The majestic Kingdom of Morocco has a lot to offer -- from its mountain ranges, desert dunes, historical cities and diverse culture of Berber, Sephardi Jews, Western African, Arab and European, one will always be swept into an adventure of a lifetime as they explore Morocco. More importantly, the locals are more than welcoming and warm to any wandering soul who wish to learn and explore everything the country has to offer. Thanks to a gift from her grandmother, Lomographer Maria Ferres Amat, a.k.a. ilovefrenchfries embarked on a life-changing journey with her sister and the Lomo'Instant Wide as they explore the country. Here's Maria's travelogue, in her own words and pictures.
My adventure in Morocco was a present from my godmother, Gemma Amat, she is a painter that fell in love with Morocco many years ago, she goes there to paint and get inspired every now and then. She had been wanting to take me there for a long time, she knew that for a photographer and curios person like me Morocco would be a life-changing experience. And she was right! To add more fun and creativity to the trip my sister Núria joined us! Lomography Spain actually published an interview about Gemma featuring some of her paintings about Morocco and my photos in her studio.
During this trip, I fully trusted Gemma's experience and knowledge about Morocco. We stayed in Essaouira, we were able to really get to know and enjoy the town's life and also the surroundings, we contacted our colleague and local expert for the road trips, he knew exactly where we wanted to go and he also helped with the language, outside Essaouira and Marrakech sometimes it was difficult to communicate even in French!
We visited an Argan Oil Women Cooperative where we learned about the process and benefits of the famous Argan Oil (Moroccan Oil) and we met the beautiful ladies doing the hard work; along the road on the way there we spotted a shepherd with his goats hanging out in the trees, we ended up having a very fun time playing with the goats and talking with the shepherd.
Another adventure was to discover the beauty of Tafedna, a fishing commune south of Essaouira, a small and very unique town, everything was white and blue. During the Tafedna road trip, we also visited Sidi Kaouki, a beautiful rural commune by the beach, which is also a famous surf spot!
Visiting the Had Dra local market was probably the most intense of the Moroccan adventures, we walked around every corner of the market, there were so many people and vendors, you really get to understand the lifestyle by observing the market life. It was interesting to see how they set up their tents and present the products, how they do deals or enjoy some tea together, it was a mix of social and business everywhere. The barbers' tents were the best though, such a unique thing to see. And again, colors, textures, and faces everywhere, so beautiful, I couldn't stop taking photos.
We also went on a road trip to the rural Berber region, passing through a school in the middle of nowhere, countless mountains, lots of argan trees and empty roads. We were welcomed to a Berber home, we shared lunch and the afternoon with the family, it was for sure another unique experience.
Staying in Essaouira it really gave me the chance to feel and understand the town's life. I love the Medina, the people, the stores, the intensity of the port and the stunning walls and towers surrounding the city. We went to a traditional hammam, we got henna tattoos, we danced to live, local music and we share tea with locals.
And finally Marrakech. It is a place you have to see if you have the chance, it's a crazy little city. I was very impressed by the city's rhythm, it's a bit overwhelming, way more touristic, and intense. I loved the souk with it's tiny packed shops and the artisans' area where you can see them creating.
One of my favorite experiences was connecting with people through my photos, I used instant photography as a way to connect with locals, I would exchange photos for smiles! A carpenter in Marrakech souk saw me taking a photo of him while he was working and I apologized but he gave me a huge smile and welcomed me to watch and take photos, he made me a wooden amulet and I gave him a photo. Another day during our Tafedna road trip I saw two beautiful ladies in the middle of nowhere waiting by a stop sign, I took a photo of them and the girl smiled at me and took a picture of me with her phone. We stopped the car and exchanged hugs, smiles and photos, the grandmother at the beginning didn't want any photos but the girl kept taking selfies with us! We could not understand each other but it was a magical moment.
Another great memory was meeting the shepherd, we laughed and had lots of fun playing with the goats and we got to learn about his life and job. I also really enjoyed getting lost around the streets of Essaouira, it's like an explosion of colors and movement, so many things to capture with your camera.
The locals were always very friendly, they enjoyed exchanging stories and sharing tea. I connected with a lot of people through photography, it was usually a good conversation starter. We always felt welcomed. It was very interesting to learn about their lifestyle, it's so different from my everyday life, it makes you see things and life from a different perspective. Connecting with the locals was a life-changing experience.
Even though I'm probably one of the worst foodies around, I'm going to give you my humble opinion... I have to say I really loved the chicken Tagini, the local bread, and oil, the pastries they sell in markets and little stores and the honey and chocolate they make with Argan. In Marrakech, any rooftop restaurant will be an amazing experience and in Essaouira, there are plenty of local restaurants offering delicious traditional food inside the Medina, and great fresh fish spots by the port and beach. But always stay away from any water or juice that it's not bottled.
I loved hanging out at the rooftop terrace in our apartment building, it was located inside the Medina but right by the ocean so we had a magical all-around view, from the wall and distinctive Essaouira towers and port to the colorful and messy Medina streets. Getting lost around Essaouira's Medina was also one of my favorite things to do, every time I would find something new.
Also, I love the colors! Just getting off the plane you can feel the Moroccan light and colors. The buildings and streets, in general, are amazing, full of details and secrets! Doors and windows are so colorful everywhere. And the people there, I fell in love with their facial expressions, with their eyes and stories. Morocco is a unique place, it's like an adventure back in time where colors and textures paint people's life.
Morocco is the perfect place to visit for the daring, curious people that are looking for adventure and also families; but I absolutely recommend Morocco to anybody with a curious and creative mind.
Marrakech is a must-see, true, but don't spend too much time there, we had enough with a day and a night at the end of our trip. Be adventurous and daring, explore beyond the city and find those not so touristic places if you really want to connect with the people and culture. I recommend making a plan and route of what you want to see and contact a local guide or expert to show you around. Essaouira, the Berber region, local markets... There's something to capture in every corner. Keep your eyes wide open, feel the colors, bring a big smile and also lots of film!
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