Our private railcar had stopped at an unknown train station en route to Fes from Marrakech when movement in a window grabbed my attention. From behind the wall’s crumbling, graffitied stucco, an elderly woman was entertaining a child by showing him trains as they pulled into the station.
Old, crumbling wall. Youthful graffiti. Two symbols – I was certain – of not only the apparitions in the window, but of Morocco’s confrontation with modernity. Crying from the window ledge were not children, but rust stains, an allusion to the corrosive encounter of an obstinate tradition and a fluid modernity. I silently gazed out the railcar’s window, lost in numb contemplation.
The train slowly began to depart the station when I heard a voice regret that “it would’ve made a good photo.” I wasn’t entirely sure they had seen the same thing I had, but I rushed to the window with my camera in order to not lose the moment. I was able to get a photo and watch a little hand wave the train goodbye as the unknown train station shrank into the Moroccan landscape.