Here I go, this is it. Seven of us inside a tourist bus with our own cameras.
I left the city of Marrakesh at 7 am waited for someone, wondering if what is Ouarzazate is all about. I did a quick research on Google, browsed some stunning photos on Instagram, read great articles about the film center of the country, and those pros and cons of it.
This is my inside story to Ouarzazate, Morocco.
I seated in front of the bus, beside a Moroccan driver who thought that I was a Japanese. I can’t help but laugh. He has this strange look, bald, and smiling face. I began sharing about my first impression about Morocco, the food, and the people. He was nice, Hicham became our friend throughout the journey, and we felt sad when we separated our ways.
After a two hour drive, we had a stopover, in a lush, verdant mountains to rest, and eat while we need to travel for another 3 hours. There were small valleys where the indigenous people of Amazigh or Berbers live, and survive the way they do for years. I saw children ran down the hills, helped the elders to do farming, and sold fake stone gems. While traveling to this country had provided me the sense of learning the culture, I can’t ignore the fact that I need to be a responsible traveler. While traveling to this country means giving jobs, and opportunities to the people, and shaping the community in tourism, I can’t ignore the fact that still a lot of people from this country has suffered inequality especially the ingenious.
The Edge: Ksar Ait ben Haddou
It was freaking hot, but the excitement to see the place where at least 26 films chose this location including Gladiator, Pirates of the Carribean, Lawrence of Arabia, and Game of Thrones to name a few. We passed a small town of Tinghir before arriving in Ouarzazate which I believe to be an authentic destination bursting with myriad wonders that took my breath away.
We were met by a local guide that toured us inside the Kasbah where the center of the trip is all about. We walked in a village where a lot of souvenirs including scarves, and carpets are being sold along the way. I started to feel happy and excited as well because at last, the place where I can only watch on television has become a reality.
There’s a river bank before we reached the Kasbah, I can literally imagine the medieval place where people from old civilization used to travel from different places of Africa.
The Gateway to the desert
The East of Morocco represents the country’s cultural diversity. And I bear witness to the most deeply seated traditions, but contemporary creations are also honored with nods to some of the cinema’s finest hours. Film buffs like me will recognize the landscapes. Remember Davis Lean’s ‘Lawrence of Arabia” was shot? and how about “Gladiator” and Kingdom of Heaven”?
Ouarzazate is the land of contrasts! I remember staring on the beautiful landscapes that I couldn’t even close my eyes. Those places that I couldn’t find in the Middle East, there is something on there that left me amazed.
I am a Muslim traveler, so Masjid or a Mosque is one of the landmarks I would look wherever I go for prayer. When we were roaming inside Ait Ben Haddou, these walls that built a village overseeing the magnificent view from the top amazed me most. Walls are made of thick clay, that holds the structure of houses including a Mosque.