It seems that with time I am getting worse at this blogging thing. Life has been a bit of a roller-coaster ride over the past few months, so, that's my excuse. Anyhow, no time to dwell on the past. Moving on...
After drowning my beloved and relatively new Landrover Defender in the Atlantic in Portugal, I gathered almost all of my savings and got a new one. The dream to travel around the world by car was too great to just give up on it. I decided to start with Africa, with Morocco, to be exact. I'll be here for some time. There are lots more things I want to talk about, including an exciting project I've been working on, that's also what kept me from blogging. All that later though. For now, here are some photographs.
As my mind has been all over the place, the images are more diary entries than any cohesive body of work, but, give me time. :)
I'm starting with the images from the desert in the East of Morocco, it was mostly happy snaps before then.
A group of American volunteers in Asilah, told us that the oasis town of Figuig was interesting. We planned to visit it at a much later stage, but, the crappy weather up North drove us there earlier.
From certain viewpoints the town, with its mud houses and palm trees amidst a barren landscape is quite beautiful, something you'd expect to see in a film about biblical times. I made a few attempts to photograph from one particular viewpoint. This is one of the better images.
Inside the oasis town is a maze of little lanes with palm branches overhanging and providing shade from the scorching sun. There are walls throughout and little doors, which lead to people's gardens. All in all, pretty fascinating stuff.
While walking one of the lanes, we came across this farmer. I asked if I could take his photo. It didn't seem like he really understood what I wanted. I crouched and photographed him, showing the image on the back of the camera. No reaction, just the slightest smile in response to mine. I guess he was tired from working in that sun.
Another view of a different part of the oasis. It really does look rather magical during the sunset.
Over our few days at Figuig we went on a couple of drives along the dusty tracks out of town. Seeing shepherds is quite a normal thing.
One day we went for a drive with two volunteer girls. They could speak the language, so, we kinda invited ourselves for tea and they translated for us. The semi-nomadic family was very warm. The tea was good. I felt in my element, since I've passed a lot of time in little mud-huts and all kinds of simple dwellings. Familiar smells of animal manure and dry grass, familiar sounds of goats.
Qassim was the man of the house. It appears that he has two wives. We chatted for some time and by his estimations his family has been around the area for 200 years. I'm not sure how correct that was, but, he was certainly a true local. Very hospitable, calm and surprisingly, not very curious.
One of Qassim's wives was preparing goat, or rather, goat head. The plan was to get out of there before we were offered it. This was for two reasons - one was that they didn't seem incredibly well off and were not in position to share much of their food. The other was that boiled goat head is not really my thing.
The landscape around Figuig is quite diverse. It ranges from inhospitable looking stretches of rock and sand, to green patches of shrub. This was one of the lesser hospitable looking places.
I want to give you an idea of what some of the tracks were like. The bridge here was obviously destroyed, but, luckily I could drive to the right of it (frame right).
Along a narrow river we saw a group of nomads filling up their jerrycans and giving water to their animals. We stopped. I asked the man if I could take his photo. He called over his young daughter to be in the photo with him. She was reluctant, perhaps scared. The man reassured her by bringing her next to him with his hand.
More interaction with nomads a long dusty track, seemingly in the middle of nowhere lead to a tent-house of Rashid. I didn't understand who this woman is in relation to the man, but she was milking the goats and after having some tea, I got some images.
Still in the same settlement, this is one of Rashid's wives getting ready to pick up her son and bring him into the enclosure with the animals. Children in such settlements interact with their livestock from as early as when they start crawling.
Just because you hit asphalt doesn't mean the animal herding stops. Some of the herders have hundreds of goats, sheep and sometimes a few donkeys. I asked this man if I could take his photo, he agreed. I motioned with my hand, asking if he could use that stick to herd the animals. He was very enthusiastic and started waving it around, throwing it at the animals to get them moving.
Rissani souk/market is a fascinating place. It's what one might imagine a market in this "extotic" part of the world would look like. Animals, carpets, vegetables, meat and lots of other stuff you wouldn't even think of. People were not incredibly enthusiastic to have their photos taken at the market, so, I stuck to my street photography approach. I stood there with the camera, making myself visible to any passers by. Some closed their faces, some ducked out of the way, others didn't care. It felt like this was the only way to get any kind of images which would show some of the market's atmosphere as well as the human element.
A candid photograph of a young girl with her mother and another veiled woman. There are hundreds of moments to be witnessed by just standing in one spot at the Rissani souk.
As the day progresses the lanes of the market get busier. There are different lighting effects in different parts of the market. Sometimes it's worthwhile just to photograph the light, the people become secondary components.
More dramatic light at the meat lane of the souk. I hung around here for a few minutes before realising that I lost my friend Tyler. By the time I found him, the light rays were gone and the images I captured after this one were not as dramatic.
Just to prove to you that I am indeed in the desert, here's a photograph from the tallest dune around the area. Tyler and I decided to walk up it, rather spontaneously, not taking along any water. It was emmm… somewhat challenging and we were lucky to have done this as the sun was setting. If we went out during the heat of the day, I probably wouldn't be writing this blog post. :)
That's all for now. We're not exactly set on where to go next. It seems that the area we're in now has been well explored by mass tourism and that often brings a whole set of challenges. We might head somewhere remote...