Blogs from Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz, Morocco, Africa

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It was our final day in Marrakech today, and we were sad to leave the friendly staff of our riad! But before catching our train, we scheduled a hammam experience, which is a traditional spa originating in the Ottoman Empire and widely used throughout the Islamic world. I'm sure the experience varies by spa location, but in a word, here's what it was like for us: Intense! The spa room itself was quaint, accommodating only two people at once. Two platforms joined in an L, so Sean took one and I took the other. It was steamy and smelled of oranges. Our hammam technician was swift and efficient! In limited English, she told us "Robe" and gestured for us to remove our terrycloth robes. Sean was in his swimming trunks, and she told me to remove ... read more
If we were Arabs
Freshly-dyed silk threads
One of the monkey men

Africa » Morocco » Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz » Marrakech April 25th 2019

Tomorrow I leave Morocco after 20 days in this beautiful and diverse country. The trip was divided into 2 Intrepid tours: north and south. Both trips differed dramatically in landscape and experience. The north provided a wealth of cultural knowledge with the backdrop of many towns and cities, very very old, from Casablanca the commercial capital to Fes the cultural capital, and the north Tangier where the Atlantic and Mediterranean meet, and the Rif Mountains influenced by Spain. The south was a feast for the eyes with the landscape of the countryside - the Atlas Mountains were magnificent and the contrast as we moved from high to the mesmerising dunes of the Sahara, and then on to the Atlantic Coast and the beautiful Argan tree countryside - incredible. The highlight for me was a night in ... read more

Africa » Morocco » Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz » Ourika Valley February 21st 2019

Imlil, Alto Atlas, Morocco February 2019 ' “I have seen nothing more weird or miraculous than myself. Over time we may get used to strange things. But the more I probe myself and know myself, the more my oddity astonishes me, and the less I understand who I am.” Michel de Montaigne,On Presumption “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” Plato's Socratic Paradox, The Republic “Being at ease with not knowing is crucial for answers to come to you.“ Eckhart Tolle “Not knowing anything is the sweetest life.” Sophocles “The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next.” Ursula K. Le Guin “In the beginner’s mind there are many pos... read more
Main street through Imlil
Side street tourist shops
With Mohammed under his little room

Africa » Morocco » Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz » Marrakech February 2nd 2019

It’s always pleasing to set off on holiday when the weather at home is bad, but it’s a bit worrying when the first snow of the winter strikes the night before you leave. Mercifully, the roads remained clear, and BA cancelled European flights but not our flight to Marrakech. Despite a delayed departure, we arrived almost on time. We watched with a mixture of fascination and horror as the luggage carousel threw suitcases down a two foot drop, round a sharp bend and crashing onto the belt, inflicting visible damage in some cases. Mercifully ours survived unscathed! Aziz, our guide for the trip, met us outside, and in 15 minutes we were at our riad. Well, almost – building works meant we had to walk the last few hundred feet. We were welcomed with a refreshing ... read more
Marrakech spice seller
Koutabia Mosque Marrakech
Street in old Marrakech

Africa » Morocco » Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz » Marrakech December 26th 2018

Marrakech was a 7 hour train ride from Fes and is one of major stops for tourists, though I'm not quite sure it lives up to its hype. Another imperial city, it is also a mix-up of various cultures and has your typical sites; mosques, medinas, palaces (the King has many across the country) and gardens. This city never stops - motorbikes and vehicles clog up the narrow streets and the honking and sound of the motors quickly grow exhausting. We took a day trip to Ouarzazate (Where-zeh-za-tee), the Hollywood of Morocco. We first traveled through the Atlas Mountains for a few hours, seeing some beautiful scenery. We then stopped of at Ait Ben Haddou, an earthen village along a former caravan route, where we were forced to use a local guide to see the location ... read more
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Ait Ben Haddou

Africa » Morocco » Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz December 19th 2018

Day 25: Went for a nap as soon as I sat on the plane. Woke up still at the gate. Missed connection flight at Cairo. Stood waiting for the bus to the hotel (5 minutes walk away) longer than the transit flight itself. Swish hotel nevertheless with lunch included. Another delay upon departure with EgyptAir, of course (only an hour this time) Casablanca taxi driver loved 60km/hr on motorway while simultaneously taking calls at 1am. Day 26: Casablanca has a few highlights, but seemingly was renovating every public space. Massive mosque on the coast. Old medinas are cool. Love the tram. Grateful for four years of mediocre focus in French. However, continue to hybridise french and the more-recently learned spanish. Some lavish haircuts amongst the young lads here. Day 27: Booked another night, purely to watch a ... read more
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Africa » Morocco » Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz » Marrakech December 9th 2018

It is 6.36am. The very first call to prayer started some time ago. I heard it from my bed. The calling woke me and I had no idea where I was / were I am. Then I realised, not through memory but through touch - the bed, unfamiliar, hard, short in length, wide, crisp, in a Riad, in the Medina, in Marrakesh. I get up straight away to hear the callings to prayer that Elias Canetti wrote of when he lived in Marrakesh. On the rooftop veranda of the Riad, I find that I am surrounded on all 4 sides by the amplified call to morning prayer. In my complete ignorance, I follow the sounds from different calls from the minarets across the city by rushing around the roof in complete darkness, scattering cats ahead of ... read more
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calling to prayer

Africa » Morocco » Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz » Essaouira October 21st 2018

October 13th, 2018 Altight! Here I am writing again. I would have done so in the car last night, but the road from Essaouira to Agadir was unexpectedly winding and narrow. In the dark and in the backseat my stomach rebelled. Yup, I came very close to upchucking my supper. Also, the day in Essaouira was so all consuming both mentally and physically, that my brain turned to oatmeal by the end of the day. So let’s back up. Essaouira. Ok, so I told you already that seeing too many tourists irks me. I mean, if I wanted to see white people everywhere, I’d stay in Canada. Sorry my white peeps, but we are a boring and entitled bunch; a glaringly obvious fact when you observe “our kind” in non-European dominated countries, taking in the local ... read more

Africa » Morocco » Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz October 20th 2018

1st Day : Marrakech - High Atlas - Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah - Ouarzazate - Roses Valley - Dadés Valley 2nd Day : Dadés Valley - Todra Gorges - Merzouga Dunes - Camel ride and night in the berber tent. 3rd Day : Merzouga Desert - Tisardmin Oasis - Khamlia Village - Erg Chebbi 4th Day : Merzouga Desert - Ziz Valley - Cedar forests and monkey troupes of Azrou - Ifrane - Fes Our trip from Marrakech started at 8 am. The next 4 days was planned with a company thru the High Atlas Mountains, thru the Sahara, and ending In Fes Our driver Younes was fantastic he knew all the inns and outs of this journey and spoke all Arabic English Spanish and French. He was a Berber and a native of Merzouga Every ... read more
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