Tuesday, March 13, 2018

end of our journey

The last few days in Morocco took us to the coastal port of Essouira, through some very dry and desolate stretches,
 and irrigated areas and vines - this raised water channel is running beside an adobe wall or fence,
  past makers of decorated nomad tents
  and native pines and argan trees, here with the infamous goats in the latter,
to a  women's cooperative which processes and markets argan oil, with an extensive product range. These women demonstrated the stages of the processing.

The fruit of the argan tree is small, and round, oval, or conical, with a thick peel covering the fleshy pulp. The pulp in turn surrounds a hard-shelled nut representing about 25% of the weight of the fresh fruit, and the nut contains one to three oil-rich kernels.
Briefly, extraction is done by workers first drying argan fruit in the open air and then removing the fleshy pulp. Then the nuts are cracked to get the kernels which are roasted, ground and pressed to get a cooking oil. The remaining press cake is protein-rich and often used as animal feed. Cosmetic argan oil is produced similarly from un-roasted kernels.
Finally to Essouira, the old fortified trading port on the Atlantic coast. The Portuguese built the first fort during their occupation in the first half of the 1500s, and numerous other countries tried to control it thereafter. For many years gold, salt and slaves were traded to the Americas and Europe. More recently, in the 1960s and 70s it became a haven for the rich and famous, and hippy culture - it was a favourite of Jimmy Hendrix and Santana. Nowadays it is a busy fishing port and very popular tourist and surf destination.
There was a mix of small and large fishing boats. We watched some of these small ones, with an outboard motor on the back,  go out at dusk one evening, in what seemed to me quite quite a choppy sea. There were many larger vessels and long-line trawlers. This old one was being refurbished alongside where the fishermen sell their day's catch on the wharf.
 Seagull sentinels
The beach, complete with deck chairs for the tourists - the surfing beach was further away.

 It is home of a renowned Nguano music festival – a  soulful jazz style with roots in the music of Africans from Guinea.  Our splendid riad was built up against the old city wall.

At high tide, our first floor rooms resounded with the noise of the waves crashing on the wall below us and sending the spray onto our windows. This was the view from our window at low tide - much quieter then! -
and this was a view from dining room/restaurant at the top of the building.
 and the view from a great seafood restaurant we visited

 We set out to walk around the medina and found ourselves in the middle of a May-Day parade....

before visiting fabulous wood workers, who do the most intricate inlay work

 and French polish all their work, (that's what the young people are doing here)

 and a cooperative of mute workers making beautiful silver and enamel jewellery.
Here are a few random shots 
Date on this building is 1332...
 Narrow alleys before trading hours
 This gentleman crochets these caps to sell
 The traffic warden's lunch on the footpath

 The old caravanserai

Old berber camel rugs and chairs
Very colourful jelabas
Traditional instrument and dress
The French influence!
And finally, sunset over the Atlantic for a fitting finish
If you have watched to the end, I hope you have enjoyed it.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

this time Marrakech

More fine plaster work, painted woodwork and gardens, splendid mosaics and another fascinating medina ...
The mausoleum of the Royal family
with gold ceilings

The Bahai Palace which is now a museum, was built in 1866-67 with more than 150 rooms, including a harem section, courtyards and gardens. Visitors see only a portion, including council rooms with impressive fireplaces and painted cedar work, and a large riad surrounded by citrus trees


 a painted ceiling
Some scenes from walking around the streets - 
 Numerous herbalist shops
 the street stalls

evidence of  change
 Inside the medina, the alleys were not as narrow as in Fes.
 the metal workers
 the dyers and their dyes
 leather slippers
 olives, preserved lemons and pickled peppers
The Jardin Majorelle, a garden of exotic and rare cacti species from around the world, was established by French painter Jacques Majorelle in 1917, and he painted all the walls 'Majorelle Blue'. It was opened to the public in 1947 but closed on his death in 1962. Bought by Yves St Laurent and Pierre Berge in 1980 it was restored  and reopened. It now houses a very fine Berber arts museum (no photos allowed there)


Next time th last stop - Essaouira