Wednesday, June 29, 2022


Why do I travel?   There are lots of reasons I suppose but the most important part is that traveling causes me to learn more about myself, my ways of things (and learning they are not always valid), and seeing that we have more in common than we have differences.

 So, while I loved the food of Morocco, the varied landscapes, the beautiful crafts, the spectacular   architecture with its arches, soft corners, integration with the environment, doors, and scary stairways,  it was the people who made the trip.

Margo and Arnie, the workshop leaders (Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures) were adamant about not sneaking photos of people, of asking for permission.   Exception were made when people were far away, especially it their faces were not visible.  In other cases we did ask for permission, even if it was as simple as pointing to our camera and waiting for a "yes."  And if there was affirmation,  then we found something else to photograph.   It makes sense.  I know I had plenty of photos taken of me when I worked in Yellowstone and Glacier, especially when I was in uniform, with my bus.  I knew it went with the territory.  But it can get to be old if it happens every time you are loading your camel or donkey, arranging the fruits in your stall, or  hanging up clothes on the clothesline.   If we were purchasing, or  made arrangements  to have tea or a meal with the family, then photos were welcome.  In other instances, we gave them something for their time.  Sometimes they were fine with photos for just the chance to chat a bit. 

I do have a photo here that was unintended.  I was photographing down a long, narrow passageway in a medina (walled part of a city).  A mother and son were almost to the end when the light would hit nicely.  Their faces would not show.  Just as I was ready to shoot, a when a woman leaned out her door and tossed soapy water into the alley.  I didn't know she was there and didn't expect the shot.  In fact, I expected it would probably be out of focus and not useable.  But it was.  Sometimes we are lucky.   Because of my position leaning against a wall, I don't think she even saw me.  Had she, I would have apologized.

On my last day in Casablanca I was eating lunch at an outside cafĂ©.  A shoeshine man came by.  My shoes did look pretty awful.   I knew I only had a rather large bill, by local standards, but I asked the waiter if he could give me change.  He said yes, but it would take a little while....I saw him talk to someone inside and then jog down the street to a couple of shops.  He came back with change.  In the meantime I had asked the gentleman who was going to polish my shoes if I could take a photo.  Since I do not speak Berber, Arabic or French beyond hello, thank you and other simple transactions,  I pointed to my camera and then with my hands indicated I wanted a photo of  him shining my shoes.  He shook his head.  I set the camera down.  But then he put his hands in front of his face, and indicated no, but pointed to his hands with the brush and my shoe and smiled and said "yes."  And so there is a photo of my shoes being polished.

Even as he was polishing them I knew they were not going home with me.  I jettisoned some clothing, the shoes, toiletries to make room from treasures.  I sent them to the desert to be distributed to whoever could use them.

Here are some of the faces of Morocco.   Clicking on a photo to enlarge will allow you to see the detail and appreciate the scene better than these small images..

Weaving is an ancient and honorable art.  Wool comes from sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys.  They also provide meat and milk.  Agave plants are striped for their long, silk like fibers which are used for scarves and the purse I purchased.  The first set of photos show weaving from the wool on the hoof to the weaving, to selling and to washing family rugs in streams. 

carding the wool

Weaving a light weight blanket\coverlet

Weaving agave strands which have a silky sheen to them

These women were washing rugs in a stream.  They were delighted at our interest.   Here the rugs were placed on a plastic tarp and then walked on to help get dirt out.  

Lis, one of the photographers in our group, took off her sandals and helped with the washing.

The wash houses in Chefchouen are quite elaborate.  The river runs over cement causeways where carpets and blankets can be spread without the tarps.  Inside the wash houses are scrub boards for smaller items.   On my previous trip to Morocco one of my fellow travelers and I did some of our laundry on the scrub boards here and then took it back to our lodgings to hang on the roof to dry.  On this trip there was less activity at the wash house (perhaps because it was Ramadan) but there are some blankets carpets drying on the roof of the wash house.

Leather is another art in Morocco.  Again, the same animals provide the hides.  The city of Fez is famous for its tanneries.  When you enter they give you a spig of mint to hold under your nose because the smell can be quite disagreeable.  However, it was a fairly quiet afternoon and the smell wasn't bad. 

click on this to see mom's smiling eyes.

As I look through my photos and think about the trip, I realize there was plenty of laughter, from out own group , our laughing guides, to people we met in our travels.   I think kids take on a lot of responsibilities, but it is also clear the families and communities are affectionate..

This young man worked in a small gift shop with quite a few antiquities.  Here he is getting something off the roof.


Overlooking Fez.  This was the last day of Ramadan.  Many gathered with picnics on the grounds of mosques, in parks to break the final fast.  These young men are on the cemetery hill.   A loud blast (cannon?) went off at the official sunset time.

And best of all the funny, caring, conscientious, warm guides.

Mouhammad and Hamid





Hamid, Aziz and Mouhammad share a laugh with Margo.

And last but not least, the smiling camel