While Storks nest on chimneys and roofs in Europe, they seem to favour Minarets and Roman ruins in Morocco.
The ancient Roman sight at Chellah, on the edge of the city Rabat was port and trading town called Sala Colonia. The Romans established Sala Colonia in 40 AD.
In 250 AD the local Berber tribesmen gained control of the city. It appears to have developed little until the 12 the century AD Abdul-Mu’min built defensive walls around the entire complex. Some sources say it was used a fort, others that it was a burial ground by the Almohas dynasty.
What is certain is that became a holy necropolis (Chellah) under the Merinid Dynasty who constructed the mosque and the mineret pictured. The Merinad Sulton Abu Al-Hasan (c.1297-1351) ruled Morocco twenty years. Although he died in the high Atlas Mountains after being defeated by his son Abu Inan Faris, his resting place is Chellah
The archaeological site of Volubilis was an important outpost of the Roman Empire founded in the 3rd century BC. There are the remains of impressive civic structures and well preserved mosiac floors.
We arrived on a cold, windy day but the light made the site wonderfuly dramatic. Our diminutive elderly site guide did not share our wish to soak up the atmosphere. “Come on my family,” he kept saying, trying to gather the stragglers and keep his flock on the move.
Piling laughingly into the van, we recounted to Said how we’d been an unruly brood. That sealed it: from then on our little group became “La Famille”.
As far as I know, there is only one stall in the Medina at Meknes that sells camel meat. It is not difficult to find, just look out for the camel’s head. Said, our wonderful guide bought a big lump of lean meat, and we headed for a little eatery. They minced the meat, mixed it with onions and herbs then cooked it on the spot.
In the meantime we tucked into some delicious vegetarian fare. You will find plenty of healthy sustaining food to enjoy in Morocco if you are a vegetarian.
Our camel burgers were being cooked across the lane in the Meknes Medina
Built between 1986 and 1993, the Hassan II Mosque in Casa Blanca is a monument to local craftsmanship that showcases Moroccan stone and wood. The only imported materials are the Murano glass chandeliers and the white granite columns. It is said that over 6,00 master craftsmen and artisans worked on the mosque.
Our culinary experiences became more and more daring as we progressed. First Morocco burgers, then camel burgers, cow spleen kababs, and the finale, snails followed by sheep’s head in Marrakesh. The latter is not for the faint hearted, of whom I am one, preferring to take photos rather than partake. But those are yet to come.
When on holidays, the exotic exists alongside everyday life. It’s a matter of what we see.
To mindful souls, like my Tai Chi teacher, life is a series of special moments. One day in class, completely out of the blue, he said that he had woken up that morning feeling grateful to be able to open his eyes to see. He said it with such simplicity that I understood something at some deeper level, though I’m not exactly sure what.
Often since that moment I have realised how much I take for granted. I find myself being grateful for small things, noticing and appreciating more.
It was these eye shades on the Etihad flight from Sydney to Casa Blanca that gave me the idea for a series of holiday photos with the theme “Wake me up…” I’m re- blogging them, along with and other posts from a wonderful trip to Morocco. Never before has there been a better time for virtual tourism.
Next stop Madrid. Can hardly wait to immerse myself in art there. This painting of Santa Rufina painted by Diego Velazquez in 1629 -1632 hangs in the small gallery established by the Fundacion Focus-Abengoe, Seville. It’s worth a trip to the Hospital de los Venerables, a 17th century Baroque mansion and a quiet retreat providing respite from the flurry of Seville, to see their small but quality collection of Seville masters. The building, with a beautiful central courtyard, was once a hospice for ageing priests; a very fine place to see out your final time.