Archive for the ‘Morocco’ Category

Mediterranean | Day 42 | Morocco | Moulay Idriss

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There’s not too much to say about this cute small town in Morocco. It was the most peaceful place we visited in Morocco. It was small, not crowded, and like any small town in the world, the people were friendlier than those in the big cities. We stopped at some Roman ruins, “Royaume de Maroc,” during our 1.5 hour cab ride from Fez to Moulay Idriss. Then, once we got to Moulay, we had lunch in the town square and people-watched from a cafe. A local guide gave us a walking tour that afternoon, and that evening we had a lovely dinner cooked by the wife of the man who was hosting us. He had turned several rooms of his multi-level house into guest rooms, and was even doing more renovations to add an extension to his home with more guest rooms. The host family was lovely, so if you ever find yourself in Moulay Idriss, I highly recommend staying in this small bed and breakfast Masion D’hôte, La Colombe Blanche (The White Dove).

Most of the photos in this post are sneaky-cam. I found this to be the most effective way to shoot in Morocco. Enjoy this short post. View the photos after the jump.

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Mediterranean | Day 41 | Morocco | Fez

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Ugh. How has it been 18 days since my last post?!?! I’ll tell you how. I arrived back in Los Angeles 16 days ago, after spending a couple weeks at home in Texas, after a week in NYC, after three months in The Mediterranean. And I kid you not, three hours after I drove in to LA, I got a call for work. It’s like my clients have me on radar. I had originally planned to not take work in December, and instead settle back in to this American life, finish recapping my trip on this journeymoon blog, and send out all my photos to this girl’s tour-mates. But, I can’t say no to work, especially after spending four months on vacation, and three of those on the Euro. So I’ve been an advertising slave the past couple weeks, and all it took was one 55-hour work week to undo my 93-day vacation. Welcome back, shoulder pain and stress acne.

Anyway, back to the recaps… Day 41: Fez, Morocco. This city was just one big visual stimulation overload. So, this post has a LOT of photos. I really did edit the quantity down, but screw it. It’s my blog. I’ll post as many as I want. We spent the entire day with a local guide who took us through the maze of the Fez medina. It is about 740 acres and houses 350,000 of the 1.2 million people that live in Fez. We walked through the medina from about 10am until 4pm, only stopping for an hour for lunch, and covered less than 10% of the medina.

We visited several handicraft factories—ceramics, leather tannery, and fabric and rug weavers—all of which were insanely photogenic. But the photographic surprise of the day was actually from a shooting technique I was forced to adopt…

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Mediterranean | Day 40 | Morocco | Rabat

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The start to our morning departure from Casablanca was a bit like walking into an elevator with a angry couple who just had a fight seconds before they stepped inside, and the door closes on you three and you can’t wait for it to reach your floor because you’ve been holding your breath hoping the guy didn’t check out your ass and that she didn’t notice him not checking out your ass because you don’t want your skinny jeans to be the cigarette ash that starts the forest fire, and then the elevator suddenly stops, and you’re trapped as the embers start to deeply inhale the limited supply of oxygen, and then the elevator starts to plummet down, then screeches to a halt knocking you around and the first thing you grab to break your fall is his leg, and you peel back and stumble/roll out of the door that just opened into the basement which is filled with garbage dumpsters and a leaky septic tank but you’re relieved to navigate your way through the dark stench because at least you are out of the elevator.

Moroccan men have a way of “discussing” business transactions that involves a lot of yelling and waving hands and scowling, and then once an agreement is reached, their demeanors do an about-face, and all the men shake and hug and kiss cheeks and smile and pour blessings and well wishes on each other. This is the negotiation process that our tour leader went through every time we needed to take cabs, which are are about as colorfully tumultuous as the negotiators. The cabs were typically 20+ year-old Mercedes lacking seat belts, crank-handles for the windows, and several various knobs and gauges, and probably the occasional break pad.

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Mediterranean | Day 39 | Morocco | Casablanca

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It’s kinda weird posting these recaps now that I’m back in the States. I’ve lost the momentum to blog about the trip, especially since you can’t track me in real time anymore. Not that I was ever “on time” with any of the posts when I was traveling. But! I do not want this to become another one of my many unfinished projects, so I will get through these recaps, even if I am pretty much in the memoir stage.

Casablanca left a lot to be desired. That is if you desire an interesting place to visit. But maybe it just wasn’t my scene. If you like dirty, overcrowded, seedy, polluted big cities with crazy traffic because there are no stop lights or stop signs, then this is the place for you. There’s also the Hassan II Mosque, which is an exquisite feat of architecture, complete with a retractable roof that opens when the weather is nice. But it was also a little off-putting to have such an opulent and lavish building in the midst of extreme poverty, especially when one of the five pillars of Islam is to give to the poor. Every Moroccan family, regardless of income, had to contribute to the 585 million euro construction of the mosque, and the police enforced the “donations.”

But, for now, let’s overlook that economic quirk and instead be awestruck by this masterpiece.

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Mediterranean | Day 38 | Morocco | Marrakech

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After a rough morning of several more LIT (Lost in Translation) episodes, and after figuring out how to navigate the Madrid metro to the airport and the massively large airport, I arrived to the boarding gate just as they were starting to board my plane to Marrakech. Note to anyone traveling in Madrid: leave yourself more time than you think you’ll need to make your flight. I was told (in English) that it would only take 15-20 minutes on the metro from central Madrid to the airport. Not true. It took 45-50 minutes. And the Madrid airport is the most spread out airport I’ve ever been to. You have to take trains to terminals that seem like they’re in an entirely different city. Leave yourself plenty of time to get around this airport.

During my cab ride to my hotel in Marrakech, there were soooo many photo ops that I missed because my camera was in the back. But I also would have felt like a really tacky tourist sticking my camera out the car window. So, anyway, if you ever go to Marrakech, these are some of the things you might see: camels, strange but beautiful long-haired ponies, a film crew in action standing in the bed of a moving decrepit pick-up truck, a horse-drawn buggy piled high with delicately balanced furniture slowing down the modern traffic of 25-year-old cars, and a burqa-clad mom whizzing down the street on her vespa with her kid hanging on her back while the feminist wind tries to rip off her face veil.

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