Monthly Archives: October 2011

Mustapha El Harchi, Essaouira’s Painter by Mouth, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Mustapha El Harchi, Essaouira's Painter by Mouth

Once in a while we come across a person in our lives that allows us to understand the meaning of dignity. It is Mustapha El Harchi, a disabled painter by mouth from Morocco’s seaside artist colony of Essaouira that serves as a reminder how self-dignity and self-preservation of the soul are free.

I first met Mustapha El Harchi five years ago. I was strolling just past the wide entrance to Essaouira’s old medina and walked right past him. I did a double take, then circled back. It only took a glimpse of Mustapha painting by mouth for an immediate recollection of Jim Sheridan’s film “My Left Foot” staring Daniel Day-Lewis. Thus began a story of acknowledgement and friendship.

Musapha El Harchi paints daily at his outdoor stall which consists of his wheel chair, a make shift easel, his paints and a carry bag of his things.  He parks himself across from Taros restaurant and just around the corner from the Casa Villa, a famous Essaouira café known for the best espresso in town.

Mustapha El Harchi, Painter

Each time the opportunity arose and I would return to Essaouira my first visit in the old medina would begin with visiting Mustapaha. I secretly admired his sense of dignity, calm and organization as he painted by mouth. I always make a point of telling Mustapha that a view of the Atlantic Ocean along with a daily routine of painting in the serene town is the truly a good life. Mustapha typically smiles agreeably with a laugh, while gesturing to the tourists and locals who pass by his creative make-shift art stall. Mustpaha and his paintings qualify top rate under a list of “what to see and do in Essaouira.” A visit with him is equally as rewarding if not more then a visit to other local galleries or even Orsen Wells Square.

Mustapha El Harchi Art stall Essaouira

Mustapha’s out door stall is meticulously filled with new, small works of naïve paintings ranging from seascapes to floral designs, and agricultural landscapes all available for a modest 20 Moroccan Dirhams. Over the years, I have collected many and often give them away sharing the story of the artist. I began collecting his pieces because I enjoyed the idea of contributing to Mustapha’s form of artistic expression.  For years I wanted to photograph Mustapha El Harchi and I also thought about making a short film. On my last trip to Essaouira in September 2011 we agreed that it would be a nice idea if I photographed him with the goal to share his story.

Mustapha and I also decided that allowing foreigners have a small piece of his work would be a nice way to remember both him and Essaouira. Our solution was to give everyone who embarks on a tour with Travel Exploration a gift – a hand painted post card by Mustapha El Harachi, painter by mouth.

Mustapha El Harchi can be reached at the address listed below. If you’re visiting Essaouira, make sure to stop by and see him. He is fond of art books and collects them as inspiration for his works. To make a donation you can send him an art book of flowers, rural landscapes and still paintings. He would be very grateful indeed.

Mustapha El Harchi
B.P. 1370
CP: 44100 Essaouira, Maroc
Telephone: +212-669787367

For more information about Essaouira and Mustapha Harchi painter by mouth

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel ExplorationTravel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Fantasia in Marrakech at Chez Ali, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Chez Ali Kasbah in Palmerie, Marrakech

Fantasia in Marrakech at Chez Ali is a spectacular way to see Marrakech by night. This Equestrian dinner and Moroccan music show in the Palmerie of Marrakech, Morocco an homage and touristic replication of the traditional Meknes Fantasia. At Chez Ali in Marrakech, a Moroccan dinner is served with a traditional starter of Harira, with a main course of Mechoui and couscous, all under caidal “tents”. The dinner is complimented by Berber folklore and a wide range of musical styles from Berber groups, Chabbi musicians, Moroccan Rap and Gnaoua. Attendees will see jugglers. the flying carpet, belly dancing and finally the Fantasia show.

Chez Ali Equestrian Horse Show, Marrakech

Originating from the region of Meknes Morocco, Fantasia is a war ceremony that consists of opposing groups of horsemen, each representing the best rides of its tribe. The performance is inspired from historical wartime attacks of Berber and desert knights. Today, Fantasia is considered as a cultural art and a form of martial art; it also symbolizes a strong relationship between the man and the horse, as well as an attachment to tradition.

Each region in Morocco has one or several fantasia groups, called serba, totaling thousands of horse riders nationwide. Performances are usually during local seasonal, cultural or religious festivals, also called mousseum, which translates to “season” in Arabic. This traditional equestrian performance practiced during cultural festivals in Morocco. Fantasia is not the original name as the actual traditional term used is “Game of gunpowder”.

Chez Ali Singers, Marrakech

Fantasia in its pure form consists of a group of horse riders, wearing traditional clothes and charging along a straight path at the same speed so as to form a line, at the end of the ride (about two hundred meters) all riders fire into the sky using old gunpowder guns. The difficulty of the performance is synchronization during the acceleration and especially during firing so that one single shot is heard. The horse is referred to as fantasia horse.

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel ExplorationTravel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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