Roman Morocco

Rising from the fertile plain north of the city of Meknes in Morocco stands the remains of the Roman city of Volubilis.  Volubilis was the capital of the Roman state of Mauretania which passed to Roman control after the fall of Carthage in 146 B.C.  It remained under Roman control until it fell to rebellious Berber tribes in 285 A.D.  Other pressures on the empire prevented Rome from retaking the city and they basically gave up on it.  The town remained occupied until the 11th century when Fez became the predominant center of power in the Islamic dynasty in Morocco. The…

L’Ma Lodge

Driving through the desert waste west of the Sahara in Southern Morocco gives one a unique appreciation for water. Where there is water there is life. Where there is no water there is nothing but rock and sand.  The photo below, taken of a small village oasis south of the High Atlas Mountains illustrates this. Water from mountain snowmelt feeds a river, often underground, and the village springs up next to groves of date palms. Kongo will write about the desert and the rare oases he travelled through later but this illustrates the point. A day’s drive from our desert…

Sunrise in the Sahara

“Can you hear the silence?” one of Kongo’s group asked as we gathered before dawn to mount camels and ride to a vantage point to see the sun rise.  You CAN hear the silence in the Sahara.  It’s deafening.  And the stars are like being at sea far from land.  Billions and billions of stars that seem close enough to touch.  It was one of those moments you will remember forever. The day before we raced the sun and the sun won. Life happens like that sometimes. We were attempting to make it to our desert encampment in the Sahara…

Into the Fez Medina

A medina is a walled city filled with a maze of narrow streets and alleys and jammed pack with people, noise, and activity.  Stepping through the gates of the medina in Fez is like passing through a portal into another world.  The medina at the ancient Imperial City of Fez, Morocco is a UNESCO heritage site, home to the oldest university in the world, and to most westerners a riot of colors, sounds, smells, and feelings. Kongo has scuttled through back alleys in Hong Kong, visited the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, and gone on liberty with fellow sailors in Olongapo,…

Casablanca to Fez

The day started early (about midnight California time) when Kongo and his troop headed out to explore the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca.  This magnificent edifice is built out over the Atlantic Ocean. As numbers go, it is the second largest mosque in Africa, the 13th largest in the world, and boasts the highest minaret in the world at over 60 stories tall.  In the evening a laser strobe light points the way to Mecca.  25,000 worshipers can be accommodated inside the mosque and the wide plaza surrounding the building can hold another 80,000. Said, our guide, gave us  detailed…

Casablanca, Morocco

The monkey arrived in Casablanca this afternoon after a long non-stop flight from LAX to Paris with another connecting flight down to the Casablanca airport in Morocco.  Mrs. Kongo is dragging a bit even ensconced in the beautiful Four Seasons Hotel right on the Atlantic Ocean.  Kongo joins nine other intrepid travelers for a ten-day tour of Morocco where he will be traveling around the country, exploring mountain ranges, camping in the Sahara desert, and nosing around lots of medinas, oases, and souqs.  Of course it is Ramadan season so there is that and Betty, our tour organizer, put us…

Secret Stairs In Pacific Palisades

So Candice, the woman who does Mrs. Kongo’s toes, told her about these secret stairway walks all over Los Angeles.  Naturally, Mrs. Kongo shared this enticing news and Kongo took off to start exploring a whole new thing. Actually, he’d kinda sorta heard about these secret stair walks when researching places to do photo shoots in LA but this really got him going. First he did some research and it turns out that there are actually books written about these hidden stairways but it’s still a pretty under the radar thing.   One of the coolest walks is supposed to…