Our first full day in Morocco. We drove along the coast, South from Casablanca. Our heads are spinning from the Arabic language, the people driving donkey carts and being stared at by everyone we pass. Here is just a small sampling of our experience on the first day.

Our first lunch in Morocco. Many of these roadside grills can be seen in the smaller towns, especially up in the North. He gave us the choicest cuts for our lunch. It is very cheap, about $4 for two pieces of bread, enough grilled meat to fill a grocery bag, and tea.
A mini-mart, which they call a grocery store. It is stocked from floor to ceiling with goods and it's about the size of a closet!
Some of the incredible detail in City Hall in Casablanca. The time it must take to carve all of this is astounding.
We were looked at with a great detail of suspicion because I carried a tripod (weapon?) and we took so long to photograph. The King was in Casablanca while we were visiting, so we were rushed on by our guide to avoid upsetting the guards posted here.
One of my favourite portraits of myself, mum took this one for me. :)
More detail of the fine work in City Hall.
Looking at the opposite corner, where the sun was working with me to give a mysterious enchantment to this gorgeous building.
Looking directly up into the ceiling dome of City Hall. Even the lamp is exquisitely carved and detailed.
A small sampling of what is available to tourists at the souk (market) in Casablanca. The domed dish is called a tagine and works like a slow cooker for couscous, vegetables and lamb, goat or chicken.
Olive market in the souk. Also there are salted lemons which are used in tagines and are DELICIOUS when used to flavour chicken. There are as many types of olives in Morocco as there are apples in Canada.
A familiar picture (wonder if they hire this guy!) at the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca. The scale of this mosque is mindblowing. The central square can hold something like 50,000 people on special occassions.
One of the arched walkways to either side of the mosque in Casablanca.
Heading out on the road towards the North. Rich farmlands and grassy hills fly by.
The orange here is wildflowers.
We came across a gorgeous area that reminded me of Greece, or, what I imagine Greece to look like. Olive groves were everywhere, and the roads were lined with huge agave cactus.
The sun sets.

We approached this town -Moulay Idriss- at around 6pm. The sky was a wonderful lilac colour which made everything so magical.
This is a picture of me pausing to listen to the call to prayer. Nothing is quite so enrapturing as hearing the sacred cry drifting over the hills at sunset. Allah u Ackbar.
The hand of Fatima. Or, God Knocker as my mum calls them. Hamsa (Arabic for 5) is the symbol of protection from the evil eye. Fatima is the daughter of Mohammed-the holy prophet of Islam.
The following day in Moulay Idriss, we have happened upon a guide, and he is taking us for a tour of this ancient sacred city. It is very medieval feeling, with stone work, rough stairs and dark tunnels everywhere.
Speaking of tunnels and stairs. There are several hundred stairs taking you up to the top of the hill. I do not believe it is possible to drive through this city. Most of the people take their donkeys up and down to transport food and other goods.
This is the bakery in Moulay Idriss. Very very primitive, but the baking is so tasty. Most baking here is done with almond paste, date paste, orange flavour. The flatbread is part of every daily meal, and every visit.
This is me with our guide Driss Lahmer. He was very flirtatious, and very kind. He took us to the town's points of interest, introduced us to some of the locals and got us a good deal on some djellabas at the little souk below. We are pictured here at his neighbour's rooftop where we were invited in for tea and orange cake.
These are the roman ruins of Volubilis. We drove by it, but it was visible also from the balcony in the previous photo.
On the road again, heading Northeast. We are in the part of Morocco with a stronger European influence. The people here have rounder faces, and can even be blond. I did not seen any blond Berber people, but many spoke Spanish as well as Arabic.
Such richness. I can honestly say that I was not expecting to see so much green in Morocco. Instead, we mostly saw green, rather than the sand and rock I'd expected.
And there is no shortage of water, at least not while we were here, and not in the places we visited.
We are approaching Chefchaouen (pronounced shefshawen), or Chaouen as the locals call it. It is a beautiful city, known for the plastered blue walls in the Medina (old town), hashish, and pickpockets. We encountered none of the drugs or pickpockets while here.
From the opposite hillside, our first view of Chaouen. We found a wonderful hotel, and discovered that we lacked the proper funds for payment. None of the banks had an outside connection while we were there(a common problem). Our host was very gracious, not only giving us a break on the cost, but giving me a gift -a pottery plate painted by his brother as a memory of Chefchaouen. The people in Morocco are so unbelievably kind.
Walking towards the Medina to see the blue buildings. Berber women are often seen carrying branches for the Hammam-public baths, or greens to feed the donkeys.
Into the old Medina, there are many tiny alleys, separated from the main roads and walkways by blue arches. The doors here are tiny and narrow. Most of them you have to bend over to get into.
We were invited into a local carpet "factory", which is a place where artisans work to weave these pieces of art. "Just for pictures," we were assured.
Then we were shown all different kinds, sizes, weights, and conveniently they took mastercard!
A new rug in the process of being made.
Wood for the Hammam. The public baths are tiled, small rooms with a pool in the center. People wear bathing suits, and it is an extremely clean place. A place to relax and hobnob, not to get clean.
I believe this is the most famous alley in Chefchaouen. The lady who lives in the topmost house was sweeping the stairs when we approached. She kindly waved and then stepped out of the picture so I could take this shot. "Shokran!" I say. "Thank You!".
A massage parlour and salon for women. Moroccans speak French in most major cities, though I wouldn't expect those not involved with the tourist industry to understand French.

 

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