Worcester State University Faculty Led Morocco Program – 2013 (Day 7)
La Perle Du Sud was a beautiful hotel to visit, no matter how short our stay was. Today is June 1st, 2013 — and Saturday. There is no sleeping in on THIS Saturday! This is our beautiful suite for our rest last night. This hotel is incredible.
—- *Blog Photographs are Courtesy of Christopher Lippmann, one of thirteen WSU Morocco 2013 Travelers | **Video Links are short ‘clips’ uploaded from the entire WSU Group to our WSU Flickr Account to enhance the blog experience. —-
We are up and off to visit Atlas Corporation Studios bright and early. Here is a view from our balcony at La Perle Du Sud — we didn’t want to leave!
Atlas Corporation Studios is a film studio where many films have been shot including Romancing the Stone, the Mummy, Gladiator, Cleopatra, The Jewel of the Nile, The Passion and many others. We got there very early and pretty much had run of the entire place with our own guide. Our tickets were very inexpensive, only 35 dirham apiece and we probably could have stayed there for the entire day.
- A movie set from Atlas Corporation Studio in Ouarzazate, Morocco.
Our guide told us that there was one set that took three entire months to build for a two minute scene in a movie. That is insane! We took some crazy photos here. Every single movie set was different and we were able to take as many pictures as we wanted. The movie props were really cool too. Tim allowed us to take his iconic photo in front of the jet for his ‘Tom Cruise’ look.
- Tim aka Tom Cruise taking a moment from his busy Hollywood lifestyle to take a picture with Omar in front of a movie prop jet
While we were walking around the studio, we saw some people involved in shooting a new movie entitled “Atlantis”. At one location on set, we walked into the hull of the ship used in scenes from Ben-Hur. We sat on the benches and rowed the oars. It was a pretty neat experience There were many Egyptian decorations, wall paintings and buildings created on sight.
- Movie people riding out to the set of Atlantis to film.
Everyone was sleep deprived so we tried to nap a little bit during this stretch of the trip. We traveled for a few hours through the mountains and finally reached the famed Road of 1000 Kasbahs. It was intense to say the least. The corners were very sharp and curved around the sides of the mountains.
We had a couple of close shaves. While we were driving, Adil and Mohamed talked about a bus of 42 passengers that tumbled down the side of the mountain a few weeks earlier — we had driven past a monument erected for the deceased. …. That was comforting. We stopped on the shoulder of the road and took funny pictures together where you could see the road winding around everywhere like a snake around the mountain.
There was a stop that we made that is worth mentioning. We stopped at a picturesque place between two mountains where a stream creeped between them. We pulled over and saw a young girl with a head wrap helping her mother wash clothing in the stream. Mohamed said we needed to stop here. There was an old bridge over the stream where he said that “Joey threw up at once”. Joey must have been a student from a previous trip — and he will never live down that event! Mohamed talked with the little girl’s mother in a different language, one that is not regular Arabic, Mohamed explained. We gave them some clothing that we had left, some school supplies and a little bit of candy. It was nice to meet new people and make friends along the way.
- So nice to meet you.
- Little girl helping me (Beth) across a stream to meet her mother.
This part of the trip was very beautiful to see through the windows of the van — very picturesque but we didn’t stop much because we were on a tight schedule to get into Marrakesh. On the way to Marrakesh we stopped for dinner.
WSU Flickr Video: “Driving in the High Atlas Mountains”: http://www.flickr.com/photos/97085118@N08/9696533586/
We also sat on the terrace at this restaurant relaxing after dinner and we kind-of expecting Moroccan mint tea to be served to us because literally, every single meal was served with mint tea up to this point in our travels. It was just funny that we got so used to tea after dinner meals.
- Lunch Time!
Late in the evening we made it into Marrakesh. The traffic was crazy! Everything was crammed into the streets — people, mopeds, donkeys, carts, horses, horse-drawn carriages, taxis, cars, busses — you name it, it was there. Everyone wanted to go all at once. Jumping into the hustle and bustle of Marrakesh was difficult to get accustomed to after being out in the desert for a few days.
After checking into our hotel, we went out to explore the Jemaa el-Fnaa Square in Marrakesh. It was jam-packed when we got there at 10pm.
We walked through the souk and the girls got some really good deals on “camel leather” bags. There were small alley-ways in the souk was home to the moped 500, and there had to be at least 100,000 people there. We drank some spiced clove tea at a sellers stall and it was delicious. It felt really good on our sore throats. Some of us could not drink it all, however. It was just too spice-y!
So much surrounded us… there were snake charmers, trained monkeys, hawks on leashes, fortune tellers, small groups of people playing music in circles around Moroccan lanterns. We asked if it was this busy because it was a Saturday. A man laughed, “No, it is like this every night!”
There was even a teenager on a motorbike leading two horses by lead ropes through the square at one point. Everything was chaotic but it was so much fun to be a part of everything going on around us. The girls did a little bit of shopping and got amazing deals on “Camel Leather” bags. We know that the bags are not made of real camel, but we thought that it was funny that this was a ploy to make the bags more desirable from the shopkeepers.
- Master snake charmer Omar and his assistant, Meghan.
Everything was shutting down at the Square at this point so we decided to head back to our hotel for the evening. Tomorrow is another day!