Back in the US… Back in the US… Back in the…

Oh wait – the original song said “USSR,” didn’t it?

No thanks to Delta Airlines, we MADE it back to the USA. A day later than originally planned and while I had originally said when I discovered Delta had rearranged our return flight FOR us (without asking, I might add) that there were worst places to be stuck for an extra day than Marrakesh, that was BEFORE I contracted “turista” of some vicious stripe. Continue reading “Back in the US… Back in the US… Back in the…”

Moroccan Oil

We visited a women’s cooperative where they make argan oil. The argan is a small nut that grows only in certain parts of Morocco. Moroccan Argan oil is applied to the hair to make it soft and shiny, and applied to the skin to make it soft and supple.

Native craftswomen making argon oil products. Humble team of three apparently can FILL the shop with goods!
Native craftswomen making argon oil products. Humble team of three apparently can FILL the shop with goods!

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Monkey Business

One of the things that I love about travel is the opportunity to see wild animals in their native habitat. I loved seeing the Barbary apes in Gibraltar. Although they are free to roam throughout the preserve they are well cared for. Caretakers provide enough food to provide half of the calories and nutrients  needed by the resident monkeys. ( Although they are known as Barbary apes, they are actually macaques, the only species of tailless monkeys.) The monkeys forage for the rest of their diet.  This gives them something to do and helps to keep them out of trouble. Although sometimes tourists show up who disregard the warnings and bring snacks onto the rock. The monkeys are generally well behaved, but will not hesitate to take food away from clueless tourists.

Barbary apes! (Actually, it's "macaque." And it's "monkey.")
Moroccan Barbary Apes! (Actually, it’s “macaque.” And it’s “monkey.”)

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The King Is In

As we drove into Fes, I noticed armed soldiers wearing fancy red uniforms stationed along a long privacy wall. The next morning we heard from our local tour guide that the king was in town. That privacy wall was the perimeter of the king’s palace in Fes, and the redcoats were the king’s guards. They must have arrived shortly before we did because the guide indicated that they had not been there the day before.

Palace of the King of Morocco. Well, ONE of them, anyway. He's either in - or he's on his way.
Palace of the King of Morocco. Well, ONE of them, anyway.

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Before Viagra

Nowadays when a man has problems maintaining an erection or a woman has trouble conceiving we head to the doctor and usually come away with a prescription to fix the problem. In days of old, when people had these issues, there were no magic pills available, so people turned to their gods for remedy. Throughout the world, there are places that are said to be the best places in which to appeal to the gods concerning these problems. I have been lucky enough to be able to visit a few of these sites.

Ancient Roman ruins. Actually, they were in fairly good shape until an earthquake in 1755.
Ancient Roman ruins at Volubilis. Actually, they were in fairly good shape until an earthquake in 1755.

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Rick’s Cafe Americain

In the States, when we want the experience of stepping back into history we put on a costume and go to an event like a Renaissance Faire or a Civil War Enactment. Our sense of history doesn’t go back very far into the past. In Morocco, a visit to the Medina is like stepping back into Medieval times. The Medina is the oldest part of the city, dating back several centuries. The streets of the Medina consist of narrow, twisting alleyways, too narrow and winding for car traffic. While you won’t see cars in the Medina, you do see horses and donkeys, and motor scooters. And people, lots of people. The streets of the Medina are lined with small shops , and wherever there is not an opening for a shop, there are carts and wagons full of goods for sale. By night, the Medina is a residential neighborhood where folks amble about, meeting up with friends or just hanging out having a smoke or watching the passers by. By day, it becomes an open air marketplace, packed full of goods and shoppers. Continue reading “Rick’s Cafe Americain”

Casablanca

Casablanca

A sprawling metropolis; noisy, crowded, plagued with traffic, exotic, noisy, dirty, devout, colorful and ever so noisy! The traffic through the city center and the port area is appalling, and the drivers are aggressive and rude. There is lots of horn-honking, and speeding cars cutting off other cars and gridlocked intersections. Drivers are in such a hurry to get to where they are going that they push on through the crosswalks regardless of the pedestrians cautiously trying to get across. All along the main thoroughfares there are taxi drivers vying for business, offering to take us to the mosque.

The Grand Mosque. Everyone in town knows you're a tourist and will happily assume you are going here - and will point the way.
The Grand Mosque. Everyone in town knows you’re a tourist and will happily assume you are going here – and will point the way.

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Scenes From A Moroccan Train Ride

Broad flat vistas
Eucalyptus groves planted in straight rows
Egrets In freshly plowed fields
Colorful plastic bags littering the landscape
Men and women in colorful robes and head covers
Oxen pulling plows
Donkeys carrying loads
Camels grazing in a field
Horse drawn wagons
Shepherds tending flocks
Children walking home from school
Cement buildings painted white or various shades of pink
Orange trees full of ripening fruit
Men at work laying railroad track
Stacks of hay covered with plastic tarps
Cattle, sheep, horses and donkeys grazing side by side
A lone stork standing by an irrigation ditch
A pair of storks nesting atop an electrical tower
Men, women and children wearing jeans, shirts, and jackets
Birds in flight
A woman riding a donkey raising her arms jubilantly
A field of artichokes
Blue sacks filled with seed for planting
Rows of cacti forming living fences
A child whose face lights up with joy and wonder when he sees our train pull up next to the one he is riding on.