Thursday, 8 November 2012

Spain-Portugal-Morocco--Sept 2012-- # 5

Our tour guide, Ines, has a wonderful sense of humour. Add that to her considerable knowledge of Spain, Portugal & Morocco and you have the recipe for a fun, informative tour. She had us in stitches at times.

This shot is in the bus mirror.

Back to Dejemaa del Fna square in Marrakech...

His monkeys are cute, but he was a jerk.

I wasn't going to add the story that goes with the above picture, but then I thought, some people enjoy a short story, so why not.

The Story of a Jerk
We watched this guy and his buddy for a couple minutes but nothing was really happening. He was talking to another tourist. So I took a couple shots and before we moved on, I took out some coins to offer him a tip.

He looked at the coins and said, "No, no. Paper money, paper money". I thought to myself, this guy must think I look like a sucker.

So, I put the coins back in my pocket, and got my wallet out. I took out one of the U.S. one dollar bills that I keep for tips, and put my wallet back in my pocket.

He quickly realized that the dollar was less than the coins I offered him before, so he started again, "No, no", at which point I stuffed the dollar in his hand and left. He was still grumbling as I walked away. He's lucky I left him anything, but at this point I wanted him to have his 'paper money'. What a jerk.

This is no reflection on Morocco of course. All countries have their share of jerks. Thankfully for us all, they're few and far between.

The snake charmers were next to monkey-guy. They were what you'd expect, like 99.99% of the world is. They were appreciative of any tip that was offered to them. I gave them a generous tip, same as monkey-guy would've got if he hadn't been so greedy and had kept his big mouth shut.

On any tour to Morocco, at some point you'll find yourself in a carpet shop. You'll be offered mint tea, and with a certain flair, carpets will be laid out before you. This one was in Fez.

It's common to see trucks loaded with propane tanks. It's the main source of fuel for most areas.

Countryside of Morocco...

Oleander is common in the dividers of main highways and in cities as well. Not only is it beautiful, it's more resistant than most flowers to pollution from vehicles. It's also highly poisonous so animals won't eat it.

Morocco has a varied countryside... from barren to lush, from flat plains to mountains and sweeping river valleys.

History is, as much as anything, the story of powerful nations invading weaker ones to rob them of their resources. Europeans carved up Africa. Morocco was French Morocco (most of it) until 1956. Most Moroccans speak Berber, Moroccan Arabic or French.

Checking out the action.

Suggestion for boy... "Put your water bottle in the shade".

Now & then you see a large flock of sheep, but most often it's only a handful, like above.

This was common... a lone person in a field, watching his stock. It looks to me like he spread some straw on the ground to make things a bit more comfortable. No shade though.

Morocco's tax laws are such that a home or building won't be taxed until it is completed. So it's fairly common, in smaller towns especially, to leave them unfinished indefinitely. Cuba has the same policy.

With few street lights, a common practice is to paint trunks of trees white to help a bit at night. These are in town but you see them in the countryside too. There are other reasons for painting trunks white but this one made sense to me in some cases.

We stopped in Casablanca for lunch and to see the Hassan II mosque. We ate at McDonald's (heaven forbid) for the simple reason that service is fast so you can eat and have some time to look around the area, rather than sit in a restaurant for an hour and get back on the bus, having seen nothing but a restaurant... and maybe a good view out the window.

Casablanca is on the Atlantic. This was our view as we ate our lunch on a bench across from McDonalds.

The buildings on the right are on an island.

Sometimes, small things catch your eye. Most cities use posts to stop drivers from parking on the sidewalks. These balls are a change.

An 'artist' with a sense of humour.

Morocco is a monarchy so it has a royal family. It's fairly common to see images of the family in places, in this case on a billboard in Casablanca.

The Hassan II mosque is huge. You need some people in an image to appreciate its scale. It's on the shore of the Atlantic in Casablanca.

It can hold 25,000 worshipers inside and another 80,000 on the square surrounding it. Huge or not, it must a tight fit for 25,000.

6,000 Moroccan artisans worked on it for 5 years... on the mosaics, marble floors, moldings, etc. The construction work involved 35,000 workers, putting in over 50 million man-hours. (Wikipedia)

An outside feature.

Another of my favourite shots from the trip. These girls were on their way home from school, walking across the square outside the Hassan II mosque. Two of them were obviously sharing a moment, but the third is still connected as they all hold hands... something that's very common in non-western countries.

I tried a few renditions of the shot.

... including some quick cloning in Photoshop. I may work on reducing the strength of the background later.

A version using a Nik filter.

If you know the movie 'Casablanca' (Bogie & Bergman), you may remember Rick's Cafe. The movie was shot entirely in Hollywood apparently, but in 2004 an enterprising entrepreneur opened this cafe to cash in on the nostalgia.

Spain, Portugal & Morocco all have generous amounts of marble... in hotel lobbies, stairwells, washrooms, etc. The mines are close by so I assume the price is low.

A gathering point for the locals. Who doesn't like to catch up on the latest gossip?

A couple in our group were "married" at one of our outings.

Elizabeth & Winn surprised us all when they appeared in Moroccan attire for a dinner outing in Marrakesh. The 'paparazzi' went wild.

We didn't get inside but I like the shot... the guy in silhouette, the blue lights.

The restaurant was beside the casino. First time we've been given a wooden spoon with soup.

George was often seen in a hotel lobby, using the wireless to keep in touch with the kids back home.

Time for tea.

Rabat is the capital of Morocco. An ancient wall surrounds the old city.

Guards at the King Hassan II mausoleum in Rabat. Hassan was laid to rest here in 1999.

I like this reflection shot.

Terrible bus window reflections in this shot, but it's an indicator of how different countries approach things. Workers set up tents where the job is.

A water-seller in Rabat.

Some of them are very persistent. It looks like this woman is saying 'No' for the tenth time maybe, as he stands there with a "What's your problem?" looking pose.

So colorful.

No cable TV so satellite dishes are everywhere.

A cemetery in Rabat.

"Mother & Inquisitive Child"... another shot I like. I'll have to see if I can do something with the background to improve it.

I guess I'm not finished yet. :-) I'll post another bunch later.

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- fini -


At 8 November 2012 at 19:09 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

FANTASTIC! Thanks for taking me back to such a beautiful place on a gloomy Thursday afternoon here. As usual, I enjoyed your story along with the fascinating pictures. Please keep them coming. SHUKRAN BOB & JANE.

At 14 November 2012 at 15:20 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you both
Shukran Bob. Keep posting some more, please!


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