Since 1998, lovers of music, art, and North African folklore have gathered in Morocco each June for the Gnaoua World Music Festival, a four-day event that draws nearly half a million attendees. It’s a vibrant celebration of contemporary world music and skilled Gnaoua musicians—descendants of African slaves who have left their mark on Moroccan culture as healers, mystics, and keepers of a spellbinding musical tradition.
It is perhaps the most well-known of Morocco’s imperial cities—a centuries-old medina founded by the Almoravid Dynasty in 1062. It’s home to distinctive red sandstone walls that date back to the 12th century and what has been called the busiest square in all of Africa. It has also been the playground of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Yves Saint Laurent, to name just a few of the artists and musicians who have been drawn to its exotic allure. But the city of Marrakech is so much more than the sum of its parts.
If you were lucky enough to come of age in the 1980s and 1990s, The Oregon Trail was likely your first introduction to computers, to the nearly impossible task of hunting squirrels, and to the very real dangers of fording a river. It also may have been your first exposure to the Willamette Valley, that little piece of verdant paradise your wagon traveled 2,000 miles to reach. So what is it that led hundreds of thousands of settlers—and countless elementary school students—to brave dysentery, typhoid, and meager rations to reach a valley at the foot of the Cascades?
On February 14, 1912, the S.S. Awa Maru departed the shores of Yokohama, Japan, bound for the United States. Among the ship’s cargo was a gift of friendship from the Japanese to the American people—3,020 flowering cherry trees to symbolize life, death, reproduction, and rebirth.
As Major League Baseball makes its triumphant return this month, millions of fans will breathe a collective sigh of relief. Winter will officially be over, and the next six months will bring 162 opportunities to enjoy bleacher seats in the sun and walk-off home runs. But for a devoted few, winter already ended weeks ago with the first pitches of spring training baseball.