Showing posts with label morocco. Show all posts
Showing posts with label morocco. Show all posts

January 01, 2009


The indigenous tribes of North Africa go by many names. Berbers. Touareg. Moors. Imazighen. The term Berber stems from a variation of the Latin word "barbarian". Moor was also coined by Europeans to describe the invaders from North Africa. The Tuareg, a tribe within the Berber community, speaks the language Tamasheq. The tribesmen are famous for wearing their distinctive headgear and blue robes as they cross the Sahara. Imazighen translates to "free men", though this is not solely a reflection of their nomadic lifestyle as some settled near oases or in the mountains. Its singular form is Amazigh. As 2009 dawns, I too find myself a free man. Having exited from ResponseTek near the end of the previous calendar year, a whole new world of adventure and discovery awaits me in this one.

All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom." - Albert Einstein

December 30, 2008

Under the Moroccan Sun

Morocco. It has been said that the rich heritage of Europe, Africa, and Arabia come together in this place. As a fusion of the cultures of the East and the West, I was intrigued by this crossroad to civilizations. On my flight into Marrakech I met with another solo traveler from Canada - Abby. After arriving at the airport and exchanging our dollars for dirhams, the Moroccan currency, we shared a taxi to her hotel in the new part of the city. I had booked no room in advance, so she joined me in my quest for a hotel. I wanted to be situated in the heart of the old city within the walled medina. We were told that it was a short walk from where we were. My target was Hotel Ali, as a friend had suggested it for its great location.

Forty five minutes later we walked through the gates into the old city. An intricate network of narrow lanes with even narrower alleys awaited us. Apart from foot traffic, scooters whizzed past us with only inches of separation between pedestrian and driver. Cars were rare as the roads were not wide enough to accommodate them. Small stalls lined the streets with spices, carpets, jewelry, crafts, and every day items on sale. Abby tried to take a photograph of a mountain of spices, but the shopkeeper frowned and wagged his finger, so she refrained.

I was tiring from carrying around my luggage under the Moroccan sun, so we stopped at Cafe Arabe for lunch. Reclining on a couch in the open air rooftop terrace, I sipped some iced mint tea (the national drink) and then ate a chicken tagine (the national dish) for rejuvenation. I determined my current position on a map and estimated the direction that I would have to walk to reach Hotel Ali. The minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque was my landmark. Towering over the other structures inside the old city, it could be seen from most points inside the medina. I could see that some distance yet remained.

November 24, 2008

Morocco - Sands of Gold

After burning some of my vacation days in Portland and Puerto Rico, I decided to use up the remainder in a country that always intrigued me and a continent I had never set foot upon. Morocco would be my gateway to Africa.

I spent several days in Marrakech (or Marrakesh), escaping the hubbub of the city for a six day desert adventure and two separate day trips:
  • Marrakech
Desert Adventure:
  • Ouarzazate
  • Tazzarine
  • Merzouga
  • Erfoud
  • Tineghir
  • Todra Gorge
  • Dades Gorge
  • Ait Ben Haddou
Day Trips:
  • Ourika Valley
  • Essaouira

Over the days I would cross a variety of unpredictable terrain, with sand, snow, shops, and sea within hours of each other. The weather cooperated during my visit, with not a rainy day to be seen. The desert climate left me very warm during the day and quite chilly during the night. My complexion and diet both became olive. I traveled solo and as part of groups, and enjoyed a few dates along the way.