What forces have shaped Morocco? This land at the meeting point of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean is a place of both boundaries and confluences — some organically arising, some created or imposed. For more than a millennium peoples from sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Europe have travelled or migrated to Morocco, long home to indigenous Imazighen or Berbers. How rigid or fluid are the spaces — physical, cultural, political, and moral — that join or separate them? What is the relationship between self and society?
On our journey through Morocco’s cities, mountains and dessert, we’ll study these questions through the lens of modern literature. We’ll read a selection of works written in English and in translation from the Arabic or French, including Paul Bowles’ Let It Come Down, Driss Chraïbi’s explosive novel The Simple Past and contemporary stories and poetry.
We’ll start in the port of Tangier, on the Strait of Gibraltar. The city’s special political status as an International Zone drew writers, artists, political activists and spies in a heady mix. We then make our way down the Atlantic coast to picturesque Chefchaouen, meaning “blue pearl.” The city was founded in the late 15th century by Muslim and Jewish refugees forced out of Europe by the Spanish Inquisition. Today, it’s a peaceful place to spend a couple of days relaxing. Our next destination is Fes. For centuries a centre of learning and scholarship, Fes is a must-visit for a Classical Pursuits trip. We’re especially excited to go to the medieval library established in 859 by Fatima al-Fihri and recently restored by Toronto architect Aziza Chaouni. We end in busy Marrakesh, the old imperial capital and home to beautiful examples of Islamic architecture and tilework. We’ll also take advantage of Marrakesh’s proximity to the Atlas Mountains to visit the artist village Al Maqam, set among fruit orchards.
Immerse yourself in the vast scope of Morocco’s history, politics, literature, art and food, Classical Pursuits–style.