Curating Your Travels

At the entrance to our street in Marrakesh.

I had a good conversation with a dear friend of mine on the phone the other day. 

“How are you finding Marrakesh?” she asked. 

“I love it,” I said. Then I paused. “The truth is, I’m choosing to love it. I’m curating my experience.” 

Same trees, same pink building in the background, different angle.

She understood exactly what I meant, as I thought she would. She recalled a trip to New Orleans when she did the same thing. She loved the music, the architecture, and the general vibe of the place. She chose to look past the run down buildings and the drunks vomiting on street corners at 9:30am. 

Different issues here in Marrakech, but the need for curation is similar. Yes, I love Marrakesh. But am I curating? Also yes. And this, I think, is a traveling skill. 

Justin and I travel full time. It’s fantastic to have this opportunity and we’re absolutely loving it. Knowing how to curate our experience is a big part of why it’s working for us. 

In Marrakesh, a traveler could go either way. You could focus on the trash at the base of the palm trees. Or you could notice that at sunset, the palm trees look magical against the pink-hued buildings of this city. 

This is different from being a Pollyanna. It’s not that I’m oblivious to the many issues in this city, or plugging my ears and covering my eyes. I haven’t ensconced myself within the walls of the Mamounia hotel and gardens for $700 a night, only leaving the property in a cab on my way to a posh restaurant in the Gueliz district. Nope. We’re staying in a very ordinary flat just outside the medina, we walk everywhere, and I can see the trash. I smell the excrement in the park, and I see the guys hitting their donkeys with wooden sticks. And one way to travel would be to be flooded by these things. I could let them dominate what I carry with me from my time in Marrakech. 

Or, I can curate. 

The sublimely beautiful, the elegant, the peaceful, and the joyful are all here as well, if I choose to focus on them.

I choose to notice all the rosy-cheeked babies, happy and clearly cherished. I notice the ways young women show their style and individuality under their modest clothing. I notice the trees dripping with oranges, the storks clapping their beaks in their nests above the city, the intricately tiled fountains in public spaces, the pyramids of honey-soaked cookies in antique enameled bowls, the greenery flush with blooms spilling over the medina walls, the keyhole-shaped doorways with plasterwork detailed like a fantasy of iced gingerbread. The power of curation allows me to see that the stray cats are generally well looked after, that strong, resilient Moroccan women address difficult situations by supporting themselves and each other through women’s cooperatives and skills training centers.

Morocco has made me practice the skill of curation. I’m better at it now. I’m frustrated by the treatment of donkeys and many other things. And, also, I appreciate Morocco. Yes and.

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