Monday, September 23, 2013

The Mellow Medina of Essaouira

In the medina, that densely populated walled section of a Moroccan city comprised of narrow streets and thousands of shops, you can find everything you need. Approach the small, low doors or the even tinier windows and the shopkeeper, plumber, electrician or pharmacist will find it, buried within the one square meter where he holds all of his goods and spends most of his time. Essentially, everything is kept in a space half the size of your average North American closet and it is very efficient.

I have never been a fan of giving my money to large chains, always preferring to encourage small, local shops. For me, it's a choice though. It is always an eye-opening experience to visit countries where big box stores and the idea of overindulgence in general is so foreign. As expected, there are no supermarkets or there is no such thing as "one-stop shopping" in Morocco. Instead, you get to know  the individual who sells you what you need and inevitably, you form relationships with these people. It is an incredibly social experience to "run errands" in Morocco and you can see the effect it has on the people in the medina; no one is ever too rushed not to stop and say hello to their neighbour on the street. Though I imagine I would miss not having a variety of flavours, sizes and options available at all times, there is something to be said about the kind of lifestyle that revolves around the medina. Where I come from, we could learn a thing or two from this.

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