Sunday, February 22, 2009

lay of the land

Our town is on a mountain plain at the base of the foothills of the Middle Atlas mountains. As such, we are pretty much surrounded by small mountains, and transportation to any city involves snaking up and down through them. This makes for some amazing views, but the transportation tends to make me feel nauseated. Emily seems to stomach the trips a little better than me. I'm jealous!

Anyways, we went for a bike ride today and got a few pictures of the land and some common sights in this part of Morocco.

As we rode past the vast and numerous fields that produce the wheat and apples of this region (among other crops, we think), we spotted a herd of cattle and their owners/tenders. We stopped to greet the men, confirmed that they were milk cows, snapped a few pictures, and took off again. The milk probably tastes pretty good, being from free-range cows. We didn't ask for a sample, though.

In our town, there's a small population of storks (called "blarj" in Moroccan Arabic). They have massive nests, and we can see one of the nests from our rooftop. When we have breakfast early in the morning, the storks fly back and forth, directly over our apartment.

Emily was trying to get a closer shot of one of these birds, but it kept evading her. As we travel away from our town, the mountains start to form in the background.

After climbing and descending (mostly descending...) 4 or 5 imposing hills, we reached this spot, and decided that we didn't want to make our trip back any more difficult! From here, there is an appreciable decline that would have been exhausting from which to return. Maybe another time...

It's pretty amazing to just stop, listen, and observe. You hear absolutely nothing, except for the intermittent sound of birds in the distance and the soft hum of bees. As you continue on the winding road, you see various homes in the distance and sporadic herds of sheep, specks against rolling green hills. And in the distance, the purple, blue, and red hues of distant mountains lead the eye upward to a perfectly blue and cloudless sky.

This spot in the road sorta reminded me of small town America. I don't necessarily remember cemeteries being next to churches back home; I guess this image just makes me think of simple, small town people living off the land and being devoted to their religion. If you replace this mosque with a church, synagogue, or any other house of worship, this picture could probably describe lots of places around the world. Here's another reference to the notion that different cultures are not necessarily so different from each other.


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