Steve Ochs


Steve Ochs

Africa » Morocco » Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz » Essaouira December 22nd 2017

Dec. 22nd – 25th Well, from here on out this whole things slows to a crawl and we drop into the sleepy beachside vibe of Essaouira. We slow roll the alleys, stopping to dig on street food and street cats. We climb across the rocky sea wall surrounding the ancient walls of the fortress that contains the medina and marvel at the coast, the Atlantic and the seabirds. The tide is starting to come in and around each curve the wall keeps coming and an entrance back into the medina is not visible. It’s a high wall with parapets and some cannons that we are given to believe is where Calisi first addressed the Un-Sullied. Game of Thrones is so good that this actually feels like a historical location! UNESCO is going to have to open ... read more
breakfast on the terrace
entering the medina

Africa » Morocco » Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz » Essaouira December 21st 2017

We wake up in the morning in time to get out by 9:45 to catch the 10:45. We explain Steve’s inability to stay in Marrakesh to Yamina and she is totally understanding… or thinks Steve is a basket case and doesn’t mind losing the drama. Either way, she wishes us well, feeds us breakfast and Moha helps us get our luggage to the square to pick up petit taxi. We thank her by giving her our sole bottle of red wine we've been carrying since Spain. The bus tickets are cheap, the ride is about 2 ½ hours and off we go. These buses have been a pleasure both here and in Spain. The legroom is fine, the seats are comfy and there haven’t been any really loud talkers or crying babies. We stop for lunch ... read more
Port boats
port nets

Africa » Morocco » Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz » Marrakech December 20th 2017

Okay, breakfast is grand what with eggs and all, but the most impressive aspect is that they have even more variations on bread! We coffee and juice ourselves sufficiently and it’s back to Driss. This will be our last day in the SUV. We will traverse the High Atlas Mountains for most of it, stopping at a couple of touristy things along the way, if only to stretch our legs. It will be a long day. The first stop(s) will be a movie museum and the Atlas Studios tour. Because virtually all of our friends work in or around the film industry we will explain briefly; nothing to see here. They just don’t make many films here and the films they did make are old and who gives a shit. We do see a couple of ... read more
Excavation in floor of hotel
Atlas Studios
movies that filmed at Atlas Studios

Africa » Morocco December 19th 2017

We are up by 7:00 AM and climb a high berm to watch the sunrise, another Saharan anti-climax. Breakfast is bullshit, but coffee is coffee and all we really want is to camel our asses out of here. The departure ride turns out to be surprisingly pleasant as the sun begins to defrost us. There are thin sheets of ice resting feather-light across the top of the sand pulling a cold shimmer from the still-rising sun. The color of the sand on the Saraha as been so realistically portrayed in film that when you arrive you're certain you're there. One of the things you hope to enjoy in the desert is tranquility, but the occasional buzz of an SUV speeding by destroys whatever romantic fantasies we may be able to summon, so, really, overall, fuck this. ... read more
frozen dunes 2
sand dunes

Africa » Morocco December 18th 2017

After breakfast more delightful conversation with Akmed and Said, we leave the Kasbah – note; just because one stays in the Kasbah, one is not obligated to “rock” same. From Wikipedia: In Morocco and in Iberia, the Arabic word form of kasbah frequently refers to multiple buildings in a keep, a citadel or several structures behind a defensive wall. When we turn around and get our first look at the Kasbah we are already leaving, it’s really quite nice! Next up, African musicians and Berber pizza. Again, understand that we are touristing like a motherfucker right now, so don’t expect anything off-the-beaten-track or challenging. But that doesn’t mean things can’t be interesting. For instance, the African music. We’re led into a small hut like building from which we can already hear rhythms pouring forth. Inside, there's ... read more
Mining for some mineral we can't remember
Buying souveniers at Mining Site
Buying souveniers 2

Africa » Morocco December 17th 2017

Another nice night of sleep gives way to another nice breakfast. Driss is our guide and he arrives right on time. He’s 32 (and actually looks about 32!), and Berber. He’s also amiable and accommodating. We will learn that he is a total pro, who, while from a world all but entirely dissimilar to his guests, has been at this for a long time – seven years – and knows the ropes. We are now entering the touristy part of this trip. It will mercifully short at four days three nights and will run us past just about all of the most touristy-but-necessary-to-see shit in the country. Driss picks us up after breakfast and we begin driving. The car is a perfectly comfortable, if not new, SUV and Driss is a safe, unhurried driver. Overall, the ... read more
Barbary macaque Monkey in Tree
Barbary macaque grooming
Driss' family

Africa » Morocco » Fès-Boulemane » Fes December 16th 2017

A little travel maintenance this morning as we find and book a desert tour. We will have a driver for three nights and four days who will take us around to all the places you will read about starting tomorrow. We wander towards to the market to look around, leave the medina because we want soup, find some whatever the Arabic word for uneventful is, soup, and dip back into the medina. A little more wandering takes us from soup to souk. The souk is the market inside the medina. This is that Indiana Jones shit you want to see. Narrow alleys criss-crossing with more narrow alleys; merchandise of all kinds hanging in front of worn facades with Moorish arches or other ancient designs. Bags, jewels, antiques, lamps, clothing, every possible combination of nick-nick, tchotchke, craft ... read more
camel meat

Africa » Morocco » Fès-Boulemane » Fes December 15th 2017

The breakfast at the dar is buffet style with our new Senegalese pal Momadu (as in “Daddy don’t but Momadu”) at the spatula. We haven’t got a damn thing planned for today, but we do know that we are in Morocco’s oldest medina/souk combo and that any kind of decent travelers would do something about that. So, we check in with Said and ask if we can hire a guide. He directs his only word, “Yes,” toward the problem and we’ll have one at the door in an hour. Lhasen shows up with a broad smile and a professorial air. He’s late 50-60s, but like normal 50-60s, not Said the hash dude’s 50-60s… which means be must be 43. We’ve got him for three hours, but the tour starts off pretty slow. He stops in front ... read more
alley 3
alley 4
coke is it

Africa » Morocco » Fès-Boulemane » Fes December 14th 2017

At breakfast we meet a couple of nice young men from Minnesota. They are on sort of a reverse course to ours and have been to many of the places we are hoping to visit, with the distinct exception of Minnesota. Fes is next up for us and they had a great time there. One of them likes to spin his own wool (no, that is not a euphemism for ram masturbation) so the high point of their trip was visiting a nomadic tribe that spins and looms and makes highly intricate rugs. Today we have little to do beyond securing our passage by bus to Fes. This will require that we trek down the hill to the bus station to procure tickets, then come back to get our luggage and leave a while later. This ... read more
Local art in Riad
Market day
Fish monger and the help

Africa » Morocco » Tangier-Tétouan » Chefchaouen December 13th 2017

It’s a little chilly, everywhere, all the time – heaters are a luxury that the better part of the third world has agreed against – so we dine in our room. Breakfasts here are bready. Everything is bready. If you sat down in a restaurant to order bread, it would come with bread. Anyway, we rise with the yeast and head out into the Civil War tribute blue streets and grey skies. We have no specific plans for today other than to try and get lost in the medina. The people here are insanely sweet and friendly. The most fierce looking, unshaven, snaggle-toothed, comic book-bad guy Arab, if taunted with a, “Bonjour,” will break into a smile and respond with, “Ca va bien?” The throaty tones of Arabic have been so vilified in our protectionist ears ... read more
Wizard outside riad
chef wizard 2
Outside riad door 1

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