On our second (and last) day in Madrid we decided to go on a tapas tour. Tapas are traditionally the little snacks you are served when you order a drink.  They are called tapas because back in the day the small plate of snacks would be placed on top of the drink you ordered.  On our tapas tour we were taken to three different bars where we got a small complimentary drink and a tapas or two.  The tour consisted of myself, Chris, the guide and a writer for “Let’s Go” travel books.  The writer named Grace was enjoying her first week out of six in Spain.  She was a young 20-year old student from Harvard who managed to secure a gig for herself writing for “Let’s Go”.  She was kind enough to take down our blog address and apparently on her own “Let’s Go” travel blog will put a link…Continue Reading
Chris enjoying Morocco's special brew of beer.
During our 3-week adventure in Morocco, I noticed some interesting things that I thought I could share with you.  Currently we are in Bucharest, Romania. We just arrived here yesterday after a one day layover in Milano, Italy and before that we spent a quick two days in Madrid. I will get some photos up of Madrid shortly. In the mean time enjoy the following. CERAMICS & TILES Morocco has tiles on some roofs that strongly resemble the ones used in Italy, only the tiles are smaller and are usually found in one of three colours:  orangish-red, blue or green.  After visiting a ceramic producing town near Zagora in south-eastern Morocco, we learnt that green is the most common and traditional colour for not only roof tiles but also any shape that can be made out of ceramic, like ash trays, serving platters, plates, sugar bowls and the infamous Moroccan…Continue Reading
May 16, 2010 – 7:30 pm Forget everything I said before. This place is not romantic. It’s deadly, unforgiving, and miserable. Full of pain and agony. Okay, maybe not that bad, but right now Laura and I are in low spirits. We’re tired. We ran out of mineral water, and can’t help but remember how Rashid carelessly drank some, and used some more for dishes and washing on our first day. Rashid can drink the well water, but we can’t for legitimate fear that the bacteria and microbes will make us sick. We’ve put some treatment pills in a bottle of well water, but have to wait two hours for them to do their work. We’re very thirsty, and have aches and pains throughout our bodies. Rashid said it would be an hour from our lunch spot, but it’s actually been about three, and the heat is the harshest we…Continue Reading
May 16, 2010 – Midday The nights out here have been wonderful. Not only do we get to rest while things cool off considerably and Rashid sets to work on the evening meal, but we also get to enjoy the type of clear, starry sky you can only find in a dry environment far from city lights, in the desert or the arctic. The company we paid to arrange this trek is called Caravane Mille Etoiles, the Caravan of the Thousand Stars, and the name is apt. The only thing they should work on is actually telling people that it is not a camel ride into the desert so much as a relentless death march in the baking sun. The dunes themselves have also been enjoyable, even though we have only been camping among relatively small ones (maybe 50m tall). Burying one’s sore feet in the still-warm sand and watching…Continue Reading
May 16, 2010 – Midday No entry for yesterday. Just too damned hot. Figured I’d make the effort today, despite my fatigue, before time and distance dissipate my memories like a camel fart in the desert. I’m not a religious man, but “prayer” is the closest thing to what was going through my mind as we struggled up and then crested each successive rise this morning only to discover yet another scrubby valley to cross—prayer that each one would be the last, that we would finally see the dunes and scattered trees that might provide enough shade for our mid-day break. But valley after valley was the same baked hardpan. All we saw was more desert. Another shadeless expanse to cross. Another few kilometers before yet another rise and the hope that this might be it. We crossed about eight of these valleys this morning alone, and the temperature is…Continue Reading
May 14, 2010 There is only an hour or two between the previous entry and this one. Since I wrote the last bit, we have eaten the day’s lunch. Rashid prepared and served us what he called “Berber Omelette,” an egg and tomato dish with peppers, onions and the usual spices that was remarkably like Turkish menemen. The camels are nearby, contented from the water we drew from a well right before lunch, and feeding on scraggly shrubs. Rashid is washing the dishes, which generally involves splashing some untreated well-water on everything and sloshing it around a basin. I try not to think that it’s the same basin the camels have drank out of, or that Rashid washed his feet in, or that Laura and I have also used to wash. Desert hygiene is not city hygiene. At least he’s using soap. Laura and I are actually feeling spoiled and…Continue Reading
May 14, 2010 The dusty streets of Zagora feel very far away and very long ago. It’s hard to believe it was only yesterday. The contrast between the desert and even a small town like Zagora couldn’t be more pronounced. When the wind dies down out here, it is perfectly still. Perfectly quiet. We are about six to ten kilometers from the camp where we spent last night. It is about 30 degrees Celsius in the shade right now, and we are passing the hottest part of the day under a desert tree. Our young guide, Rashid, 28, tells us it is called Tamarist in French, “Lit-luh” in Arabic, and “Tashwoodth” in Berber. He doesn’t know the English name. Rashid is himself Berber, descended from the desert nomads who once lived off the land in this area, but who have mostly settled down in nearby communities since Rashid’s grandfather’s time.…Continue Reading
This is the first part of a six-part series on our camel trek in the Moroccan Sahara. The additional entries will be posted each day over the next week. After that, you can see all six here. May 13, 2010 As I write this we’re only about two hours into our great Sahara adventure and it’s already the highlight of our Morocco trip. We’re in the back of a grand taxi—one of Morocco’s intercity shared taxis—speeding toward the small village of Tamegroute, where we will hopefully meet our desert guide and hop into a 4WD to head into the dunes. After scouring the overpriced tours available in Marrakesh, we decided to simply head to the desert on our own in the hopes of arranging something on the ground. That has proven to be a good decision. In Marrakesh we found several travel agents, who practiced varying-intensity versions of the hard…Continue Reading
Editor’s Note: The photos on this blog are the work of each post other, unless noted otherwise. My lovely wife Laura shot all these ones. She deserves the mad props. Our introduction to Morocco went rather smooth considering we had spent the previous night lounging around the Milano airport unable to sleep.  Stumbling up to the train ticket office, Chris piped up in French, “Parlez vous anglais?”   From that moment I knew I would be very much lost for language, not knowing any appropriate phrases in French or Moroccan Arabic. As the train chugged along we desperately struggled to keep our eyes open. The landscape unfolded like the Alberta prairie. I could see for kilometres in every direction. The sky was open and wide. Field after field made the landscape patchwork quilt I am so familiar with back home. The occasional olive orchard passed, but mostly it looked like wheat…Continue Reading
We made this video in Zagora, the night we got out of the desert in order to tease our blog readers with the upcoming content and to let everyone know we were safe and sound.