Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Spain-Portugal-Morocco--Sept 2012-- # 3

This has turned out to be a long one. Get that scroll wheel ready. :-)

A few more bits & pieces from Spain & Portugal.

This is the post office in Madrid... never seen one like it. My dad worked in the post office in Moose Jaw for 42 years so I've always been interested in them.

Outside a restaurant we went to for a flamenco show. The "golden hour" adds great light.

Jane passed her bus-driving course so Paco presented her with her graduation hat.

Cathedral in Salamanca, Spain... on the bag above too. Salamanca is one of those cool names.

On a side street in Salamanca some activity outside this church caught our eye so we followed a few others inside and found that a wedding was underway. They seemed to be ok with a few tourists looking on from the back.

Somewhat more modern architecture... but with the distinct European flavor still.

Attractive tiled street sign in Portugal. 

Tiles are pretty much everywhere else you go as well. This was at a roadside lunch stop.

Cathedral in Batala, Portugal.

Any tour in Europe is going to include some cathedrals. It's just a matter of how many. :-)

Don Quixote & buddy looking for windmills to attack. 

Get ready, Don. Here's one.

A revisit to a sculpture from earlier in the blog. This time in context.

Statue or person?

The "White Store". Everything in it was white.

It took a bit of convincing to get Jane to pose with this guy. I thought he was kinda cute.

We left for Tangiers, Morocco from Tarifa, Spain aboard the 'Tarifa Jet' ferry. Including the word 'Jet' in its name was a bit of a stretch.



Morocco is a country caught between two centuries. Donkey carts travel along the same roads as today’s modern cars, albeit on the side of the road. In many respects, Morocco is as modern as any country on earth but it still has the dust of the past on it. In some areas, with adobe homes and barren hills, and sheep & goats in the fields, it almost looks biblical.

When I was there in 2000, I saw the deserts of the south and the Atlas mountains in the east and the sparsely populated Ziz River valley. Those areas were living in the past then, separated from it only by modern vehicles passing them on the highway that cut through their land. Of all my travels, Morocco remains one of my favourite countries, especially because of the areas I saw on my first visit. It was good to be back.

Fez was our first overnight in Morocco. The highlight of Fez for me was the medina (market, old city) and within it, the tannery. The methods used in the tannery have been the same for nine centuries. It was incredibly fascinating to me. I could have spent hours there.

There was lots to see on the way to the tannery. I always asked if it was ok to take shots of people. A few said no, but most were ok with it.

The old and the new.

Fez Tannery:

I got carried away with taking shots of the tannery. I took dozens. I've probably included way too many. Fascination with something that's new to us does that, doesn't it? We take way too many shots of the first mountains we see, the first palm trees, the first turquoise sea (like the Caribbean). I do, at least.

From the web:
One of the most interesting sites in Fez is the Leather Souq and the oldest leather tannery in the world. The tannery dates back at least nine centuries. When approaching the tannery the smell is the first suggestion that something different is about to appear. The stench is worth braving as the view over the balcony allows those watching to see a site that has not changed since the 11th century.

We were given a sprig of mint to sniff as we looked on from the balcony. It helped, though I didn't think the smell was all that bad. Depends on the wind I expect.

Most of the hides are from sheep & goats.

Some of those beautiful purses and other leather goods you buy in Morocco may have started their life here.

The workers stand in the stone vessels that are filled with different dyes. The hides are first soaked in diluted acidic pigeon excrement and then transferred to other vessels containing vegetable dyes such as henna, saffron and mint.

The sheep's wool (is it wool?) doesn't look too good at this stage. I missed some of the explanation... I must google it later.

Some brown dye in this shot.

Looks like they built a few new vessels.

It's hot work. Temperatures can hit 40 degrees or more Celsius (104 F) in the summer.

Hides hung out to dry.

I reluctantly left the tannery behind, but there was more to see in the medina.

I missed the full explanation of this wall but it was something to do with elections. That alone is interesting.

Moroccan countryside varies from mountains (a few ranges of the Atlas Mountains) to barren hillsides to lush valleys and hillsides. Some areas are flatter than around Moose Jaw. Holey smokes!

For those of you living in other countries, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan is in the heart of the Canadian prairies. I grew up there. It's also known as "God's Country". :-)

Many countries use cacti for fencing in certain areas.

A region with barren hillsides (mostly) but also a good-sized watering hole, with lots of cattle egrets enjoying the oasis.

It's common for work crews to have a tent or two set up where they're working. I would guess the tents are just for lunch breaks and to escape the constant sun, but maybe they stay overnight sometimes too. Not sure.

I think Arabic is a beautiful looking language. Ours is boring looking really.

There's lots of variety in the countryside as I mentioned earlier but when you see barren hillsides, they give new meaning to the word barren. Cattle egrets follow farmers in Morocco just as seagulls do here.

Wheat & other grain crops are grown in Morocco.

And olives...

A sweeping valley with a view for miles.

These hills would almost pass for sand dunes.

This lake, tucked in amongst the hills reminds me of one that looks almost exactly the same in Nevada, USA.

The country-side can change quickly from barren to much less so.

Small town Morocco...

How to water a tree.

There was a 20 mile stretch or so where yellow melons were the crop of choice.

Most fields offered no shade at all so some farmers built shelters for their stock.

A tidy way to stack your bales... less chance of them falling over too. The cement structure is an aqueduct, common in the drier areas.

A quick shot of a pomegranate gathering point.  

The driver had to come to a complete stop for these two. With no fences, it's unusual for the owner not to be nearby.

The mother on the left is hobbled so she can't wander too far away, but it puts her at risk. The young ones don't need to be hobbled. They'll stay with the mother.

This is much more common... the owner staying with his livestock, especially when they are in the ditch by the highway as they are here. 

We stopped for lunch and this was the view from the outside patio. The land is rich in iron, based on the red color.

There was a pomegranate tree just in front of us.

Coca-Cola in Arabic--on the opposite side of the bottle. Maybe not. Who knows what Coke might put on the bottle in Arabic. I doubt that there could be a literal translation. Can anyone translate for me?

This is getting long isn't it. One more post might do it.

Until Part 4...

- fini -


At 24 October 2012 at 19:26 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

We didn't see the wedding in Salamanca :(
Thanks for sharing Bob. Morroco is indeed a very interesting country. This is another enjoyable chapter. Gracias, Obrigada, Shukran.


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