Monday, November 05, 2007

Morocco, Africa

Morocco: Casablanca, Marrakesh, and Rabat

Here are some pictures from our quick 5 day trip to Morocco. The Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca (Dar El-Baida). The minaret is the highest in the world (210 meters, almost 700 feet) and the Mosque is one of few in the world to be open to non-Muslims.

Welcome to Marrakesh. Jack and Nora arriving at the train station after a grueling train ride through shifting desert sands. Not really--the comfortable Belgian-made train was a quick and pleasant 3 hours from Casablanca.

Marrakesh has a number of nice homes converted into very small hotels called Riads. They are usually 4 or so rooms surrounding a cool garden courtyard in the old part of town (the Medina) and are great places to get away from the craziness of the narrow alleys of the Medina. This one has doors that suit Nora's size well.

The zellij tile work of Moroccan architecture.

This is one of those things that really stands out in your imagination: the huge plaza in the heart of the Medina--the Djemaa el-Fna--a place that really defies description. Where else can you find the snake charmers...

Colorfully-dressed guys selling water...

Or serious religious men wearing Crocs?

Some views of Djemaa el-Fna once the stalls open with food cooking away.

Here we are riding camels.

Carpet buying in the Creii Berber--the Berber carpet Souk. After about 45 minutes of looking and negotiating and trying to figure out what makes each carpet unique among the piles of them, you break for some mint tea with the shop owner and come up with your final price.

The Place Rahba Qedima, where you can buy ingredients for all kinds of potions--chameleons for luck in your love life, live scorpions for some potion, and caged hawks, live turtles, squirrels and gazelle heads for some other reason. I'm a bit sketchy on the details. It was overall a very sketchy little back-alley market.

The Spice Souk--full of vivid colors and smells. The spices are earthy and no longer arrive after a 52 day camel caravan from Timbuktu.

More cool Islamic architecture in Marrakesh.

Nora really loved the camel ride. She got the friendly one. He seemed to pose for my camera. I was on the mean camel who eventually bit Brandy's butt.

We took a horse carriage back to the Riad one night. It wasn't the ridiculously expensive ride like you find in Rome. To tell the truth, it was the first time Nora, Brandy, or I ever rode on a horse-drawn carriage. Our driver was much nicer than this photo would have you believe.

We headed to Rabat for the last day of our trip and were pleasantly surprised by its large and open streets. And the endless ocean was a welcome site, the opposite of the labyrinthian Medinas.

I apologize to the entire Arab world. It's surprising that we Americans have such a bad public image.



Sherry said...

What an amazing trip. I never realized how beautiful it was there. You guys are so lucky to be making all these side trips. Nora gets more beautiful every day (her mom, too!) :-) Mimi

Kumar said...

Very nice pictures! I have been to Morocco and to the biggest Moroccan city Casablanca! Morocco very stability country, that's why people investing money in property, especially in Casablanca property! Situated on the Atlantic, Casablanca has one of the largest artificial ports in the world. It is the major city in Morocco and the country's economic capital.