Morocco
November 2006
A minaret near the Saadian Tombs, Marrakesh.
Our transport for the day, a trio of horse carriages, waiting for us outside the Saadian Tombs, Marrakesh.
A carved pillar in the 17th Century Saadian Tombs, Marrakesh.
A courtyard in the Bahia Palace, Marrakesh. The palace dates from about 1900.
One of the ornate rooms in the Bahia Palace, Marrakesh.
A carved ceiling in the Bahia Palace, Marrakesh.
A window arch in the Bahia Palace, Marrakesh.
The kitchen at a Berber truck stop south of Marrakesh, with rows of tagines waiting for hungry travelers. Most Moroccans are very, very reluctant to have their pictures taken - these guys were an exception.
The Glaoui Kasbah at Telouet, on the road between Marrakesh and Ouarzazate. A kasbah is a castle or fortress, usually with several guard towers, owned by a single family.
A carved doorway in the Glaoui Kasbah.
A carved ceiling in the Glaoui Kasbah.
Tilework in the Glaoui Kasbah.
The Glaoui Kasbah. Kasbahs, being built of mud brick, gradually deteriorate. Their owners, rather than try to repair them, usually just keep adding rooms, as necessary.
View of the surrounding countryside from the Glaoui Kasbah.
The Glaoui Kasbah.
The road we took from Telouet to Ouarzazate was only barely passable, even in Land Rovers. I likened the experience to being trapped inside a blender.
The fortified village of Ait Benhaddou, near Ouarzazate, just after sunset. This village has been largely reconstructed by movie producers, and has appeared in Lawrence of Arabia, The Jewel of the Nile, Jesus of Nazareth, The Living Daylights, The Last Temptation of Christ, The Sheltering Sky, Kundun, Gladiator, and Alexander.
Ait Benhaddou.
Laundry day in the Dadès Valley, east of Ouarzazate.
Two of our Land Rovers in the Dadès Valley, near Toundout.
Our group, on foot, following the Land Rovers up the Dadès Valley.
Hiking up the mostly dry Dadès Valley, beneath one of many hill towns.
A kasbah in the Skoura Oasis, near Toundout, with the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains providing the backdrop.
A kasbah in the Skoura Oasis, beneath the snow-capped peaks of the High Atlas Mountains.
A kasbah in the Skoura Oasis, near Toundout.
A kasbah in the Skoura Oasis, near Toundout.
A kasbah in the Skoura Oasis, near Toundout.
A kasbah in the Skoura Oasis, near Toundout.
Sharon and Janet check out the souk at Agdz. In many villages, there's a once-a-week market that functions like a shopping mall.
A vendor and his donkey bring their wares to the souk.
A produce vendor in the Agdz souk.
More produce vendors, laying out their goods.
A spice merchant in the Agdz souk.
Sauntering through the Drâa Valley Oasis.
The Drâa Valley Oasis.
The Drâa Valley Oasis.
The Drâa Valley Oasis.
The Drâa Valley Oasis.
A door constructed of wood and flattened tin cans.
Doing laundry in the Drâa Valley Oasis.
Faced with a low bridge, lead driver Ayed readjusts the luggage while guide Kristy looks on. Susan, it would appear, can't bear to watch.
No problem!
In the Sahara between Zagora and Remlia, we approach the tents of a small group of Berber nomads. Recent rains, unusual at any time of year here, had produced surprising patches of lush vegetation.
A Berber woman in front of her tent.
A meet-and-greet in the Sahara.
A Berber woman baking bread.
At Remlia, we met our camels, our transport for the next few days. Two of them, Maliki and Yidir, found me as interesting as I found them.
Leaving Remlia on our first morning on trek, guide Kristy and camel handler Hussein in the lead. There were five camels, and eleven of us, so we alternated between riding and walking alongside.
Heading east from Remlia.
Sunset over the Ouzina dunes, our first night's camping spot. In the wee hours of the following morning, we actually had a brief thunderstorm, an extreme rarity in this region.
Morning at our campsite at the Ouzina dunes. The large white tent is our dining tent - the smaller white tent is the kitchen.
The Ouzina dunes.
Hussein watching over his camels.
Hussein takes a break with Gerard and Baby Gerard (Gerard's son). Just this year, Hussein, who appeared to be somewhere between 60 and 100 years old, abandoned his sandals, and started wearing Adidas. Over the course of four days, he walked well over 60 miles.
The dunes at Erg Znigui, our next stop. Most of this day, we rode and walked through a relatively mild sandstorm, our heads wrapped in cheches (thin scarves), as protection from the sand. Two weeks later, I was still finding sand in things.
Our campsite at Erg Znigui at sunset.
A solitary Berber and his camel almost disappear in the dunes east of Erg Znigui. We were deep in the Sahara - the hills in the distance are in Algeria.
Baby Gerard, Hussein, and Ayed take a break. Our camels were all calm, laid back, non-spitting, non-biting, happy to be scratched behind the ears, and fond of being fed the occasional date.
Heading across the rocky flats between Erg Znigui and Erg Chebbi, the pink/orange dunes in the distance.
The obligatory "sunset camel shadows" shot.
Approaching Erg Chebbi.
There were often more walkers than riders by late in the day.
The breakfast table at Erg Chebbi.
A friend of Hussein appeared from nowhere, and helped with the camels (here, Maliki, Baby Gerard, and Gerard) on the last day of the trek.
Erg Chebbi.
Some of us climbed up and over Erg Chebbi while others took the lower route with the camels. Our camels are barely discernible at dead center, in a sea of sand.
Erg Chebbi. In the foreground, a pair of hobbled camels left to graze.
A nomad camp amongst the dunes of Erg Chebbi.
Hussein greets a friend, leading a group of cargo-carrying camels.
The northern end of Erg Chebbi. Again, recent heavy rains had produced lakes and greenery in unexpected places.
A Barbary Ape sitting on the pavement on the road between Erfoud and Fès.
Barbary Apes.
A baby Barbary Ape searching for berries...
... and finding them.
The city of Fès.
The city of Fès.
The city of Fès.
The heart of Fès, the medieval walled medina, is almost unchanged by time.
Fès is a city of mysterious doorways that invite exploration.
Laying out clay tiles at a pottery factory in Fès.
Casting a tagine.
Making mosaic tiles. Fired tiles, 10 cm. on a side, are cut by hand into smaller pieces, some rectangular, some star-shaped, to make mosaics. "Labor intensive" doesn't even begin to describe the process.
Laying out mosaic tiles (color side down) for an elaborate table top.
The gift shop at the pottery factory in Fès.
One of the gates to the King's Palace in Fès.
Another of the gates to the King's Palace in Fès.
Decorations on one of the gates to the King's Palace in Fès.
One of the gates to the King's Palace in Fès.
A resident of Fès warms himself in the morning sun.
The Blue Gate, one of the entrances to the medina in Fès.
A community oven in the medina of Fès.
A riad, or private palace, in Fès, now a restaurant.
The leather tannery in Fès.
A lousy job.
The dyeing vats at the tannery.
Dyed hides, drying.
The medina may be ancient, but it's still home to thousands of people, and they want their MTV.
Shoes. Sadly, they didn't have my size.
The ruins of Volubilis, between Fès and Meknès. On the site of a Carthaginian city from the 3rd Century B.C., the Romans built Volubilis ca. 40 A.D. They departed in the 3rd Century A.D., and the city was occupied on and off until the 1755 Lisbon earthquake finally brought down most of the buildings.
Volubilis.
The Triumphal Arch in Volubilis.
Floor mosaics in Volubilis.
Floor mosaics in Volubilis.
Floor mosaics in Volubilis.
Floor mosaics in Volubilis.
The Temple of Jupiter in Volubilis. Storks build their nests on the empty columns.
Volubilis, and another massive stork's nest.
Floor mosaics in Volubilis.
Floor mosaics in Volubilis.
Near Volubilis, the hill town of Moulay Idris, founded by the man who brought Islam to Morocco in 788 A.D. The village sits among groves of olive trees and cactus.
In Meknès, the granary and stables of Moulay Ismail, the tyrant sultan who ruled Morocco from 1672 to 1727. The granary was large enough to store enough grain to allow the population of the city to withstand a twenty-year seige.