Sea, Sand and Jewels: Morocco
Part 4: Heading North
We may look like we got dressed in a dark tent at 4am... that's probably because we did. And the smell? That's partly us. Partly the camels. We’ll haggle over the percentages, but we’re now riding back to semi-civilisation. We're up at this time to catch the sunrise from camel-back. The moon still illuminates everything for the first half hour but then we catch the first sun on the horizon.
Breakfast back in Merzouga is a treat - eggs for the first time in 6 days! I also get chance to play with the Lytro for a minute, now that the pace has calmed down - testing it with some camels and the great light coming off the horizon. But it's all a bit short and sweet, saying goodbyes to our group and heading off North to Fes.
I'm writing this from the road, as I've done most of this blog over the last few days. This time, we're with taxi driver Hossein, who's intent on playing the same music cassette for hours at a time. But he's doing a good job, intent on getting us to Fes in as good time as possible.
We made it, safely and almost to the minute, on time as predicted in the 6 hours. It's a shame that it's taken its toll on us and we retire to our room for an early night (post-tagine, of course) and treat Fes as just a quick stopover before embarking for Chefchaouen a bit further north.
Chefchaouen is heavily Mediterranean-influenced. It’s adopted a wonderful blue hue that’s painted all over – doorways and walls, to the floors in a lot of places. It contrasts nicely with the sun to give a very fresh feel, and the pace up here is far different to the larger cities, and has more of a smaller village feel.
Life is different up here, but I soon get told off for treating the locals like city-folk – I’ve followed the guide book to the letter: avoiding handshakes unless I’m intending on doing business – which easily offends. The learning curve continues so it seems! A rethink is in order, so we lower our guard and go with the flow, rather than fighting against it. This leads us into agreeing to wander the back alleys with perfect strangers looking for their shops. Properly ‘Londonised’ we’re expecting to find ourselves in ‘sticky’ situations, which thankfully never arise. Instead, we’re treated to hidden gems that you’d never find unless you followed the bearded man down the side street!
A rug, length of fabric, a shawl and magic lamp later, we’re in recovery and able to properly relax. Every holiday, camera-equipped or otherwise, should be used to recharge. I’ve always done this by using photography as a form of escapism, which allows the cleverer side of my brain to relax and let the other side have some fun. A couple of days up here, accompanied by the army of cats that seem intent on stealing food from us like whiskered ninjas at every meal, does just that.
Our final trip home serves just as many surprises as the rest of the week. Let me just say that the faulty aircon, drenched seats on the coach, broken taxi and having to jump out of it while in motion heading to the airport, does nothing to sully our journey: only to provide me with more stories to serve in my tale.
My final thought? Travel as though your life depends on it. Photograph as much as possible, but don’t get stuck behind the lens and forget reality. The beauty of being a photographer is being able to see the world in different lights and from differing angles. Committing it to an image is almost the bonus at the end, but remember to absorb the experience that comes with it – especially if you’re travelling with someone you love.