A Day of Learning

12935194_889249281188096_1992989714_nDonkeys and mules are central to the economy of Morocco. Without them, people would not be able to easily go places, carry goods to and from the market, plow fields or just about any part of life we take for granted. They are essentially living SUVs. They are super tough little guys with a heck of a sense of humor who give much and ask for little in return.

One place we returned to this trip was Jarjeer Mules, which is located just south of Marrakech. We visited our friends Susan and Charles who run the sanctuary for donkeys and mules. They take in older equids that are at the end of their working lives as well as those who have been abandoned or orphaned. Those animals have surely won the lottery to end up in Susan’s care. They come in scared, thin and full of worms and soon bloom into lovely, shiny, happy donks and mules who enjoy nothing more than good meals, sunning themselves and chasing each other around the paddock.

Our visit this time, though, included a day of hands-on lectures. Originally we’d planned just to work with Susan’s caretakers, but along the way the entire village was invited. Most attendees were expats who came to learn more. A happy surprise was our friend Ali Raji, who we met at the National Stables last October during our previous trip, also made the two-plus hour trip to the talk. We had messaged about it on Facebook several weeks before, and he was very encouraging. Poor Ali didn’t expect we were going to rope him in to translating from English to Arabic though!

Paula and I covered everything from the basics of temperature, pulse and respiration to looking at the color of the donkeys’ gums. Using the very patient Emily, the adorable Boris (who had no idea what he was getting into when he followed Emily out the gate), the ever-keen Mary and cute Clover, we had hands-on time with wrapping (and rolling bandages), grooming, using a weight tape and more. It was a full day of learning, but it was great to see everyone get really into it, ask fantastic questions and seem to enjoy our time together. Paula even had a record sheet translated into Arabic so the guys can track the health of each animal. Without Ali’s help, though, I don’t think it would have been nearly as successful. We are very much indebted to him.

All-in-all we met some wonderful and very interesting people and had a wonderful lunch catered by friends of Susan and Charles. Ali made plans with Susan to come back soon. We were so thrilled to be able to share our knowledge, and we are hopeful that some of them will spread out through the village and beyond.—Stacey Wigmore

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Back to Nature

On our travels South, we stayed at a enviromentally friendly lodge, named L’Ane Vert.   If you do not know us well by now, we  love to really “GET TO KNOW” not only the people of our travels, (staying in Berber family homes)  but also like to stay in places that are not at all typical tourism traps.     With a view of the Atlantic out of my window

 

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, fresh ocean breezes and sounds of nature to put me to sleep.  Life is GREAT!  Not to mention how healthy the food is here.  Avocado Shake to start then dinner I will just post photos of you will get the idea!   This place was one of the first to really have access to internet, so we are playing catch up on the blog here as well.

 

 

 

Goats in Trees

Did you know that goats grow on trees in Morocco? OK, not really, but you shouldn’t be surprised if you see a tree full of goats when driving by a grove of Argon trees. The goats enjoy eating the Argon fruit, which is used to make a lovely oil for both cooking and cosmetics. We found these guys just outside the seaside town of Essaouira, which is on the western coast, west of Marrakech.—Stacey Wigmore

Dog Days –

 

After picking up Stacey from the Airport we headed over to meet up with Rachel Blech to participate in a fund raising event to help raise funds for homeless dogs. This is a statement on Rachel’s page the day after shooting.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     “A BIG FURRY THANK YOU to all the dogs and owners that took part in today’s GOOD-DOG FRIDAY fundraising photo-shoot. Special thanks to Susan Noeller and Stacey for donating their valuable time and professional expertise and took such lovely photos. The official photos will be on Facebook as soon as Susan gets a chance to do some downloading at a decent internet speed! Until then – here are some snaps taken on my phone this afternoon. GOOD NEWS: 4,500dhs was raised in donations from those who came and those who pledged their support. GGGGRRRRREAT! Thanks to you all!!!”   

Was great fun really enjoyed meeting everyone and their owners too  😉   We are so pleased to be able to help raise funds for such a great cause.  Stacey and I worked like a fine oiled machine, as I shot, she quickly sorted, did a quick edit and handed  off the thumb drives with loaded images to the participants.

Susan Noeller

Where, when and how

First we do a quick scouting of the place to decide where, when and how. We talk to the people envolved, models and owners, to try to understand more about them and their world, we discuss the mood and finally we decide what time to do the shooting and how to do it.

We have been doing one shooting the day, because we are also traveling south and visiting the villages and the souks.

Sunrise and sunset, specially sunrise, allow for great photo opportunities. The communication with the locals has been excelent so far thanks to our berber guide, Abdul.

Please excuse me for the quality of the photos, we have no time to do a proper editing, and sometimes we post photos shot with cell phone and iPad.

Paula da Silva

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Nathalie’s horse

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Stamina

 

Ouzoud Waterfalls

I finally arrived to Marrakech, after several airport delays and having to spent the night in Madrid.  Our Guide picked me up and took me to an amazing place not far from Marrakech prior to having to pick up Stacey and Paula.   Ouzoud Waterfalls are located near the Grand Atlas village of Tanaghmeilt, in the province of Azilal, 150 km northeast of Marrakech, in Morocco. Ouzoud means “the act of grinding grain” in Berber.   One thing I have noticed is Morocco is filled with amazing surprises around every corner.  This country has so many different types of Landscapes and terrains.  We walked mind you from the top to the bottom, back up ….then I had a bright idea that I wanted Coffee…. Mhmmm as you guessed other side at the Bottom!  LOL  YES I GOT MY CARDIO IN!!  But it was simply beautiful.   This Waterfall is indeed a working grain mill and the interesting thing about this is, not only is it an oasis around it, but it continues to flow at full flow even in the worst of dry weather.  One more thing … I feel very blessed.  When I spoke to the owner of a Riad’s name- Auberge Taghoulite, owner Hamid.  He told me he was sorry that I was not able to see the rainbow as the sky was not in a condition to view it, BUT he was wrong, as I got to top, looked at the falls, an amazing rainbow showed to me as you will see.   As fast as it appeared to me and I got off a few shots…. it went away.

Susan Noeller

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Birthdays on the road

The first one happened to be in March 2015 when we traveled to Morocco for the first time, and it was Abdul’s, we had a nice dinner at Ayoub’s Riad with a cake and all. Second one was Stacey’s last October, lots of fun and a dinner in a riad’s terrace, in the roof. Today it is Susan’s birthday, we spent the morning at the docks shooting boats and cats, and we are now going for lunch (crabs for some of us, vegetables tajine for others). 

The afternoon will be even better, with a visit to a good hammam and a Berber massage, followed by another shoot envolving horses at sunset 🙂

It is such a beautiful sunny day, no wind, and such a nice springtime feel everywhere.

In the photo Susan this morning early, at the riad’s door.