Camels and Dunes in the Erg Chebbi

No trip to Morocco is complete without a night at a tented camp in the red sand dunes. We were in the Erg Chebbi near Merzouga. Our trek included a 30-minute camel ride over a flat surface into the dunes, but the rest of the trip was by 4X4.

Me and my camel. Most of the pictures of the dunes were taken from the 4X4 because I was afraid to let go of the camel’s swaying saddle. The wrapped cloth turbans are a type of traditional headdress for the Berbers tribes, now called the Amazigh, any of the descendants of the pre-Arab inhabitants of North Africa.

The tented camp. At home in the desert with all the amenities, except wi-fi. Luckily, I could still get a signal.

We had a Moroccan musical performance of Gnawa, a mystical music originating from West Africa.

Gnawa Music

“Gnawa is one of the most popular types of music in Northern Africa. The Gnawa are slave descendants who were brought to Morocco by the Arabs and claim to be descendants of Sidi Bilal. Their sub-Saharan music has a lead, long-necked lute player who sings and is accompanied by metal castanets. . . .This style has been blended with hip-hop, jazz, rock, and funk but still preserves the traditional sound of their ancestors.” (from https://simply-morocco.com/moroccan-music/)

“For Gnawa music is a fusion of Arab, Berber and African rhythms. It is powerful trance music that goes back to the 16th century and has gained international popularity over the last few years. If you are in Morocco during the month of June, don’t miss the three-day Gnawa festival in the city of Essaouira in the south of Morocco. The main instruments of Gnawa music is the double-headed drum – or tbal – and metal castanets or qerqbat. Gnawa has also gone through changes and can be heard mixed with different musical styles such as Jazz.”  (from https://www.morocco.com/culture/music/)

Morning brought clouds and then rain as we left the dunes behind.

Assilah, An Arty City by The Sea

Assilah is on Morocco’s Atlantic coast north of Rabat. It has an arty vibe and holds an important annual arts and cultural festival in its medina. Originally settled by the Phoenicians, Assilah was an important Arabic city that was later conquered by Portugal. In the 18th and 19th centuries it was a pirate stronghold. From 1912-1956, it was part of Spanish Morocco.

15th century walls built by the Portuguese surround the 12th century medina.

Looking out from the promenade along the ocean with Portuguese battlements along the beach

Sculpture from the cultural festival

White-washed buildings with touches of green or blue, typical Andalusian style in Morocco

Privacy windows in t b e narrow streets of the medina so woman could chat

Mural from festival

The coast line of the now trendy location.

Section of a mural

An all seafood lunch. I really don’t like my food to stare at me.

In the market

School sign in Arabic, French, and Berber (Amazigh).

Chefchaouen The Blue City

Chefchaouen is a lovely hillside City in Morroco. It is known for its blue painted buildings. I was surprised to learn that the extensive use of blue is only about 20 years old. Something most travel writers either ignore or don’t know. The city is whitewashed or painted three times a year for religious reasons. If the paint is only one storey high, it was done by a women.

Many shades of blue

Night blues

From my terrace

A communal bakery. The women bring their loaves in the morning for baking.

Fort built in 1471 by Portuguese prisoners

Past Favorite

Arches, the Mosque at Cordoba, Spain

Join Becky’s Square Challenge for October: PastSquares

Shining Light on the Past

Gothic elements in the Church of St. John the Baptist, Matera, Basilicata, c. 1229.

Join Becky’s October Square Challenge; PastSquares.

Perfection in Bronze

The Riace Bronzes or Riace Warriors, found off the coast of Calabria in 1972, are incredible. Sculpted of bronze in the mid-5th century BCE, probably in Greece, they are thought to be part of a cargo from a sunken ship. After years of conservation, the two statues are housed at the National Museum of Magna Grecia in Reggio Calabria.

Each life-sized bronze figure would have held a weapon in their right hand and have worn a shield on their left forearm.

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