More than once I was told to bring an empty suitcase with me to Morocco, for all the great shopping and the quality rugs, leather, pottery and artwork I would want to bring back with me. Looking for new adventure, and traveling overseas for only the 2nd time as an adult, I didn’t imagine I’d spend a lot of time shopping. I was wrong! Usually my photos are my souvenirs, but this trip I was swept away by the markets, the process of negotiation, and the intent of my fellow travelers to buy!
Outside of the marketplace there was sand – a lot of sand! Riding a camel through the desert to watch the sunset on the sand dunes, there was no internet, and no cell phone service. Traveling with two other photographers, however, there was still a lot of “screen time” as we checked our images and read the histograms on the back of our DSLRs. As the sun was just above the horizon we agreed to put our cameras down, and just watch — which lasted about 10 minutes, when one of us snuck an image (see April’s “guest blog” at the end of mine).
As for the folks back home, I was asked for just one major takeaway from the trip – a picture of a bike!
With that in mind, I discovered a world of cycling in Morocco, for sport and exercise, as a means of transportation, and as a social occasion. Despite the bulk of items I brought home from this trip, photographing the people there, and the bikes they were riding, is one of the key experiences that stands out in my mind. Bikes were everywhere!
In groups or solo, from sunrise until well after dusk, the cities and the rural areas alike were home to cyclists. They were a part of the landscape, and added to the beauty of the scenery.
The diversity of riders was astounding! I saw riders of every age, and both genders took to the saddle. As many as three were being transported on one frame. From the capital city of Rabat to Marrakesh’s busy markets, bikes were all over the roadways, and made quick work of moving through the crowd and around stalled motorists. Most of the cyclists were smiling, and seemed content with their ride.
Of course I rode a bike while I was there. It was just a brief moment on the borrowed bike of a local. Traffic was stopped along a mountain road, while a blasting crew was working on pulverizing some of the rock wall along the road, so that the road itself could be widened. Motorists came out of their cars to converse, and our driver spoke to a cyclist waiting on the side of the road. He explained my photo project and my desire to ride a bike while traveling. I’d guess he thought it was silly as I road down the small hill, with my fellow travelers acting like paparazzi, photographing moment by moment as I rode up and down the short incline.
I’m reminiscing this week because I’m still suffering jet lag, and have a lot of images to process from my latest trip. This time my camera let me see Thailand through an artist’s eyes. I look forward to sharing my adventures in Bangkok and Chiang Mai!
Ready for the next adventure!
International Travel with the Oldest and Newest of Friends
~ Guest Blog by April Weller Toxey
I don’t think I’ve ever experienced as many feelings as I did leading up to our Morocco trip. I was excited to see a new country and even more excited to spend time with my best friend from grade school. We became fast friends at the age of three…well, she was two at the time. I moved away in 6th grade and since then the only time I really saw her was at my wedding, 16 years before our trip!There was also concern for Chase, this third travel partner of ours who I had never met before. Would we get along? Would I hate him? Would he be creepy? Will he accept my unfilteredness?All my fears were put aside after picking them up at the airport in Casablanca. Not only was I able to reconnect with a long time friend, but I met a new one as well. Together we were able to experience the history, colors, magic, sounds and smells of Morocco. From ocean to highlands, mountains, the Sahara and to ancient cities we took it all in. I even learned more about photography from these two professionals, in a fun way!From the endless laughs in the Sahara, puking our guts out in the mountains to getting Kathy that photo she needed to be in the paper back home. So many fond and wonderful memories came back with me from this majestic country. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat, but in a new place!~ April