Reflecting on Morocco

One of the highlights of the trip my wife and I recently took was staying with La Baraka Auberge just outside of Merzouga, on the border of the Sahara, about 100 km’s from Algeria. Our host, Hassan Outaleb, was a film-star cum philosopher Berber of nomadic heritage who has run La Baracka for several years.

Sunset in Morocco

Rather memorably – if not because it was highly rehearsed, he would impart his own cultural wisdom onto us between meals and volleys of mint-tea ‘Berber Whisky.’ I think the point he made most strongly was ‘what’s bad for the rest of the world, is good for Berber.’ Primarily – at the heart of it, he was referring to the perception of most in the west that being without money or a place to live is the worst imaginable fate. Whilst for the nomad possessions are often a weight, and the path of desire is one which is unending with constantly moving goal posts. Following directly from the first piece of wisdom was the Berber proverb – ‘the man who is always in a rush, is already in the grave.’

As a young millennial working in marketing in a world of blogs, search-engines, information-aggregators and constantly-on interconnectivity with the world through my news-feeds,, skype, messenger, social networks and g-mail – I must concede that to be in the middle of the Sahara where electricity only trickles in through the generator with enough power to illuminate a couple light-bulbs, and water is collected through capturing condensation, one is perhaps given an unmatched opportunity to pause and take life in a way that no longer seems possible back-home: slowly and as it comes.

is perhaps the greatest excuse we have to sit back and take stock. So often the perception of youth is of an imperative to keep up and constantly expend a frenetic sort of rather than just being content to sit back and live in the current moment. No-doubt the alcohol in wine is an incredible relaxant – but more than that, there’s an incomparable depth to each product. I think people sometimes expect to have a sip of wine and for everything to be apparent right there and then – much like it is with a blended Scotch, a beer or a can of Coke. But unlike most things marketed to us, wine is perhaps among one of the only products appealing to millennials in the current marketplace which actually challenges people to find out more, and can fuel discussions at the same time as fostering friendships. I this way wine is like jazz, haiku poetry or smoking a joint – in that it takes you on a journey, and each visit could result in multiple different journeys.

Sitting out with Jacqueline on the knife-edge of one of the larger dunes, overlooking the red sands as they turned a luminescent-blue whilst the sun set and the moon ascended, (even though I would have killed for something deeply rich in red fruit – like a Garnacha Syrah blend…) sans a glass of wine, my mind was still given the distance from the hectic City life, which is a feeling of tranquillity I usually only associate with two glasses of wine. Maybe that’s what wine offers us: escape. Having a glass of wine at the end of the day is not about ‘needing a drink’ but rather taking the time to enjoy the present moment – and in a time when millenials are in such a rush to grow up and fewer people are really fundamentally enjoying what it means to be young – we could all do with taking a little time out to be in the moment, with wine being the conduit between normal life and tranquillity.

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