Travel to Morocco: Marrakech Environs
This folder is the first of a handful treating a city with a slippery name. More phonetically, the name is spelled Marrakesh. Either way, the last syllable is pronounced with that "s" sound. More slippery still, the city was known to the English speaking world of the 19th century not as Marrakesh (or as Maraksh, which approximates the Arabic name more closely) but as Morocco, from which the entire country got its English name. In Arabic, the country has always been Maghrib al Aqsa, "the farthest west." Now that we're completely confused, we can proceed with proper humility.
The city occupies a small part of the Houaz, a plain rimming the northern side of the High Atlas, shown here with January snows.
The city's water supply has famously been derived, at least in part, from underground channels, the tunnels known by various names (qanat, karez, foggara, etc., across the dry zone of North Africa and Asia) but here as khettara. Those of the Houaz have apparently been abandoned since the 1970s, and there are reports that those serving Marrakech itself were in disrepair long before then, but perfectly ordinary surface ditches survive.
Fields are protected by thorns at least as good as barbed wire.
The premier crop: olives.
Armored by thorns.
Live-thorn (acacia?) fencing.
Not much chance of wandering off the road.
A Berber village below the snows.
Higher in the mountains.
Higher still. For several days after this picture was taken, it was impossible to drive across to the other side.
Back down on the Houaz, isolated villas hint at the presence of the city.
Walling them is the norm.
Gardeners train those plants to hug the inside of those walls by tying them up with strings held taut by rocks on the other side.
Despite the love of gardens, roadside trees are pruned barbarously.
Here's where some of the wood winds up: firewood trucked to the old city, here next to the kasba mosque.
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