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ONCE UPON A TIME IN MOROCCO

It's a long journey from Fez and Marrakech to the Algerian border, crossing the Grand Atlas Mountains. But it is also a voyage to yourself. One that defines your dreams, wishes and fantasies.

Story by Katharina Maria Zimmermann March 17th, 2016

Bienvenue – marrakech

Marrakech is a world in its own. It swallows you whole from the beginning, you can’t elude yourself from the vibe and the tales of 1001 Arabian nights that seem to await you behind every corner. All of a sudden you are part of this huge beehive, without knowing neither the general rules nor your function. You get yourself swallowed in the streets, the souk and the back alleys, trying to hold on, but all you find in your hands is your camera, chasing after every subject there is.

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PLEASE WATCH OUT!

And while you’re overwhelmed with all the colors, charismatic faces, scraps of conversations in strange languages, you are also in danger of getting overrun by mopeds, bikes or even horse-drawn carriages.

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TILE STORIES

Moroccans love tiles. But why’s that? In Arabic culture it’s forbidden to reproduce human or animal shapes – this is why all ancient places, like Medersa Ben Youssef are decorated with these rich and beautiful patterns, scripts and carvings.


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PALATE FEAST

Morocco is … well … the best place for foodies. EVER! Unfortunately I was too hungry to take more than these pictures of wonderfully delicious culinary arrangements. (The one in the middle is a camel burger btw.)

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IT'S A LONG WAY TO THE DESERT

Leaving your comfort zone is one thing. Living and wandering around the Sahara for full five days is something else. It’s like flying from your little cosy home town that you’ve never left before to – let’s say – the moon. They tell you it’s an 8-hour-drive. At the end, when you finally arrived at the mountains that mark the Algerian border, you’ve spent 13 hours in a small, white bus. In Morocco, the Grand Atlas Mountains sort of divide the desert from the rest of the country. At first, the colors of their rocks are a mix of browns, but then, the longer you drive on their serpentine roads, the more colors you can see. From varieties of red to a dark violet, every nuance can be discovered in those rocks.

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THE ULTIMATE ADVENTURE

Imagine it like a giant sandbox. But bigger. A lot bigger. That would be the Sahara. The desert’s character is quite aloof. It takes time to get to know it. You have to listen closely, to look at the tiniest hints, it reveals. When you respect its ways, you get rewarded with a refinement of your senses from taste to the olfactory scent. And deep inside yourself, tranquility starts to spread. You begin to cherish the sunlight, as it brings warmth to your little world. And you start to appreciate each shade as it improves your pauses in-between hiking. You wander an incredible amount of 6 hours a day. You can spend them walking, or having some quality time on the back of a dromedary.

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DESERT DETAILS

You start to notice the little things.

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A HOME IN THE DUNES

All of a sudden, you turn into a nomad. You move from one place to another, always wandering, always searching. Outside, everything is calm. Inside, your thoughts are running wild. You seem so small and out of context.

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STARRY, STARRy DESERT SKY

After night falls and before the moon rises, more and more stars appear. You can even watch them from your little sleeping berth, while feeling save in your sleeping bag. 1001 Arabic nights? Here they are!

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The world inbetween

Cherish the light you get. Especially in the magic hours when the sun unites with the horizon. The desert is like a shy animal. You can’t approach it up front, you have to observe it closely and interpret the signs it sends you. It’s not only the perfection of a star-scattered night sky or a sunset. It is the hot, clean air, the merciless heat, it is the severe frostiness in the wee small hours of the morning. Cause it’s always the coldest before the dawn. First, you need to experience the full package of desert modes to finally grasp at least a hint of the grand personality of the desert.

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SO FEZ SO GOOD

Numerous dusty roads up north the impressions you get in the old city of Fez clash with everything you just learned in the desert. Vastness is replaced by narrow alleys, ease is substituted with the humming of a big medieval city. It is one of the four famous States of the King of Morocco. Walking through the city, you cannot only see, but also feel more than thousand years of existence. You become a time traveller. Only cellphones and mopeds pull you back into reality.

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Footnote: We travelled with www.weltweitwandern.at & I brought my EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 24-70mm 1:2.8L USM and my handy iPhone 6S.
Morocco