In November, 2018 I was fortunate enough to travel to Morocco and join a photo expedition with Rosa Frei. Rosa is Swiss but has lived in Morocco for many years and did a fantastic job of showing us the country. Morocco overlooks the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The country covers an area of about 710,850 km (274,460 square miles) and its capital is Rabat with the largest city being Casablanca. The predominant religion is Islam and its official languages are Arabic and Berber. French is also widely spoken. In our group there was a couple from Australia and other couple from Edmonton, Canada and myself. We had two drivers/guides and spent 16 days touring the country. Morocco is in Northern Africa and very different from Kenya. I arrived in Marrakech which according to Rosa is probably the most interesting city in Morocco. I had a day to recover before meeting the group for dinner on November 11th.
The first morning of the tour we stopped off at the Bahia Palace. The palace was built in the late 19th century and was intended to be the greatest palace of its time. The name means brilliance. The architecture was intended to capture the essence of the Islamic and Moroccan style. So this was our first glimpse of what the Moroccan style was all about. Moroccan culture is a blend of Berber, Arab, Sephardi Jews, West African and European influences.
We walked by the Koutoubia Mosque which is the largest in Marrakesh. The mosque was built between 1184 and 1199. The minaret is 77 meters in height (253 ft). As you can see the building is made of red stone and has six rooms in succession, one above the other. It was designed to prevent anyone gazing in from the minaret to the harems of the king.
After leaving the Mosque we spent the rest of the day in the lively Medina (old town) which to me was the most interesting part of the city. The Medina was full of colorful shops and souks (markets). This is one of the many shops we saw filled with all kinds of colorful spices and food products.
Pictured above is Katharine from our group (Edmonton) talking to one of the "water sellers" in the main square in the Medina(Jemaa al Fnaa). It was hard to miss the brightly dressed men moving through the crowds often ringing bells and carrying goat skin bags of water and brass cups. Originally their function was to sell drinking water to the locals. Today they make their living charging a few dirhams for posing for tourist photos.
I was told by friends who had visited Morocco that the locals do not like to have their photos taken (especially the women). Many of the shopkeepers and other people we met were ok with us taking a couple of photos if we paid. Others were fine with no payment. So we pretty much asked all the time if it was ok to take someone's photo. Other times especially if we were taking a photo of an overall scene we quickly took one or two photos and walked away quickly (per Rosa's guidelines) so people did not think we were professional photographers. This man was fine with me taking his photo -Rosa actually asked him for me.
Everywhere you looked there were beautiful and colorful displays.
I gave this man some dirham so I could photograph him and his monkey. The monkey had no interest in looking at me at all.
Pretty much anything you needed could be found in the market.
I photographed this young man after asking him if it was ok. Then his dad? came running out of the shop across the street so I figured I was be in trouble for taking the photo however, his father just asked me if he could see the photo.
At the end of the day we enjoyed this view from a rooftop restaurant.
This photo and the next few were actually taken when the group returned to Marrakesh on the last day of the tour. We headed back to the Medina for one last look. It was fun to watch and photograph this snake charmer. Yes I did have to pay to take the photos.
A close up of one of the snakes.
This gentleman owned a store and was a friend of Rosa's so we went to see his shop which was full of very interesting products.
His brother was also happy to pose.
A view of the shops walking down the street.