Saturday, November 30, 2019

Atlantic Ocean in November ---------

Beautiful afternoon on our arrival yesterday.
Cool but calm with lots of sunshine.
Carolina Beach was quite busy. . . . . . mostly walkers
 at this time of year!

Note the cloud bank on the horizon - hopefully my waves to my UK family and
friends were visible, or at least felt!

Pleasure Island Marina
A few brave surfers!

Later in the evening we enjoyed dinner, a walk, and the annual town Christmas
 tree lighting - a really good day here on the coast.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Sparrows arrive. . . . . . . .

I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing
 in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance 
that I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.
-----------David Henry Thoreau

Morning in the late November garden. 
Sunshine . . . . . . . and eight sparrows swimming!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Thankful for so much ---------------

We're heading to the North Carolina coast for a couple of days after Thanksgiving.  
A great place to be after indulging at the groaning holiday table.
Beach walking, shell searching, maybe a quick dip, just toes to ankles, no higher!
The water will be cold. The air crisp and fresh. Our favorite time of year at the shore.
 Boardwalk strolling and sitting will follow while admiring the town Christmas tree
 and decorations. Christmas music will be playing. 
All will glow as darkness falls and the surf pounds the beach beyond the low dunes.  

 Carolina Beach - 2017
Last year we spent  the holiday with family in Arizona and missed the beach!

I'll do my usual wave to family and friends 'across the pond' as I stand on the Atlantic shore.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving celebration wherever you may be.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Western Sahara city of Laayoune ------------

October 12, 2019
El Marsa for LAAYOUNE, Western Sahara
Arrive:   8:00 AM
Sunrise: 7:50 AM
Temp.  84F

 Laayoune, Western Sahara lies in a sparsely populated area of desert on the
 northwest coast of Africa.
 A former Spanish colony established in the 1930's it was annexed by Morocco in 1975. 
Since then it has been the subject of a long-running territorial dispute between
 Morocco and its indigenous Saharawi people.
After decades of upheaval, peace has returned to the city with UN Peacekeeping
 Forces situated there. Now the city is cleaner, commerce is expanding, and 
restaurants, street cafes, financial institutions, souvenir and handicraft shops are
 tailored to take care of everyone's needs, and tourism is growing.

On the road to Laayoune -

By 8:30 AM, following clearance procedure for the ship, a forty-five minute drive
 by bus took us from the port along the desert roads and through dunes to the city. 
First stop was the Animal Market, quite impressive, with a blend of old and new
buildings and outdoor pens full of camels, goats and sheep, all looked well cared for thankfully!

After driving past the huge salmon pink Grand Mosque - no entry to
 non-Muslims - we stopped at the Parador Hotel for refreshments. 
 I absolutely loved the tiled courtyard and spent most of my time walking
 about taking photos of the ground!

'Spanish Town' with Rounded Houses.

Our group, Paula, Bob, Rob and Kim enjoying ice cream late afternoon on
 the Lido Deck prior to the 'sail away' for Dakhla, Western Sahara that evening. . . . . 
. . . . . . a distance of 275 nautical miles.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Kasbahs, Souks, Imperial City and Argan Oil -

October 10, 2019
AGADIR, Morocco 
Arrive: 7:30 AM
Sunrise 7:37 AM
Temp. 82F Overcast 

Agadir, situated on the Atlantic Ocean near the foot of the Atlas Mountains, 
is a popular holiday destination with lovely beaches and a vibrant nightlife. 
 It has a mild winter climate, an important fishing and commercial port, and 
is famous for seafood and agriculture. We did see miles of tomatoes being
 grown under cover on the day long shore excursion.

The morning was somewhat dreary when leaving on the all day tour via comfortable
 buses. We drove to this overview of Agadir and visited the Oufella (Kasbah) in
 one of the oldest districts in the city. 
The fortress with its winding streets built in 1572 was destroyed in the major
 earthquake of 29 February 1960. . . . . and the area is still under repair!

Our friend Kim with her usual fun "I'll try anything" personality, climbing 
aboard the one hump dromedary - her hubby Rob in the background.

I love the expressions on the faces of camels - they always appear to be smiling with
a "come hither" look under those long eyelashes!

We continued on to the imperial city of Taroudant, stopping here for refreshments -
cookies and cooled camel's milk!

Taroudant is framed by ramparts that showcase the city - one of the most
beautiful in Morocco. Walls are steeped in history and its towers have stood
 tall for five centuries to protect the former capital of the Saadian sultans.
Taroudant has a great legacy and a rich history but is not a museum-city stuck
 in time to memorialize its bygone glory.  Here, the bustle of modern life blends
 seamlessly with heritage and tradition.

Why are the goats climbing trees?
The area around Taroudant has become famous for the production of 
argan oil - known around the world now especially in beauty products such
as hair shampoos, conditioners, and many lotions and potions where the 
essence and oil is said to promote well-being.

Tree goats. This eye-catching phenomenon occurs in argan (or argania spinosa), 
a thorny tree with a gnarled trunk endemic to southwestern Morocco and a small 
section of western Algeria. Argan trees produce a fruit that must smell and
 taste delicious because it attracts goats up onto their branches.

Quite an unexpected sight - our Moroccan guide informed us it was very 
commonplace and the goats are actually 'pruning' the trees. 
From the look of their somewhat greasy coats, I'm thinking they must partake
 of the oily nuts for their three meals a day!

Momma and cute baby.

So, while the men apparently support the 'cafe society'. . . . . . . ladies below.........

. . . . . . .were working hard cracking and pressing the argan nuts to extract 
their essence and concoct the oil!

Regarding the visit to an actual shop with a chance to purchase argan oil
 products - which I passed on as I was not thrilled of the thought of leaks
 in my checked baggage - my favorite part was these beautiful 
green pots outside. . . . . . . if only I could have brought these home!

By then we were all quite hungry and, on the long return drive to Agadir
 were welcomed to late lunch at the well-known Chem Ayour Restaurant.
Moroccan Salad
Couscous with seven vegetables
Chicken Tagine 
Veggie Tagine (for the likes of me)
Dessert Pastilla with milk
Wine and water

Beautiful luncheon tent.

It was a huge amount of couscous. . . . . . but very, very tasty!

That night we commenced the sail of 296 nautical miles toward the next port of call,
 El Marsa, which meant a day at sea which was welcomed after visiting busy
 Agadir and Taroudant.  
The city of Laayoune was calling from the desert. . . . . one of the least
 populated regions of the world!

"As usual I finish the day before the sea, sumptuous this evening beneath the moon,
which writes Arab symbols with phosphorescent streaks on the slow swells. 
There is no end to the sky and the waters.
How well they accompany sadness"
---------Albert Camus