Saturday, April 9, 2016

Morocco in March

This is a trip arranged for just Judy and I through It is a family owned business of two brothers and their father. Mohammed Aboud was our personal guide, interpreter, and driver. If you are interested in a customized trip, and don't want to be part of a large group, I would recommend this tour agency.

Camels Through the Sahara Desert

When most of us think of Morocco we think of the Sahara Desert, and riding camels. That was certainly a highlight of this trip. This is my camel, Carmen - who turned out to be a bit cantankerous: at the end of the trip he didn't want to kneel down to let me off because we were on a rocky road. He did get down, but when I was half way off he got up. Now when a camel gets up he starts with his back legs first, then his front. They are very tall, and the effect was to throw me off. I wasn't hurt except for a rather bad rope burn, scraping skin off my wrist. Note to self: don't get off a camel unless the camel handler is hold him (Said had gone back to help Judy). I have been told camels can spit and bite, but Carmen seemed to like people in general and walked with his head almost on Said's shoulder. 


 I was fascinated by camels. There are over a hundred words to refer to camels in Arabic. A camel can drink 7 gallons of water at one time, and then go without water for a month. They can lose 40% of their body weight and survive. Their big padded feet originally evolved, not to walk on sand, but snow. And a camel can outrun a horse.

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Sahara Desert

While we were at the market in Erfoud, a relatively remote town with a burro parking lot, unpaved roads, blacksmiths, and the sale of spices, produce, refrigerated meats, etc. we bought traditional Berber turbans and tunics. I'm glad we did, not only because we really looked the part - to the point they all called me Ali Baba, but when we were on the camels on the return trip the wind was whipping the sand up. The turbans were the perfect protection.

 The desert was beautiful, particularly at sunrise and sunset. It is worth getting up and being on the dunes by 6:30am.

Scarab Beetle Tracks




 I had another Berber also named Said point out the tracks in the sand of scarab beetles, mice and fox.

The sand was so fine that it filled my shoes to the point my toes were cramped. Note to self: bring sandals.

Berber Nomads










Another highlight for me was visiting a nomadic Berber family, and having tea in their tent. The youngest girls wanted to show us their baby goats, and I also visited their kitchen. In addition to the tent they have small adobe houses throughout the desert that they migrate to following the availability of grassland and water.

Sunday, April 3, 2016


Photo taken by Judy

 Of course Morocco is more than the Sahara Desert. This is Chefchaoen, a city in the North end of the country, a few hours drive from Tangier.

It is a particularly picturesque town with blue walls. One explanation we got for this was the color acts as a mosquito repellent.  There was no danger in March: we found it quite cold, and fretted about not bringing enough warm clothes. Chefchaoen is relatively high altitude on a mountainside.

Our local guide, Achmed was equally picturesque wearing a white tunic, a red scarf and red fez cap. He claimed to have been a guide for the Obamas, and also featured in the Lonely Planet.

Typical Clothes

These cloaks, which remind me of Druids, are more common clothing among men than turbans and desert embroidered clothes. This was taken in the medina in Chefchaoen.

Mint Tea

Everywhere in Morocco you are offered mint tea, often sweetened. And everywhere it comes with a flare, pouring it into small glasses from about three feet above. This is supposed to enhance the taste. It certainly enhances the impact.


 We visited three kasbah's (old fortresses) that dated as far back as 450 years old.

 We visited Roman ruins in Volubilis, including a column with a stork's next on the top. The ruins included tile depictions of life at that time that are very well preserved.

Tilework, Carving & Architecture

Morocco is replete with intricate carving, tile work, and inlay. Arches are everywhere, and ornate doorways. Many of them are centuries old.


Shopper's Paradise

We spent more money than we have on any previous trip, including having to buy an extra suitcase for all our souvenirs.




 We went to a number of markets in Fez, Marrakesh, Erfoud and others. There were narrow alleyways that would then open up to courtyards, or stalls filled with goods. Without a guide we certainly would have gotten lost. Every conceivable product was available, particularly if we were living in the last century.

I spent quite a lot of time with a blacksmith in Marrakesh who is making locks, and is a fourth generation smith in the same stall that his great grandfather used all his life. His son is following his father in the same trade.

Snake Charmers

 The Marrakesh Medina was a circus of snake handlers, story tellers, fortune tellers, dancers, musicians, and belly dancers (men dressed as women). 

Below is a water seller, offers clean water from a goat skin into a brass cup.

That's The News From Ali Baba!

Okay folks, that's our blog from Morocco! I hope my photos gave you the feeling of being there!

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