Travel to Morocco With Vendela Vida’s “The Divers Clothes Lie Empty”

by | Sep 13, 2022 | 1 comment

White mosque in Casablanca, Morocco

Last updated on September 22nd, 2022

Featured image: A white mosque in Casablanca, Morocco / Photo by Rawpixel on Envato

When a robbery sets off a chain of events

by Carolyn Ray, JourneyWoman

In December 2014, I spent two weeks travelling around the Kingdom of Morocco: Casablanca, Fez, Rabat, Menkes, Marrakech, Chefchaouen and places in between. One of the most awe-inspiring moments was in Casablanca, visiting the Hassan II Mosque, the largest functioning mosque in Africa and the 7th largest in the world.  Completed in 1993, it was designed by Michel Pinseau under the guidance of King Hassan II and built by Moroccan artisans from all over the kingdom. 

Unlike Vida’s unnamed character in “The Diver’s Clothes Life Empty”,  I didn’t have any negative experiences while there, but reading the first chapter, I have to admit to feeling some anxiety. The storyline starts when a woman travelling alone is robbed in Casablanca within moments of arriving on an overnight flight – losing her passport, cash, credit cards, laptop and more – setting off a chain of noir events. 

Diver's Clothes Lay Empty book cover

“part glamorous travelogue, part slow-burn mystery.. and insanely funny”

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“The Divers Clothes Lie Empty” — About the Author, Vendela Vida

Vendela Vida is the award-winning author of six books, including Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name and The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty. Her new novel, We Run the Tides, is a national bestseller. She is a founding editor of The Believer and coeditor of The Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers and Confidence, or the Appearance of Confidence, a collection of interviews with musicians. She was a founding board member of 826 Valencia, the San Francisco writing center for youth, and lives in the Bay Area with her family. Learn more about Vendela on her website here. 

indian woman author

Vendela Vida / From the author’s website 

Special Guest Speaker: Sama Abdi

Intrepid Travel’s Global Social Media Manager, Sama Abdi, will be joining our discussion to share her thoughts on traveling to Morocco, as well as Intrepid’s popular Morocco tours including:

Children riding home from school on donkeys in Morocco | Photo by Diana Moore-Ede

Destination Morocco – 6 Safety Tips for Mature Women Travelling in Muslim Countries

Diana Eden shares safety tips for Morocco from a recent trip with her sister.

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Book Club Discussion Questions (Wednesday, September 21, 2022, 8 pm EDT)

We may not get through all of these, but here are some thoughts to start our discussion!

1. What has your experience with Morocco been prior to this book? Did the setting feel familiar from your own travels there?

2. Could you relate to the opening scene where the heroine loses her backpack? Have you ever felt uncomfortable in a city or place?

3. Do you think that travel is a means of getting away from oneself, or shedding or changing one’s identity a little bit? Have you ever wanted to or tried to re-invent yourself?

4. The story is written in the second person (“you”). Why do you think the author might have chosen this unusual approach?  How did this affect your reading of the book?  

5. What effect does the location of the novel, Casablanca, have on your impressions of the story? Would the story have worked in other locations?

6. The story’s protagonist has a guidebook, but wishes she had consulted it before planning her itinerary. Many travellers fall into one of two camps: those who delight in using guidebooks and those who abhor them.  In which camp do you fall?  And if you do use guidebooks, do you tend to read them when planning your trip, or only when you arrive at your destination?

7. The protagonist finds herself relying on long-forgotten schoolgirl French at times. How do you feel about travelling in a country where you don’t speak the language? Is it intimidating, or does it add to the adventure? Do you pick up any phrases before or during your travels?

 8. Clothing plays an important role in the novel. In some scenes, the protagonist dresses to mimic the famous actress. In others, her clothing affects how people treat her – from hotel staff to the people on Casablanca’s streets. Do you wear the same clothes when you travel as when you are at home? Does what you wear make a difference to your experience?

 9. There are times in the story when the main character feels unsafe – so unsafe, for example, that she leaves hotels without checking out.  How much do you think about safety when you plan your trips?  Have you ever changed major plans because you feel unsafe?

10. It may be hard to understand why the protagonist does the things she does in the novel such as taking someone else’s backpack and using that person’s credit card. Did your feelings about those actions change after learning about the birth of her niece and husband’s infidelity?

11. What is the nature of identity? Is it what people call you? What makes you “you”? Is it based on place – where you lived and live or the community in which you live or something else? How does acting play into identity?

Indian women embroidery

Find a Safe, Women-Friendly Tour in Morocco

Explore all the tours to Morocco on our Women’s Travel Directory, designed for women by women.

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Now more than ever, we’re finding camaraderie and inspiration through novels. Join us each month as we discuss a different book, suggested by our community, about a faraway land.

A passionate traveller, Carolyn believes anything is possible when we follow our heart and trust our intuition. Raised in Florida, Carolyn loves all things Latin, margaritas, the ocean and music. She's a board member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), a member of the Travel Media Association of Canada (TMAC) and the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA).

1 Comment

  1. Sally Jane Smith

    The travel themes are STRONG in this book! Can’t wait for our chat.

    Reply

We always strive to use real photos from our own adventures, provided by the guest writer or from our personal travels. However, in some cases, due to photo quality, we must use stock photography. If you have any questions about the photography please let us know.

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