I have been working on scanning old photos, and wallowing in memories. Yesterday, I scanned pictures from Morocco in 1990 My husband and I were living and working in Turkey for two years, and one summer we traveled to Morocco for a month. A whole month. The cool hills of Chefchaouen, the old markets of Fez, the Djemaa el Fna of Marrakesh, the windy beach Essaouira, and the medina of Casablanca. And we only have 18 pictures. I took more during our trip today to the Denver Botanic Gardens. One of the 18 is a photo of a pair of my husband’s shoes that he decided to abandon.
For the rest of the trip, I will have to rely mostly on memory. Marrakesh would reach above 120 degrees every afternoon. We would go out in the morning for a small breakfast and some sightseeing, and then return to our hotel to rest in our beds until evening, covered in damp towels because there was no air conditioning. It was even too hot to read. At night, the Djemaa el-Fna was writhing with peddlers and entertainers. Snake-Charmers, Gymnasts, Story Tellers. Magicians. Entertainment that I imagine taking place since the medieval period. We supped at a booth selling freshly fried fish every night for dinner, except for the once when we tried goat’s head soup. For dessert, a chilled chunk of coconut.
The heat was less of an issue in Fez, so we could go out in the day time. The Souks were crowded on the sides of thin twisting streets, built on hills so the trash could be washed down every evening. Skinned goats hung in the mid-day sun covered in flies. Men bargained loudly over the shouts of sellers touting their handicrafts. Smiling children swarmed us repeating, “Donne mois un dirham.” Probably the only French they knew. When we turned onto the wrong street, just a block away from the souk we found ourselves alone. We trod through silent streets of plaster buildings marked by the hand of Fatima. We have no pictures of our time in Fez.
How reliable is a 25 year old memory? Sometimes pictures shape memories in a way that limits them. The picture is all we remember. Sometimes writing does that, too. We alter the truth for plot and imagery. And the new story has so much power that it becomes true in our minds, superimposed over the original. Right now, I don’t care. I have enjoyed wandering through those old streets again tonight.