Millions and millions of olive trees dotted on steep slopes, flat areas, on stoney ground and in ravines often tended, others neglected. What an agricultural feast! The yellow melons, avacados and pomegranite roadside stalls dotted the whole way.
Roadside stops always yield a few interesting local customs and sights – donkey loads, terracotta ware, scenery and even a few short showers to settle the dust, and bring the motorbike riders in for a coffee on their weekend jaunt.
The Roman ruins at Volubilis, once the centre of power of Idriss, and dedicated to long ago Emperors and exploits were crumbling cries of the fragility of ego. Fascinating glimpses of roads leading to triumphal arches, and mosaics which defy the ravages of time took our breath away.
Mosaics which embed the fabric of daily life, the fauna and flora of ancient times and the depth of spiritual beliefs, still stir awe at the minute detail in the coloured stones and miliions of tiny, tiny tiles. They survive alongside the modern fauna – a chameleon – and flora – the carob and fig trees.
While the best of the floor mosaics have been repositioned to the safety of the Heritage Centre, there were some superb examples still lying in situ amongst the ruins.
Reminiscent of Pompeii were the well-preserved signs of the grinding, pounding and cooking sections of the bakery. The press for the olives is amazing and its design is still used today. Also fascinating was the still accurate sun dial which threw its time of the day from a simple piece of grass above the etched dial.
The colonades and size of the House of Orpheus, as well as the strategic positioning above the surrounding farming lands gave an almost unassailable position of strength….yet time wrote a different history. We spent a long time soaking up its atmosphere and transporting our thoughts and senses to that former time of glory.
Meknes was the next stop on the day’s itinerary, and it was just that little bit different again. Its magnificent green gate seemed a little out of kilter with the souk market across the busy modern street where transport of contemporary goods could almost be considered archaic, but the plastic chairs of the local curbside cafe added a splash of colour.
Seeking a respite from the street noises we wandered to the old Prison area where the ornate horse carriages plied their trade………not with us bearing our weight on the poor horses though. The view of the prison complex, and the lure of a late lunch/early dinner were afforded to us from the rooftop restaurant. T tried the chicken pie Moroccan style while L& I stuck to the chicken brochette skewer and LSM had the beef kefta. It takes a bit of getting used to the fact that omelette is often a starter at any time of the day.
A drive along the river and seeing the King’s palace, then farewell to Meknes….and the huge McDonalds, KFC and Pizza Hut food strip catering for a very contemporary population. No omelette there I bet.
The drive to Fes, our next overnight stop, was rather uneventful. Though the cranes adaptation to using the communication towers for their nests is quite a sight!
However, the Riad Sara, formerly a private Jewish family home, was another gem hidden behind the plain walls of the old city. Two nights awaited us here.
A slight inconvenience of a gluten kind has kept me from joining the others today on their driving and walking tours of the huge Mdina, tanneries and surrounds, but L will kindly share her photo highlights. Hopefully a late afternoon stroll will be on the cards for me.