A Travellerspoint blog

Mountains are beautiful...and tricky

or why Janet should start concentrating while skiing and not thinking about whether her helmet goes with her ski jacket

sunny 26 °C

We are currently enjoying toasty temperatures in Phoenix but, not so long ago, we were standing in lift lines and skiing down the great runs at Red Mountain in Rossland, BC. Our adventures to here are as follows...

We enjoyed ten days in North Vancouver following our week in Portugal. My parents were away in Palm Springs so it was a perfect time for Nils' mum Antje Clarke to fly out from Toronto to spend some time with us in the Lee Condo. One evening, we travelled with her to Maple Ridge to have a delicious dinner with Nils' brother Rhys, his wife Julie and children Jessica, Amelie, and Zoe. We managed to fit in two days of skiing at Grouse Mountain and Cypress which got us into the right frame of mind for the next part of our BC trip.

We landed a fun housesitting gig looking after a veritable menagerie in Rossland. I had my doubts that my canine shy boys would enjoy this experience but everybody came through with flying colours as you can see in these pictures. In addition to Frankie and Sadie, we cared for Scheister the cat and two guinea pigs whose names we never did learn. We spent almost two weeks at this house and then moved into the basement of our very hospitable friends, Karen and Bernie, who are both teachers in Rossland.

Apparently, by geologic and altitudenal definition, Rossland is the only Alpine town in Canada. It sits in a beautiful, undulating mountain valley at between 3800 and 4800 feet above sea level. For our early Spring experience, it was in fact totally like being in varied and ever changing mountain weather systems - snow, rain, wind, fog (or was that really just a cloud drifting through ?!), sun, wind...repeat. This made for some fantastic days at Red as well as a few that were challenging. Not to reveal a little-known secret or anything, but Red is a pretty great hill that the Clarke boys and girl heartily recommend! Great terrain, some really challenging, with two mountains that have lots of skiiable tree runs and groomers. You can easily shred your quads, to use the vernacular. On two or three days we had between 10 and 25 cm of ideal, light "pow".

Max and Angus did a great job of challenging themselves and, ultimately, good old dad. Angus particularly was a fan of the off-piste "hot wheel" track where you wind precipitously through the trees on one narrow path with very few options to save yourself. The bigger bodies and skis were sometimes looking for the proverbial truck escape ramp in order to avoid imminent contact with a mighty West Coast Cedar. What good fun! We hope to be back...

Angus with his new best friend, Frankie

Angus with his new best friend, Frankie

Max with his nbd (new best dog), Sadie

Max with his nbd (new best dog), Sadie

Rossland is a great little town with a fantastic bookstore, a good foodstore, and the world famous Colander Restaurant is just down the road in Trail. A big shout out to my Mum's friend Helen MacInnes who recommended the delicious Colander to me twenty-five years ago when I visited Trail with my summer job selling hardware throughout BC....the place hasn't changed since then..not one bit.

Red Mountain Resort is a wonderful ski hill...for those in the family who can ski! On a beautiful, sunny Friday morning, I got separated from the boys and went up the lift with a man named Rino who is on the ski patrol. He is so famous in these parts that he has a run named after him! At the top of the chair, we said good-bye and I headed down Ruby Tuesday. Half way down, I turned one way and my knee went the other. After rolling for several feet, I stopped in a heap. Who should come to my rescue but my new best friend Rino! He called for a stretcher and I had a wild and crazy ride down to the First Aid Station. There is nothing broken but my knee is very sore and my trip to the Boston Marathon in mid-April is in question...bring on the Advil and ice.

Beautiful blue day at Red

Beautiful blue day at Red

Feeling the burn on Red

Feeling the burn on Red

Angus action shot

Angus action shot

We only had one short evening with Karen and Bernie after they returned from their Spring Break trip to Hawaii but we plan to return to Rossland for more skiing. We left on Monday morning to begin our long drive south. On the way we passed through Salt Lake City where we visited Temple Square, the home of the Mormon Church and the most visited site in SLC. We toured the Family History Centre where the lovely Sister Mitchell asked in a surprised voice... "are these your only children??".

Feeling the Mormon love!

Feeling the Mormon love!

Angus researching the Clarkes at the Mormon Family History Centre

Angus researching the Clarkes at the Mormon Family History Centre

Zion National Park was not far out of Salt Lake City so we stopped there for a short walk through the red rocks to admire the amazing peaks.

We have lots of pictures of red peaks in Zion...here's one more!

We have lots of pictures of red peaks in Zion...here's one more!

Look at all the geology here at Zion National Park!

Look at all the geology here at Zion National Park!

Helping Mum on the path

Helping Mum on the path

Our last stop on our geological tour of America was the Grand Canyon...wow! It was a perfect day to explore this natural wonder...warm, sunny with a lovely breeze to keep our Yukon boys from overheating. It is 227 miles from the Glen Canyon Dam to the Hoover Dam, so there is quite an expansive vista, which is to understate the enormity of the area. And...it all eroded in 5 or 6 million years, which is really quick in geologic time.

We made it to the Grand Canyon!

We made it to the Grand Canyon!

Don't jump boys...the extended family holiday is almost over!

Don't jump boys...the extended family holiday is almost over!

This picture doesn't do the amazing view justice

This picture doesn't do the amazing view justice

There is definitely some geology happening here!

There is definitely some geology happening here!

Plans for Phoenix include spring training baseball, Coyotes hockey, and lots of time around the pool. The Coyotes will likely make the playoffs, so it might be possible to take in a home playoff game before we depart. We shall see in the next few days.

Posted by clarkesabroad 20:03 Archived in USA Tagged grand_canyon skiing salt_lake_city red_mountain Comments (0)

Easing out of Europe

sunshine in Seville and surfing in Sagres

sunny 20 °C

We are currently in Rossland, BC and spent today skiing in powder up to the ying yang but, since we haven't yet posted pictures or written about our last days in Europe, here goes....

We made it across the Straits of Gilbraltar and. while that rock did beckon us, we decided instead to spend our time in Spain. On recommendation from Nils' friends from his October Spanish adventure, we went to Seville, a beautiful, pedestrian-friendly city. We watched all the action of the rowers in the canal, toured the bullfighting museum, and enjoyed the sitting in cafés trying out different tapases/tapasae/tapas...you get the idea.
Once again, the fantastic, generic, inexpensive Rioja was well-appreciated.

We also witnessed a large, reasonably well-natured street protest which we think was opposing the privatization of the public electrical utility. It was an all ages event with lots of costumes and really loud mobile stereo systems pumping out upbeat contemporary music suitable to register outrage to. There were a lot of placards denouncing the real or imagined potential corruption of the proposed Government action....well-organized community dissent on a pleasant Saturday morning in "Sebilla" , as we affectionately referred to this very neat, historical Southwestern Spanish town.

On the banks of the canal in Seville

On the banks of the canal in Seville

The boys down by the ring.

The boys down by the ring.

The bull who killed 8 horses in the ring.

The bull who killed 8 horses in the ring.

Enjoying the sun in Seville

Enjoying the sun in Seville

In the centre of the city, we explored the Metropol Parasol, a recently-unveiled wooden structure which cost 90 million Euros. Referred to as "the mushroom" because of its shape, it is the largest wooden structure in the world. It provided an unobstructed, panoramic view of the downtown core. There are very few buildings that are more than 5 or 6 stories except for the venerable and abundant churches and palaces which were constructed over the course of numerous centuries of Sevillian cultural and occupational influence.

Max...let me show you

Max...let me show you

View over Seville

View over Seville

We stayed in the Seville Centre One Hostel and enjoyed the free Sangria each night at 10 pm (although we question whether an entire bottle of red actually made it into the punch bowl). You might be able to fool the current Kiwi or Bavarian guitar toting gap year student on a walkabout, but not these wiley veterans of hostels of a few years past !

Hostel One in central Seville

Hostel One in central Seville

Youthful hosteler at heart

Youthful hosteler at heart

Nils and Max doing coffee in the square.

Nils and Max doing coffee in the square.


From Seville, we moved to Portugal. We wanted to stay on the Algarve and not knowing much about the area, we choose accommodation in Sagres, the town which is the furthest south in Portugal. This location made for a longish bus ride from Seville but once we were there, we had no regrets. We stayed in a brand-spanking new condo complex and spent each day at the beach. Nils was able to follow a life-long dream of learning how to surf (more practice is needed) and we all spent some time at bodyboarding. The waves here are quite erratic so I spent much of my time picking sand out of my eyes and ears. The boys are much more skilled in the area of watching the waves.

Clarke boys with their yellow shirts (now everyone knows that they are beginners!)

Clarke boys with their yellow shirts (now everyone knows that they are beginners!)

This part is easy but standing up....not so much

This part is easy but standing up....not so much

Yellow shirts hard at work!

Yellow shirts hard at work!

Max and Angus enjoy the surf

Max and Angus enjoy the surf

Mum gives bodyboarding a try!

Mum gives bodyboarding a try!

Searching for the best waves...Mum, this board is heavy!!

Searching for the best waves...Mum, this board is heavy!!

Hang Ten

Hang Ten


When we weren't trying to ride the waves, we walked along the coast to the furthest point south, sat down and looked far, far off in the distance.
Next stop, Kittyhawk....

Aufwiedersehen Europa, we had a grand time living la dolce vita.

Southern tip of Portugal

Southern tip of Portugal

Posted by clarkesabroad 20:59 Archived in Spain Tagged seville sagres Comments (0)

A Fes of the Heart

Morocco, part three: learning to love a medina maze

sunny 18 °C

Before Nils and I went to Turkey in 1996, I read a great book titled A Fez of the Heart. It tells of author Jeremy Seal's adventures as he tries to find out more about the significance of this red, felt hat in Turkey's history.

Well, this entry has nothing to do with Turkey and in fact, the name of the city of Fes has nothing to do with the red, felt hats worn by Turkish men, but I love the title and loved our visit to Fes so, with thanks to Mr. Seal...

Our riad in Fes was located right on the edge of the medina but within the old city walls. As is typical in most riads, it has a large, plant-filled courtyard in the centre, high ceilings and multi-levelled terrace. Our host insisted on showing us the view of the city right away. The riad was on a slight hill so we had an impressive view of the tableau of minarets, mosques, fountains, and terracotta-coloured housing and market space before us. When she told us that there are over 10,000 narrow derbs (alleyways) in the medina, we quickly took her up on the offer of finding us a guide.

View of the city of Fes

View of the city of Fes

Adean is an older Moroccan gentleman who had grown up in the narrow passageways of the Fes medina, so he knew them quite literally like the back of his heand. Our first stop on the tour however was outside the medina in the Fassi poetry centre. Angus tried the pottery wheel and we watched craftsmen kneeling in a row cutting ceramic pieces to create mosaic tables, fountains, and chairs which are then shipped all over the world.

Angus giving the pottery wheel a try

Angus giving the pottery wheel a try

We drove from here to one of the massive doorways in the stone city walls. We quickly reviewed Stacy's rule #2 and #3 of travel (STAY TOGETHER and IF YOU ARE LOST, APPROACH A MUM TO HELP YOU) and ventured outside. (Rule #1 is EAT AND PEE WHEN YOU CAN, in case you are wondering). A few weeks earlier we had tackled the medina in Marrakech and Max said afterwards that it was not his favourite experience to fight the crowds to make it from one end to the other. Happily, this medina experience was of a completely different sort.

As a vivid example of a living crafts workshop and market, Fes has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are blacksmiths, keycutters, seamstresses, metalworkers, hard at work using in many case, traditional methods to make their wares. Of course, the products are for sale but there wasn't the hard sell that we encountered in Marrekech which made Max want to hide.

Coke truck in the medina

Coke truck in the medina

The highlight of the tour was the "Terrasse des Tanneurs". We were taken into a leather shop, up a flight of stairs and out on to an open balcony. Down below was a scene which took our breath away. In what looked like a set for a medieval movie, there was a spectacular view of a working tannery. There was a man pulling the fur from the hides by hand, barefoot workers in shorts dunking the hides in vats of brightly coloured dyes, a large water wheel in the centre onto which the hides are attached to be rinsed, and several areas on balconies where racks of coloured skins were drying. Natural materials are used in the dyes - poppies, saffron, indigo, and mint, and in one part of the process, men stomp on the material in a mixture of lye and pigeon poop. Nils and the boys each bought a pair of leather slippers to brighten up even the darkest Yukon days.

Our first view of the Fes tannery...unbelievable!

Our first view of the Fes tannery...unbelievable!

We can't stop looking at all the action.

We can't stop looking at all the action.

Our tannery purchases!

Our tannery purchases!

Chin-up bar / swinging chair on the terrace

Chin-up bar / swinging chair on the terrace

With the Fes medina conquered, we left the next morning by train for Tangier, the last stop of our Moroccan adventure. We arrived in the late afternoon and we left early the next morning for our crossing of the Straits of Gibraltar so I didn't take any pictures but we did have a couple of fun experiences.

We stayed in the Hotel Continental, the oldest hotel in Morocco and very, very colonial. We ate our breakfast in a huge room with high ceilings and mosaic walls and doors opeing to a large terrace looking over the harbour. It was not difficult to imagine hosting the jet setters and movie stars of the last century. You could have an amazing party, dance, wedding reception in and around the various multi-arched, well-lit common rooms. There were many black and white photos from days gone by which were evocative testimonials of many such gatherings - mainly pre and some post independence. You could almost hear the walls talking.

That evening we went to a small restaurant near the hotel and had one of our best Moroccan meals. When we sat down, a young man brought us large, steaming bowls of Harira soup, a spicy, bean-based Moroccan staple. All around us were young men with heads hungrily and appreciatively bent over bowls of soup which the man behind the counter had scooped out of a large soup pot. The main course that evening was fried fish with piquant tomato sauce, which was also delicious. When the soup pot was finished, the restaurant door was closed and chairs were stacked on tables. We were so very glad that we had made it in.

On the way back to the hotel, we were stopped by a Scottish man who heard us speaking English. When we told him we were Canadian, he told us of his interesting connection to Canada. His name was Randall MacDonald and his great-grandfather was Sir John A. MacDonald's first cousin. In fact, he did look quite a bit like Sir John...from a certain angle. Without taking a breathe in over 10 minutes, he told us all about his homes in Tangier and Prague, how reasonable the rents are and the sized of the ex-pat community in Tangier (around 500) most of whom, he admitted, find him quite eccentric. His lifestyle did sound attractive and affordable. Hmmmm.....

We were in Morocco for almost one month and covered much of the country. We are so glad that Lesley and Al chose Marrakech as the site of their first marathon so that we could enjoy this great experience in North Africa!

Our first view of Gibraltar

Our first view of Gibraltar

Posted by clarkesabroad 17:51 Archived in Morocco Tagged fes Comments (3)

Maroc'n and Rollin' with Hassan and Mohammed

Morocco: part deux to the desert and Maroccywood

sunny 18 °C

Insh'Allah - we learned this Arabic word from our great tour guides Hassan and Mohammed during our five day trip around the south of Morocco. Translated it means "God willing" and covers a multitude of situations..."we may make it off-roading through this snowy valley....or maybe not", "they may have a helmet that fits Angus' head when we go quadding...or maybe not...", Max's camel Yogi may or may not make it down the steep sand dune - once, not so much- Insh'Allah.

Hassan and Mohammed were the perfect Insh'allah guides....they kept us on a schedule but allowed us to stop and explore as much as we wanted and answered every one of our questions with patience and great information.

On day one of our tour, we were picked up at our hotel in Agadir in a white 4x4 Toyota Landcruiser. Hassan ably hoisted our very heavy bags into the roof rack and off we went.

Hassan, our off-road specialist

Hassan, our off-road specialist

Our first stop on the road was a photo opportunity at a tree filled with goats. These goats are eating the kernels of the argan trees. This is the first step in the making of the highly-prized Argan oil. Our guide book explained that before modern times, the Berbers of Morocco would collect undigested Argan pits from the waste of goats. The pits were then ground and pressed to make the nutty oil used in cooking and cosmetics. The Argan oil which I purchased in Essaouira was likely harvested directly from the tree and processed with machines...cutting out the middle man, so to speak.

Tree climbing goat

Tree climbing goat

Goats eating argan kernels...up in a tree!

Goats eating argan kernels...up in a tree!

Tree climbing goat

Tree climbing goat

We spent the first night in Ait Ben Haddou which has a very beautiful and well-preserved fortified village with several kasbahs. This sight has been
used as the backdrop for several movies, including Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator and Alexander. Apparently, later in season when things warm up, it can be inundated with visitors trying to capture the perfect picture. Happily, our mid-February tour allowed us to have these sights basically to ourselves..and the sun shone every day!

Looking over the Kasbah below

Looking over the Kasbah below

Ait Ben Haddou floodplains

Ait Ben Haddou floodplains

On Day 2 we drove to Ouarzazate (Mohammed told us to say "where's it at"). We were suprised to learn that one of Morocco's largest industries after tourism is film. There are several film sets in the desert surrounding Ouarzazate which we toured on quad bikes. Afterwards, we went through the Moroccan Museum of Cinema and saw film sets and rooms from movies such as Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven as well as very old projectors, editing equipment and costumes on display. Max and Angus wanted to borrow some of the chain mail and swords for desert LARPing.
That evening we stayed right in the Dadès Canyon where we were the only guests at the Kasbah de la Vallée. The rooms had effective heaters, but most of the public areas were a little breezy and solidly single digit degrees celsius. The relative chill was made up by the friendliness and hospitality of our hosts as well as a few fireplaces.

CLA film studios

CLA film studios

Quadding around the Moroccan movie sets

Quadding around the Moroccan movie sets

Angus in the Moroccan Museum of Cinema

Angus in the Moroccan Museum of Cinema

Preparing to go quadding in Ouarzazate

Preparing to go quadding in Ouarzazate

On Day 3, we drove through the very steep Dadès Gorge and then went off the road through the snowy Todra Gorge. At one point, we got out to walk when the 4x4 began slipping in the direction of a rather steep precipice. Hassan didn't seem the least bit perturbed and ably steered the truck to lower ground.

Angus tries out the Nomad well

Angus tries out the Nomad well

We drove through beautiful red and orange-coloured mountains and the sky was an amazing blue. We passed several Nomad families living in tents made of tarps, cloth, plastic. They ran out when they heard the truck and we stopped and gave them fruit and money. We have no illusions that there lives are likely challenging, but the children looked amazingly healthy - no pasty faced, germ free, protected middle class North American children here.

Nomad girl

Nomad girl

On this night we stayed at Auberge Le Festival, a hotel which is made from the same mountain rock which surrounds it. It is the only building in sight, with great mountain views in every direction. Our cave room was cozy and magical. We went for a hike just as the sun was setting and then went back to our cave to read before dinner. When we came out at 7:30 pm to walk to dinner, there were two lit lanterns waiting for us to help us on the walk to the main building. We enjoyed a great dinner of the chef's special Moussaka and the after dinner star gazing was wonderful.
The cave was naturally warm, so you could light a few candles before bed, warm up the space, then extinguish them for the night - perfect.

Auberge le Festival - our cave motel in the High Atlas Mountains

Auberge le Festival - our cave motel in the High Atlas Mountains

Late afternoon hike near Auberge Le Festival

Late afternoon hike near Auberge Le Festival

Hiking near the Todra Gorge

Hiking near the Todra Gorge

Playing catch near the Todra Gorge

Playing catch near the Todra Gorge

Dungeons and dragons around the world

Dungeons and dragons around the world

Playing D&D in our cave

Playing D&D in our cave

We said good-bye to our Hobbit House and drove the next morning to Erg Chebbi where our dromedary trek began. We named our four sturdy steads before we set out: I was on Gingembre, Angus rode Bingles, Max commandeered Yogi and Nils brought up the rear on Girts Ankipans. Omar was our guide and he walked in front of us for the two hours that it took to reach the camp. I had been warmed by a few people about the discomforts of camel riding but Gingembre was kind and had a wide mid-section for optimal comfort. Max was not as lucky as Yogi fell to his knees several times and required sharp words from Omar to rise again. In true English Patientesque fashion, the light and the colour shadings of the dunes were suitably stunning. We could really anticipate Ralph and Kristin greeting us as we crested one of the mini sand mountains.

Setting off into the Saharan sunset

Setting off into the Saharan sunset

We four kings...

We four kings...

The berber camp where we spent a cozy night under many blankets

The berber camp where we spent a cozy night under many blankets

We were only ones at the camp so we were very well-taken care of. We enjoyed huge portions of rice salad and vegetable tagine and then seven berber men entertained us around a campfire with drumming and songs. It was cold when we settled into our tent but we had several pounds of blankets covering us so we were comfortable in our toques and fleeces. Omar woke us at 5:30 am the next morning so that we could see the sunrise. We had every bit of clothing on but the wind was biting. At one point, naughty Yogi fell right over. Max did a great stunt man move before he was squished. Luckily, the trek organizers took pity on us and send a car out to pick us up after we had been riding for an hour and a half. We were all very thankful to get under a warm shower in the hotel spa !

Our drive to Fès took us through snowy mountain roads and through a forest park where we saw some barbery apes.

Our tour crew...driver Hassan and guide Mohammed dropping us off in Fes

Our tour crew...driver Hassan and guide Mohammed dropping us off in Fes


Most of our adventure has been self-guided, so it was a real treat to have five days of our lives well-planned and propelled by the very friendly and professional duo of driver and guide. Thank-you very much.

Posted by clarkesabroad 03:03 Archived in Morocco Tagged tour hassan mohammed dromedary Comments (2)

Maroc n' Roll

Morocco - part 1: Marrakech, Essaouira, & Agadir

sunny 18 °C

Our introduction of Marrakech started with lunch on a terrace café overlooking the controlled chaos that is Djemaa el Fna - the amazing open square in the centre of the medina. Max tasted his first of many delicious vegetable tagines and we all hung over the railing watching the hawkers, acrobats, snake charmers, monkeys, henna women, and costumed roving water sellers. The square is fun to watch during the day but there is definitely the sense that much of the activity is for tourists. At night, it becomes a place for Marrakshis to meet and eat. There are fires going where locals tell stories and sing songs and it isn't put on for tourists...it is the real thing.

Snakecharmers

Snakecharmers

Eating goat and bargaining for sunglasses

Eating goat and bargaining for sunglasses

We darted through an endless run of mopeds, taxis, donkey carts and bicycles over a couple of roads to walk back and forth from our Riad to Djemaa el Fna. We were well-trained for this after our street-crossing practice in Naples. Our Riad was a lovely urban oasis with an inner courtyard, three terraces and a small swimming pool. Angus went out to buy candy at a small store just around the corner, met up with some neighbourhood kids and played soccer with them for an hour...his French coming in handy here. The next morning, the owner of the Riad knocked on our room door to say that the kids wanted Angus to come out and play again. After that, every time we walked back down the alley to our place it was like being with the King of Kensington with kids from all corners yelling "Angus" and coming up to give him a high-five.

Angus and his friends outside the riad in Marrakech

Angus and his friends outside the riad in Marrakech

It was fantastic to meet up with our friends from Whitehorse Pam Muir, Al Jones, and Lesley Cabott who chose Marrakech to tackle their first marathon (Pam and I ran the semi-marathon). The semi started at 8:30 am so it was nice and cool while we were running.  The route ran along large boulevards lined with palm trees with great views of the snow-covered Atlas mountains. The roads were lined with many spectators, including large groups of school children waving and cheering. At one point, there was a group of men in robes playing traditional Moroccan music and clapping. There were more men than women running around me so I had lots of people yelling "Bravo Madame" which was certainly a boost when I felt myself lagging.

Twenty-one kms and counting...

Twenty-one kms and counting...

Janet's cheering squad

Janet's cheering squad

I was happy with my time: 1:38:45. I was the 34th woman out of 603 and the 1st North American! The race organization was definitely more relaxed than Vancouver or other North American races ie. traffic wasn't stopped in some areas so Pam was dodging cars to get through intersections and at the end, people were milling around in front of the runners trying to reach the finish line but in general it all seemed to work.

Soon after I finished 21 kms, the top marathoners were just coming in after running 42 km...each one with legs the size of my wrists and running so fast across the finish line! The top time was two hours 8 minutes...wow!

UploadedFile1.jpg

UploadedFile1.jpg

We came home to our Riad and I treated myself to a hammam and scrub.  It began in a very steamy room and then a woman came in a rubbed me with soap and oil.  This was followed by brisk rubbing with a glove. Dry skin came rolling off me like spagetti...it was invigorating and felt amazing. This wonderful experience finished off with a heavenly massage!  Nils opted just for the hammam and scrub, and we both have never felt cleaner.

We travelled with Lesley, Pam and Al by bus to Essaouira. Essaouira is a lively port town with many large, wood fishing boats which resemble mini-Arks. There is a real bustle of activity with all manner of sea creatures on display. There is a massive beach here with many full-size provisional soccer pitches carved out of the beach. Nils and Max were the only people with baseballs and gloves....go figure.

Port in Essaouria

Port in Essaouria

Essaouria, Morocco

Essaouria, Morocco

Digging on the beach in Essaouira

Digging on the beach in Essaouira

Max and Angus took a beach dromedary ride on Max and Rastafarian and had a great time with guide Mustafa.

Max, Angus, and Mustafa on the beach in Essaouira

Max, Angus, and Mustafa on the beach in Essaouira

Camels Max and Rastafarian and their Canadian riders

Camels Max and Rastafarian and their Canadian riders

One afternoon after a yummy lunch of fresh, grilled fish at the port, Lesley, Angus and I went to the Spice Souk in search of Argan oil. This oil has a nutty, toasty flavour and is sweeping the kitchens of the top chefs of Europe (and Whitehorse!). The trees that the oil comes from are only found in a triangular belt along Morocco's Atlantic coast. We were lucky and found a young spice seller who entertained us in the back of his shop, humouring us while Lesley bargained hard for our purchases, and teaching us the proper way to buy saffron.

Fresh fish grilled in Essaouirian port..Angus and Lesley

Fresh fish grilled in Essaouirian port..Angus and Lesley

We provided him with his day's entertainment when he asked if it was our first time in Morocco. I said yes and that Lesley had just run her "première marathon". He stared in disbelief, thinking that we had said that she was first in the race. As he called more people to come and meet the "winner", we caught on to the mistake. He said that he did wonder how this middle-aged white woman, albeit in marathon shape, had managed to put an end to the African domination of marathon running.

We loved our Riad, "les Matins Bleus" and even helped with cooking dinner one night learning all of Myriam's secret for a perfect chicken tagine.

Chefs Angus, Max and Myriam in the kitchen of the Riad Les Matins Bleus

Chefs Angus, Max and Myriam in the kitchen of the Riad Les Matins Bleus

We are further down the coast now in Agadir and have two more nights before heading off on a four night tour of the Anti-Atlas and Souss Valley. Agadir is an all-inclusive resort destination for Brits and our hotel is rather tired but the beach is great and the boys had a great session of bodysurfing yesterday and today.

The African Cup of Nations is going on so we are heading out this evening to watch the semi-final game between Mali and Cotê d'Ivoire. The other semi is between Ghana and Zambia. On other important tournament fronts: Janet and Angus are tied in the "Clarke Wizard OK Liga" with seven points. Nils and Max each have three. Stay tuned...the points come fast and furious.

Posted by clarkesabroad 12:54 Archived in Morocco Tagged essaouira marrakech agadir Comments (1)

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