On our last morning in the Dades Valley on our tour of Morocco, we had a wonderful treat for breakfast. Our tour guide was up early, scouring nearby farms for enough eggs to make us a genuine Berber omelette. Genuine or not, it was delicious, made even more palatable by the alleged effort made to procure the ingredients. I am not a great fan of omelettes at the best of times, but this treat was far superior to any other omelette I had ever tasted. It was followed by a delicious pancake.
While on our trip through Morocco I discovered that I had a palate that was far more adventurous than I thought. I was actually looking forward to experiencing the many tastes of Morocco as well as the scenery, the people and of course, the architecture. I was not disappointed on this trip – and we still had Spain ahead of us on this trip.
After our long walk along the Dades Valley the day before, we were pleased that the next day was mainly occupied in transit while sitting on the bus. When we left the Dades valley we drove along the Roses Valley, so-called due to the plentiful rose plants surrounding many of the fields. Locally, rose water and perfumes are made and sold at many outlets. At one of our stops, even my wife succumbed to lure of these local delights.
We travelled the Road of a Thousand Kasbahs towards the town of Skoura. Along the way, we passed through some desolate country which is shown in the photos on today’s post (see below). At certain points, we had distant views of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains, a spectacular range we would traverse later in our tour.
In the desolate areas, there were wide expanses of stony country and from time to time we passed a few hardy nomadic Berbers following their traditional ways. At one point, our guide astounded us by a little piece of Australia on the roadside. Several thousand hectares of the desolate land had been planted with Australian saltbush in the 1990s. This was supposed to provide extra food for the sheep and goats of the local shepherds. The plantations were abandoned after protests from the local people, but there is still some evidence on the plantations (see photos below).
One of the features of Morocco we enjoyed was seeing the many buildings featuring mosaics. They are wonderfully beautiful and alluring to eyes not used to such artistry. Another feature of this magical country were the numerous carpet and rug outlets everywhere we travelled. Today I feature one of the Berber carpet shops in the town of Tinghir. This interesting town has a population of just over 40,000 and is near the Todra Gorge which I featured in my last post.
The shop was in the local medina and was a fascinating experience. On entering, we were asked to remove our shoes – a common practice in many parts of Morocco – and we were then seated on voluminous cushions on the floor. My old bones and muscles objected to this, but I managed both getting down – and getting up again.
As the owner regaled us with the significance of the symbols on the carpets he had for sale, we were served delicious mint tea. Eventually, four of our touring group purchased small rugs or runners to take back home. I would love to have done the same, but common sense prevailed. They would have made our luggage far too bulky and we were on the upper limit with its weight. Besides, my wife and I decided that there was nowhere in our home where they could be put to good use. The owner actually did a strong sales pitch on my daughter who nearly weakened; she was very tempted, but she resisted. I hope that she doesn’t regret this.
While we were in the shop enjoying our mint tea, my wife accepted the challenge to card some wool by hand (see the next photo below). This didn’t surprise me at all. She has had plenty of practice at home over the years. At one stage we had a small flock of sheep, with at least one of them with coloured wool. She enjoyed carding the wool before spinning it. Later she used the wool to knit garments.
In an earlier post, I featured my wife attempting to spin wool in the traditional manner in Morocco. You can read that post here.
In recent posts here on this site I have written about our tour of Morocco. The visit to this amazing country was certainly a wonderful experience. One of the highlights of the visit occurred on Christmas Eve. We were taken on a camel ride into the Sahara Desert.
While the experience was unforgettable, I must say that riding a camel is not one of my favourite modes of travel. I find it very uncomfortable. In addition, I also found it hard to take photos while riding a camel and I found that most frustrating. I must say I was quite happy to dismount at our destination, a Berber camp in the desert.
One of the frustrations of trying to take photos while riding a camel relate to my interest in birds. I write about the birds I see and photograph on this site. With a constantly moving platform such as a camel in motion, it is very hard to compose the scene, focus and shoot. I saw some interesting desert birds on this ride but none I could use here, or on my birding site. I couldn’t even use the photos to identify the species. (Sigh)
Still, despite these limitations, I managed a few good photos while riding a camel. I must say that some of the shots I did manage to take – without falling off or otherwise injuring myself – do show the amazing colours of the desert at sunset. I did take more the following morning as we rode out of the desert.
In recent weeks I have been sharing photos and writing about our tour of Morocco a few years ago.
In my last post here I wrote about our camel ride into the Sahara. This occurred just before sunset and so the colours of the desert sands were stunning. It certainly made up for the discomfort of riding a camel. It was not only uncomfortable – it was very hard to take good photos while constantly on the move.
Who was the not-so-bright spark who thought that riding a camel was a good idea?
Our destination after about an hour of painful riding was a group of Berber tents near a little oasis. After a delicious meal eaten around a camp fire we slept in these tents for only one night. During the night we had a visitor. It seems that most of the touring group had a cat visit them in their tent overnight.
This experience just happened to be on Christmas Eve. It was certainly different and one to remember.