Month: December 2013

LIKE NOTHING BEFORE: MY TIME IN MARRAKECH (PART 2 OF 3)

Part 2: Into The Valley I returned to the riad dining room for breakfast, the joyous atmosphere from the previous night still lingered as morning light filtered in through the wooden lattice work over the windows. Marcie, Brigid, Brenden and I put down a couple cups of coffee and hit the road. We drove through the New City, with its stretches of shops, cafes and housing blocks, which eventually gave way to vast desert expanses. We were heading to the Ourika valley and into the Atlas Mountains. This range of monumental peaks, which separates this region from the Sahara Desert to the south, is home to the Berbers. These indigenous people are concentrated in Northwestern Africa, and with a unique heritage, culture and language, they play a vital role in the defining this part of the world. They are a most gracious, hard working group of folks that have carved out a most admirable life in this less than hospitable terrain. The landscape around Marrakech is stunning, spanning from dusty, desert plains to rugged alpine settings …

Like Nothing Before: My Time in Marrakech (Part 1 of 3)

Why do I do this to myself? Is this really my idea of a fun? What have I gotten myself into? These were some of the thoughts that crossed my mind as I tried in vain to find a tolerable sleeping position on a row of airport terminal seats during my overnight layover. I couldn’t bring myself to leave Morocco a minute sooner than I had to, so my choice to catch the last plane out of Marrakech at 11:00 p.m. left me to my own devices in the Barcelona airport for five hours, until my 7:00am plane took me back to Italy. As I squirmed in the clammy, stark, mostly vacant terminal in the middle of the night, trying to get a minimal amount of rest, I was still under the spell of The Red City. Visions of chaotic markets, narrow corridors clogged with vending carts and humanity, pink and orange clay walls bathed in sunlight and speckled with shadows, and the throbbing rhythm of distant drums all flashed in my head. I was in …