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Published: June 24th 2008
I arrived early, before the busloads of tourists arrived and before the storks had left their nest above the old Roman judicial hall - which was changed into a church in the 300s.
It was hard leaving Rebecca and Maryam, but it was time to hit the road. Yesterday I left the house early in the morning and took a shared grand taxi to Ben Guerir where I caught a train north to Meknes. Hotel Maroc had been recommended to me and it's nice though after being used to the cheap hotels in Marrakech any other city seems expensive.
This morning I got up early again (early on this vacation seems to mean before ten a.m. but today I actually got up at seven). I went to the taxi station for the town of Moulay Idriss, which is close enough to Oualili that you can see it down the valley. There are no direct taxis to Oualili, so I hired a second taxi from Moulay Idriss to Oualili. Nobody else was going there so I had to pay for the whole taxi myself. The ride from Meknes, taking up one of six seats was ten dirhams, but the short few kilometers on to Ouaili was thirty since I had to pay for all six taxi seats. I later realized that other tourists come in airconditioned busses or in rented cars, though I suppose
All the columns have been restored. Nothing was left standing when French archiologists began restoring the site in the 50s, during the Protectorate. Restoration work was done in brick. The gray stone is all original.
I could have walked. It's all downhill from Moulay Idriss.
When I arrived the gate was open and I was charged the nominal ten dirham entry fee charged by all national monuments. Rebecca had recommended I get a guide though, so I walked around a bit by myself while I waited for one of the guides to make it to work. I arrived before 9am (I don't have a watch, but it's an educated guess) and a French speaking guide showed up only fifteen minutes later.
Note to my French students: There was an English speaking guide, but he didn't show up till much later and he was already promised to a tour group from England. There was also a Spanish speaking guide, but they guys working the gate weren't sure if he was working today. There was also at least one guide who spoke Italian. There were lots of guides who spoke French and Arabic.
I got the first guide who came to work and he spoke excellent French. Sometimes I forgot and asked him questions in Arabic, but we mostly stuck to French. I am very glad to have hired a guide. Even if I
This altar was used to sacrifice animals to the Roman gods before the building was made into a church and a baptismal pool was added. It's fascinating to see Paganism and Christanity to well documented in a Muslim country.
did have a guide book with me, it wouldn't have been as good. I had lots of questions and book aren't as good at answering my questions. Authors aren't that good at anticipating the kinds of things I want to know.
My first question was why the two names. When signs are written in the European alphabet they spell out the name Volubilis. When they're in the Arabic script they spell out Oualili. The guide, Abdelmalek, told me that the first name was Roman. After the Romans left North Africa the Amazight (Berbers) ruled this area and they renamed the city Oualili. Volubilis means "morning glory" in Latin but Oualili means "laurel flower" in Tamazight (the language of the Berbers).
The tour took about an hour, then I wandered around by myself for another hour, revisiting some of the places I had wanted to linger more at. Eventually the sun was too much for me. I walked back up the hill from Oualili to the main road to Moulay Idriss. It was abour 400 meters but there are no taxis sitting around Oualili. There were plenty of large air conditioned busses and cars, but nothing for me. Luckily
l'Arche de Triomphe
Inscribed in Latin at the top of the arch is a message of thanks from the citizens of Volubilis to their caesar. A bronze statue of a chariot pulled by six horses used to be on top of that - it is now in the Louvre in Paris.
the first car that passed on the main road stopped. It wasn't a taxi but it had a Netherlands lisence plate. The Moroccan driving spoke English (with a Dutch accent) and kindly gave a me a ride to Moulay Idriss where I caught a taxi back to Meknes.
Tot: 2.645s; Tpl: 0.048s; cc: 22; qc: 81; dbt: 0.0583s; 2; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 4;
; mem: 1.5mb