Friday, January 8, 2016

Old Caravan Road - Day 8

View of the valley
We continued up the windy, narrow, twisting, one lane road, that, yes, cars did pass the crawling trucks, that were still carrying goods along the caravan route. This was the old caravan road from the Sahara to Marrakech! It was a steep, treacherous road in a car and took us the better part of a day to travel the part we did. Can't imagine riding a camel, or walking, that route!
Hand carved walls
One place we stopped at had some interesting rooms in various stages of preservation. If you look through the window in the picture, you can see the green valley - with the forbidding mountains in the background. The hand carving on the wall is phenomenal. The lower section is done in a plaster type substance, then there's the beehive honeycomb work and wood carving and painting above. The detail is exquisite.
However, once again, as we drove through the forbidding, rugged mountains, we would come upon an oasis. We stopped at the Kasbah Telouet, a village built by the French at the top of the Telouet pass along the main road heading to Marrakech. We were again greeting with barren roads with sudden glimpses of greenery, water, and, or course, numerous settlements. The living is tough but they have always lived, off the land, herding sheep, growing and making everything they need. They will occasionally venture into town for something and you can always find enterprising people selling their produce on the side of the roads.

Arabia on left, Egypt to the right
Little did we know, the desert setting lent itself to numerous film companies, with vast spaces to build sets for very famous movies; movies including Cleopatra, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Patton, Lawrence of Arabia, Jesus of Nazareth, The Mummy, Black Hawk Down, Hidalgo, and many others. It was fascinating to move from a setting of an Arabian street to the entrance to an Egyptian temple simply by turning around. A Tibetan monastery appeared through a door with Noah's ark right beside it. Despite myself, I'm now interested in seeing a few movies just to see how the various scenes actually played out from the props (the giant rocks that are thrown at invaders...they're Styrofoam!)

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