Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Marrakech: a sketch in colour

It's my first time to the dark continent. I am sure this has been said before but the light here engulfs you, driving all thoughts of the damp gray miasma of London away. London, where the streets insidiously swallow you whole, like being banished to the underworld. Persephone would never have eaten so much as a crumb if she had been dragged down Mile End Road. Having seen London at its worst recently, I've never been so pleased to leave, and re-enter the world of not-London.

Marrakesh. This crazy, erratic, bountiful place where skeletal horses share the roads with tractors, lorries and motorbikes; and hungry eyed people are thrown bananas from the charitable stall owners. The abundance of colour hits you like the smell of the fumes, but like the skin of the exotic edibles, you have to work hard to get at the jewel-like interior. The green mottled oranges disguise the sweetness within; behind graffitied ancient frontages of winding faded peach/sand passageways you enter a world of silence and tranquility. And a fruit salad of colour.

Of course I say silence but the squabble of sparrows coming to find their patch of safety before nightfall is deafening. Like the magnified rustling of the autumn leaves I've left behind, the courtyard aviary comes alive with sound and movement. They drown out the fountain, the far away city noise and the clatter of dinner dishes. The darkness throws a cape of quiet over the space and suddenly and the noise ceases like it started; sudden, leaving the senses bereft.

But though the silence reigns, the colour lives through patterned tiles and gold tasselled furnishings. Lace tracings pattern the ceilings as the copper lights gleam; tiny alcoves of shining pottery surprise. Water enhances the blue of the tesserae, perfectly matched and sighing with the echo of earlier courting doves. Unfamiliar heavy yellow leaves fall, ruffling the order and defying the gardeners but still, help to remind us that even here the seasons will have their way. 

The colour in the Majorelle garden lingers on in the retinas, leaving you shaking your head at the strength of images. To see that blue which both challenges and compliments the sky whilst colourless cacti in reds, yellows, golds and greens complete; the natural taking on the unnatural and harmoniously striving. Orange carp like tiny blooms ripple the smooth water and fiery bougainvillea reflect their colour above. 

And so after a day lost in a noisy rainbow, homeward. Lost in the chaos of human and vehicular traffic once more; passing more stalls of fruit and vegetables, lingering over the exposed pomegranates to imagine the glistening riad courtyard. And colour and silence once more.

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