Day of Sorrow

Thank you to all those who wrote to ask if we are ok.  Physically, yes, we don’t live anywhere near Cafe Argana on Jema el Fna.  But I am so stunned by the events that happened today.  First we heard reports that a Buta gas bottle had exploded in the Cafe.   Such a horrible thought.  But even more horrible is the reality that emerged as the day went on.   Not a gas bottle but a criminal act; an official death toll of 15.  We heard from a friend who happened to be in Jema el Fna at the time of the explosion.  He was one of the first to rush in and help evacuate the stunned victims.  He spoke of the French mother who had lost her 10 year old daughter.  Heartbreaking.

Moroccans today are outraged at this act.  Callers on the local radio channel Radio Plus that covered the event all day were all adamant in condemning this crime.  Their message is clear, one voice saying, this is NOT from our ways, our religion, or any religion.  All are calling for justice.

For those in Marrakesh who want to help, there is an urgent need for blood donations, especially O- at the Hopital ibn Tofail.  There are as many as 20 critically injured victims being cared for there.

L’hôpital de Marrakech A Besoin de Votre sang , spécialement O- (universel)
Centre de Transfusion Sanguine Marrakech Menara
Adresse: Hôpital Ibn Toufial Hôpital
Marrakech .
Téléphone fixe : 0524 43 89 48
Faire circuler ce Message SVP

I pray for those souls that departed today, may God’s mercy and gentleness envelop them.  For all those who lost beloveds, I cannot fathom your pain, my heart is aching for you on this day of sorrow.


96 political prisoners released in Morocco, including our brother Abad Maelainin

All praise to the Merciful and Compassionate, and peace and blessings on our beloved prophet Muhammad.

Today is a day of joy!  My sister’s brother in-law has been released from prison after serving 3 years as a political detainee.  He had been sentenced to 20 years, then 10 years after appealing.  Words can’t describe the immense waves of joy that are washing over his family and loved ones.

Here is a photo take from (Moroccan online news site).  Abad is holding his son on the left and my little nephew on the right.  His son is 9 years old, and hasn’t seen his father out of prison since he was 6.  I think they are all pretty stunned.  They are at a press conference immediately following Abad’s release.

Morocco political prisoner free

I thank God the Merciful.  I thank the people of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen who are risking their lives so that things change on a deep level, so that no more people will be imprisoned for political reasons.  I thank the people of Morocco who protested peacefully to bring about change.  I thank the King of Morocco for initiating the constitutional reform that lead to the freeing of these detainees.  I thank the National Human Rights Council (CNDH) which recommended the pardons to the king.

I had written about Abad’s case a little on this blog a year ago (when he had undertaken an 18 day hunger strike, here and here), but then stopped doing so because there was no good news to report.  How about this for a happy ending?!

It’s wonderful and momentous to feel the winds of change blowing through this land.

Essaouira, Morocco: a Sanity Break

Marrakesh is a bustling, energetic, beautiful city, no doubt.  I find I appreciate it most by escaping on a regular basis.  A mere 3 hours southeast lies a sweet little fishing village by the name of Essaouira.  It’s as charming as the guide books say, because in Essaouira you can:

  • Eat fish so fresh it basically jumped out of the ocean and onto the grill.
  • Walk fearlessly in the traffic-free zone of the old city and markets, so liberating when you have precious young ones with you.
  • Speaking of young ones, ours spent all day in the ocean.  They only came out for food or, with great reluctance, when the sun went down.  It’s a famous surf spot too.
  • Shop with very little hassle.  This means a lot to me coming from Marrakesh where the shopkeepers’ persistence is more of a deterrent than an invitation to buy.

The port at sunset (to take this picture I had to actually turn away from lifeguarding the kids as they frolicked in the waves.  They survived my momentary neglect):

The view from our hotel window.  Riad Mimouna.  At high tide it felt as if the whole place could just float away.  The sound of the ocean is purifyingly primordial.

morocco blog essaouira beach view

One little sunburned monkey smiling with all his might:

essaouria morocco blog

Most of the remaining photos are organized under the theme of, wait for it, arches.  I came up with that.

essaouira morocco blog

Outside the hotel.  The bicycle made this snapshot worth taking, for some reason.

essaouira morocco blog

The hotel courtyard…

morocco travel blog

The cart used to transport luggage through the narrow street.  This one is especially festive.  I love when attention to detail is put into the simplest things, like this:

morocco travel blog

The hotel courtyard again..

morocco travel blog

Essaouira “roofscape”:

morocco travel blog

This next photo is a nod to the cliche photos of the Famous Blue Doors of Essaouira.  What you don’t see is the hoard of tourists behind me taking the exact same shot.  Pondering these doors got me to thinking of Leonard Coehn’s moody song from the ’70’s Famous Blue Raincoat.  The mind wanders.

morocco travel blog