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A Spring Jaunt, Part Deux

So a post a year isn’t that bad right?
Yeah ok.

I went on a walk hoping to catch some of the first buds of spring, but I didn’t have a lot of luck, at least with photos. My dog escaped me, and thank sweet baby jesus I had a much more fit friend with me who caught her as she chased the deer. Without him I would have been doomed.

I’ve focused on using my macro lens. It’s a 90mm Vivitar FD lens that I attach to my Canon DSLR with an adapter. It means I can’t use any of the auto capabilities, but usually that isn’t a problem. It does mean that in the wind the I often misfocus the flowers, so this is the only shot that I liked. I have also been experimenting with using Photoshop Elements 12. I really value having getting exposure right the first time, and my editing skill is extremely limited and I’m trying not to rely on it too much.

 

A Spring Jaunt

So, I (incredibly intelligently) left my camera at my grandma’s this Christmas. I had to wait until she came down for graduation (excitement!) to get them back. I won’t lie, those were hard months. I ended up buying a fancy app for my phone (Camera+ which I really truly adore) to make up for some of what I was missing–it’s wasn’t the best salve though.

Today I took my camera with me when I took the dog for a walk. These are some of the results, I thought I’d share!

Squirrel!

He was mad at us or, more likely, at my dog and kept chirping at her.

Sparrow

I love all the sparrows and finches around my house (I saw a chickadee the other day!). I have two bird feeders on my balcony for them, and we see all kinds of birds come through. We have a woodpecker family that I’m particularly fond of.

 

Well that’s me for now. Stressfully getting ready for the end of school. It can’t come fast enough!!

Photos through Fez

So now we’re to Fez. My absolute favorite place, hands down. As always the bulk of my post will be a synthesis of my travel journal that I wrote when I made myself a small photo book from my travels. If I travel to Morocco there are two things I want to do 1) Go to the northern area, 2) Spend more time in Fez (a lot more time…so I can wander and get lost more).

Fez is a place of tight spaces and hidden nooks.

It’s impossible for modern cars to traverse Fez’s streets, instead donkeys and mules bring all supplies into the ancient city. The maze like streets make it impossible for even directionally savvy tourists to find themselves completely and utterly lost, you can’t travel without a guide (trust me, I tried). The home of most of Moroccos famous artisan products there is no better place to shop than here. Especially famous for their leather, silk, indigo, tile, and metal work, almost all internationally known products of Morocco are made in the city.This is the city that I really learned to bargain in, and I loved it’s cloistered cluttered feeling. Navigating even to get food was exciting.There are far more tourists here than in Rabat, making it easier to communicate with the local populace.

Fez!

This is the (one of) the openings into old Fez. New Fez has streets that cars can go on etc etc. This was one of first views into Fez, and honestly I love this photo (suck it humility).

The Opening of the Market of Fez

I don’t know which one of these I like better. So they’re both here.

The Madrasa

Whooo this is our (one of) our first madrasas. They all kinda have the same look and layout, and they’re all gorgeous, but could get exhausting after a while.

I couldn't stop taking photos

I love all the mosaic and carving here. So beautiful.

Mosaic

A close up of my favorite mosaic. Each one of those pieces is made to fit exactly and fit together. Like a really tough but beautiful puzzle.

A thin street

Seriously. Some of these streets were TINY.

From Above

Like Aladdin. Or Assassins Creed.

The Tanneries

Smaller Tanneries. The White stuff is pigeon…unmentionables. The acid helps make the leather supple!

The Tanneries

Then the leather is dyed in color. Just to let you know, to even look over this you have to hold mint leaves to your nose, it smells so bad. It’s also very very hot, so these people? Super tough, they also only get one day off!

From Below

A picture up, from one of the small streets in Fez. Everything is pretty packed in.

Light from Above.

Looking Up inside the Wood-working museum.

Meknes

Meknes is one of the imperial cities of Morocco, and was certainly magnificent. It houses the only imperial palace I saw, and is an ancient inherited residence from Moroccans Kings of Old. We only spent a few hours in the city while on our way to Fez, another Imperial city, but it was certainly memborable. At this stop we got to see one of the two Mosques we could visit in Morocco (the rest being forbidden to non-muslims).

Aqua

Into the distance

The interior of an ancient graniery that was intended as an imperial storehouse in case of seige, it held over 5 years worth of food. The subjects were obligated to give tribute to the graniery it held livestock, had a large cistern, and held other necessary items as well as grain.

It used to house a 50,000 horses

The imperial stables held more than 50,000 horses. The King who established Mekes was an accomplished and obsessive horseman, and he built an enourmous complex to enable his habit.

A broom at the door

A mosque that is surprisingly all in yellow, it is one of the few mosques that allow non-muslims in Morocco. It still hosts prayer everyday, but is not as attended as other, more pesdestrian mosques. Incredibly beautitiful it was built by one of the Kings of Morocco-Moulay Ismail- as his imperial mosque. It is said that any one who builds a mosque in this world inherits a palace in Heaven. Of course, no King would say that this was on his mind when he built it.

Several Kings of Morocco are buried in this mosque, as well as other “Sidis” (the equivalent of “Mr.” or “Sir”) a moniker for minor saints.

Into the Courtyard

Ablutions

A fountain for ablutions, one of the requirements muslims must do before they pray.

 Up next is Fez! My favorite place!

The Souk al-Khamis

The Souk Al-Khamis or the the Thursday market is a primarily grocery market that happens every Thursday almost everywhere in Morocco. In cities it is no more than a time to get your fresh groceries for the whole week but in rural places it’s it’s the one day a week that they see all their friends and extended family. There are many temporary resaurants, barbershops, and used clothing and shoes stands built into tents. It’s very loud as the people see their friends for the first time in a week and tell their stories.

I had to ask to take these photos, and most people said no. It was hard to ask at first, but got easier and easier the more I asked. When I conferred with the boys in my group it turned out I was getting a lot more photos from people, probably one of the few times gender worked in my favor in Morocco.

This was one of my favorite experiences from my time there, I got to interact with Moroccans in a way that was totally devoid of tourism and the facade that the prescence of tourists can sometimes bring. The people are kind and funny, and theirs lives are so removed from mine. Sometimes it’s hard to remember how diverse this world when it’s not right in front of you.

The Market

A quick overview of the market.

Tea?

This man sells tea, you drink while at his stand then give the cup back, and he may or may not wash it. A endevour only to be untaken with great caution.

Apricots

There’s much debate among friend and family who see this photo, but I’m here to confirm. Those are APRICOTS.
But honestly he was so friendly, and this photo just makes me smile, he was so cheery!

Mint.

This is the first woman I met who let me take her photo, she was selling mint leaves. She was cheerful, and like women who would later let me take their photo she seemed to be complimented by my request. The mint she sells here will be made into tea by boiling the leaves in a silver teapot with copious amounts of sugar making a conconction that tastes rather like doublemint gum.

I can smell it now

A cook at one of the temporary restaurants set up for the day, He’s using a piece of paper to fan the smoke away while he grills. Having seen a previous cook in an adjacent grill tell me that I couldn’t have a photo, he waved me over and said I could take his instead, and I honestly think this is a much better photo.

See you later

The two men on the were parting and I this was a hip shot taken on the spur of the moment.

Such a heavy Burden

Another photo from the hip, it shows the heavy loads you often see the men and women (but especially women) carrying.

On the Hay

Oh Hay There

 I said a lot of it up top, but this was my favorite day, and I did a lot more portrait work than I usually do. Of course I learned after the fact that my 90mm would have been a better fit, but since it can sometimes take me a little while to set up my 90mm (for each photo) on my digital camera, I’m glad in the end that I had the ability to set it on auto and shoot quickly. I still wish I had brought my film camera though. It would have allowed me to use my 90mm quickly and effectively. I know for next time! There’s never such a thing as too many cameras (also next time I need to pack more clothing…getting my clothing washed was a total lie).

Rabat Part 1

So my group was based in Rabat for the first week and half or so. I enjoyed it a lot, especially my host family and Moroccan friends that we met through an exchange program.

I’m including a selection of photos and their descriptions here.

Boats between Rabat and Sale

A Brightly Colored small boat that would ferry you (for a fee across the Bou Regreg)

Hassan Minaret

The Hassan Minaret, which was left unfinished (along with its Mosque) when Rabat was struck by a earthquake. It was originally supposed to be twice it the current size.

The Mausoleum

The Mausoleum, built beside the ruins of the Hassan Minaret on the grounds of an ancient mosque. It houses the bodies of the uncle, father, and grandfather of the current king.

Guarding

A Guard at the Masouleum.

 

Fountain!

A fountain for the Mosque portion of the Mausoleum.

More Dome

The Stained glass dome on the from the inside of the Mausoleum.

Oudaya

The Oudaya section of Rabat which lies within the old Kasbah walls of Rabat. The section lies on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic. All of the bulidings are painted white and blue, like many mediterranean towns.

Through an Ancient Gate

I loved how the ancient city had been changed to accommodate new needs. Just the juxtaposition of cars driving through an ancient wall.

I feel like I have so much to say about Rabat, but don’t know how to. I learned so much and made so many friends. We made friends with some Moroccan University students, stayed with families in the Medina of Rabat (which was lovely but also stressful). Imay updates this entry later with a greater description of my time there, but for now I’ll let the pictures speak.

Morocco 2012: Introduction

So this summer I went to Morocco, and I had a big plan about how I was going to post here and all that which I am, half a year later, finally doing.

What I’m actually going to do it transfer the contents of my book (that I’m making for my Grandma using Booksmart from Blurb which is actually a super great program most of the time, I suggest it) to a blog. Things will be organized by place and therefore loosely by time.

We’ll start with my introductions, which will serve as a sort explanation of what I did:

“I visted Morocco in the Summer of 2012 and when I got on the plane I had absolutely no idea what to expect, I was terrified, exited, nervous, and thrilled all at the same time. I knew my Study Abroad program through Marquette and AmidEast would teach me a lot, and academically I learned so much. However I learned much more valuable lessons from the people I met, the conversations I held, and the lasting memories I made than I ever did in the classroom.

During my trip I visted the cities of Rabat, Sale, Fez, Moulay Idriss, Meknes, Casablanca, Marrakech, Ourazazete, and Zagora, as well as staying overnight in the Moroccan Sahara. Each of these cities had a distinct personality, but common themes connected them all. Hospitality, kindness, and friendliness.

My goal with these photos is to show the spirit of each city, while also sharing my own experiences. I’ll share my memories as I share the photos. Hopefully I have leave some echo of the profound experience I had in Morocco on these pages.”

This is the Cover of the Book (it’s a little short because I edited my name out) but you need to see it for the next bit of text to make sense.”

“As with many countries the name ‘Morocco’ the moniker by which the United States designates the North African country is not the name that it’s natives (or neighbors) use.

They call it the infinetely more romantic “Maghrib.” In Arabic this means “evening” and is often used in Islam to refer to the evening prayer that occurs just after sunset.

If you imagine where Morocco is on a map (on the western most tip of North Africa) you might see why this is the name the invading Arabs gave to the area when they arived in the early 6th and 7th centuries. Arriving from the East, and coming to the Maghrib–which borders the vast Atlantic Ocean–this was the essential end of the line. This is the land on which sun set.

In many ways this title is more literal, almost no markets open until the sun begins to set (and some don’t open until well after), and for many moroccans the sunset or twilight period is the most social and active part of their day. They get their shopping done, they meet their friends (or boyfriends), and they relax until the next day.

And that’s the story of Morocco’s beautiful name, and the explanation for the title of my book. Many of my memories of Morocco are lit with the hazy golden light of a sunset. “

Here I’ve added the two other pictures from the first few pages of the book (behind the text mainly).

Sunset

A sunset from the cliff view in the Oudaya of Rabat.

Enter in...

A doorway in to the Casbah portion of Rabat.

The next post will be soon! I hope you enjoyed this one. I know it’s a little picture-light, the next one will have many more, I promise.