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THE MERCURIAL COLORS OF MOROCCO
White, like the towns overlooking the cool blue of the restless ocean. Fanned by the trade winds, the beach at the foot of the ramparts in Essaouira comes alive every morning with fishermen bringing in bream and mullet. Horsemen ride by, spurring their mounts to a gallop. To the north, the aptly-named Casablanca is a showcase of modern buildings from the first half of the 20th century. The forward-thinking architects of the Kingdom’s cosmopolitan economic capital paired Moroccan wrought iron with art deco motifs, and functionalist or Bauhaus-inspired forms with the spare cubist volumes of the traditional dwellings.
Ochre like the medinas, those mazes of narrow streets whose high walls protect riads with sumptuous inner courtyards as well as simple fondouks, the only buildings with gates tall enough to admit loaded draft animals. In Fez, Meknes and Marrakech, visitors learn to abandon their sense of direction, navigating by sound and smell through the labyrinthine souks. The clanging of hammers on metal precedes the sight of the brassworkers, busy embossing and chasing their teapots, platters and lamps. The fragrances of curcuma and anise herald the spice vendors, their wares displayed in colorful heaps.