What is a dromedary anyway?

2 09 2015

I arrived in Fes, Morocco about three weeks ago. Dropped into what one guidebook described as an “assault on the senses” – brightly coloured textiles, ceramics and leather wares, often indistinguishable food smells, sometimes the smell of urine from the tanneries, horns honking and people yelling in an indiscernible language, or worse, calling out to you in hopes of luring you into their shop. At first glance, it looks dirty and chaotic. My stomach remained unsettled for the first week, and three weeks later, it still gets unsettled from time to time, like today. Fes, in particular, is notorious for its confusing, disorientating medina – the old city which consists of a network of narrow, winding streets and alleyways. The culture shock arrived in full force, then gradually dissipated as I eased into the discomfort of this unfamiliar place and way of life. In Fes, I enjoyed having my skin being scrubbed like a dirty floor in a public hammam, learning about leather tanning with a visit to the tanneries, getting lost in the medina, learning to eat Moroccan style – with my hands, learning how to properly brew a pot of mint tea and cook couscous, and enjoying panoramic views of the city from the Merenid Tombs.

Mohammed helped us navigate the countless medina streets. Here is a local uses donkeys to transport goods - a familiar sight.

Mohammed helped us navigate the countless medina streets. Here is a local uses donkeys to transport goods – a familiar sight.


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The brink of the Baja

12 12 2013

Gazing out at yet another mesmerizing Pacific sunset, going down at Ocean Beach in San Diego, not only does this moment mark another 360 degree rotation of the Earth’s axis, but also the ending of a chapter, the first chapter of our journey. It’s been 6 weeks since we left, and according to Joni’s odometer, it’s been about 7,000 km since we left Vancouver. We’ve travelled through Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona and California, approximately following this route.

We’ve enjoyed the Columbia Gorge, steamy hot springs, the Oregon coast, the majestic Redwoods (especially Fern Canyon), the streets and street cars of San Francisco, connecting with faces new and old in Big Sur, countless flights of beer, the farm folk of Ojai, the geological wonders and magnificent panoramas of Death Valley and the Grand Canyon, the bright lights of Vegas, the desert winds of the Mojave, new friends and bouldering in Joshua Tree, the saving grace of nice people of Slab City and now the sunshine of San Diego.

Sadly, our trio has now became a duo as Jenelle flew back to family and frigid temperatures in Ontario. Nonetheless, our journey continues and a new chapter begins as we enter new land – Mexico! But before getting to that, we’ll take a brief pause here to slap on some new brake pads, do laundry, mail our Christmas letters, and show you a few snaps from the past 7,000 kilometres.

Fern Canyon, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park - the backdrop to the Jurassic Park films. Thanks for sending us this way, Shandel!

Fern Canyon, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park – the backdrop to the Jurassic Park films. Thanks for sending us this way, Shandel!

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A bearded forest creature we encountered in Stout Grove, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

A bearded forest creature we encountered in Stout Grove, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

Don is the best trolley driver in San Fran!

Don is the best trolley driver in San Fran!

Frolicking by the seaside in Santa Barbara

Frolicking by the seaside in Santa Barbara

 

Enjoying a flight of Figueroa Mountain brew. Notice Firehall product placement!

Enjoying a flight of Figueroa Mountain brew. Notice Firehall product placement!

Red Rock Canyon State Park

Red Rock Canyon State Park

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Where's Westy?

Where’s Westy?

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Stirring up the dust

Stirring up the dust

Atop Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes in Death Valley NP

Atop Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes in Death Valley NP

The most stunning sunset I've ever seen at Dante's View, Death Valley

The most stunning sunset I’ve ever seen at Dante’s View, Death Valley

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Soaring into the Grand Canyon at Ooh Aah Point

Soaring into the Grand Canyon at Ooh Aah Point

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The deserted Mojave Desert

The deserted Mojave Desert

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

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Salvation Mountain (as you might recall from "Into the Wild")

Salvation Mountain (as you might recall from “Into the Wild”)

Our attempt to summit Salvation Mountain failed, or rather, it succeeded but not without getting stuck on top. The chains were worth a try, but weren't enough. Thanks to the Slab City folks for the tug.

Our attempt to summit Salvation Mountain failed, or rather, it succeeded but not without getting stuck on top. The chains were worth a try, but they weren’t enough. Shovel neither.

But thanks to the pleasant and friendly residents of Slab City for the gentle tug, we were eventually able to get off the top of Salvation Moutain and continue down the road and to the coast. Better go enjoy the sand and sunshine before the Earth makes another rotation!

Why don’t we drive through the night,
And we’ll wake up down in Mexico…