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Morocco means freedom

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This adventure began 2 years ago when, during a winter photo session, I met Agata – the owner of a beautiful Friesian named Hermes. You have to go to Morocco – she said. There, you will find stunning photo locations. Although I had already been thinking about going to Morocco for a long time, I lacked that spark which would push me into action. Last year, Agata and I met again, but this time her enthusiasm was so contagious that I decided to use the contacts she had sent me. I didn’t have to wait long for an invitation from “Maroc à cheva”l. Although I hadn’t planned any more trips abroad for the year, the vision of a desert landscape was so tempting that I didn’t think much about buying a ticket to Marrakech in November.

Berber ridding stallion in the desert
Arabian-Berber stallion among palm trees

I was excited setting off, as always before traveling to a new place, but the reality exceeded my expectations. In the stable of Magda and Brahima near Zagora, 12 Arabian-Berbers were waiting for me, as well as landscapes straight from the “Arabian Nights”: palms, mountains, dunes. Agata was right, the exotic beauty of the local landscape can make you dizzy. Getting of the plane the thought came to me as that Morocco smelt of freedom. It didn’t take long to confirm this. Straight off the plane I switched to 4×4, and we started the eight-hour trip to Zagora. The road, though long and tiring, delighted me with the views I witnessed passing by. I couldn’t take my eyes off the harsh, orange, red and brown Atlas mountains, which accompanied us throughout the journey as we drove up and down a seemingly endless zigzagging road.

Arabian-Berber stallion Iftan in the mountains
Arabian-Berber stallion galloping in the desert at sunrise

We spent the next day relaxing and exploring the area – on horseback of course. I must say that twenty-five degrees is a very pleasant temperature in November. It turned out that the nearest surroundings abound in a multitude of landscapes and we wouldn’t be bored for next four days. The stallions were great, cooperative models, which doesn’t mean that, from time to time, some of them didn’t think about running away towards the stable, instead of returning to the herd. Despite these “little disturbances”, the sessions went remarkably smoothly, taking into account that we were working in an open area, without fences, halters etc. My premonition was right. Morocco really does mean space, freedom and wilderness. It also means friendly, smiling Berbers who, using a single propane burner, are able to conjure up delicious, stewed vegetables called tagine from nothing. Well, I didn’t decide to eat with my fingers, but next time who knows. Morocco also means the most beautiful night sky I have ever seen in my life; it reminds me precious fabric in the deepest shade of navy blue, studded with trillions of starry diamonds.

Beckstage on the dunes
Beckstage on the dunes
Arabian-Berber stallion galloping through the dunes in Morocco

Of course, there is also other side of the coin. A few hours spent in this desert, stony land, is more than enough to learn to appreciate every single drop of the water. If you have to bring water for animals and for daily chores in tanks, if the stream where you had been taking pictures only a day before suddenly ceases to exist, if going anywhere without a bottle of water is imprudent (don’t forget we are talking about winter time!), you very quickly learn not to waste this precious resource. Here, you can come across scenes that you can no longer expect to encounter in Europe: women doing laundry on the riverbank, tiny donkeys virtually disappearing under a piles of baggage loaded on their backs, a clay fireplace in Berber kitchen and many more, clearly showing that life in this amazing country anything but a fairytale.

Still, it’s hard not to fall in love with Morocco. That’s why, this year, I have already put it on my travel list and I am looking forward to the new adventure.

Berber riders in the desert
Arabian-Berber stallion galloping through the dunes in the desert
Backstage


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