Scenes from Morocco

Hallooo and salam alaikum from Morocco!

I'm currently on the road, revisiting previous locations and exploring new ones.  I'm also conducting a mobile-lifestyle kind of experiment with my tech geekery, seeing if I can actually edit photos, write blog posts, and do everything from my daily life (except play video games, alas!) from a tablet instead of a laptop. So far, so good, though there are definitely some limitations.  Best to get these things worked out now, before I disappear to India for 5 weeks!

The scenery here has been amaaaazing, to quote my dear friend, Rachid again.  Since my flawed camera lens does better in warm weather than cold, I think I'm managing to get a better collection of photos on this trip than I did in Austria.  I impressed myself today by figuring out how to edit photos, including resizing and adding a leetle copyright mark to them, while on the train from Fes to Casablanca.  Woot, woot!  Go, technology!

But enough about toys…  Here are some scenes of Marrakech, the High Atlas Mountains, and Ouarzazate.  Hope you enjoy seeing them as much as I enjoyed shooting them!

You could say these photos are

Window at Ben Youssef Madrasa, Marrakech, Morocco

 …a window into Moroccan life?  Oh, bah dah bing!
 

Courtyard of Ben Youssef Madrasa

The courtyard of Ben Youssef Madrasa.  It was an Islamic college (for the study of the Quran) from the 14th century through 1960.  The woodwork, marble, and stucco are lovely and detailed.

 

Kasbah Mosque

The Kasbah Mosque was our landmark of choice when asking for directions to the Saadian Tombs.  Most of the locals didn't know where the tombs were (or we didn't know how to ask properly), but the mosque is hard to miss.  The tombs themselves were walled up by Alawite Sultan Moulay Ismail to encourage people to forget his predecessors, or so the story goes.  It seems to have worked, since they weren't rediscovered until 1917!

 

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…and then it was like finding The Secret Garden.  Kind of.  Probably without an orphan, dark and dreary moors (though possibly dark and dreary Moors), or a heartwarming friendship.

 

Cat at the Saadian Tombs, Marrakech, Morocco

On the other hand, there are cats!  Yes, lots and lots and lots and lots and LOTS of cats around Morocco.  As an animal lover, seeing the poor conditions dogs and cats endure around the country is quite heartbreaking.  They do tend to be quite friendly, however, and will sometimes oblige you by posing picturesquely against color coordinated backdrops.

 

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The walls around El Badi Palace are chock-a-block with the nests of White Storks.  In Germany, they are called klapperstorch, on account of the clattering sound they make with their beaks.  We were not expecting to stay at the palace for so long, but were enchanted with the storks, the cats, the scenery, and even a photo exhibition being temporarily housed on the grounds.  But really, it was the storks and the cats.  They rock.

 

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Elisabeth provides some scale for the size of the stairs.  Thanks, Elisabeth!

 

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Entryway to the courtyard of the building housing the Koutoubie minbar (not to be confused with a minibar), a pulpit in a mosque from which the imam leads prayer.  Photos of the minbar are not permitted but, really, that's fine by me.  Not only was the courtyard lovely and begging for a photo, it was full of kitties.  One came to sit on my lap for a bit.  And chew on my arm.  And use me as a scratching post.  …such is life!

 

White storks at Badi Palace, Marrakech, Morocco

STORKS!  In flight, even!  Can't get enough of these guys.  :D

 

High Atlas with snow, Morocco

And then it was time to hit the road!  We hadn't been able to get consistent information about the road conditions over the High Atlas mountains in winter, so we hired a driver.  We figured that if we were going to die horrible skidding deaths in the snows of Africa, we should do it professionally, you see.

 

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Argan nuts at one of the many women's cooperatives along the route from Marrakech to Ouarzazate.  Rachid (our driver, not my dear friend from last time) patiently posed for me as I directed him to lean ever more awkwardly over the baskets.  Context, Rachid!  Got to have context!

 

High Atlas in winter

'Cause it's pretty.

 

Morocco's High Atlas mountains with a bit of snow.

This, too.

 

Kasbah cockerel owns the roost

Cock of the walk on the Road of 1000 Kasbahs.  We probably only saw, like, 890 of them.

 

Rock the kasbah?

Kasbah no. 427.

 

Courtyard of Riad Maktoub, near Ouarzazate, Morocco.

A welcome break and a nice lunch at Riad Maktoub.  Best part?  Our waiter, Aziz, looked eerily like Avery Brooks, a.k.a., Captain Benjamin Sisko of Deep Space Nine.  (You can see him here.)

Right across the road from our lunch spot was Ait Ben Haddou, a fortified city made up of several of the aforementioned thousand kasbahs.  Bestest part of all is that it has been used as a location for many well known films and television shows, a fact the locals capitalize on entirely without shame.  Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator, and Game of Thrones all have bits of Ait Ben Haddou making appearances at some point or another.  But I just realized that, along with the other sites we visited that day and the next, I should save it for a movie post.  Too many cool things – including a tour of Atlas Studios in Ouarzazate!

I hope you've enjoyed the photos so far.  If so, be sure to join me on Instagram for the news as it happens!

Keep smiling, keep traveling – the world is a beautiful place!

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