Monday, March 16, 2009

Back Home

I am in Tucson, back in my motorhome. Tomorrow I take the motorhome in for oil change, lube, and then begin heading northwest. I hope in the next couple of weeks to have some quiet time, and a computer with additional memory so it works faster, and I will post some of the photos from the trip.

Maybe a view of me on a camel, a donkey, with freshly hennaed hands, with the delightful Hamou in Chefchouen, and scenes of the busy markets, colorful spices and fabrics, food, High Atlas Mountains, Saharan sanddunes, turban wrapping, snake charmers putting snakes around my neck, mountain villages, narrow medina streets and busy souks. And that is just Morocco. I also have some beautiful architectural shots of Spain. So, bear with me just a couple more weeks and then I will be able to visually share the trip and also give some post trip reflections on my travels.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


My sojourn to Morocco has ended, but not the incredible memories. I will relive them as I cook Moroccan food, sip mint tea in my new tea pot, and sort the thousands of photos taken. I´ll be posting some of them in the next few weeks.

I am back in Madrid, which is a bit of a let down. However, that ends tonight when I meet a number of people from Pueblo Ingles for dinner. We had such a good time at the beginning of my trip, our week at La Alberca, speaking English, more or less. More or less, so common in Spanish, became a bit of a password for the experience. It should be great fun to see people again, renew those friendships, laugh, share wine and tapas.

Tomorrow morning I will take the metro to the airport, board my flight to Philadelphia and hopefully arrive in Phoenix without delays. Since the arrival is fairly late, I will spend the night at a hotel near the airport and catch the shuttle bus to Tucson the next day. Nan and Chuck will meet me at the shuttle stop in Tucson and take me to my motorhome in my cousin´s driveway. Inshalla.

"Inshalla" is the ending of wishes in Morocco. It means "god willing," and punctuates the language.

I haven´t updated my blog on the Morocco travels for awhile. Internet access isn´t possible from the back of a camel, donkey, or mule, although the camel driver did whip out his cell phone! Southern Morocco was as different from the north as eastern California is from the central valley or Montana is from Michigan: We crossed the High Atlas Mountains, after spending a night in a small gite (family inn) where there was still snow on the ground. The other three in the group treked high into the national park. I went part way but decided I would not be able to do the full trip with folks less than half my age, including two who do things like marathons. But I wandered about the small town, played a game similar to jacks, using stones, with some young girls who giggle as much as 7-9 years olds do anywhere in the world. I was pretty inept which caused great hilarity.

Another day, after a donkey ride across the river, I climbed to the top of a casbah (old castle) where many films have been made. Lawrence of Arabia, which I think I watched a half dozen times as a teen, was partially filmed there. Goal is to watch the movie again when I get to AZ. Enjoyed the palmeries, the oases in the desert.

I´ve done Berber 4X4, which means camels, donkeys and mules. We also did Japanese 4X4 as a vehicle drove us to our desert camp. I now apologize to all of you who ever rode in the back seat of my Suzuki on rough roads. The back seat does get bounced. I didn´t know how hard I hit the ceiling of the car until I shampooed a couple days later.

Watching the sun set and rise over the sahara dunes, seeing the clear night skies was special. Laughing and talking with my fellow passengers and our delightful leader, Mohamad, will not be forgotten. One of the great things about Intrepid Tours, is the use of public transportation, when possible, the use of small riads, gites, tents, small sized groups, and unstructured time. But the best part of this trip was the leaders. Redouan and Mohamad (I did two segments, different fellow travelers and different leaders) were delightful young men who shared with me so much about themselves, their families, their dreams, their culture. Wonderful experience. I hope to keep in touch with them, follow their careers.

I am returning with beautifully decorated hands with henna applied by a woman about my age, in the small city of Essouaria. I waited until late in the trip so I could wear this home, along with the turquoise soft leather outdoor slippers I purchased in Morocco.

Soon I will sort my photos and post some here for you all to see. Colorful spices in the markets, desert sandunes, bustling street scenes, meals, people.

Here are a few general street scene shots from Spain. It doesn't matter so much where as it shares some of the wonderful doorways, old narrow streets, bustling modern streets, fountains, public art and gardens. Spain has many new buildings and proudly hires famous architects for new public buildings such as museums. But there is also pride in the old. I saw several instances where an old building was surrounded by scaffolding and supports, protecting the historic facsade, while the entire inside was being gutted and modernized. The USA could learn much about city planning from other countries. From great public transit to walkable cities, outdoor cafes and places for families to play.