Now that it’s raining in Marrakech and I have a forced “night in,” I have a chance to post an update on my 150 days on the road across North Africa and the Middle East.
Deep timbered vocals boom through the tightly packed buildings of Marrakech’s Medina.
It’s 5am and the call to prayer reminds me that I am somewhere very far from home. As the sound reverberates through Morocco’s “Red City”, the streets of Marrakech transform from quiet laneways to bustling, almost frantic, scenes of merchants pedaling their wares, street performers trying to eek dirhams out of tourists and local Moroccans buzzing their mopeds through the throngs of people.
I’m a week into my 5 month journey from the Spanish Canary Islands at the very edge of North Africa, across the continent (I’ll skip Algeria, Libya and Tunisia this trip), to Egypt, then through the Gulf and the Levant up to Turkey and the edge of Europe. It’s a trip that has been a year and a half in the making. I’m on the road for my women’s tour company, ArchaeoAdventures, researching, making arrangements for our upcoming tours, and photographing for ArchaeoAdventures’ women’s tours to Egypt, Morocco and Jordan. While on the road, I will also being doing some photography and writing in Morocco for GAdventures and the Outdoor Women’s Alliance.
Over the next 5 months I’ll be visiting the Canary Islands, Morocco, Egypt, Bahrain, the
UAE, Israel/Palestine, Jordan and Turkey. In Egypt, I will be preparing for our next women’s tour this Fall (November 1-14, 2015), as well as our February 2016 Egypt tour, and also showing some friends around the country. It is currently a great time to visit Egypt – the country is stable and there are still very few tourists. The tourist infrastructure is still present and strong, and travelers can enjoy the Cairo Museum, the Pyramids, and the great temples and tombs of Luxor without hoards of tourists. I’m excited to be showing travelers around one of my favorite countries in this very unique climate and time in history. We partnered with Dr. Manal Kelig, co-Founder of Gateway to Egypt, to create a one-of-a-kind, unique trip incorporating Egyptian women guides who are experts in modern-day and ancient Egypt showing women travelers around their country. It’s one of the very best ways for a woman traveler to get to know Egypt and enjoy the country and culture — through the eyes of a local woman. Egyptian women are strong and very savvy, unlike how much of western media likes to portrait them. I’ve traveled through Egypt many times with my Egyptian friends and they never cease to amaze me with what a different, enriching and eye-opening experience it is. And I want to share this experience and way of traveling with other women travelers. There is no time like the present to explore Egypt! For more details about my upcoming women’s tours to Egypt (November 1-15, 2015 and February 2016), and the Fall 2016 tours to Morocco and Jordan, visit ArchaeoAdventures.com or email me at [email protected].
I began my trip visiting a good friend on Fuerteventura, in the Canary Islands. I didn’t see
any canaries, but I did explore a land of ancient volcanoes, surfers catching big and small waves, cyclists playing chicken with oncoming traffic and stunning beaches formed from sand blown in from the Sahara. The Canary Islands are a magical, powerful place. Even though they are controlled by Spain, geographically they are part of North Africa, and the topography shows it. Worn down, old volcanoes, black basalt beaches and red a landscape dotted with occasional green from desert plants made Fuerteventura a fascinating little island to explore. And the people really know how to relax and enjoy life. They make mainland Spaniards seem in a hurry.
From Fuerteventura, I flew to Marrakech, located at the base of the High Atlas mountain
range. Marrakech is known as ‘The Red City’ for the salmon colored mudbrick used in building construction. On sunny days, the brick glows red. Marrakech is a smorgasbord of colors, smells, sights, and sounds. It is very Moroccan and very accessible. It is a city of polarities – at the base of the dramatic Atlas Mountains, yet also the gateway to the desert; North African yet also very French, Arab and Eastern; modern city and ancient Medina; mopeds, buses, luxury cars, donkeys and camels share the streets; there is a respect for tradition and at the same time a push for the new. Marrakechis are fiercely proud of their city and seem eager to welcome travelers. In Morocco, locals speak Arabic, Berber, French and usually a few words of many other foreign languages – making it easy to find at least one or two languages you share in common.
I will be spending the next 4 days exploring Marrakech, before taking the 12.5 hour bus ride to the Sahara and the border with Algeria (I won’t be crossing over to Algeria this trip). I will spend a few days in the Sahara at the massive Erg Chebbi dunes before heading to Ouarzazate and the High Atlas Mountains. Then it’s back to Marrakech, before I head to the coast, Essaouira, Rabat, Chefchaouen, Fez, Meknes, and finally Casablanca. I have 4 weeks to dive into the country and culture. I aim to learn as much as I can about the culture and find my point of entry into this beautiful country and people – where my love for Morocco stems. Though from just a few hours here, I think it might be the mountains, Sahara, culinary fusion of foods and flavors, the friendly people, and the stunning jewelry.
Stay tuned for all the adventures!
#OnAdventure with ArchaeoAdventures