for a weekend away,
the stark pleasure of compartments.
A miniature version
of my life.
It is never photographed
so my great-grandchildren
will never know it
but this just-before time
of folding and stuffing
and zipping it all up
is as delectable
as the trip itself.
When I backpacked around
Europe and India
I was asked,
don’t I feel vulnerable
with everything I own
on my back?
with no stuff
to anchor me.
I am free,
which is the safest
-bentlily by Samantha Reynolds –
As some of you know I’ve been travelling this month. I returned to Morocco, a destination that captured my heart when I first visited in September, 2019. I’d made a deposit to return in 2020, then the world stopped and I needed to apply it this year before it expired. Given I was touring with the same small group, women only company, its itinerary evoked the comfort of familiarity with enough change brought by our remarkable local guide, Mariam, to keep it fresh and as enthralling.
A week ago, I enjoyed my final dinner at the riad in Marrakech sated by not only the varied collection of fresh Moroccan salads and flaky “briouats,” but also with the multitude of sensory impressions newly etched and deepened from my first visit. Morocco does that. In the surrounding silence, as dusk descended through the open roof, the first stars flickering, the only sound was the water tumbling into the pool below from where I sat. The following day would begin the journey home. Once returned, I came across Samantha’s poem on IG where she regularly posts. From Vancouver, Samantha is known for writing a poem a day, a practice she began as a first-time mother over ten years ago.
Struck particularly by Samantha’s last stanza – as one who travels light, able to curate clothing for three seasons for numerous weeks in a lightweight carry-on and messenger pack (in contrast to the huge pieces of luggage I saw on countless airport carousels, and in the back of our tour van, everyday portered by men at our various accommodations, and lifted and arranged twice a day by our driver Hakim) – I responded, “The freedom in traveling light is practical and a powerful metaphor for life.“
Determined to shop very little this trip, and increasingly finding it is my way, as weighing heavy with time passing is wondering what I’ll do with and to whom I’ll give what I’ve gathered over the years. Yes, the carpets with their rich colours, textures and patterns are always my temptation, and offered the opportunity to practice non-attachment, albeit with much silent self-talk and a few tears of regret. Yet I did well… until that last day in Marrakech, when my guide casually walked me into a 12th C caravanserai, now restored and converted for local artisans. Immediately recognizable were paintings by an artist whose work I’d first purchased in Essaouira in 2019. I’d heard he lived in Marrakech, and there he was at Galerie le coeur blanc, the studio shared with his better known brother, Hamid Khantour. Smitten again with his soft yet vivid palette and Moroccan subject matter, I caved and came way with two more pieces, confident they’d fit in my suitcase. Hah! Two inches too long, posing a packing up challenge.
Admittedly, a step backward in traveling light! But I loved supporting a local artist and making memories of my return to Morocco, soon to be seen every day on my walls.
Happy to be home.
Much love and kindest regards, dear friends.
6 thoughts on “Packing Up”
Sounds and looks like you had an amazing vacation! Welcome home Katharine.
Thank you, I did. It was wonderful to have returned. Now, if someone would only invite me as photographer for their tour!
What adventure. And learning. And wonder. Thx for sharing as you do Katharine.
Wonderful post to capture your Moroccan adventure and great advice on trying to travel lighter in life !!