Monthly Archives: November 2015

Images of Morocco-Life in the High Atlas Mountains

The High Atlas Mountains are home to the Berber people, also known as Imazighen, who have lived here in mountain villages for thousands of years. We spent much of our time on this trip in the mountains, cycling and hiking, and caught a glimpse of these people with their unique culture and close communities. Like most of us, they do not care to have their photo taken, at least not without permission so I took few photos of the people we met.

Typically, each of the families in the villages, owns livestock such as a cow for milk, a donkey for plowing and farm labor, and sheep for wool and meat. One day we hiked near a young sheep herder with his flock grazing on the side of a mountain. I noticed that he was petting and scratching the head and ears of one of his sheep as if it were a dog. After a few minutes, he returned the sheep to the herd with a gentle pat. Later, we ate a picnic lunch in the nearby village and a few feet away from us, a mother and her children tended their cow. The woman held the cow on a tether, walking with it as it grazed next to a terraced garden. I watched her pet the cow’s back as they moved along. I am sure that neither of these villagers viewed their animals as pets, or gave them a name, but what I saw showed that they treated their animals with care and respect. The images of the sheep herder and mother with her cow, even though I could not capture them by photograph, are warm memories of this day for me.

 

 

 

 

Images of Morocco-Camel Riding on the Atlantic Coast

On the Atlantic coast south of Essaouira, we went for a camel ride one afternoon. The ride took us for hours along a desolate stretch of beach. It was a sunny but cool and windy day, with big rollers breaking just off the shore. I rode the lead camel, a big feisty guy who clearly was the boss of the caravan. We were the only ones on the beach that day until a couple hours into the ride when we came across a group of young camels. Hassan, the young Moroccan guiding us, explained that the camels were owned (not abandoned) and allowed to roam free in this remote area. The youngsters were curious or territorial or both, we weren’t sure which, about our group and approached us. My guy started to get riled up to fend them off. But before things got too exciting, Hassan yelled away the intruders.

Hassan guided the camels with a quiet voice and light taps from a stick. He sometimes led them by the halter. They listened intently to each word and sound, pricking up their ears. And they listened for hours as we traveled until sunset. When the ride ended, the camels lay down to let us off. Then, Hassan untied each one and let them free to walk home on their own, with him following.

I was struck by the close bond between Hassan and his camels and how they worked together. I was also struck by the intelligence and quirky personalities of the camels, and how well Hassan knew them in order to guide them so quietly and gently. I was also struck by just how big those guys were! Definitely a highlight of our trip.

Credit for the camel ride photos goes to Mustafa, our guide, who recorded the journey for us on our camera.

 

 

 

Images of Morocco-Marrakech Medina at Night

 

Marrakech Medina

Marrakech Medina

We arrived in Morocco on the afternoon of November 6 to cloudless blue skies, desert heat and the frenetic, crowded energy of Marrakech. We stayed at a charming, traditional inn that enclosed us in serenity after our long trip.

Riad, Marrakech

Riad, Marrakech

Not wanting to let grass grow under his feet, however, Howard left the serenity at nightfall and headed a few blocks to the Medina, Marrakech’s old city center. Crowds were out to enjoy the Friday night, and food vendors had set up shop to provide for the many gatherings. The night was also a holiday to celebrate Morocco’s Green March, which in 1975 involved peaceful demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of Moroccans to successfully reclaim land in the Sahara from Spain.

Howard wound up meeting a snake charmer, who introduced him to his friend the viper. Howard describes the meeting as “intense” and very interesting.

(Credit to our friend Steve for the snake charmer photo.)

 

 

Images of Morocco

In my dreams, Morocco appears as a remote and magical place. I have long imagined traversing the vast Saharan desert in a caravans of camels, and hiking into the snow-peaked Atlas Mountains. I imagined getting lost in the dark and exotic mazes of the old cities with their North African bazaars. Last year I realized that it was time to visit Morocco and see for myself what it was like.

In early, November, 2015, I traveled to Morocco with my husband and another couple to cycle, hike, explore and immerse ourselves in the mountains, desert and the culture. Moroc Nature, an adventure tour company owned and guided by Moroccans, expertly and wonderfully organized and guided our trip. 

Morocco proved visually stunning and more intriguing that I ever could have imagined. My photographs in this series of blog posts (which I am in the process of creating) relate my experiences over a ten day visit. 

(Special acknowledgement to Mustafa for the photo of our camel ride that is featured above.)

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Sunset, Marakech Morocco

High Atlas Mountains