner, as I had already done to the Turkish guy, that I had a Danish boyfriend. While laughing I added, that I guessed then I would just have to explain to my boyfriend that I had been blessed and he now had to marry me. Everybody laughed but the owner, who seemed either confused or slightly embarrassed.
Having the Private Room
Even though I looked forward to being alone in the room, I worried a bit about staying too much in my own room and not meeting new people, as I still didn’t feel that excited about being alone in the streets of Fez. It turned out having my private room didn’t pose much problem though, as I met several kind people at the breakfast table.
Here I met a sweet couple with a cute son. The first morning the boy was too shy to talk with me but the second morning he agreed to play Tic Tac Toe with me – which he won three times in a row. Another day I met two cool French sisters with whom I went to Café Smile. Here I discussed art, movies and life with them during which I did a bunch of water colors. I did one after a postcard from a gallery in Valencia and two others after some of the Moroccan postcards with old photographs I had bought together with M.
Up until now I haven’t really had to be alone. At the same time I’ve made sure to spend quite a few hours isolated in my room; writing my diary and watching Netflix. Although I love travelling and want to explore the new sights, meet new people and try new foods – all the experiences turn taxing over time and I find myself needing to disappear into a book or a screen.
There are only so many days I can be fundamentally open to the world and try to see, taste and hear everything around me. It comes to a point where I just want to focus all my abilities to perceive into a tight spot like a series on Netflix, were I can kind of dissolve into those worlds for some moments.
I’ve been very grateful to have met so many fantastic people during actually every single day of my time in Fez so far.
Getting my own room for some days was also a wise choice, as it has made it easier for me to try to find a balance between my explorative socializing and at the same time nourishing the introvert in me that needs to take time to process all the thoughts and events.
Regarding whether I’ve learned to cope with the yelling in the streets, it honestly hasn’t become that much easier – I just walk faster as I know where I want to go and don’t deviate from my know routes anymore.
Although I find Morocco fantastic, I don’t like the way especially some of the males treat me in the streets. And for solely this reason I’m actually excited to leave next week.
Lastly I will reveal my next travel destination: Seville in Spain!