Some memories, thoughts, media and other random banal stuff about a trip to Morocco in October/November 2008. See the report about my Norway 2006 trip for the mode of travel.
There is another video in the bottom.
|2||Moulay Bousselham (Atlantic coast)|
|3||El-Jadida (Atlantic coast)|
|4||Essaouira (Atlantic coast)|
|5||beach north of Agadir|
|6, 7||Tafraoute (Antiatlas)|
|9, 10||Amtoudi (south of the Atlas)|
|11||riverbed along road between Tata and Agdz|
|12||Agdz (south of the Atlas)|
|15||Agdz (south of the Atlas)|
|16, 17, 18||Marrakech (north of the Atlas)|
|19||Asilah (Atlantic coast)|
The main benefit one might get out of travelling to a third world country is probably a reflection of ones own society. Morocco has a lot of the usual problems of "underdeveloped" countries, but its situation is in many ways not as bad as in a lot of other countries. Still it seems as though they are repeating the same errors we did on our way to higher standards. It hurts like hell seeing this.
Are they stupid and lazy? Probably not. Do they know better? Probably not. Do we know better? Probably yes. Do we act accordingly? Probably not.
In many ways what I saw reminded me of my uncle, who insists on planting nothing but spruce trees in his forest even though my dad would like to plant some other variety of trees in order to cultivate a stronger, better forrest.
Education is one key to the problem - as is probably for many problems of mankind.
When you see men working on stony little terrace fields with a single wooden plow being pulled by a donkey you have to admire them. And you start to understand why thousands of Africans try to get over the Mediterranean for a better life. A life shown in comercials and movies.
Well, the gift fades off pretty fast and it is not like I changed my life somehow...
The trip started on the 26th of October, the day summer-daylight-time ended, thus the daytime would shift further back for the holidays.
The first days of the holidays, traveling along the Atlantic coast southwards, we were chased by thunderstorms coming down from France and Spain. We were pretty lucky - one day later, and the trip would have been a mess. In the end we were only hit badly for one day in the Antiatlas around Tafraoute
Afterwards it was pleasantly dry everywhere - during the day it had nice 20°C with clear skies, in the night it got cold pretty fast - just like it ought to be in the desert. North of the Atlas in Marrakech and in Malaga at the Mediterranean the temperatures stayed pleasently mild in the evening.
Now the nice thing about traveling in the roof top bus is the amount of exposure one gets to ones surroundings. One feels the land, the weather, the sun, the wind and the change of the factors over time and location much more intense, than one would staying in hotels.
An exotic, african, picturesque country with a semi modern king has a certain appeal to it, but let's face it: Morocco might be a constitutional monarchy but it is not really democratic and a police state. The Berber part of the population is underrepresented in the in the administration and the leading class. Police and military are omnipresent. Of course they are nice and polite to tourist like we were, but their presence leaves a really bad aftertaste.
An episode: we passed the royal palace in Agadir and on the outside along the
palace wall every 30 meters stood a guard armed with an assault rifle. This
had an enormous trashy evil overlord Dr. No kind of feeling around it and which
appealed to the little boy in me a lot!
— Ah, whatever. Overthrow Mohammed VI! Power and enlightenment to the people! I guess I will never ever get to enter another monarchy.
Christine, I still owe you a coffee, for that stupid bet on the king's name. You tricked me there, ffs! And the guy with the dog in the security picture group is actually a spanish border guard with his hash-sniffling dog.
When we lost height while approaching Franz Josef Strauß seeing those small picture postcard perfect bavarian villages from above with a handful of farms, a church and an inn - it felt so bizarrely after three weeks of Morocco and some impressions of Spain from above. Driving on the german highway, the countryside looked like vacuumed. Very strange indeed. However I got accustomed to our high standards pretty fast again and look forward to the next culture shock in some other "underdeveloped" country. ;-)
I never swam in the atlantic ocean. I swam in the North Sea as a child, but never in the real Atlantic Ocean. Impressive as hell. There was a storm front chasing us from France and the Iberian peninsula thus it was windy as hell and the water was full of churn up sand.
The second time we took a dive into the sea south of Essaouria Matt warned me about a drift in the sea - I did not take his warning too serious. Quite careless of myself. So while Andy and I swam far outside, to catch and play with some of the bigger waves, I suddenly realized we had moved quite a bit far to the south. The drift was not actually pulling us out into the open, but along the coast to the south. Usually no problem in low tide, but right now at tidal peak the water came pretty close to the cliff along the coast and the beach was separated by rocks with pretty sharp edges which we had to cross barefoot and at the same time waves were pushing and pulling on our bodies, towards and away from the rocks. It was a quite nasty experience.
In retrospect I have to admit, that I did not swim in any open ocean since 1996 in San Diego. Not even the Mediterranean or the Baltic Sea. Shame on me. I am not happy with myself.
I really liked the fact, that without the big supermarket chains in rural areas and especially south of the high atlas you could not just buy anything you felt like buying but had to buy what the local dealers offered - which was usually what the local farmers and the season provided. Very nice, refreshing and mind provoking. Of course the food currently available was then sold in abundance. The picture in the food group of the banana stand was taken in a small village surrounded by banana plantations and along the main street was one banana stall next to the other.
Never did such a big shift in latitude to the south with my current knowledge of the celestial sphere. One can see much less of the circumpolar stars making orientation not really easier. Also the star constellations on the southern hemisphere are of course not as prominent as those on the northern hemisphere. Anyway, I would not have thought a leap from 48.5°N to 29.5°N makes such a remarkable difference.
The spanish ferries from Algeciera to Ceuta lack some decent outdoor decks to enjoy the impressive scenery between Africa and Gibraltar.
Yeah, that's pretty sick, but actually true, a lot of architectural details and the way modern buildings are build in this arabic country reminded me of the maps in the ego shooter battlefield2. Sick, but true.
Some of my packing considerations were coined by experiences from a similar trip to Norway in 2008. Well, the general conditions in Africa are different from those in Scandinavia - what a surprise!
|... I forgot it||... I did not have it||... I choose not to pack it|
* The kids in Morocco, especially south of the Atlas in small rural villages have (basic) schools and are not suffering of hunger. But they lack the little luxuries kids should have. Stuff which is all too common in our western societies. Next time I shall take with me all kind of old, left over balls, deflated, and ready to be pumped up locally.
I think I did not fly since spring of 2000. Even though I loved flying ever since. I love the takeoff, I love the touchdown, I love the air-holes, I love the Fight Club allusions (my shaver got off while packing the day before) and I absolutely love the aerial-view.
We left in MUC in absolutely foggy conditions. God, the view while turning into the runway with the fog lights turned on was absolutely stunning. Missed a great photo.
When we broke out of the clouds and turned to see the alps, tears of joy came to my eyes.The Lufthansa-flight was only about 40% booked and it was easily possible to switch to a triple seat by myself on the larboard-side looking towards the alps. The Pyrenees and the different surface structures in Spain where stunning.
If I were not such a lame ass, I could fly much more often. Just book a damn flight! Oh well.
Amtoudi is a small village in a canyon in the desert south of the High Atlas. It is blessed with water by a spring coming out of the canyon. Above the village thrones the oldest agadir of morocco. Agadirs are fortified granaries build in earlier times to protect citizens and their belongings from other hostile tribes. Along the walls of the canyon houses, fields and palm-trees are crammed. Further back in the canyon another agadir is built on an exposed rock formation above the canyon. One walks and climbs the canyon further up in the direction of the spring. Small basins washed out by the water in the stone invite for a quick refreshing bath. It is a truly beautiful, calm and magic place.
We spent a whole day there, exploring the agadirs and the canyon, hiking, organizing firewood for our next night-site, going for diner. Later, while lying in my sleeping bag under the open sky (on the ground of the dry swimming pool for wind protection) I reflected the perfect day and tears came to my eyes.
We packet our stuff the night before at the camping site in Torremolinos and cleaned the bus at the time. It was quite messy. The next morning we had to get up quite early, and the end of the story: I left my leatherman-tool and my swiss army knife in my backpack and "tried" to get it through security in the cabin of the plane. Of course the competent guys at Malaga airport did what they had to do.
Never mind the leatherman-tool. Except for the nippers the thing was crap without a locking mechanism. But the small swiss-army knife was actually my first knife ever, given to me by my father in third grade elementary school. I lost many other knifes since then, but never this one. Damn.
Well I dwelled a little bit in self pity, shed some tears and cursed my inattentiveness. Pretty funny, seen from the distance.
Well, what do tears mean in these days? Most of those modern perfectly produced animation flicks bring tears to my eyes in some scene.
Marrakech at the same time fullfilled, surpassed and did not comply with all the stereotypical expectations and imaginations I had. It is a magically perfect anthropogeny place like the Golden Gate in San Fransico, the Time Square in New York, the Basin di San Marco in Venice, the Campo di Fiori in Rome and so many other places in the World.
The main square is the Djemaa el Fna. It is transformed in a big outdoor restaurant each evening. Here is a time lapse over three hours of the build up (photographed from the terrace of Cafe Glacier - great view, but bad service):
My gratitude to my travel group for being relaxed and highly motivated. Special thanks to our driver Marc bringing us safely to the greatest spots in Morocco and cooking some fine dishes for us.
A lot of the pictures (maybe 50%) are from Chris, Eike, Harry, Matt and
Marc. Shamelessly used here without asking them for permission. Kudos to them.
Harry compiled a nice gallery and Matt did three neat galleries of his pictures: I, II and III. Go check them out!