The Trip, Part Two, and the Surprise…..

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Eileen looking wonderful in the pink light at sundown!

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The call to prayer is really evocative, and here the men gather at mid-day for prayers…the road is completely filled with men who couldn’t get into the mosque.
I’ve never been a fan of a solid 8 hour working day, and love that with breaks to meditate or just BE for a while, one can work on in the evening…and get the same amount of work done. The outdoor evening life in Marocco is vibrant and wonderful.

 

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In the Artisanal area, this young man was incredibly helpful….I had seen an English translation of an Arabic inscription, “Enter with blessings, serene people”, which I wanted in Arabic for my house, and for my Somali friends, and so we spent a fun time with my broken French, his broken English and a few mimes to show the feeling behind the words……it was also wonderful to watch him writing the two pieces…I learnt a lot from that!

 

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The remains of the El Badi Palace, with four sunken gardens, with orange trees, separated by pools…..apparently they are a majestic sight when filled, during the Festival des Artes Populaires in June.

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At the El Badi Palace there are lots of storks,with huge nests…seeing them flying with big sticks in their beaks is awesome!

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(I don’t know enough about storks to know what the two

on the left are doing!)

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Looking upwards brings wonders of painted woodwork…

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Photo: Eileen O’Toole

and the marble work, like delicate lace, is exquisite!

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We watched a young builder, working in the street on

renovations, and using an electric jigsaw to cut fretwork

like those above…so skilled!

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Photo credit: Eileen O’Toole

Centuries of artisan craftsmanship resonate in the totally

modern airport…


The following pictures show little shops with spices, scents, dyes and food stalls…we bought Myrrh, Jasmine, cedar wood, creams, pigments and spices…evocative scents for my house.


Not all the food we had in Marrakech was good…elements of Fast Food in the evenings at Jmaa el Fna, but the food we had in this restaurant garden was really good, and the atmosphere was excellent.
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Another group of photo’s, click to enlarge individual ones.

 

 

And now, for all those who’ve trawled through the photos to read of my Splendid Surprise! Nothing to do with Marocco, but one of the joys of WordPress, and a lovely Welcome Home! I came back to a comment on my WP blog, from a lad who’d seen my name and thought it must be me. He and two of his brothers had been fostered by me, when he was 5 years old, in Scotland. He remembered my house and things that had happened, and remembered me reading a book called Little Black Sambo to him…perhaps not so remarkable as he had never seen a black person back then! What was remarkable is that they were only with me for 3 weeks, 24 years ago…after which they’d gone to different foster parents, and to a children’s home. I was so touched that he’d remembered so much, and that he contacted me. And, thanks to my hoarding nature, I was incredibly happy to be able to dig out 3 photo’s of them…he had never seen, let alone owned, a photograph of himself as a child. Now we’re emailing our life stories to each other, and I have every hope of meeting him later this year…What a wonderful start to 2016!

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Home Sweet Home….and a splendid surprise!

I’m just back from a wonderful,if all too short, New Year’s break in Marrakech, with a good friend, Eileen. She wrote about it so well: “We arrived in Marrakech on Dec 31st in the heat of the African sun. There was no Christian hoopla for the end of 2015. No fireworks, no party favorites. There was instead a piercing blue sky, red dust, the smell of unknown spices and mint tea. Plus the delicious weight of age that disregards the Gregorian calendar …….. “And there was colour…..Such beautiful colour. It felt like I was looking at something that was squeezed from the source.”

 

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The fountains in the inner courtyard of our hotel were a soothing aural backdrop, which were switched off around 9 p.m. (This reminded me about how Sellafield nuclear plant doesn’t have the usual alarm system, instead they have a constant background sound, and when that stops it’s an emergency…it is remarkable how much more one responds to instant silence.)

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The sounds of the fountains were often replaced by the sound of cats….there are cats everywhere in Marrakech, slim, but not scrawny or starving…great hoovers around the food stalls, not pestering people and very engaging.

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Photo Credit:Eileen O’Toole

Enticing alleyways can get you wonderfully lost…Moroccan people are very friendly and helpful, but you may want to decline graciously when they want to take you  to a relative’s shop, unless you have time on your hands….
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I was really looking forward to revisiting the Jardin Majorelle, a botanical garden created in the 20’s and 30’s by french painter Jacques Majorelle, and later owned by Yves Saint Laurent. We should have gone early in the day, as it was like an ant’s nest of tourists, snapping away on their i-pads, which did not enhance the extreme tranquility of the gardens.

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Photo: Eileen O’Toole

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Photo credit, Eileen O’Toole

That blue was real! I bought Indigo and Majorelle Blue

pigments, and want to use them to decorate my wooden doors.

 

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Two more photo’s from the Majorelle gardens…

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Photo credit, Eileen O’Toole


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Photo credit: Eileen O’Toole

 


I don’t seek out coolness in Ireland, but in Morocco it is bliss!


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OOPS! I pressed Publish instead of Preview…but maybe this is quite enough to trawl through…Part Two will have the splendid surprise in it!

The Derry Peace Temple

It’s far too long since I last blogged, and it’s been four months of real highs and lows….It seems I need to put a wee bit of distance before I blog about all that…..so here’s an intermediate blog about the Peace Temple in Derry.

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I only heard about the project last Wednesday, but it took me no time to decide to go up for the burning. In the past I’d dreamed about going to the Burning Man Festival in the Nevada desert, whilst thinking it was not likely that I could ever go, and now the Californian Burning Man artist, David Best, had been brought to Derry to design the Peace Temple, in honour of people who had died in The Troubles.

Catholics and Protestants came together to work on the project, and I felt a palpable sense of unity, both at the site and around the town.  Community groups and schools also got involved in contributing and building it,  and in the first week of it being open to the public many thousands of people had visited, and left mementos to lost loved ones. Other hurts and troubles were also commemorated, with hundreds of photos and writings.

This is a wee clip about the making of it on Youtube, and there’s more there. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvbicvrib14

The project was two years in the planning, and over 100 individuals worked on the build.

Derry is known as the city of five hills, and it was a fair walk up to the Temple. It is also a city of many spires; the Temple was visible from all over the city, and was lit from within after dark, with a wonderful backdrop of the far hills, the city lights below, and the spires of two cathedrals and many other churches.

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Inside, the lattice effect was awe inspiring…with this wonderful chandelier hanging from the pinnacle.

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Below that there was an Altar reaching up to the chandelier, and covered in messages.

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I made the three hour drive up to Derry on the Friday, the last day that people could go inside the structure. There were thousands of people at the site that day and there was a very warm and reverential atmosphere…it reminded me of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. The laser-cut lattice work panels of birch plywood completely covered the heavy construction beams, and gave a  wonderfully airy feel to being inside……looking up to the heavens, where all the pain and loss would be released to.

All around the top were circles inside squares, with cut-out words and images, which came from local community groups and schools.

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Derry people are very friendly, and I had many conversations around the town; many local people were saying that it shouldn’t be burned. A newspaper reported that an older woman had met David Best and said “I can’t believe you are going to burn it down. That seems awful”, to which David replied “It seems awful to have that much pain and sadness and not to have a place to put it.This is a way to get rid of that pain.”

Here is an poignant book wrapped in ribbon…

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…and a message of hope from a young lass:

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Under the awning, and around the whole structure, there were small constructions where people could pick up pieces of wood to inscribe..

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One of the pieces I put into the Temple, a photograph with writing about my birth parents…….

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(I’ve just watched a half hour long programme about the Temple, on RTE1, and the presenter picked my picture from among thousands, and read out the writing on it….”In memory of my beloved parents who died far too young, when I was 2.1/4 and 3.1/4 years old. I carry you with me, but I SO wish I had known you. Charlie.” And yes, I did tear up when my piece was read! There was definitely a huge acknowledgement of and healing of sorrows ….for so many involved.)
Here’s a photograph of Francis, the big love of my life, who died 23 years ago, and wee sticks remembering my other beloved friends that have passed away.

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Sundown on the Friday, when over 27,000 people visited the site….in total there were over 60.000 visitors, with over 25,000 visitors for the actual burn.

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The Night!

I was told that the family of a young man who had committed suicide a year ago, amongst other people, were chosen to light the temple with six or so torches…

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The photo’s aren’t great, because in the dark I couldn’t see  how to change the aperture…I’ll need to practice that one. It was a cold night, but mercifully dry and not windy….and when the temple went up the heat was joyous!

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The billowing and swirling smoke was like souls rising from the fire….with tiny red sparks running through the smoke…

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The final embers…..
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A wee video, and you’ll find more and better clips on this page!

Readers of my past blogs will know how I’m learning to ‘let go’, there was one thing that I was going to put in the Temple…but I didn’t. However, the whole event was so cathartic, and so creatively inspiring, that I’m now pondering on building a small temple of my own….with a few more things in it! …..