Postcards from Figuig

So much for my anthropological theories on the relationship between picture taking and Islam! Just as the Chefchaouis shunned from our manual, digital and video cameras, the Figiguois ran to our sides, hoping to hop into any of our many landscape shots. While 'picturesque people' (those with the great big djellabas, or the endless veils, men sitting in heaps of mint, or water carriers on the Place Djemma el Fna in Marrakech) across Morocco ask for money when they hear the click of the camera, one Figuig inhabitant laughed at us when we suggested we pay him for the shot Rachel had just taken ... As he biked away, he whispered back at us: " In Figuig, there are no beggars".

So perhaps it is a question of economic opportunity after all. As one of my wise Moroccan confidants always warns me, I should be careful to distinguish causes of culture from causes of economic development.

Sure, this fear of photography does originate in some ways from centuries of ambiguous interpretation on the virtues of representation, but the Chefchaoui's violent reaction (see Postcards from Chefchaouen) may be more linked to their removal from technological change than to their belonging to an Arabic, Muslim culture.

Factor in the fact that Figuig sees only a handful of tourists a year, 4 or 5 a month according to our hotel manager, and you get a very full address book of people who want you to take their picture and send it to them. Rachel is still fulfilling her order list!