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Archive for the ‘Morocco’ Category

Behave Yourself! – Rockwatching Blogging Protocal

 

scan0001, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Well, Rockwatching has been up and running for a number of years now (5 to be exact) and I believe it has contributed significantly to the interest of people like myself who like caving, rocks, the outdoors, gems and minerals in Ontario.

We are just a few short days from 2011 and I believe it’s high time we made some resolutions -all of us  (you my loyal fellow bloggers as well).

So in the interests of all involved a few ground rules to follow on Rockwatching from now on

1) Lets not carry a personal vendetta onto this site which is meant to be a forum where like minded enthusiasts can interact in a positive way.
2) Lets respect each other and try not to get personal when we are frustrated.
3) Lets respect the basics of conservation and eco-minded thought.
4) Lets not assume stuff we don’t know for sure (hence the survey at the bottom of the post).
5) Lets keep in mind that this is all about enjoyment.
6) Lets keep in mind that just because the topic is on the table, every single aspect that pertains to it is not an open book.
7) Lets respect people who are not on the site, private property, reputations etc. Just because there is discussion of a site or feature does not mean permission has been granted to go there.

8) Lets not get petty, self righteous or important. Stop correcting my grammar, spelling or use of terms. I am a writer at heart and so I believe I can use the language as I please (providing it’s in good taste, or if I choose, not in good taste).

9) Lets not waste my time by having to re-direct you to one of the above rules.

Happy and prosperous 2011 – Mick

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Canadian Grain, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Here is an interesting little discovery in a market in Marrakesh some time in the early 1980s. Many of these sacks were labeled something to the effect, “Gift from Canada – Canadian grain for Ethiopia”. I cant remember the exact wording but it was something like that.

Any thoughts as to the confusion between Morocco and Ethiopia? Admittedly they are both in North Africa, but one was on the eastern edge of the continent in the midst of a terrible famine and the other is on the western edge with no such kind of problem. Do you suppose there is a deficiency in the geographical education of the pilots or ships captains who got the product here? Maybe in the interests of conservation the Ethiopians decided to send product from their own country to Morocco in those same sacks in which they’d received their aid supplies.

I had this picture taken as discretely as possible so as not to create a stir. As you can see nobody seems too bothered. If I could have got closer without a problem I would have.

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Essouria1 – Morocco

So much has been said of Hendrix’s song “Castles in the Sand” – undoubtably one of the more lyrical of pieces ever written.

In the ocean not far from here there is an island that had an ancient fort of some type on it. As you could see it some 15 years after Hendrix’s visit, it is crumbling into the ocean, its foundations eaten away by the waves. Behind Bev and I are the more sturdy walls of Essaouira – a nearby town.

Well several relevant thoughts can evolve from the appearance of the crumbling structure in the ocean, but none that might be all that applicable to Hendrix as his song was supposedly written 2 years prior to his visit to Essaouira.

Hendrix was hesitant to speak of his past and his difficult upbringing. The common interpretation of “Castles in the Sand is that nothing lasts forever and in his song most speculate that he is applying the impermanence to his family. If you were to hear the song/verse and look around the town you would certainly be tempted to suggest that he was here when he wrote it.

There are verses like, “Drew her wheel chair to the edge of shore” and “A golden winged ship is passing my way” which are seen quite vividly as images, though undoubtedly interpreted together in the context of the song as a young girl, bound to her wheel chair drowning herself. There is some talk of the golden winged ship being inspired by Moroccan sunsets. And a sun-set at the edge of the Atlas Range, looking out across the ocean is an unforgettable thing. It is as though you are transported away from that Aladdin’s land into somewhere else even more mysterious and exotic. And as night comes on there is the cry from the Mosque, the groaning of a camel and the burnt-tire smell of red Moroccan hash that is transported shore-ward from the mountains.

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Essaouria – Morocco

Bought the hat from a herder somewhere between Marrakesh and Essaouira – check out the tassel hanging down the back. As far as hats go Moroccans take the prize. How could you compare a John Deere baseball cap or a jays cap – I defy you with a fez; attire of extroverts like Oscar Wilde and any number of barons, princes, knights and eccentric English gentlemen.

You’d never recognize me without the beard. I’m just chillin at a cafe somewhere along the shoreline. There is some association between this place with its medieval appearance, city wall and defenses and Jimmy Hendix’s song “Castles in the sand”.

Though it seemed a quiet and somewhat unassuming backwater, a place where Moroccans come for honeymoon, Essaouria has quite a feisty history.

Mohammad III chose Essaouria as his port city, like many before him for its sheltered anchorage, but also because he wanted to cut off trade from Agadir, a rival city to the south. This was also the closest spot between Marrakesh and the sea.

In the past the waters offshore were harvested for Murex shells. It was from these thatpurple dye was extracted to mark the line in Roman senator’s togas. Today the Canaries Current makes the water off-shore particularly well suited to the swarming of large schools of sardines and super-size Conger Eels.

As I later learned, It’s not considered good manners to go shirtless in public. Normal attire was flip-flops and shorts and a hat of some unusual variety.

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El Jadida – the water cistern

Looks like my fascination for underground architecture didn’t just grow on me recently.

I was walking around a little town on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast and this kid approached us in a shady way and suggested that for a couple of durhams he could show us an ‘Underground castle’. the money was well spent – if only for the story. It turned out that this was a vault beneath a mosque – built by the Portuguese to hold water. Apparently Orson Welles version of Othello (1954) was filmed here.

It seemed quite lost and lonely when I visited – secreted away down a hidden staircase, but apparently you can now take tours at the going rate of 10 durhams.

In fact this town was constructed by the Portuguese several centuries ago (called Mazagan) to protect costal shipping from pirates – or Jihadists, depending on your point of view. In 1769 the Arabs took it back and gave the Portuguese the boot. El Jadida meant ‘new’ in the Arabic of the time.

Strangely, Christian church, synagogue and mosques all exist within the town, one mosque having a minaret that was once a light house. It boasts the only pentagonally shaped minaret in existence.

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Drinking mint tea in Morocco

Mohammad – Asni – Morocco

We met this guy – Muhammad – one evening somewhere near the town of Asni in the high Atlas range. Muhammad (in green shirt) sold crystals beside the road and he told us where he had got them. We went there and it was a most remarkable sight – the whole valley was filled with these reddish purple crystals of what resembled amethyst and spikes of other similar material – the finer points of which I cant exactly remember. I filled up my backpack with as much as I could carry but the heat and terrain eventually found me abandoning the lot. Someone, somewhere near Agadir will find a pile of gems and wonder what pirate must have hidden them.

Here we are with Muhammad’s family – mother and father were in a courtyard outside – smoking hash. It was a real treat to visit Muhammad, he broke out a single worn old tape casette and we drank mint tea and communicated as best we could. Waving are his little brother and younger brother. When we left we gave him 3 pairs of flip flops to thank him for his hospitality. I wish now that we had given more.

In the picture are several members of A company from the old Queen’s Regiment – from left to right – Shawn Eves, Bev (My corporal at the time) Myself in the green sweater, Slev. On the right with legs across the picture – Birdsall and Kev Minnis’s legs(I think).

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