Collection Enough Blue To Swim In
CHEFCHAOUEN, MOROCCO—In the shade of an archway, a mother and her daughter repaint their house. In blue, of course—matte swimming-pool fibreglass blue—the colour of Chefchaouen, applied with thick scrubbing brushes that would look for cleaning if not for the paint tin nearby. Through the arch, down the stairs, trickles cleaning water discarded, its chlorine smell rising with a sense of cleanliness.
The Chefchaouen medina is a maze of jumbled horizons, where blue is down and earthen up, a place where right then right then right then right leads not to where it started but to some new nook, another blue world, of a blue that brings joy where a grey sky does not. Dyed fabrics, cactus carpets, glazed pots, watercolour paintings, an explosion in every other colour from shopfronts on the thoroughfares.
Whenever I see the kasbah, I get The Clash stuck in my head. A goat chews on some tough grey-green branch brought down from the stables. A donkey climbs back up, stocked with Coca-Cola drinks, his master limping behind, left leg unbendable. Coffee drinkers watch each other from opposing cafés.
An elderly man rises gingerly from a stone bench, full-length indigo tunic slowly straightening until the triangular hood flops down behind. He catches the eye of another passing by, silver Alladin slippers shuffling on the pebble pavement, grey-white curtain-striped robe, rope-like coils of brown onions curled around his shoulders.