Hartmans Visit the Middle Atlas Mountains, Morocco

As you may have already read in our previous post about Fes, Josh and I traveled to Morocco in 2013 after visiting Spain. Getting to Morocco from Spain is VERY easy. Logistically, I figured that we might as well take advantage of its proximity while we were in that part of the world. My goodness, am I ever glad we did. All you have to do is take a short (1 hour) ferry across the Straight of Gibraltar from Spain to Morocco. Europe to Africa. These two continents are so close that you can see the other across the way when you are standing on the coastline.

During our time in Morocco, we spent plenty of time in the ancient walled city of Fes, but we also spent some time wandering through the Middle Altas Mountains. We saw things here that I didn’t even think existed. We met native tribe people herding their sheep. We saw breathtakingly barren mountain landscapes where only donkeys graze, and Josh got slapped in the face by a wild monkey (more on that later). The day we went into the Atlas Mountains, we hired a driver and told him specifically “take us to the most authenic ,non-American, Moroccan places you can think of.” And he did. I was a smidge worried about running into a hashish farm or driving off a cliff, but I was so distracted looking out the window that I soon forgot about all that. The Middle Atlas Mountains are like very tall, rolling hills covered in rocks, succulents, and short grasses. It was awe inspiringly barren. Open to see all of the beautiful surroundings. Along the way, Josh and I told our driver to stop at homesteads that intrigued us. We visited a native Berber woman doing laundry in a creek and said hi to her sweet little donkey. Berber people can be identified by the tattoos covering their faces. These tattoos identify them with their particular tribe and are very important to their culture. We always asked permission before photographing the people of Morocco, and I was so happy that this woman agreed to have her picture taken.

I should specify that when I say “homestead” in the Atlas Mountains, this is very different from what the word would mean in America. Typically, the homes we stopped at were dilapitated shacks with no windows, no electricity, and no plumbing. The most extreme example of this sort of life are the nomad people we met. Yes- there are actually still real live nomad people in Africa. Amazing. These people wander the land with their sheep, moving on as their herd searches for new food. They live in tents that are basically tarps secured around piles of rock or wood. The first nomad woman we met didn’t speak any English, but she hugged us when she met us and spat in her hand before she took mine. Our driver said this was a sign that she really liked me :). He also said that this woman is probably very lonely and only gets one or two visitors every year. I was so sad that we couldn’t understand each other but it was still a very memorable experience.

So about that monkey now. Along the drive, there is a certain place where wild monkeys tend to hang out along the road. They know to come here because drivers have been coming here for years and feeding them. There is even a man there selling peanuts if you forgot your own food. Well, of course we bought the peanuts, and of course, we wanted pictures of the adorable tiny baby monkey. However, one of the other adult monkeys was not too fond of that. When Josh didn’t give him the peanut, he hopped up and slapped Josh right across the face. A real- cheek burning hard slap. Well, I guess we can check that one off our list. Still it was a wonderful day. The memories we have of Morocco are so enduring. I think about it all the time and just love looking at the photographs we have printed and hung on our walls. I can’t imagine how awesome it would be to photograph a wedding out there, but please put out a good word for us if you know anyone. I wouldnt take any convincing to go back. ~ Shelley and Josh Hartman, Fes Morocco Travel and Destination Wedding Photographers.

 

To check out more of our travel photos, check out our travel blog at https://www.hartmanoutdoorphotography.com/blog/travel/

 

 

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