“You’re going to love Fes,” Rachid tells us, “all Americans do. Europeans like Marrakech, Americans like Fes, they say it’s what they imagined Morocco to look like.” We smile, and agree, everyone who has visited before us told us Fes was their favorite. The winding, tiny alleyways in the labyrinth of the Medina are hard not to love. In the old part of Fes, where most tourists stay, you can feel the history of the city. Walking through the crowded souks and markets, the hammams, the ancient University, it feels remarkably untouched. And maybe that’s why Americans like it so much, since we have such a limited history in our country, we’re drawn to places that feel particularly ancient. We also like places that are evocative of images we’ve created in our minds. Fes checks both of those boxes.
The Sahara was the reason we ventured to the Algerian border, but the little town of Merzouga, and it’s surrounds are quite interesting as well. I’m always intrigued by these outposts, why someone might decide to settle in these areas where survival is hard-earned. But the people in these areas have adapted and come up with impressive means for cultivating life. Continue reading
Dunes in the Sahara
It didn’t occur to me that we were traveling to the Sahara until we were already in Morocco. I knew we’d go to the desert, but I hadn’t realized it was the Sahara-for whatever reason. I’ve never been, almost all of my travel in Africa, aside from Egypt, has been in Sub-Saharan Africa and I was excited to explore a tiny sliver of this imposing space that spans 9.4 million square kilometers. In general, the sense of mystery and exotic allure has all but faded in most of my travel-a real downside of traveling often, nothing seems out of reach, or all that mysterious anymore-at least for me. But The Sahara, such a visually evocative place. The vast expanse of unexplored, constantly shifting lands holds deep intrigue. And of course, a bit of danger. I love deserts. I love the stark forbidding landscape, the dry, oppressive heat. I think it’s built into my being at this point. There’s something about that bone-dry heat that sinks into your body that reminds me of childhood, and despite its uncomfortable nature, I adore it. I will always love to explore the desert. Continue reading
In the morning, Rachid, our driver picked us up and we began our long drive from the High Atlas towards the Sahara. The drive would take two days, broken up by an evening spent in the palm-fringed oasis of Skoura. The scenery along route changed enough to keep interest, as we climbed to 2260m, and back down again, but much of the drive was spent talking with Rachid, whose company and conversation would end up being a major highlight of the trip. Continue reading