This morning as I woke up I realised two things.
1.) It was early
2.) I was in Marrakech
I blame the Jet lag for number one, but the truth is: I have discovered a new sense of freedom in waking up before the sunrise. Every day for the past week, I have woken early to observe the sanctity of five am.
Wandering through the Swedish winter, there was pride in my footprints being the first tracks through the fresh snow. The morning held everything in a perfect equilibrium: snow flakes balanced on tree tops and lacework in the cracking ice. It was lonely but somehow that was the beauty of it.
Now I am in Marrakech and I wake up for the same reasons. Jet lag, yes. But I also wanted to see if I could find loneliness in a city of a million people – A city that overwhelms me.
There were people about, but not many, and for once I didn’t have to tread the street like a tightrope – dodging motorbikes, donkey carts and snake charmers (true story).
I ducked through an arch in the Medina wall and found my self in the Souks, the rambling markets that dominate the old-town. I usually avoid the souks. To confess: I am uncomfortable with the yelling, the pleading, the haggling. It goes beyond the bustle of commerce into the realm of tourist trap.
In the early morning it is different – sun dappled and silent. There are a few people setting up shop, a few donkeys hauling the mornings load, and not much else. The sun falls in heavy beams through the bamboo rafters. On these hang freshly died wool, left out to dry.
A man shows me these bedraggled rainbows and the way that he has made them. My French is poor, but he tells me that he weaves them into carpets. I am surprised. Everything looks so different when it is just starting out.
For once, I love the souks. The morning gives me a freedom: without the pressure to buy something, I can talk to the people and walk the streets without hassle.
I realise the value of this. Imagine: a holiday without souvenirs. The relief of collecting moments rather than things. The confidence that comes with trusting yourself to remember, without pouring those memories into objects. The love that comes with knowing that your friends don’t need a snow globe to know that you have missed them.
Then I see a bag, embodied leather, the perfect size. I stop and ask “Combien?” Just like that, the spell is broken.
I have tried to understand the impulse that stopped me in the souks. The same impulse that ways down my luggage.
Why do we shop?
This question led me to write an article about the psychology of shopping for The New Betty. If, like me, your luggage is a couple of kilos too heavy, you might want to check it out. Or maybe you identify with the struggle to prioritize memories over souvenirs. Or maybe you are trying to save up for that big trip. Whatever the reason, fast fashion has a very real impact on the human and natural environment. The key to unstitching the fast fashion industry could be in understanding the reasons why we shop.
A little understanding goes a long way.
All photos taken in Taghazout and Marrakech, Morocco.