My husband and I had a holiday in Essaouira, Morocco recently. Essaouira is a wonderful bustling place, with a colourful old Medina lined with tiny shops overflowing with goods of all sorts. It also boasts a long, golden, sandy beach, where local boys practice football and gymnastics, girls paddle, tourists lie prone soaking up the sun for hours (yep, that was me), or take to the water on boards of all shapes and sizes. At the far end, away from the town, camels and horses line up awaiting their next riders, while their owners sit and chat and smoke.
There are hawkers patrolling the beach selling all sorts of tat, but also brandishing trays of cakes. One particular gappy-toothed chap was certain I knew him and every day approached my sunbed with
‘hello ma’am, you remember me? You want happy cake today?’
and when I refused offered me
I still don’t know who he mistook me for, I can only assume I look like an ageing hippy!
The tiny Riad where we stayed was right in the Medina and looked very unprepossessing from the outside, but inside, it was a glorious gem, with all the luxurious trappings you could imagine, even a Jacuzzi.
Anyway, it was all very lovely, we did the touristy things; had a hammam (owww..), rode a camel, saw the sights (including where they filmed a bit of Game of Thrones) and took full advantage of the lovely restaurants and beach.
But all this aside, one thing that made this holiday very special was our complete separation from technology and the outside world for a whole week.
I did take my phone with me for emergencies, but it remained switched off for the entire time. My laptops and ipad stayed home alone. For once there was no TV in the room, and we couldn’t read the headlines on the newspaper stands. So for a whole week, we were cocooned in our own little world of eating, sleeping and having fun.
Naturally, while we were there we witnessed some poverty and were reminded of really how privileged we are, but generally Essaouira is less down at heel than other places we have visited. So all in all, it was a treat to have a break from the daily bombardment of misery, suffering, and arguments that is fed to us daily through newspapers, TV, and websites.
Nonetheless, I believe that it is absolutely right and proper that we should all take an interest in the world and it’s complex problems. Ok, it’s often distressing, and worrying, and I don’t necessarily understand it all, but it wouldn’t do at all if we all buried our heads in the sand and said
‘it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t affect me’.
Of course, it matters. It will affect me. History teaches us that ripples, from whichever corner of the world they originate, will eventually reach us. Whether it be close-to-home decisions in parliament about taxes and austerity, or news from the faraway places where injustice and horror reign, we can be sure that there will be an impact, one way or another, on our lives.
So yes, a break from all that is brilliant, but I don’t understand those who can live their entire lives unconcerned and disassociated from society. After all, we are all global citizens these days.
Surely a world in which we were all blithely going about our own business without a care would soon founder? And wouldn’t those self-absorbed individuals be a bit of a bore?
I should mention that I always take the news with a pinch of salt. We are all aware of how stories differ from one media outlet to another, so what is factual and accurate often takes a bit of unravelling. But by being engaged and interested we can form our own opinions and take our own paths accordingly, perhaps add to voices to improve conditions for everyone, and maybe even throw our own stones:
‘I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.’ – Mother Teresa