May week 3 – Morocco

Sometimes when you are traveling you forget to focus on the details because the grander scenes are so breath taking.  As we drove into and through the Atlas mountains the oases along the river valleys that gorged the mountains were stunning.  Although most of the time the bus could not pull over to allow time for panorama photographing. This route also led us past the “movie sets” where all of a sudden Egyptian pharaohs and scenes from the Queen of the Nile rose in the distance.

We stopped at Ait Benhaddou which is one of the best preserved Kasbahs in the Atlas region and was the set of Lawrence of Arabia and Jesus of Nazareth.  Once occupied by a hundred families less than ten remain.  One of the residents enjoyed modeling his jellaba in his door way.  So afterwards we passed the hat and everyone contributed a 10 dirham coin (worth about $1.50).

After photographing here we headed to our own renovated Kasbah (fortified house with one or four crenellated towers) for lodging. This was a great spot to include the details of the culture.  I was especially attracted to a pile of clay and wooded bowls, pots and water pitchers which I think were meant to be sold to patrons.

Usually you want to avoid something coming directly out of one of the corners of your image – but once in a while it works best this way.  I think that is the case for the rope that is holding this jug to a wooded post.  The early morning overcast helped vitalize the earth tones. Purposely I used a relatively shallow depth of field so the shapes of the other jugs in the upper left hand corner are barely detectable (in focus they would have been distracting, but without them the white sky would have been to distracting and bright)

There are just too many days and images to share with you in this blog entry, so watch for my portfolios and slideshow.  At Tinerhir we walked around the markets.  I photographed a couple of men in their hooded jellabas.  One of them was happy to have me make his portrait.  And he only asked for 10 dirham.

Along the way the bus pulled over to present us our first group of camel “models” and the added treat was a baby camel, even better when she took a drink from her mother.  The sky was so white and bright I choose to get in as close as possible to illuminate as much of it as possible. These camels were tended to by Berbers (early inhabitants if Morocco – with mixed origins/three distinct groups.  Often they are nomadic and know for their trading activities, rugs/carpets, and tribal ties).

The methods used by the Berbers to make camel hair and other styles of rugs/carpets were demonstrated.  The woman at the loom occasionally peaked out from between her strings.  I especially like this shot with only one of her eyes and it is playfully looking off in wonder.  Of course I was convinced to buy a rug – the embroidered style.   All of the colors are from dyes made with natural and organic ingredients, such as poppies for red and mint for greens.  When I got it home it needed a good airing out.

Here is where being on a tour probably helps – letting the company know we are coming. The weavers and sellers all dressed in their cultural clothing and didn’t turn away when we photographed them.  Sometimes they were a little corny but that was all part of the “dance.”  Of course mint tea, more than half sugar, was served.  We photographed at least three staged Tea pouring ceremony.  The server must be able to pour the tea from the silver pot to a glass cup.  Not just pour the tea – but from over one’s head allowing it to cascade but not spill.

Like everywhere you bargain, for your price – oh, I don’t like this.  I settle all too early.  I had to choose a carpet with purple/blue in it – the most costly color!

My next glimpse of Morocco will include the trek into the Sahara Desert.

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