And lastly, The Camels

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The Dromedary Camel is an ‘Old World Camel’.

It is estimated that the dromedary camel has been domesticated for perhaps 6000 years and has shaped the civilization of the entire world.

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Camels are very specialized animals. Their famous humps are stores not of water, but of fat, and can sustain them without water for as long as a month in the harshest desert conditions. They stand over 5 ft at the top of the head and weigh nearly 800 pounds.

They maintain themselves in conditions that would kill nearly any other creature, with specialized expanding feet and lips that can chew thorns and even specially shaped blood cells.

 They have a third, clear eyelid that protects their eyes from blowing sand. Two rows of long lashes also protect their eyes. Sand up the nose can be a problem, but not for camels, they can shut their nostrils during sand storms.

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The red blood cells of camels are not circular but oval shaped – unlike any other mammal on earth. The theory is that the oval shape allows blood to continue to circulate even if it is thickened from lack of hydration.

When resources are scarce and a camel is living off the fat of its hump, the hump slowly deflates, and may even flop over as the contents are depleted. And when a thirsty camel finally arrives at a water source it can easily drink up to 40 gallons in a matter of minutes.

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Camels like to stay together in groups called herds. The herds are led by a dominant male, while many of the other males form their own herd called a bachelor herd. Camels are very social and like to greet each other by blowing in each other’s faces.

Humans have used camels as a means of transport for thousands of years. They can carry about 375 to 600 lbs. on their backs. This earned these beasts of burden a nickname, “ships of the desert.” Domestic camels are often the main source of meat, milk and even leather or wool products.

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After a gestation of 12 to 14 months, a mother camel will find a private spot to have her young. Female camels usually only have one baby, but sometimes camels have twins.

Baby camels are called calves. The newborn calf is able to walk within 30 minutes, though the two won’t rejoin the herd until around two weeks later. Camels become fully mature when they are 7 years old and live to be about 17 years old.

Camels can run at 25 mph for long periods. If their owner is in a hurry, they can kick their speed up to 40 mph.

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Camels are known for spitting on people. In fact, the animals are throwing up the contents of their stomach along with their spit. This is a defense tactic when the animals feel threatened.

The large beasts make a variety of moans, groans and deep, throaty bellows. One of the camel’s noises was even used to voice the character Chewbacca in the Star Wars movies.

all the above from google

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The above photo was another group that joined us at camp that night.  This group knew how to have fun! At night, around the camp fire, they were a hootin’ and a hollerin’.  Next thing I knew I was right in the middle of it all, dancing under the stars in the Sahara Desert with a group of Arabs!  My pal Cathy also joined in,  the two from Chicago …

And let me remind you …. it is against the Muslim religion to drink.  Yep, they were having a grand ole’ time stone sober. 

Hmmm, no alcohol???  two weeks ?? Well, we did manage to hit a couple stores that sold beer and wine.  We purchased our wine and drank it with our meals.  However, to imbibe we had to hide our bottle under the table and refill our glasses down there too.  One time we used coffee cups as our vessel …  This only added to fun.

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I loved this country and it’s people, Morocco was unlike anywhere I have ever been, truly an eye opener.   Thank you Digital Photo Mentor and Danny for a great time! And to Ali our incredible guide …. !    www.digitalphotomentor.com

It’s Cocktail Hour …. care to join me?

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A friend of mine in Galena is an incredible mixologist.  She has the touch ..  It has been several years since I have photographed food or beverages, but I thought I’d give it a go …  Meghan was up for the task, sent me a grocery list, and showed up ready, willing, and able.

Without much thought put into this shoot, other than the ingredients, I set up shop on a black table top at BIG BILL’S SANDWICH SHOP in Galena Illinios.
I had ambient light to the left and right of the cocktails, a wall behind the spirits, and I stood to block the light coming from the front.  I must have remembered some things from my past.  Why you ask?  because I like the images and the angles came easily to me.
But on the other hand, shooting too close can be a problem and shooting too wide (short depth of field) can also hinder the image, and not to mention my old foe light some of you remember. However, this is the way I like to shoot … but I get it!

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The Whiskey Sour

“The year: 1792. You: a sailor crossing the Atlantic for North America. Food is dried. Water is no good. And scurvy is a constant worry.

Enter, the Whiskey Sour!  Although the recipe wasn’t written down until 1862 by Jerry Thomas in The Bartender’s Guide, “sours” were a basic recipe for centuries.

According to Brian Petro of The Alcohol Professor Vice Admiral Edward Vernon of England began mixing a few ingredients together to serve to his crew, to help combat sea-sickness, malnutrition, and scurvy.

But because they didn’t want an entire ship of intoxicated sailors, they began to water it down with lemon or lime juice. While the British used Gin and Brandy, Americans favored Whiskey, and thus the Whiskey Sour was born.”  google.

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The Whiskey Sour:
1.5 ounces of Blaum Brothers Bourbon
0.75 ounces of lemon juice
0.75 ounces of simple syrup
0.25 ounces of egg whites
garnish with a lemon peel and a cherry
Pour the ingredients into a shaker over ice. Shake well, then pour into a coupe glass. If you are using the egg white you can use as much or as little in the cocktail as you want. Dry shake (no ice) vigorously to get the white foamy element before adding other ingredients.

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The Old-Fashioned

“The first documented definition of the word “cocktail” was in response to a reader’s letter asking to define the word in the May 6, 1806, issue of The Balance and Columbian Repository in Hudson, NY.

In the May 13, 1806 issue, the paper’s editor wrote that it was a potent concoction of spirits, bitters, water, and sugar.

By the 1860s, it was common for other liqueurs to be added to the cocktail. The original concoction, in different proportions, came back into vogue, and was referred to as “old-fashioned”.

The most popular of the in-vogue “old-fashioned” cocktails were made with whiskey, according to a Chicago barman, quoted in the Chicago Tribune in 1882.”  google

Old-Fashioned is also the name of the glass that it is served in … but the drink came first.
The Mad Men Era is what catches my eye.  From architecture to furniture, hairstyles to dress, and  music to drink ware … I love it all.
Well, the Old-Fashioned glass that I wanted to use had a gold design on it, typical of the era. This particular design was of the world map. I really wanted to photograph using that glass …  but you couldn’t see the cocktail, it just didn’t work.
Therefore I used a showier glass that would compliment the toddy.

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The Old-Fashioned
2 ounces of Blaum Brothers Bourbon
0.5 ounces of simple syrup
2 dashes of bitters
Garnish with an orange peel, a lemon peel, and a cherry
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There Will Be Blood Orange

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According to my mixologist, this cocktail was created by The Blaum brothers.

The brothers own BLAUM BROS DISTILLING in Galena, Illinois, and it happens to be Galena’s number one tourist attraction.

All the spirits used today are from Blaum Bros.

They named this toddy after the movie,

There will Be Blood.

And what a glass!  This is your typical Collins Glass from the era of my choice. I found this nifty classic at EZ SELL, also in Galena, Illinois.

 

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There Will Be Blood
1.5 ounces of Blaum Brothers Hellfyre Vodka
1 ounce of lime juice
0.5 ounces of Agave
0.5 ounces of pineapple juice
top with Blood Orange San Pellegrino.
Use a lime to garnish

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I hope you enjoyed Happy Hour with me. I am also hoping that you feel pretty good after imbibing with your eyes … taking it all in one blink after another. Leaving you feeling all mellow and calm ….

The images are colorful, they have some texture, and they include a bit of detail ….

Sounds like they were made just for me! 

Thank you Meghan!

 

 

 

The Artisans of Morocco

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This post will be about the artisans … and their hands.  As I said earlier, the Moroccans do not like their pictures taken, many believe that a photograph will rob their soul.

The good news?  They didn’t mind if I got up close and personal with their hands.

Color, Texture, and Detail.

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The above pictures were taken at an overview by the side of the road.  I’m sure the views were beautiful, and I’m sure I took a shot or two …

… but these are the images that speak to me.

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Knives, Scissors, Tools

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The Tannery

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The Tannery …. my most favorite shoot, and my most disappointing results.  We traversed the tannery from high to low and everywhere in between.

It was very cool!

The man above is scraping the fat from a hide.  Imagine lifting these soaked skins from one vat to another, again and again.  It is literally back breaking work.

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Upon arriving the Tannery we were greeted with a sprig of mint …

this was to hold close to your nose.

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I know these are not artisans in the true sense, but I could not hold back,

from you, this amazing place.

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The Potters and Clay Workers

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Ground work for a mosaic.

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  When the crowd had moved on, I returned to take unobstructed and diligent photo’s.

 I could have stayed here longer …

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Walking thru the alleys in the Fez Medina, we came upon this artist ….

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…………………

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The Place Saffarin derives its name from the manufacture of copper metal which is used to make traditional crafts, this profession has been practiced in the city of Fez for centuries.
There are many products made by artisans like pots, pans, buckets, incense burners, trays, teapots, tea and sugar boxes, footed, strainers, kettles, couscous steamers…
”  google

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It was Good Friday when we visited Place Saffarin. For a moment I was taken back, I thought this man had ashes on his forehead .. ?

  Then I realized the mark was from his prayer mat …

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The Textile Area

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A Dye Shop

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Leather Goods

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There are many artisans in Fez and Morocco preserving  their traditions …

My only regret is that I hadn’t thought ahead and made the conscious effort to photograph all of the talented hands, preserving tradition, that I came across …

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Medinas & Landscape of Morocco

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Casablanca

This time around I traveled with the photography group, DPM.  Digital Photo Mentor. DPM is a Canadian outfit run buy 2 professional photographers. I researched quite a bit before I signed up with them and they hit the nail on the head!

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Casablanca

Daniel, as we were introduced to him, was our pro, but it wasn’t too long before Daniel morphed into Danny!

Danny’s photographic skills are innate, his ability to teach and explain were simplistic, and his patience wears long  …  I am a self taught photographer and I shoot strictly manual, I know what I know and I am very comfortable with it, I like to be the one in control … Well, Danny opened my eyes to the beauty of the digital camera.

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A Medina is an old fortified city within a city, typically walled with many narrow and maze-like streets

‘The Medina’s of Morocco have a way of drawing in visitors to explore the labyrinth of alleys, shops, craftsmen, and life itself. While those dark streets, shady characters , and the haggling shopkeepers can be daunting, follow some simple rules and you’ll have a wonderful time in Morocco’s souks and Medina’s.’

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Above is a perfect example of the long and narrow walkways, unfortunately it allows for little natural light. Most times I was shooting with a film speed, or ISO, of 4000 and above, and at times I found it hard to focus in on my subject.  With my new found knowledge I was able to save time fiddling in the dark…

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Chefchaouen

In the upper right corner you can see the wall that surrounds the old city of Chefchaouen.

Chefchaouen is called the Blue City, and here is why:

‘The color blue is representative of the sky according to Jewish belief. Jewish communities therefore paint things blue and use blue-colored fabrics, especially for prayer mats.

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People believe that the Jewish refugees spread the blue fever to the entire ‘Medina’ in 1930. The practice of painting walls blue was introduced by the Jews to stick to their religious practices. However, older residents say that the majority of the buildings within the Medina used to be white until fairly recently. They stress that only the Jewish part of the Medina used to be painted blue.’  wiki

So there you have it …

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This is a view from my hotel room, you can see the Medina wall on the left hand side.

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‘The second-largest city in Morocco sits in a valley between the Rif and the Middle Atlas Mountains. Whether you’re on a rooftop or a surrounding hillside, the view of minarets among a sea of satellite dishes, more than 13,000 white tombs in the Jewish quarter, and the open, Paris-influenced streets of the Ville Nouvelle illustrate how the passing of time has made its mark on Fez without diminishing its medieval heart.’  Bloomberg

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Fez

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 the white Jewish tombs

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Fez, Morocco from the roof top where they sell the flying carpets…  This shot has a clear view of the Medina wall that surrounds the old city of Fez.

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‘Fez is the medieval capital of Morocco founded by Idris I in 789, and a great city of high Islamic civilization. Fez has the best-preserved old city in the Arab world, the sprawling, labyrinthine Medina of Fes el-Bali, which is incidentally also the world’s largest car-free urban zone and home to the worlds oldest university.  Fez is considered the religious, cultural, and handicraft center of Morocco.’   wiki

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You can see the Medina wall top and center in the above image. You can also see hundreds of satellite dishes …   Of all the cities and Medina’s we visited, Fez was my favorite. I have much more to show and tell you about Fez, but they warrant their own post.

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‘Much of Morocco’s landscape is mountainous with slopes that gradually transition into plateaus and valleys. The Atlas mountains dominate the central part of the country, while the Rif mountains make up the northern edge.

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Jebel Toubkal is the highest point of Morocco at 13,664 ft (4,165 m), and is also the highest peak of the Atlas mountains.

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The southeastern region of the country is blanketed by the Sahara Desert, the world’s third largest desert at over 3,600,000 square miles (9,400,000 sq. km).’  wiki More on the Sahara later …

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Marrakesh.

Yes, I realize that I bit off more than I can chew. I cannot sum up these fascinating cities in my own words, I had to plagiarize…

‘Marrakech marches to its own beat. The former imperial capital is as manic as Mardi Gras and as hip as Hollywood. Throw yourself in at the deep end by exploring the twisting alleyways of the medieval medina.  From glassware to brassware, silverware to lacquerware, the souks (markets) brim with a bewildering array of handicrafts – but you’ll need to haggle hard. Apothecaries tout herbal remedies and heap coloured spices into perfectly shaped pyramids while, in the main square of Djemaa El Fna, the pyramids are comprised of humans.’  wiki

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The colorful markets in Marrakesh.

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These stands are put up each day around 3pm, this city comes to life in the evening and into the night.  Each morning the square is hosed off, cleaned and ready for the next show.  I don’t know how they do it.

As you will see, the Moroccans are very hard workers …

 

Moroccan Food Markets part 3

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There is a funny story behind this photo.  Daniel, our pro, and I went to the markets later one evening to photograph something … anything.  We set up shop in this corner and waited.

Here they come …. !

These feisty youngsters scurried by us wagging their fingers and repeating  NO NO NO NO NO!  I couldn’t help but laugh, and by the looks on their faces, they couldn’t understand why I was laughing …   I would have loved to have chatted with them .

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The markets are everywhere,

 the food is amazing.

Fresh is an understatement,

and color is lavish.

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‘A tagine is an important part of Moroccan cuisine and has been a part of the culture for hundreds of years. The word tagine actually has two meanings. First, it refers to a type of North African cookware traditionally made of clay or ceramic. The bottom is a wide, shallow circular dish used for both cooking and serving, while the top of the tagine is distinctively shaped into a rounded dome or cone.

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Secondly, the word tagine also refers to the succulent, stew-like dish which is slow-cooked in the traditional cookware. Typically, a tagine is a rich mixture of meat, poultry, or fish, and most often includes vegetables or fruit. Vegetables may also be cooked alone in the tagine.’  wiki

  A few more ingredients the Moroccans love are:  Couscous: steamed semolina

Chickpeas and Lentils

Cumin, curry, cinnamon, and garlic are also a staple.

 

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Breakfast was a variety of breads, cheese’s and jams.  Eggs were offered, but I think mostly to please the tourists.

I connected with the breads …

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I see the eggs, and I like the eggs.  But does any one see a mermaid with a Felix the Cat face?

Felix, the wonderful, wonderful cat.

I’m not sure if the face is drawn on the pillar or if it’s just wear and tear.

I just noticed it, now I can’t see the eggs.

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 There are 52 varieties of olives in Morocco.  Our first stop was in Casablanca. This city houses an amazing olive market, unfortunately the day we were to visit was a Friday.  Fridays are a main day for prayer and they were closed, but not all shops close as a rule.

I am sorry we missed it, not only would it have been amazing , it would have been a great way to get reacquainted with my camera, shooting how and what I love.

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This is Abdul, we were regulars.

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The Fish Market ….

The man above was cleaning his morning catch, eels… and below we have a shark on the table .

  Did I mention the food was fresh?

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The weigh station photo is a favorite of mine, but I haven’t pinpointed why.  Maybe it’s because it’s so unlike my style …. If you scroll up and down again you will notice most of my images go from left to right, or right to left, and the focal point is defined.

Evolution, all good.

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and a sense of humor….

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All of these photos were taken inside the ‘old city’s’ of the towns we visited. They call these old city’s  Medinas.

‘Encompassed by towering walls, the medinas are filled with narrow streets, tiny alleyways, market places and historical mosques. The purpose of each medina was to keep out invading armies, and each medina has its own unique story to tell.’   wiki

Soon to come so please stay tuned …..

and thank you very much for viewing my ‘photography blog’.

Michelle

 

 

The Faces of Morocco – Part 2

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The Faces of Morocco.

Photographing the Moroccans was not an easy feat. Many of them believe that their souls will be robbed.  I tried a number of times by raising my camera and smiling, trying non verbally to get an OK, but the odds were against me.  I took the shot whenever I could, and most times with their approval.

Driving thru the mountains we came upon this sheep herder.  Ali, our amazing guide, asked this man if we could photograph him. As you can see he was delighted.  I know we made his day, and he made ours!

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At another stop, where we captured the views, there was a man playing his recorder.

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Morocco is made up of the Sunni Muslims and Berbers.  Berber is derived from the Roman term for barbarians.  Berbers are a non-Arabic tribe, however, throughout the centuries the Berbers have mixed with many ethnic groups, most of them being Arabs.  Both of these men are of Berber descent.

Below, his reaction to the photo ….

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Abdul was a merchant at the same stop …. also a Berber.

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The way I choose to travel is with photography tours.  You mingle with the locals and see and experience more than a normal trip would include.  It’s a history class with benefits.  One of the benefits was to photograph models under different settings, creating different moods. I tried to capture something … anything.

The 1st man is an artist and he is the caretaker of a very famous and historical home. I apologize for not remembering where, but if I can’t pronounce it ….

The second gentleman was at another historical site, also the caretaker.  He had a personality when no one was looking…  He tucked me right under his cloak and gave me a big smooch on my cheek.

My friend Cathy got the shot !

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Nomads.  Berbers.  This stop fascinated me.

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 I had to show you the outside and the very cozy inside. The little girl who lives here was darling and smiled at her photo. The mother was also lovely.

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A guard and his camel …. I like this one.

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Our escorts, via camels, to our tents in the Sahara … These two men are also Berbers. Berbers do not read or write. They refer to themselves as “free men” and have survived by raising herds of grazing animals, driving them from place to place.

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These gentlemen are dressed in their native attire to sell water.  Unfortunately, they now exist for the tourists to photograph.  There were 4 ‘water men’ that day, but these two caught my fancy.  The other two men were about 30 years younger, no wrinkles, and way too many teeth …

and last, but not least …

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George, Cathy’s camel, old and cranky!

and …

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… a Singe Magot

Morocco has launched a rescue plan to protect the macaque macaque, or Barbary macaque, a monkey weighing about 55 pounds. They live north of the Sahara.  I was about 5 feet away … they are used to having humans around, but one must still be aware.

Thank you for reading and viewing, and please stay tuned for more …!

Morocco, and all it’s wonders … part 1

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Morocco, April 2019

‘Morocco’s location has dictated its history:  Every major European power felt the necessity to control the mouth of the Mediterranean at one time or another. Each left its mark.  Following centuries of Arab and occasional Berber rule, Morocco became a protectorate of France in the early 1900’s; it gained independence in 1956.’

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This North African nation has the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Algeria to the east, and Mauritania to the south.  The terrain ranges from coastal plains to mountains and deserts. The Atlas Mountains average 11,000 ft in elevation.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to this country, and I love to write about what I photograph…  Morocco has many sides and facets and I plan on sharing each one in its own post.

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The Faces of Morocco, my first love

This man was one of our camel jockeys and is of Berber descent. And that in the background is the sand of the Sahara …

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The Markets:

  Never buy the item for the price that is suggested by the seller… you must bargain.

I’ll admit that wasn’t my strong suit, but I was always happy with my purchase.  There are many more markets to explore thru my lens …

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The Foods:

  There are 52 varieties of Olives in Morocco. The olive is a staple in their diet and every meal was served with olives.

  Lamb, chicken, meat, fish, carrots, potatoes, and couscous are typical of the main ingredients. Spices like cumin and paprika are added to these dishes, all of them are delicious!

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The Artisans:

Someone who does skilled work with their hands… and there are plenty.

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The Sahara: 

Camels and more camels . ATV’ing, sleeping, and dancing under the stars …

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The Tannery in Fes

Another favorite shoot …  Imagine lifting those soaked hides from the vat, one after another, only to do it again in the next solution.  I will explain in more detail when the time comes.

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The Pottery Factory in Fes

Visiting the pottery factory was another highlight. Shooting for color, texture, and detail … the up close and personal that I love.

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The Streets of Morocco

This image was taken in Chefchaouen, the Blue City.

No two cities, that we visited, were alike.

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The Call to Prayer  … 5 times a day

This is Hussein II Mosque. It is the 3rd largest Mosque in the world.  The largest is located in Mecca, and the second largest is in Egypt.

So I have showed you 9 points that interest me … and the 10th being the Moroccan terrain.  The one thread that all of these topics have in common is color, the colors of Morocco are abundant everywhere.

I hope I have piqued your interest, please stay tuned for my next full post:

The Faces Of Morocco