Sunday, October 19, 2014

Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.

Last week we stopped at our one African port during this voyage: Casablanca, Morocco.  It was my first time in Africa, actually, which was quite exciting.  And, despite the romance surrounding Casablanca due to the film, I decided to head a bit deeper right away…  Hoping on a train to Marrakech and then a car up to Imlil, a village in the High Atlas Mountains, before getting back in said car to spend a night in Marrakech before getting back into the train to head back to Casablanca…  So, sorry Humphrey, Mika and I dashed out of your town fairly quickly.

The train ride was packed, due to the Eid-Al-Adha, so we got to know several Moroccans very quickly, by being crammed into a train with them.  The windows where dusty but it was a good way to get a feeling for the Moroccan landscape: 

We rode past goat herds and sheep herds and cactus farms…  Freshly planted prickly pear:

And past loads of beautiful little villages:

We got crammed into the train with some of my colleagues, who are trying to make the best of three plus hours of standing:

After Lee:

On the road from Marrakech, I took my second photograph of Mika photography a large mammal in the past two months:

It was a beautiful but somewhat confusing drive up to the mountains, and we arrived late after dark, only to find that our hotel was still a bit of a hike up the valley, inaccessible by automobile:

The views of the mountains are quite spectacular:

I need to spend more time in mountainous landscapes, it was such a lovely change of pace compared to all the horizons and waves I've been seeing lately...

Moroccan homes, or riads, are often full of fabulous balconies and courtyards…  Looking down:

And Imlil is a quirky village in a valley in the mountains inhabited by Berbers…  There are fabulous walnut trees growing and apple trees growing throughout the town, and goats and sheep all over.  The river through town is mostly dry this time of year, full of boulders and old building projects...

 Donkeys are the most reliable form of transportation...

And the High Atlas Mountains loom above the village:

It's bustling, and though the walnuts and agriculture seem to be an important part of the economy and lifestyle, tourism is certainly the most substantial money maker in the village...

Ohh, they also grow argan oil nearby, which you might have used to wash your hair:

Mika with a goat man, part of the Eid-Al-Adha celebrations…

Hollow way on route down from our hotel:

Complicated cell phone charging sculpture:

In Marrakech, our first stop was a garden that was restored by Yves Saint Laurent...

Another homage to Robert Frank:

The Medina, or old walled city of Marrakech is an amazing place full of thin passageways, back alleys, and mystery:

It's normally not as quiet as the photos above, more like this, where you're constantly dodging motorcyclists and pedestrians and being asked if you want to buy this or that:

This young lad claimed to be Barack Obama's son:

Moroccan eyes are watching you:

There's lots of fresh fruit….

And the food is absolutely incredible, like this eleven part salad:

The central square in Marrakech is absolutely wild, full of snake charmers and other strange attractions...

Mika, being a good sport after one of the snake charmers wrapped a snake around her neck:

Toursists and locals mingle:

The Medina after nightfall is even more mysterious and confusing than it is in daytime:

Alley, with pomegranate and ornate door:

Fountain with two goldfish:

From the rooftop cafe at Marrakech's historic photography collection:

Mika, with new hat (from Portugal) and new necklace (from Morocco):

Next was back to port...

And off to sea…

And through the straights of Gibraltar: 

To Rome and then Barcelona.  More soon.  XO, Todd.

Monday, October 13, 2014

On the Iberian Peninsula

Well the travels are coming too fast and I am falling a bit behind…  I just got back from Morocco and in 36 hours I'll be in Italy.  And I still haven't posted my photos from Portugal or Spain.  It's kind of a nice problem to have, but I'm going to do my best to remedy it.  Two countries today…  And maybe I'll have time to catch up and write about Morocco before Italy, but I doubt it.

After Dublin, where I last left you, the ship headed due south to Lisbon, Portugal…  At the western tip of continental Europe.  It's a lovely hilly city…  Full of steps and graffiti and old squares.  It has that feel of an opulent city with a touch of ruin to it, very hedonistic and rich and a bit dirty:

I've been making lots of homages to Robert Frank lately…  Traveling about so much of Europe, maybe I should pull together a series and call it "The Europeans."

Though I think I need to loosen up a bit in my framing…

There are lovely beaches in Portugal…

And strange hairstyles:

Mika drank a very big sangria…

And a ferocious kitten, so scary I couldn't hold my camera still and focus properly:

Seascape with spots:

We left Lisbon...

…and spent a day heading down to Cádiz, Spain…  

Where I spent time in the water with my camera:

The streets of Cádiz, dappled with sun and water:

And Cádiz has quite a remarkable fish market...

I ate a few of these little flounders, which are very boney:

After I finish with birds in nets, maybe I will switch overt photographing snails in nets, like these little fellows at the market:

Giant clam as sculpture:

Beyond that, Cádiz is a lovely little city on a peninsula, full of old buildings and gardens and surrounded by beaches...

A few other odd bits from the Iberian Peninsula…

iPhone with sweat:

Big blocks:

Hilarious advertisement for a gym:

Strange lighting…  This setting was called 'relax', actually:

And I was quite impressed to see how these bridges are built:

Okay, now time to write about Morocco…  More soon.