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"Morocco in Technicolor" by Jaycee Miller

"Morocco in Technicolor" by Jaycee Miller

The first week here, one of my peers told me that they chose Morocco because it is “so colorful.” It’s true. Rihanna even named her Fenty Beauty palette after it. From the vibrant shades of leather in Fez tanned with saffron, indigo, henna, and poppy flowers, to the mesmerizing hues of blue coating the medina of Chefchaouen, to the warm pink walls of Marrakech that bake under the hot summer sun, Morocco is full of color. The Erg Chebbi sand dunes in the Sahara are a kind gold I can only equate to yellow curry, and the sunsets over the Atlantic from the Rabat neighborhood of L’Ocean display a never-before-seen palette of pink, orange, and blue every single day.   

 

I’m from Buffalo, New York where we love the Bills, the Sabres, and the UB Bulls. Blue is the color of all of these teams’ the color of the city flag, the state flag, Lake Erie, and the ground when the bright winter sky illuminates the snow in a light blue hue. Blue makes me feel homey; It has a sentimental quality unlike any other color on the electromagnetic spectrum. I’ve been living in Rabat for about three and a half months now, which is about as different from Buffalo as cities come, but I set out to document the things that made me feel at home. The following are the bluest photos I’ve taken during my happiest days here in my temporary home.

Le Dhow is a ship-turned-restaurant permanently docked along the Bouregreg River which divides Rabat and Salé. The bridge in the background and the small row boats in the water bridge the two cities, and the reflection of all of the light from the street is often crystal clear due to the still water of the river. This entire strip of land along the water is bright with fluorescent and neon lights, populated by families and children playing games, and eating snacks like fresh oranges, escargot, or cotton candy well after the sun has set. Hassan Tower can be seen in the background glowing behind the ship. Photo Credit: J. Miller, Fall 2018

The Kasbah of the Udayas is a small, walled, residential neighborhood in Rabat across from neighboring Salé. It’s located at the mouth of the river, and the majority of the walls are painted blue until about shoulder height. Despite its small size, it’s easy to get lost in these winding streets, most of which are much narrower than that which is pictured. There is a cafe tucked away behind a public garden with a view of the river that serves Moroccan mint tea and traditional cookies. Sometimes there are young kids surfing or playing in the water below the Kasbah where the water meets the rocks. This has been one of my favorite places to visit solo. Photo Credit: J. Miller, Fall 2018

In this photo, a man is doing a handstand while working out along the Atlantic Ocean just before sunset. I saw him doing this over and over as a part of his workout while my friends and I were on a walk in L’Ocean. We stopped and watched as he was able to do it over and over, sometimes even balancing on one hand. I asked him in Arabic if he could do it again while I take his photo, and he responded affirmatively, to my surprise, in English. Nearby there are a soccer field and an outdoor gym overlooking the ocean. Behind him you can see a set of apartment buildings under construction. Photo Credit: J. Miller, Fall 2018

The intersection of the avenue Mohammed V and avenue Hassan II is always bustling with people right outside of the old medina. A policeman can be seen directing traffic, the chaos of which is an iconic aspect of daily life in Morocco. I once had a friend visit and her first comment upon arrival was regarding her taxi ride from the airport during which she noticed how quickly people change lanes, often without a blinker. I took this photo in a rare moment of emptiness on that section of Avenue Hassan II which is usually bumper-to-bumper with Rabati blue cabs. Not pictured is the Rabat-Salé tram which also competes for real estate in this dense area of the city. Assounna Avenue Tachfin Mosque is seen bathed in light in the background, along with dozens of Moroccan flags lining the street. Photo Credit: J. Miller, Fall 2018

The relationship between Moroccans and cats throughout the city is an interesting one. While some children may shy away, scared of an unfamiliar animal (pets are significantly less common here than in the United States), or some adults may regard them as dirty, they’re still widely respected. I’ve seen many Moroccans set up outdoor shelters, provide food, and sometimes even play with them. Seemingly everywhere in Morocco, street cats are particularly common in the gardens of Chellah, a ruined Islamic necropolis and former Roman colony, which is now a World Heritage site. Chellah also has ancient connections as a Phoenician settlement, all of which makes it one of the most toured attractions of Rabat. Here in this photo, one of the many cats in the garden is perched in front of a blue door. Doors with this distinct keyhole shape are common in classic Islamic architecture, and can be found all across the city. Photo Credit: J. Miller, Fall 2018

There is an incredible amount of construction across Rabat. My own neighborhood of Agdal has had almost every sidewalk ripped out of the ground (yet to be replaced) and three buildings within a block of my house have been torn down since I got here in August and are in the midst of being rebuilt. The days I sleep through the call to prayer, I’m awoken by jackhammers in the street. Almost every skyline photo I have of Rabat features a crane, and it’s clear that this motif of modernization of infrastructure is pervasive throughout the capital. In this photo is an unfinished apartment building currently under construction. The sky was particularly blue that day, with not a single cloud in the sky, and the starchy white walls of the building were drenched in this robins-egg colored blue. Golden hour sunlight is reflected on the inside walls of the building, seen through the centered windows. Photo Credit: J. Miller, Fall 2018

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