A small souvenir that holds big memories of Morocco

January 17, 2018
Olivia Saunders

Before returning to New Zealand in 2016, my partner and I spent a number of years seeing as much of the globe as we could, with the time and money we had available. We had been living in Birmingham for two years before our visas ran out, at which point we decided to take the ‘long way’ home. That turned out to be a year backpacking through Central Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, Turkey, Morocco, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Borneo and Thailand.

As we had been on the road for several months before we hit Morocco, we decided to treat ourselves. We booked an Intrepid trip, so we could put our feet up and let someone else do all of the planning, booking and organising for a change. We had an amazing journey, able to see and do so many things we would not have had access to on our own. Our fantastic tour guide, Khalid, was born and raised in Morocco, and the stories he would share on our often long journeys were fascinating, frank and honest.

Because we were backpacking and had an extremely limited amount of space and weight for souvenirs, we made it a ‘thing’ to try to collect an interesting magnet from each place we visited. Our plan was that when we returned home, we would cover our fridge and be reminded of our amazing adventures every day. (Also, we wouldn’t end up with a box of collectibles that would just become lost in the back of a cupboard.)

fridge magnet in the shape of a Moroccan house

An imperfect trinket became the perfect souvenir | Photo by Olivia Saunders

Most of the places we visited in Morocco had limited tourist provisions, if any, so we had to get a little creative with our collection. One day we visited a home that supports members of the community with disabilities, called Project Horizon. The centre provides them with training and skills that enable them to make an income. The home itself was a very non-descript complex with humble facilities, but they had a small building just inside the entrance that they used to display the handicrafts made by the residents.

Looking around the room, I found a beautiful clay-sculptured house. It looked just like the buildings we had seen all over Morocco, and it had been carefully detailed and handpainted. Knowing that the proceeds were also going straight into the local community made it an easy purchase.

I love that this little house isn’t ‘perfect’ and that you can tell it’s handmade, rather than having come straight off a conveyer belt. It’s unique and sums up the way I feel about, and remember, Morocco.

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