This image represents when for the first time on a solo adventure, I felt in the pit of my stomach that something was wrong. My guide who I did not ask for but insisted on giving me a guided tour, at first, tried to lead me outside the medina (city center). After some time of amazing history factoids and casually getting further and further from the entrance, I put my foot down and demanded directions to the tanneries. My goal was to purchase the fine Moroccan leather I had heard so much about, get to the gold shops, and bounce back to Casa with treasure. I would be back for the stories on another trip as time was of the essence. I did not want him or anyone around for either delight as I felt introverted. Strangely enough, my will began to break. I began to follow, listen, and interact, knowing that he was not getting out of my hair and rather the bird I had in hand than whatever was waiting behind the winding and never-ending alleys of the most complex souq I have ever set foot in. I was in over my head, and he was desperate but kind – we needed each other. After all, Morocco runs on tourism, and they had just opened the gates after two (2) years of the covid-19 pandemic. He had a story that we hashed out over three different broken languages. I have many images with him as the subject as a result of my anx. As I looked back in my reel, there were others lurking at every turn whom I never saw in pursuit. He was blocking for me. Don’t travel in Morocco without an official guide, or one will find you. If you ever find yourself in that situation, I hope that you are as lucky as I was.
We were on our way to the gold section, and “my guide” had my leather goods after I caved and let him carry my items. I began to relax. I mean, what was I going to do? I was tired, hungry, and balls deep into this adventure. As stressed as I was, I was having fun, and my commitment to chilling out for sanity’s sake was strong. The bright spot was that everyone in the souq adored him and communicated that I was in good hands. The tannery folks were the first to talk me off the ledge. On the way to the gold, I saw a door and took a photo. Honestly, he and the market were smothering, and I needed a breather. The alley with the door was empty and quiet. He told me I would love what was in that shop behind the door that looked abandoned af. I was like, no, thank you, habibi! He begged me to trust him (pause). We ran out of words in all of our broken languages, so he opened the door, and I (don’t even know why – I mean wtf), I followed. There I found the big boss of the souq and the center for carpets on the retail side of things. That’s a tangent that I may tell you about later. The image was shot from upstairs within that traditional Moroccan carpet shop. The caravan is symbolic of passing through on an unknown path. I emerged from that adventure with two beautiful, vintage, hand-knotted, Berber carpets. The squad brought out the good stuff but demanded cash. I did not have cash on hand, and so the games began (good people). I wanted to walk out with those carpets in hand. So, we worked it out over Moroccan tea as Africans would. But that’s another story.