Solitary Roads Run Through Life Side By Side

Solitary roads run through life side by side

Photos: Shiyi Wu
Words: Victoria Brock

Somewhere between dust and gold lies the clamorous Moroccan city of Marrakech.

Forging a life in the poverty-stricken medina, the old town, seemed impossible. Everywhere we went there was a hand ready to swipe dirhams and skinny cats waiting hopefully at butcher shops. Baleful eyes stared despondently from every corner and the din was deafening.

As compared to a developed city, the medina could be another planet. The spices, kaftans and raffia bags, all next to an expectant hand waiting to be exorbitantly paid. Yet there was life here. Families. Connections. Fleeting smiles. Even in this cacophony of making ends meet, there was happiness.

We drove into the country and left the smog behind. The sky cleared and unfurled into an endless expanse of stars. It took us nine hours to weave through Moroccan mountaintops and valleys to get to our campsite on the rippling sands of the Sahara Desert.

Our guide had quietly slipped away to the top of a sand dune. Alone, he looked like the only human being in the world. I climbed up to him and he told me about his life. The impression of isolation melted into utter contentment. He’d been born here. Everything he knew about the world beyond the Sahara he’d gleaned from tourists, learning English, French and Spanish to communicate.

He told me about Sahara’s rolling nature, moulded by the winds. But as he talked of music and sleeping in the dunes underneath the splendour of the Milky Way, I understood he didn’t fear the desert. He revered it.

“I am content. That is a blessing greater than riches, and he to whom that is given need ask no more” – Henry Fielding.

There isn’t one road to being happy. His path was a world away from mine but his calm serenity was unsurpassed. Yours is different, because no two roads are ever the same. And the journey is what makes it special.