Writing on the way to the desert. We have been traveling for five hours and have about two and half to go. A really nice trip so far. We are traveling through the Middle Atlas in Morocco (one of Morocco’s mountain ranges). I am listening to John Lee Hooker and enjoying the sights. It is stunning to say the least. Beautiful mountains, rustic, majestic and diverse. The great thing is we are in the middle of the mountain range. Not beside, but up and down and in-between. Not sure where they shot the original Star Wars but this looks like some of it. Lot’s of pictures from the little camera, so enjoy. I also ran into an American photographer traveling on assignment. The driver from yesterday stopped and was leaving at the same place we just pulled into. Just a brief talk and looking over some gear, but nice to meet a fellow traveler. I told him I would love to do more photography and he said he would love to do more video – too funny. I enjoy being on the road as long as the sites are good. I would rather see something new, especially natural beauty, than spend time in a city. I find the countryside fascinating. We will see what the next two days hold. Hard to use the time on the road when I need to be busy collecting footage, but the rain has not made it easy. Can collect some footage on our way. Just picked up a nice shot of a Berber woman with some tattoos on her face (traditional markings). Café’s seem like the best place to film people and street life. Have to spend more time having tea!
Here are some of my thoughts on the trip so far. It will be a longer post, but I have the time and want to catch you up to date.
Flights to Turkey and the initial trip were not exactly great. I came into Turkey with no firm plans; they did come together at the very end. I don’t sleep well on planes, airports or new places, so it all catches up to me when I go for 36 hours without sleep. Stayed with the American doc and then two other families in Turkey. Was sent with a note when boarding the returning train to have a taxi take me to a hotel close to the airport, it turned out the train ride was more than twice as long as expected. I did ride with a young college student and we spoke the whole way (or attempted to speak). He said he was an atheist. I guess this should not surprise me, since turkey is very secular. If you are interested in learning more about the very, very interesting period going on now in Turkey, look for the current Newsweek cover story on Turkey. Some really interesting things are happening. While I was in country one news report was about a young man who through acid on the legs of a girl who he said was wearing her skirt too short. Another story was about head coverings and the right to where them at government jobs and school. Another story was the Kurds and some rioting and government clashes in the north. The Turkish people really hate the Kurds. Still a little shocking to have someone just come out and tell and they are dirty gypsies and terrorists and the person hates them. So on the last night, after the long train ride and my new young friend helping me with the taxi driver, he said there were no hotels in the area the note told him to go. It turned out we went to downtown Izmir, which is about 25 minutes away from the airport. He took me to a two star hotel and it looked like a dive, then a three star hotel and I ran in and no one spoke English. It would not have been a big deal, but I had a very early flight and not that much Turkish money left (I needed to get some) and no dinner. The time was 10:00pm. At that point I told him to take me to the Hilton, which the American doctor two days before told me this is where the Americans stay when they come into town. Off to the very expensive Hilton and it was worth every penny.
The next day was a long one - Izmir to Istanbul for a 7:00am flight. Couple hours in the airport and then on to Casablanca. While traveling to Morocco I sat next to a conservative Muslim women and we talked about Islam and Christianity the whole way. It was an eye opening experience on so many levels. Too much to talk about here, but I learned a great deal. There is so much more to my faith and the religions of the world outside of America. We are definitely a blessed country, but very little history as it relates to the rest of the world. The forefathers did a great job of thinking through so many items that effect a society. In one sense it would be easy to live out your religion in a country that you are born into that religion, are taught to memorize it’s holy words, have no competing thoughts or ideas, not allowed certain items that might interfere (alcohol, art and freedom of speech to name a couple) and is works based to enter heaven (we all love to work for our rewards). Really makes you want to understand more about the three monotheistic religions. Maybe this is the start to learning more about Islam.
I had a nine hour layover that I had hoped to head into the city for some footage and a chance to capture the world famous Mosque along the coast. After talking to cab drivers, rental agents and general confusion; in which I would have rented a car but they could not communicate the driver position or what side of the road they drove on – like Europe they said, which I thought that was opposite of the USA, so I didn’t want that and it turns out “like Europe” meant the rest of Europe, not Britain, because the cars and roads are the same as the US. I ended up having a couple of slick guys drive me into the city, which was not all that close to the airport. I wouldn’t recommend this, as you must walk out the airport like your heading to the parking lot and then they come and pick you up. Same for the drop off, they zip in like it’s a drug run and keep moving, all this and no background on who the people are and how to communicate with them. My driver did not speak English and the deal was $50 for five hours and it turned out to be 2 ½ hours. You win some you loose some. I am also too nice for stuff like this, as I could have started to raise a fit and maybe squeezed out more time or less money.
I eventually made it to Fez and had a good time in the Medina (market place with a labyrinth of streets and alleys) and then headed out to some Roman Ruins the next day. It was raining both days and I make the quick decision (also based on some arm twisting by the guide) to head to the desert. I previously wrote briefly about the experience and now am traveling back to Fez. Spent the night in the desert, rode camels and drove for two and half days. Had some market time and ran into the American photographer again who is with his girlfriend and had lunch together. The desert was fun and we had good weather. I was in a small group with two American men on some vacation time. Now it is back to Fez where we are heading into rain and snow. Bummer. Will figure out what to shoot my last day in Morocco and then off to France for some interviews.
Will be home on Friday – I can’t wait.