Over recent post on this site, I have shared photos taken on our visit to Morocco several years ago now. As an aside, I am enjoying looking at the photos taken on that trip and selecting appropriate shots to share here. There is nothing like a few trips down memory lane.
In my most recent posts, I have written about our camel ride into the Sahara Desert and our stay overnight in a Berber tent right out in the desert. We returned, again riding camels, to the hotel shown in today’s photos in time for a late breakfast. This just happened to be on Christmas Day; it is a celebration of this important day that we will never forget. It was so different, for we normally would attend church, followed by a family get-together for lunch and/or dinner.
Just like all of our meals in Morocco, this was delicious. They certainly know how to put on a good feast for tourists in the places we stayed. Along the way, we also had some great meals in restaurants and other food outlets, especially for lunch. While I occasionally ordered the types of food we enjoy here in Australia, I was also adventurous and ordered more Moroccan style food. Tasting the local foods is one of the delights of travelling overseas, and visiting a totally different culture is inspiring. Even though I am not normally very adventurous when eating out here in Australia, I was determined to be different when touring. I really enjoyed this aspect of our time in Morocco – and then in Spain, but more of that in later posts.
On Christmas Day last year I wrote here about our Christmas in the the Sahara desert a few years ago. We were on a guided tour of Morocco – you can read about our adventures in recent posts (go to the Archives or use the cloud on the side bar). Our tour dates happened to bring us into the Sahara on Christmas Eve.
Once we had left our bus – including our luggage – we saw a group of camels waiting patiently to take us into the desert. I had seen the amazing colours of the Sahara in photos, but until you experience it with your own eyes at sunset, you don’t fully appreciate the depth of the colours. Some of the tour group dressed up for the occasion, including my wife and daughter (see photo below).
As we set off into the desert I realised how difficult it is to take photos while travelling on a camel. I think this was my first ever ride on a camel. The camel constantly lurches forward and then back. It is an animal which does not make a very good platform for photography. I am pleased I managed to get a few reasonable shots during the hour long journey.
In the coming days I will show more photos of this part of our journey, including our camp site in the desert.
One of the many things I learned about Morocco on our tour there several years ago was that it is far from being a country of hot deserts and sand – lots of sand. Sure – we saw plenty of sand on our tour, but I will write more of that in a few days’ time.
Morocco is also a country of great beauty, not just in the stunning architecture, but also in the grandeur of its mountains. Several times we passed through and over the Atlas Mountains which divide the east from the western parts of the nation. These mountains are truly immense and grand, and being the middle of winter when we were there (December) the highest passes were very cold.
While we didn’t actually see it snowing while we were there, we saw plenty of snow on the higher peaks (see photo below). Whenever we emerged from the tour bus to stretch our legs, or grab a coffee or take a few more photos, we would always grab our coats against the bitter mountain air.
As we journeyed through mid-eastern Morocco I took what photographic opportunities I could manage through the window of our mini-bus. Sometimes this was not successful and occasionally I managed to get reflections from the glass, but most of the time I took reasonable shots of the rural landscape.
As we travelled in a generally south easterly direction from Fes we went through some mountainous areas as well as flat plateau farming areas. The further east we travelled the less that the land was actually cultivated. Instead we saw numerous examples of people living a semi-nomadic lifestyle, tending to their large flocks of goats and sheep.
Sometimes we saw farmhouses and shedding like those shown in the photo above. On other occasions we saw extensive dwellings which looked like tents. Frequently we saw people tending their animals like shepherds in centuries gone by. They seemed to wander far from their dwellings and certainly in some quite remote localities. Like shepherds have done for millennia, they have to wander from one food source to the next.
I come from a farming background. The first 15 or so years of my life were spent living on my father’s farm in the Murray Mallee district of South Australia. Although I spent most of my working life in a school classroom, I still have a close affinity with the land. Today in retirement I still own a small “farm”, albeit only 5 acres in size and I no longer keep any chickens, ducks and sheep like I used to some years ago.
Wherever we travel I take a keen interest in the countryside as we journey, keeping an eye out not only for birds (birding is a passion of mine) but also casting an eye over the farming countryside. So it was with great interest that I watched the passing farmland practices while journeying through Morocco. Previously I have commented on the similarities that the rural environment in Morocco has with parts of South Australia. There are, however, many contrasts too, as illustrated in today’s photos.
I don’t know what breed of sheep are shown in the photo above, but they are significantly different from the common Merino breed we have here in SA. We also saw many goats in Morocco, something you tend not to see in the cereal growing areas at home.