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Arriving at 5PM, we drove through Customs at 8PM.  Entering the country in the dark, we had no interest in exploring this city of a dozen reputations, and we proceeded to a hotel parking lot to begin our journey in the morning sun.


Traveling down from Barcelona on the Italian Motor Vessel Majestic, we passed to the east and south of Gibraltar.  The Prudential logo of the rock is actually showing the view from the southwest.



Papillon is registered in the State of Florida, which only has one license plate in the back.  In Europe you are required to have both a front and back plate.  In 2007 we met every policemen in Europe.  Not wishing to do that again, we modified a French plate with our number.  Also, for Morocco only, we substituted a Dutch Euro Sticker for our USA one.  We do not expect any issues - but then again, it only takes one fanatic to ruin your day.



15 miles to the southwest of Tangiers lies Cape Spartel - the northwest tip of Africa, where the Med melds into the Atlantic.

Here a lighthouse in the Moroccan style sends its timeless beacon out to sea as a guide to all mariners.


Another 30 miles to the south we began our tour in earnest at the coastal town of 


A town where...

the doors greet you warmly

Where the Motorhomers can park up securely beneath...

the Portuguese walls which sit on Phoenician foundations

Where families can gather quay side...

Musicians can entertain...

And tourists can buy the regional crafts

Where Spanish tourists pose with a friend...





and kitty cats wait their turn at the fishermen's side





Once again we meet up with the Romans, this time on one of the very far flung margins of the Empire.  For we are 200 miles south of the coast in the southern capital of Roman Mauritania, on the edge of the desert lands.  Established along the western African coast after the defeat of the Carthaginians, the Romans spread south in the first century.  Here their advance was contested by a tenacious group of tribes that brought the Romans to a halt, and in time caused them to abandon the southern provinces all together.  As one writer puts it, "The Romans bad mouthed who they could not defeat and gave these tribes the name of 'barbarians', from which we today get the name Berbers."

Probably the best rehabilitation of Roman city villas that we have seen.  A large merchant class built their homes within the walls and these structures also served a business and social purpose as well.  Thus the common areas, and the major personal spaces were well decorated with frescos and mosaics.  Many of the best mosaics remain in situ, unusual for Roman ruins.  And here they cleared out debris from all the rooms of the villas and reconstructed the walls so that you can gain an appreciation of the scope of these dwellings and how they were arranged around a central court/fountain/pool.




The Romans liked to build on high places, easily defended, near good sources of water.  The nearby mountains provided water as the remains of aqueducts prove.  And there is evidence on all nearby high spots of Roman military lookout posts.

And where today a couple of stork families have set up home atop the columns in the central agora.




How terribly Rude of the King

He forgot to inform us that he was going to be in Meknes.  And when the king travels so do the security police.  And roads are blocked, and checkpoints abound and venues get closed, like the campsite in Meknes.  And we had to make other arrangements late in the day.  And thus we backtracked half way to Volubilis where we stayed at Camping Belle Vue, which was without electricity, but which was owned by a wonderful family who made us welcome and we enjoyed breakfast there on the terrace the next morning.







A fez is a hat associated with Turkey, red with a black tassel.

Fes is a city in Morocco

A large vibrant city of over a million people, with 3 distinct districts: new, old and somewhat in between. 

To the left center is the old town, the medina, home of the shopping souks.

It is not the Kasbah.  Somehow we have associated the word Kasbah with the Medina or old town markets.  Kasbah means Castle, and was a defensive structure.  Many a Moroccan hilltop boasts the ruins of such structures.



Here in Fes you pass through the old city gates and enter a very different world from Abilene. 










This is where you pass the tiled fountains...






...and the writing on the wall.



And pause to peek inside the doorways in order to glimpse the delights within.

Where donkeys and mules are prohibited...






but enter anyway

A world in the twilight

Where  anything can be found

And where you step over the cats awaiting a tidbit 

(yep, that there is a skinned goat hanging in the open air)





And listen to a high pressure pitch about carpets most grand







During the British Mandate of the early 20th century in the Middle East, wags liked to state that there were 3 things wrong with the region.

Baksheesh, Hashish and Briteesh

Well the Brits are gone but the hashish and baksheesh are still going strong.

Baksheesh has been described as a tip, a bribe or more harshly as extortion.  All are accurate.  It is that little bit extra that is passed in almost every transaction in this region.  To the right, our guide has just "tipped" the policemen for the right to park illegally for a short time while he guides us tourists about.










One can only imagine the total immensity of the entire Sahara by the views of the little slice that we experienced.


We are in southeastern Morocco, 35 miles or so from the border with Algeria, near the village of Hassi Bedi.  Here we will do the most touristy of adventures - saddling up with the Berbers to ride into the dunes of Erg Cherbi.












First footfalls on virgin sand


Our camel adventure was of short duration, only a 2 hour sunset ride to the top of a dune.  Longer trips were on offer, and one could head out to Timbuktu from near here for 52 days, one way, aboard a camel.

These beasts are known as the ships of the desert.  And that they are as they pitch, roll and occasionally yaw with you on top hanging on for dear life.  But the experience was one that we shall never forget.  The quiet solitude and immense spaces.  Hold out for this camel ride folks, accept no cheap substitutes at a county fair or roadside parking area.  Come to the Sahara.








And always remember!



The View only changes for the lead Camel!


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