10 January 2020

Morocco in Winter - Camels on the Beach

I wake up to CAMELS these days. 

Every morning, the herders bring them out to the beach (the beach!).
They settle in among the kite and wind surfers.

Camels and coffee.
I like it.

We're in Essaouira, beach town on the Atlantic coast of Morocco. 
We've been in Morocco for over a month.

We didn't mean to be spending so long here. 
But - it's pretty cool.

Mountains. Medinas. Mosques. History. Culture.

And - SO much art. 

Art everywhere. Handmade tiles.
Pottery. Rugs. Textiles.
Brass. Copper. Carved wood.

Crazy traffic in the cities. 
Twisted alleyways in the souks. Easy to get lost.

EVERYTHING is sold here.

Dates. Figs. Fish. Spices.
Engraved weapons. Odd musical instruments.
And - olives -!

LOOK at all those olives! A whole landslide of olives...

Stan and I really enjoyed exploring the country.
Casablanca - Meknes - Rabat - all the way down to the Sahara in Merzouga.
Up to Chefchouen. All the high points.

Fes, Marrakech, Ourzazate.
The Dades and the M'Goun Valleys.
Atlas Mountains, Anti-Atlas, and a few Middle Atlas peaks as well. 

Snowstorms to sandstorms.

Even spent time out in a desert camp on the edge of the Sahara.
It was surprisingly cold! Slept in ALL my clothes.

A mouse shared our tent with us.

Sunrise at the side of the desert tent.

No Starbucks out here, Stan.

It's pretty dramatic.
Looks a lot like New Mexico in places.

Winding switchbacks over the rocky and snowy Atlas mountains.

Last time I was in Morocco was 1982. 
Flying over the Sahara in a single-engine plane.

This Morocco is very different. And yet - maybe not.

There are moments where it looks almost biblical.
Women in long robes.
Guys still wear djellabas with little pointy hoods.

They all know still how to twist a long piece of fabric into a tidy turban.

Handy - when a random sandstorm comes up - which it did.
The camel guides started calling, "Wind coming! Wind coming!"

Sure enough - soon the wind was howling and the sand was moving like water.

(It was impressive! Really cool.)

 - Wish I'd had a turban....

Can't really get TOO lost around here. 

Over Christmas, we even had a family get-together here in Morocco. 

How cool is that?

Iris and Mikey and Noah from Berlin.

Erik and Ray from Bangkok. 

(Kilian couldn't make it this time-)

We rented a beautiful house in an argan forest near Sidi Kaouki.
(Argan trees have nuts that produce argan oil.)

Camels and donkeys graze there. 

And the goats - climb trees.

But now - they all went back to their work and their worlds.
(the goats probably, too)

Stan and I are still in Morocco.
Hanging out. 

- With the camels on the beach.

01 January 2020

Lanzarote Living - Winter in the Canary Islands

We're in the Canary Islands.

On the island of Lanzarote.

Out in the Atlantic Ocean.
Off the coast of Western Sahara.

Somewhere southwest of Morocco.

Grapevines are planted in those stone circles. To protect them from the winds. 

Politically, the Canary Islands are part of Spain.
Geographically, they're part of Africa.

Columbus used one of these islands when he set sail for America.

Created by volcanoes. 
Lots of them. Again and again.

It's pretty wild.

The beaches are black sand.

Plants resemble Dr. Seuss paintings.

And - the cactus-?

Cacti seem to thrive on the lava.

They're really surprisingly bizarre plants.

Plus, there are random volcanic islands strewn about the place.

This is the view from our rented house.

It's extreme - inspiring. 
Awfully quiet, too.

Good for drawing and painting.

Meanwhile, this is the scene back in New Mexico.

Kilian and friends - skiing in Taos.
Or at least trying.

Here in the Canary Islands, no snow. A little windy. 

It makes sense.  
I mean - we ARE somewhere out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
The winds have a chance to gather speed - starting from about Bermuda. 

-No wonder there aren't many trees. 

Days are spent taking long walks along the coast. 

Eating fresh seafood. 

Cool white towns with a smattering of odd nationalities running good restaurants. 
We talked to Italians, Brazilians (Brazil is closer than you'd think-) and Polynesian French.

It's an international community.

We rented 3 different places while there. This one was our favorite. Cheerful, easy and it overlooked the beach.

The best part: cool hiking trails.
Right along the beach, on the lava rocks.

Past tide pools - waves - and cactus plants.

Not my fault! Not my boat!

Turns out the Canary Islands were named by the ancient Romans.
Canaria - from the Latin word for dog.

Not for the cute little birds.
Oh well.

This winter, we've been in the Canary Islands (1 month),
Morocco (6 weeks) and Portugal (1 month).

While in Morocco, we spent a month in Essaouira.

Then, after almost a month, we're off again.
Binter Canarias Airways to Casablanca.

I hadn't heard of this airline before.
They weighed us each before we boarded. And our luggage.

It's a small airline. Small plane.

Life in Lavaland. 
-Even without the canary birds.