Morocco – Land of Deserts, Mountains and History.
My visit to Morocco, in 2010, was with the same group of photographers as the photographic workshop in Ethiopia.
We flew in via Madrid because there were no direct flights from Israel. The connection flight was supposed to be a 2 hour wait. Due to technical problems we had a delay of another 6 hours. We knew we were facing additional tribulations; in Marrakech we were supposed to get our entry visas at the airport – but that service is only available during daytime – we would now be arriving in the middle of the night.
The nightmare continued upon our arrival to Menara airport, the immigration police assumed that we were journalist and did not want to give us entry permission at all! It took more than 2 hours just to convince them otherwise.
At last, 6 hours late, we finally arrived to the hotel.
After getting our rooms, we started out – no sleep, time is a premium! Our first experience and photo-op was Djemaa El Fna, the chaotic main square of Marrakech.
We saw and photographed Gnaouas dancers; swaying and leaping and playing different instruments; transforming the square that colorful and noisy magnetic attraction it is.
After 6pm, with the sun well past its zenith, countless food vendors open their tables and kitchens in and around the square. Now we could taste any morsel we chose in turn and smell everything at once.
e continued into the small side streets, to discover food shops, popular Moroccan snacks, pass by thousands of spice markets and continue to be astonished by the colors and fragrances of the spices; saffron, paprika, turmeric and many many others.
From there we headed to souks where one can find traditional breads, a bit further on you traditional carpets and souvenir shops.
You have to be ready to bargain, it is a way of life there.
At sunset we found a coffee shop at the edge of the market with a large veranda on the flat roof. A true photographers “hot-spot”!!!
Each one of us chose a location for a tripod and started to shoot – in different modes and with diverse aspects - the target: The Square.
- Observing the people in the square from the vantage point of the roof was an interesting way of taking shots and experimenting with panning mode, over exposure and other low light techniques.
Other places that we visited were:
It’s a small village in the Atlas Mountains (elev. 1750m) it’s a perfect place for trekking and climbing.
We did trek on the ponies around the village and the surrounding green valleys.
Tafraoute is located in the Anti-Atlas Mountains.
It sits in a bowl between rocky outcrops; it is Morocco’s Berber heartland. The village has groups of minarets and low pink houses - very colorful – good for photography. While there we went to see another attraction. It is called Jean Veran’s Blue Rock; quite famous; the small hills and granite boulders are covered with 18 tons of blue, red, violet and white paint. It’s a “must” to visiting there. On our way to Jean Veran’s Blue Rock we also visited the AmmeIn Valley situated below Tafraoute, there is a river bed you can walk along, interesting tall trees – another nice place to take photos.
Essaouira is an exotic place, fortified with walls, a fishing harbor and seagulls screaming over the town. We arrived around lunch time, we were tired and hungry, we sat in a small fisherman’s restaurant, and each and every one of us chose fresh fish grilled right next to us, it was very tasty.
Then we went and explored the narrow alleyways of the town. The wind from the Mediterranean carries the smell of rotting fish guts and garbage dumps mixed with aromas of spices and thuya wood. Women in white veils passed by and we heard the sound of the drums reverberating from houses and shops.
- The photos that I took there at the sunset and at the first light are some of the best photos I took Morocco.
The last place that we visited before returning back to Marrakesh was the desert.
We spent two full days in jeeps in the desert. It was not a very comfortable drive but when we stopped it was at real places of interest. We visited centers of Saharan culture, where the architecture merges naturally with the ground. Along the way we met camel caravans – a picture of the past.
The night we spent in a big tent with an open campfire. Our “beds” were soft made of Sahara sand. We nearly ran out of water, we had just enough to brush our teeth in the morning. Some of us slept outdoors, beneath the clear sky, with millions of stars. It was a fabulous scene that I will never forget.
Next day we woke up very early to take photos with the first rays of light. It was an awesome, once in a life-time, experience to be there.
Later that day we continued on to Marrakesh for our flight back home
In addition to an exciting trip, wonderful experiences and beautiful photos, there is also the Morocco Photo Album the first of two Ethiopia Albums I published.
Hello Ms. Deniz Bensason
About you Essaouira write: “The photos that I took there at the sunset and at the first light are some of the best photos I took Morocco.”, but you do not show the pictures of Essaouira at sunset in your blog.
I know Essaouira well; I live in Diabat just over the Oued River Ksob.
Is there anywhere where I can see these pictures?