Monday, January 01, 2007

"Travelling the [bus] through clear Moroccan skies" - 27 December 2006

Ait Benhaddou KasbahA long drive required a very early start for the bus journey over the Tichka Pass in the High Atlas Mountains to Ouarzazate. At 2260m above sea level, this is apparently the second highest road pass in Africa. The road up and over the pass is a stunning drive as it climbs switchback style for the last few hundred metres following the route used by camel caravans in years gone by.

The Kasbah TaourirtOuarzazate is a fairly new city built around the Pashir’s Kasbah and is now primarily devoted to film production. There are a number of studios and the guide rattled off the names of many movies that had been shot in and around the town.

Pick a prop, any propWhile in Ouarzazate we toured the Kasbah, which overlooked a studio with what appeared to be a graveyard for disused movie props.

Although it was a long day and a long time sitting in the bus, the scenery was spectacular with the rugged mountains and earth coloured Berber villages.

Berber villageThe week that we were in Morocco was the week leading up to Eid al-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice where Muslims kill a sheep to remember the provision, by God, of a sheep for Abraham to use when God tested Abraham’s faith with the command to sacrifice his only son, Isaac.

As a sheep to the slaughterSo, everywhere we went, sheep trading was in full swing. However, having purchased the requisite sheep (one per wife) one had to get the beast home. The modes of transport we spotted were: On pushbike, moped, motorbike, on the back of a donkey; in the donkey saddle bags – one sheep each side; on top of cars, trucks, utilities, vans; in handcarts; and even in a wheelbarrow.

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