Back home

It is always the same when I get home. Finally I get the awareness of being exhausted, and finally I see the photos in a real monitor and I think about the errors I made, and how I could’ve avoided them if just…

This time I even managed to delete a folder from two disks, my main traveling disk and its brother, the backup disk. Mistakes are easier to make when you are tired and you need to sleep and you want to transfer everything to your home storage asap. I got everything back, but the trauma was huge, the feeling that I had lost all that work (under the rain, feet wet, wind blowing rain in my lens), ahaha 🙂

This time I also fel that I learned so much with this trip, also while I did the organization it was such a lesson… mission impossible, for both countries, Spain and Morocco, so many difficulties that I had promised myself never to repeat the experience. Once there the challenges were resized to what they really were: a nuisance, who cares, lets have fun and enjoy the trip, and our friendship.

I learned so much in Moroco about things that we take for granted, and also how many stupid prejudices I had. Stupid me.

I also came to the conclusion, once again, than to take decent photos you need beforehand to study the country, the culture, the music, etc. I was so glad that I am fluent in French, several times, when I felt that I really needed to communicate without our guides help.

I must say that I loved Morocco, at least the area of Essaouira, and next time I will also travel to the desert. I don’t really care about shooting horses, not my priority anymore in that country, as I found that I love to take photos of donkeys much more, because they live a real life, they are important for the community, they are the real heroes. They have all my respect. They suffer, they forgive, they work, they adapt themselves, they are the spirit of Africa, where they came from.

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Interesting… travels from Morocco to London

in Morocco I had to wait several hours before i could enter the secure area.  NO internet so all i could do is shop…. lol anyway after several coffees I finally got to get in line to get my boarding pass.  There in line I met a group of English speaking ladies who travel together in a group called – Woman traveling together- http://www.woman-traveling.com.

Well i got on plane to Spain a few also were on that flight, than in Madrid continued talking to one gal that was traveling on to London to meet her husband for a week there.  Karen is from Estes Park, Co. I found out and we sat and yapped waiting for our flight to Heathrow.   The funny thing is once at Heathrow, we realized we both had the SAME car there to pick up up and take us to our hotels….Which in the end happened to be only a few blocks from each other!  Small World!!! it really is !  Was nice meeting you Karen!

SUSAN

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Susan N.

Some important items

pdaNRacine

There were a few things which really helped us to have a great photo trip both in Spain and in Morocco: let me start the list with the Kata bags, our wonderful backpacks, lightweight and sturdy. Then I would say that our soft shell coats did a great job with wind and rain and rough treatment by inquisitive goats 😉 , specially since we started very early in the morning when it was really chilly.  Also the shoes are very important, and as we did in Brazil, here we used Goretex or similar light mountain shoes – in fact only Susan and Nicole did, as I had forgotten mine when I made the suitcase.

BTW, this is the kind of photo trip for NO MORE then 4 photographers, conditio sine qua non. More than 4 will make the trip useless, as people will hide, get angry or just move away from the group.

Photo by Nicole Racine, shot at the port of Essaouira

Post Scriptum: people asked wich backpack we have, here goes the link: http://www.kata-bags.com/bug-203-pl-for-pro-dslr-w-300mm-lens-attached-4-5-lenses

Responsible tourism

We traveled with a great agency that promotes the responsible tourism, because we wanted so much to see the country from inside a family/community and also because we wanted to feel safe. It was the very first time that I used an agency to organize a photo-trip, and we are very grateful to all the people who helped us to achieve our goal: Consuelo, Ayoub, Abdelghani, Abou, etc. I am sure it was time consuming to organize it the way I wanted, and also it was energy consuming to our guides during our 18 hours journeys 😉 . If you ever decide to go to Morocco with this agency, please let me know and I will give you all details.

Let me tell you about sustainable tourism:

Responsible tourism is tourism which:

Minimizes negative social, economic and environmental impacts
Generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of host communities
Improves working conditions and access to the industry
Involves local people in decisions that affect their lives and life chances
Makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage embracing diversity
Provides more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues
Provides access for physically challenged people
Is culturally sensitive, encourages respect between tourists and hosts, and builds local pride and confidence

Cape Town Declaration, 2002

Goats on the argan trees. The argan oil is very important for the economy, we  stayed at a village where the women make the argan oil

Goats on the argan trees. The argan oil is very important for the economy, we stayed at a village where the women make the argan oil

Airport of Marrakesh

Just a few info which may  be important for anyone traveling through Marrakesh. First of all, there are lots of shops inside, you can pay with credit card or any of the main currencies, but prices are high if compared with the souks or shops outside the airport. I spent there my last dirhams.

There are endless passport controls before you even get to your gate, be patient, and before you queue for the safety area, you must fill a form, which you find nearby, at your right side. It is not written anywhere that you must do it, so many people have to go back out after a long wait to pick the form and fill it up.

Don’t panic if it is five minutes to boarding time and you don’t see in the boards the number of your gate, it will be a last minute surprise 😉

When you arrive to Marrakesh,  mind the cab drivers, when they see you coming out of the doors they surround you and pull your luggage so that you travel with them. Concurrence made them competitive. Some of the cars are an artwork, put together with wire and with parts falling of, but there are others in good shape. Negotiate the price, and make sure that they understood the address where you want to go.

The airport is nice, but you need to be prepared for a long wait at the passport control depending on the hour of the day. Most people speak French, some speak English.

There is a rather small bar in the other side of the safety area, called Venice something, it has free wifi and the best pastry and it is close to the toilets. Remember to tip the woman in charge of the toilets.

Sisters

When you go through such tough two weeks of traveling, it is really important who you travel with, I mean, so many days with a few hours of sleep, lots and I mean LOTS of walking, many hours in the car…. Either the group is well balanced and has common goals and lots of good sense, or the harmony may breake at the first difficulty. Well, we became sisters, and we found two brothers in Morocco, two open minded, altruistic and happy men, our guides. It would have not been the same without them. We saw the unseen country, not the one that tourists normally get to see.

We laughed a lot, sometimes tears would be running, and other times they were even diuretic 😉

We tasted so many different things, many of them with lots of spices, but we never had an upset tummy. We drank liters of tea of all sorts, in all sort of places, where sometimes we were the only women, places where a woman had never entered. Again, our guides made us feel safe, cared for us, answered all sorts of questions, like for instance “what do women wear under the djellaba?” 🙂 lol

Susan will soon post a video that we did the last night at Essaouira. Here a photo, shot with the iPad, of our guide Abdul. In fact his name is different, more complicated to write.

I am waiting to board, Nicole has already boarded and Susan will board in three hours or so. There is free wifi at the airport.

  

Berber breakfast

Susan has better photos of this, but she is having issues with wifi, so I will publish my one. This is our breakfast at our house in the berber village. There is bred, jam, a kind of pancakes hybrid with bread, home made butter, olive oil and argan oil, honey, etc.

I had never tasted bread with argan oil, it is really good. We also got some interesting photos of the procedure to extract the argan oil from the fruits