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.