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Sliding Through… Morocco

Sliding Through… Morocco Ásdís Rósa and Kristján Gíslason in Morocco, November 2013

Sliding Through… Morocco On November 17, 2013, my wife Ásdis Rósa and I began our journey to Morocco by way of Sevilla, Spain. From there, we traveled to Tarifa, on the southern tip of Spain and then took a ferry over the Strait of Gibraltar to Tangier in Morocco. During our seven day visit, we drove nearly 1,000 km (621 miles), visiting Tangier Tétouen, Chefchaouen, Fes, Meknés, and Asilah. The only country in Africa with both Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines, Morocco is also the only nation to not be a member of the African Union, due to border disputes surrounding the territory of West Sahara. We would very much like to visit this exciting country of 32 million people and explore more of their beautiful nation, including Marrakech and the desert surrounding the many southern towns and villages. Throughout the book you will see numbers in brackets; these apply to QR Codes located in the back of the book which, when scanned with a smartphone or tablet, will allow you to watch short videos. In the online version of the book viewers can click the small stars on select pages to watch the videos directly in your web browser.


The ferry transported us from Europe to Africa in just 40 minutes, from Tarifa, Spain to Tangier, Morocco. A newsstand operator in Tangier (right). 2


The chickens and cocks were kept in cages (on right) and then tied together for interested customers to view (above).


A newly slaughtered animal was carried to the butcher shop on the back of the man pictured at the market in Tangier (on right).

On left, the butcher waits for more customers. The tongue of bulls and cows are eectively displayed, on right.



The salesman pictured (at right) didn’t even try to sell anything to the photographer, a rarity in a Tangier marketplace.

Two women coming out of the “medina”, meaning ‘old town with surrounding walls’ in Tangier after completing their shopping.



A typical dress for the Moroccan men during wintertime - wearing so called “djellaba�. It took us some time to get used this custom, which is very popular and many wear. During the hotter months they switch to a thinner material.

( 10 )

Above, a delightful man oers bread for sale on a simple roadside table, as the women across the street enjoy a few moments by the beach. 15


Loading as many people as possible into a taxi is a common practice in Morocco (above), even if no one knows one another.

Animals running the streets and alleyways are quite common. The sheep pictured above was collared by his shepherd shortly after this photo was taken. The shepherd would not pose for a photo, so the sheep must suďŹƒce.



Only the young lady (at right) was curious enough at the man snapping photos to steal a glance at the photographer.


Everyone was quite helpful (above, left) even the officials. A dapper and dashing older gentleman walks the streets with his cap and cane (above, right).

The photographer and his wife on the terrace of our hotel in the medina of Chefchaouen.



A typical day in the medina of Chefchaouen (above). An elderly woman selling spices and oil while keeping warm (at right).

Traditional and colorful Moroccan shoes (to left). The large oven of the main Hammam (turkish bath) in Chefchaouen (above, left). Our tour guide around Chefchaouen, Muhamed (above, right).



Having lunch at a typical local restaurant.

As many Moroccans tend to be, this man was a born salesman. He explained to us, in great detail, the dierent medicinal purposes the many leaves, herbs and extracts had; we ended up buying some.



The symbolic colors of the houses in the medina of Chefchaouen are blue - the color also keeps mosquitoes away.

Washing and drying clothes as art.


Sitting in the sun in their winter djellaba (above). (Left) A local artist and carpenter who sold us many crafts.


Many people refused to have their picture taken (left); without people this book would be far more drab and far less delightful.



Even the salesman in this carpet factory chose to wear his winter djellaba indoors - it serves a dual purpose to keep him warm and protect his clothing. After watching him produce several pieces, it was exceptionally tempting to make a purchase.

The preparation of fresh fruit for our dessert is captured here - a beautiful moment.


Since the streets are so narrow throughout the medina, donkeys are used to cart supplies around the inner city (above). The roads are generally quite good, but the mix of heavy rains and sandy soil can do great damage to them, as seen to the right. 36


We were unsure whether these girls were sporting high fashion or traditional garb.

On our way to Fes from Chefchaouen, we encountered many people with donkeys loaded with olives, fruits and other produce.


This young merchant brought me a rather tasty and wonderfully hot mint tea when I stopped by his sales tent.


Ladies in red.



Standing in front of the king’s palace in Fes with it’s handcrafted copper door - an absolute masterpiece. King Mohammed VI of Morocco is both popular and respected by the people, at least among those with whom we spoke.

Like many other cities in Morocco, Fes has very talented artisans. We have been to many countries and cities around the world but became quickly convinced that Morocco’s handicrafts are among the best.



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Text- After making the tiles, hammers and chisels were used to form the intricate pieces into dierent pieces, such as fountains and tables.

テ《dテュs in front of the ceramic oven, where temperatures can easily exceed 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,800 degrees Fahrenheit).



The only thing standing between the owner of the ceramic factory and a sale was a realistic husband. The salesman was informative and nice, but disappointed when we did not make a purchase.


Outside the ceramic factory, this boy was spreading leather to be dried in the heat of the sun.

Daily life in Fes.


When the owner of this small shop noticed my camera, she disappeared within. The two patrons standing outside also covered their faces (above). The two Icelanders smiled to their guide in this photo overlooking the old town of Fes (left).



Daily life in Fes.



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In Fes, we learned how leather is prepared and handled - pig urine is used to produce high quality leather and a strong odor is unavoidable.


テ《dテュs bargaining with the owner of the leather factory as our guide, Ali, watches the negotiations unfold (above).


A smile from a charming young employee at the carpet factory.

The house was designed in the traditional Moroccan style of many rooms surrounding a central hall.



The first university in the world now serves as a mosque in the city of Fes as well (above). Leaving afternoon prayers (right).


Despite the limited space in this small Fes shop, the selection seemed almost limitless.

The beautiful needlework of this woman will very soon be admired by the people of Iceland.


These boys, whose profession is to roll thread onto small bobbins, take a break from their work - the son of the owner was quite surprised when the photo was taken (right). 66

This elderly man was a baker - the woman of Fes came to him to have their pastry and cakes baked. Each spade contained the baked goods from each woman (above). The baker’s friend watched the photographer in action intently (right).


A typical Moroccan dish called a bastila.

The owner of the restaurant in MeknĂŠs, which we visited on our way from Fes to Asilah.



テ《dテュs and I in Meknテゥs.

Every picture has a story and when a photographer snaps one, he is capturing a moment that will never return. This is deeply moving to the photographer because he senses the surroundings and atmosphere and that that particular moment was worth preservation. To give a bit of context to readers, I have written short stories that pair with the last two photos in the book. During our breakfast in a small, charming hotel in Asilah, I stumbled upon the photo that I felt this album was missing; a shot of a young family, with the women dressed in traditional Muslim garb. The parents were sitting at the next table, enjoying their meal. Before I approached them I planned the photo, how I would pose them, which background and lighting would work best in the beautiful room in which they sat. I just needed to ask them for permission.

I was completely unable to do it - I was so frightened of getting a refusal, as I had many other times in Morocco that I couldn’t even stand up - I walked away. As I left and looked back, however, the mother of the family appeared to me through the glass window, behind bars. Without thinking, I picked up my camera and snapped the shot at left. Behind “bars� in the traditional dress of her religion, that the western world so often regards as a method of suppression, the woman uses her smartphone and communicates freely with both her family and the outside world, totally free and satisfied with her life.


As we waited to have our passports stamped at Tangier Harbor in order to board the ferry back to Spain, the man in front of us was directed to drive his car off to the side where a large security scanner was located. The boy pictured here, noted his father driving away and stood, eyes fixed on the moving vehicle. He was obviously terrified that he would be separated from his father and in his fear, didn’t even realize I was snapping photos. As the man pulled his car toward the scanner and stepped out, the boy ran to him, instantly smiling. In the same instant, a police officer screamed at me, saying, “You have no permission to take photos of me!” I tried to smile and explain, but he did not listen. When he finally finished yelling, I told him that I was actually photographing the boy; he asked me to prove it.


As the boys fear-stricken face appeared on my camera screen, the policeman’s face turned from stern and forceful to a broad, cheerful smile as he said, “What a great picture!” He shook my hand, then, as if I was an old friend.

Meknès, Morocco

Tangier, Morocco Asilah, Morocco

Tétouan Chefchaouen

FEZ Meknès, Morocco

Watch the Video To watch the video segments, simply point your smartphone or tablet camera at the QR code - a browser or video player (depending on your device) will open the video. ( 10 ) – The Sharpening Man The Ceramic Factory - ( 15 )

( 20 ) – The Leather Factory

A QR Code Reader can be downloaded, free of charge, from the AppStore, GooglePlay or the Windows Store. The usage of the content of this book is not allowed without a written permission.

Sliding Through... Morocco  

A visit to the fascinating Morocco, country full of history, rich culture and friendly people. Previous name was: "Morocco in seven Days".

Sliding Through... Morocco  

A visit to the fascinating Morocco, country full of history, rich culture and friendly people. Previous name was: "Morocco in seven Days".