A Dozen Doors

A few months ago, a good friend of ours, Danielle, gave us an art project to complete – photograph a dozen doors from around the world and post them on our blog. After taking pictures of hundreds of interesting and unique doors, Matthew and I selected the dozen that we think captures aspects of each country.

Thanks to Danielle for this awesome art project!

Fortification in Ronda, Spain

Fortification in Ronda, Spain

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Local Residence in Chefchaouen, Morocco

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Local Residence in Fes, Morocco

Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail in Meknes, Morocco

Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail in Meknes, Morocco

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Local Residence in Marrakech, Morocco

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King’s Palace in Marrakech, Morocco

Karnak Temple - Egypt

Karnak Temple – Egypt

Preah Khan Temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Preah Khan Temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Ta Prohm Temple - Siem Reap, Cambodia

Ta Prohm Temple – Siem Reap, Cambodia

King's Palace, Phnom Phen, Cambodia

King’s Palace, Phnom Phen, Cambodia

Citidel Interior in Hue, Vietnam

Citidel Interior in Hue, Vietnam

Citidel Gates in Hue, Vietnam

Citidel Gates in Hue, Vietnam

Arrival in Morocco

Grande Taxi Ride from Tangier to Chefchaouen

When we arrived at the port of Tangier, lots of taxi drivers aggressively asked us to take their taxi.  My dad said no to almost all of these people.  One taxi driver named Eunice kept following us and then finally got us to take his taxi to Chefchaouen that is about 130 kilometers from Tangier through hills and mountains, along bumpy roads.  Although the taxi was a Mercedes, the car was falling apart.  At the beginning of the ride, my mom thought she was going to fly out the door because the back right seat door did not seem to close very well.  My mom also thought that she might fall into the trunk because her seat was broken. On the sharp turns, we all felt that we might all fall out because there weren’t any seatbelts.  My dad thought that he might fall out of the bottom of the car when we hit big bumps in the road.  My dad also thought that the driver might fall asleep because he looked tired and kept closing his eyes.  Although this was a crazy experience, we all arrived in one piece.

Grande Taxi

Grande Taxi – Can Take Up to 6 Passengers & Driver (would not be allowed in Canada!)

 

Arrival in Chefchaouen

When we arrived in Chefchaouen, all these young men were standing around our taxi staring at us.  It was a little creepy because Eunice told us not to trust these guys.  When we got out of the taxi lots of them asked us if they could help us find our hotel if we paid them.  We tried to follow our driver’s instructions about how to find our hotel, but quickly found that the medina was too confusing.  There were hundreds of streets but no signs.  When we were lost in the medina, we finally paid a guy to take us to our hotel.  We were concerned that this guy might lead us to the wrong spot where we might be ambushed.  Fortunately, he was a good man and he brought us to our hotel.  We paid him 10 dirhams for helping us.   

Matt in Chefchaouen

Matt in Chefchaouen

Street in Chefchaouen

Street in Chefchaouen

Street in Chefchaouen

Street in Chefchaouen

Chefchaouen from a Distance

Chefchaouen from a Distance

Our Night in the Sahara Desert

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This week from October 29th to November 1st, my family and I are on an overland trip from Fes to Marrakech. As I am writing this on the 30th, we have only slept in one place so far, a Berber camp. Berbers are the original peoples of Morocco, similar to the aboriginal peoples of Canada.

 

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After a 450 km drive from Fes to just east of Merzouga, we arrived at the hotel where we were leaving our bags for the night. It was 17:00, so the sun was about to set, creating a beautiful view. This didn’t mean that it was any cooler as the temperature was still 30 degrees Celsius!

 

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After we had organized ourselves and had some Berber whiskey (also known as mint tea – no alcohol), we walked to the front of the hotel and met the camels we were going to ride. The camels were kneeling, with their legs tucked underneath them and each had a saddle. To mount the camel we had to stand on the left side of it, and swing our right leg over so that we were straddling it – like how you would sit on a horse. Then the camel pushed its hind legs into a standing position and suddenly we were at a 45-degree angle from the ground. This part was frightening, as gravity was trying to pull you towards the ground, and you had to hold on tightly to stay on the camel.  As we struggled to stay on, the camel quickly pushed one front leg up at a time causing us to be flung about a bit (or at least it seemed).

 

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When everyone’s camels were standing, we started the one and a half hour trek to a Berber camp where we were going to stay for the night. The ride was kind of jerky, and our thighs were a little bit sore by the time we were half way to the camp.  At one point during the ride, we dismounted the camels, which was scarier then mounting them, and ran up a dune with the hope of seeing a sunset.  Unfortunately, we missed the sun setting, but got to enjoy the seemingly endless dunes and colourful sky.  After remounting our camels, we rode under the night sky, with shooting stars and an eventual full moon.

 

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Once we arrived at the Berber camp, we found our tent  with two beds on each side of a small walkway down the center. There was also no electricity, water or bathroom – not even a squatter! The only forms of light we had were flashlight and candle, which was kind of dangerous because the tents were made of cloth.

 

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Once we had set up our beds in the Berber tent, we went outside to enjoy the most amazing stars ever. The sky was clear and we could see all the constellations. My brother and I also found a high dune that we could jump off of, then climb back up, jump off of, then climb back up, again and again. At 20:30, we had a delicious dinner of chicken tagine, which had been cooked over an open fire. After dinner we enjoyed drumming, singing and a Berber version of the castanets played by the camp’s staff.

 

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The next morning we woke up at 5:30 to see the sunrise. It was so early I could barely function, but we still walked up a dune the size of la Dune de Pilat! It was worth it to see the sun turning the sky red and casting a beautiful shadow on parts of the dunes. Our camel ride back was pretty special, even if it was shorter then the ride to the camp the night before, as my camel was in the leading position. 

 

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In conclusion, I really enjoyed my time in the desert, whether it was the camel ride or the musical performance under the stars, I can confidently say that the Sahara Desert is probably my favourite part of this trip so far.