“Having a life described as being colourful usually means it is also interesting”
One of the great pleasures of travelling is visiting markets and souks, not necessarily to pick up a bargain or experience the culture but just to soak up the sights, sounds and smells that ambush at every turn.
Almost all foreign souks have one thing in common; incredible displays of vibrancy and colour. Spices, cloth and confectionary stalls are often awash with bright colour. It can appear as if an artist has gone mad and splashed their entire palette across the canvas of the market stalls, experimenting and mixing the hues as if solely for our benefit.
Stunning reds, vibrant blues, sun-bright yellows, subtle ochres and luxuriant greens, a rainbow provided by the artistic skill of the stall holder. It is a saturation feast for the eyes and always worth over indulging in, there is often far too much drabness in everyday life.
Much of this colour comes from spices, but long before the hues become visible the scent of the these can lead us from afar. Even on the faintest of breezes the aromatic smells can drift across great distances, saffron, turmeric, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger are just few that can draw the inquisitive ever closer to the sometimes pungent source.
Our senses can become overwhelmed once we are in close proximity of an appropriate spice trader, the mixture of extravagant colour and sometimes overpowering aromas can assail two of our main senses. This is usually still a pleasure that most of us enjoy and cannot help returning as often as possible.
It is difficult to capture the full spectrum of hues properly in images, the vibrancy maybe difficult to portray and of course the fragrances are absent. However those with a particularly good imagination and memory can possibly recall these memories and the aromas will almost drift through the mind and transport them to souks in a favourite destination.
Try really hard now and maybe the voice of the merchant explaining the different spices will come to you, encouraging a little taste. Now your imagination is really going into overdrive, almost tasting the faintest flavours, possibly even a favourite meal comes to mind.
Travel is about experiencing new things and being able to recall these is a reason for continuing to travel, adding to the collected experiences and expanding our horizons.
Our memories offer us a taste of the extravagant, the more intense that experience is, the easier it is to recall and the stronger the urge to discover more. Souks provide a fascinating insight into the culture of any destination and always one of my favourite places to visit on any journey.
A slight change on an old and excellent travel phrase could be:
“Keep only memories and leave only goodwill”