Morocco<br />Examining the Geography of a Diverse Cultural Area<br />Danielle Broome<br />
Morocco<br />Morocco as it is is a very fine place spoiled by civilization. –Richard H. Davis<br />I first went to Morocco in June of 2008, when, after my first year at the University of Alabama, I began to feel bored and trapped in my normal life. I moved to Meknes, Morocco and studied at Moulay Ismail University. In the time that I spent there, my life was changed and my eyes were opened in ways I could never have imagined. My love for the Arabic language blossomed and I began a love affair with the Arab world that is overpowering to this day.<br />
Morocco is located in Northwest Africa directly across the Strait of Gibraltar from Spain. Its boundaries typically include the disputed area of Western Sahara. The Mediterranean Sea is the Northern border of the country.<br />
Climate<br />Morocco typically enjoys a Mediterranean climate in the North, while the interior experiences more extreme weather. The Atlas mountains affect the weather in the country, as does the Sahara desert.<br />
Art & Culture: The Doors of Morocco<br />Morocco is famous for its intricately crafted doorways, which take a high level of skill and countless hours to create. In fact, the Bab Mansour is located in Meknes, Morocco, and is often touted as “The Most Beautiful Door in Africa”.<br />
Biodiversity in Morocco includes over 400 species of bird, as well as wild camels, scorpions, snakes, and work animals such as donkeys and camels. Some of these animals are bred to be taken care of…<br />…and others are not.<br />
The Sahara Desert<br />The desert is a dangerous place. I had the privilege of camping out in the Sahara several hours outside the mud-brick village of Merzouga. I spent two weeks living in a bivouac with indigenous Berber bedouins. I slept under the stars every night, ate very little, drank lots of water, and ultimately became very ill. Despite this, it was one of the most moving experiences of my life.<br />An excerpt from my travel diary:<br />It was late summer and I was lying in the sands of the Sahara desert outside of Merzouga, Morocco. The sun had gone down hours ago, and the stars were more bright and beautiful than I ever could have imagined. The Milky Way stretched across the night like a silver ribbon. I had been in Morocco for nearly two months; this was my last weekend before returning home and I had taken an eight hour bus trip across the country with my three best friends in search of an adventure. Laying there in the sand, next to people who had been strangers a few weeks before and were now something more like family, I realized my life could never go back to the way it was before Morocco. Living there had changed everything about me, and I didn’t want the old me anymore. I wanted everything about my life to reflect the things I had seen and done and the ways I had grown and changed. I cannot count how many times since then I have laid in bed, yearning to be back there in the sand, watching shooting stars streak across the Moroccan sky, wanting to rewind and press pause to that moment where it all made sense. <br />
Oases<br />Without the oases dotting the Sahara desert, life there would not be possible. Inhabitants of the desert rely on oases for water for both themselves and their animals, as well as to water any plants they might need for subsistence. <br />
Markets are typically built into the alleyways between buildings in the medina (the oldest part of the city, typically at its heart). They are labyrinthine in nature and very easy to get lost in. The market in Fes is one of the largest in the world, and couldn’t be captured in just once picture!<br />The Moroccan market, or souq, is integral to community life. At the market you can find anything from shoes, leather goods, and carpets to delicious sweets, fireworks, and live animals.<br />Sometimes, when the markets are not open (on days like Friday, the holy day), it’s nearly impossible to tell they were ever there.<br />
A mosque devastated by an earthquake and in the process of being reclaimed by nature.<br />Tut, tut, looks like rain! Or does it? This is actually a thick layer of pollution that is not uncommon in developing countries of the global south.<br />The Moroccan lifestyle is a marriage of Mediterranean luxury and African extremes.<br />
The Hassan II Mosque<br />The Hassan II mosque is located in Casablanca, Morocco and is an architectural work of art. It has been in construction for over twenty years and is still not finished. It is the third largest mosque in the world and is open to tourists. During Ramadan, the ornate wooden ceiling opens to expose the sky, and multiple indoor pools fill with water.<br />
An excerpt from my travel blog, on leaving Morocco:<br />“….we all spent the next hour or so packing up our Moroccan life into our tidy American suitcases. It was amazing and sad how simply this entire new life of ours folded up into tiny suitcases, because it had all seemed so much bigger than that, like something that couldn’t be contained. But it was, and it was bittersweet.”<br />
Sources<br />Pictures: my own<br />Excerpts from my travel blog www.salaamwahubb.blogspot.com<br />
A particular slide catching your eye?
Clipping is a handy way to collect important slides you want to go back to later.