My Photography

Sunday, February 28, 2016

On the water

Valentine's weekend part 4.
Part 1 here.
Part 2 here.
Part 3 here.

After asking the owners of the hotel about how to best spend the last 5 hours of our stay, we realized how tiny Oualidia really was, and that this was about all there was to do (other than flying off of ATVs and such):

But as sandy grilled fish didn't sound particularly appealing at 10am, we wanted to find another way to spend a few hours before heading back the the metropolis. We could have headed back to the rocks we hung out on the day earlier, but once in two days seemed enough to me.

We remembered that while dumping sand out of our shoes the day beforepost-ATV session, naturallya guy had asked us is we wanted a boat ride. No boats being evident and Othman's hands needing some minor first aid, we didn't think much of it. But driving down the road to the beach Sunday morning I photographed this view and realized these boats in the lagoon were too pretty to be fishing boats.

We drove down close to the lagoon and while I took some unsuccessful pictures of seagulls in flight, a local struck up a conversation with O, and long story short, we were gonna get our boat ride. We parked the Sandero where it could enjoy the scenery, 

and walked down to the water to find our boat, the Flamingo,

and got in.

On the trip up and back down the lagoon the guy, Ahmed, and Othman talked in Darija while I took pictures and tried to avoid raindrops and the biting wind. O translated for me that the area was a big player in bird habitat conservation in Morocco due to the amount of species that thrive there. I remembered the bird from the day before, and more were certainly in evidence:

As my attention wandered from the birds and the chatter behind, I noticed cool layers inside and outside of the boat,

and a LOT of other cute tourist boats hanging around. We saw quite a few filled with people, including one that quite randomly seemed to be filled with English schoolboys, but unwilling to risk provoking anyone I just photographed the empty ones.

The ride was fun and we really enjoyed it, despite the gloomy weather. Plus O made a friend who can hook us up with places to eat and things to do if we return in the future.

Though it was rife with bad luck and mishaps, as our mini-vacation came to a close we were relaxed, smiling and very happy to have gone on it. We were determined to enjoy our time away, and the fact that we did indeed have a wonderful time just goes to show that life really is what you make of it!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Textures and colors at Dar Beldi

Valentine's weekend part 3. 
Part 1 here.
Part 2 here.
Part 4 here.

We woke up the next morning, refreshed by good sleep and quiet, to serenity and beauty.

After going up to the roof terrace, but before our a lovely breakfast spread was served, I explored a bit, camera in hand.

The breakfast was the best I've had at any hotel in Morocco. Varied, fresh, copious and homemade. They even served us gluten-free crepes!

Plus Othman made a friend who was also sitting at our table:

While on the terrace I was intrigued by all the patterns and textures. My 50mm lens was still broken and all I had was my telephoto, so I wandered about in search of photogenic vignettes.

Breakfast over, we headed back downstairs, and I started photographing the exotic and inviting garden that reminded me so much of Brazil with its smells, colors, layout, and vitality.

I can say without hesitation that Dar Beldi is my favorite hotel in Morocco. There I truly felt transported to another place, and the oasis effect was immediate and breathtaking. I hope to head back soon. But at this point in our journey, we packed up, settled our accounts, and went down to the beach for a few more hours before Casa beckoned...

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Adventures and mishaps in Oualidia

Valentine's Weekend part 2.
Part 1 here.
Part 3 here.
Part 4 here.

Finally we arrived in Oualidia! The first thing we did was lock the keys in the car, which boded well of course. Luckily our hotel was next to some mechanic shops, and so while I got settled and read in the beautiful garden of the hotel, Othman paid a guy the equivalent of $2 to break into our car. 

So then we decided it was time for lunch.

We ate at a seaside restaurant under the other hotel we might've stayed at. And O was silly.

Across the street was a shop renting ATVs, and Othman just couldn't pass up that opportunity. So we got one ($10 for half an hour) and headed over to the beach. He had fun.

And although I was slightly terrified when Othman was driving, I actually had fun driving it!

We crossed over the big dune to arrive at the ocean...

And he played around (and got the ATV stuck more than once) while I took pictures of the breaking waves.

See the little geyser on the left? It was cool to watch the water spurting up in such a vertical line.

We returned the ATV, both it and us a little worse for the wear (at one point O had to leap off because he was heading straight into a ditch, and he cut up his hands and bruised up his legs a bit. And this was in the first 30 seconds of him driving alone. Sigh). Then we walked over to the other side of the beach and went up into the rocks to watch the tide rush in.

Oualidia is apparently an important bird conservationist area, and during our stay we saw dozens of species of birds. We had fun watching this little guy hop around for quite a while.

Before we headed back to the hotel to rest, I decided we needed some pictures of us from this vacation.

Later that night, after a nice nap, we went out to the beach again to walk along the boardwalk and do some nighttime photography. But as I set up the camera I realized my lens, which I had changed from the telephoto to the 50mm, wasn't moving. My backpack had fallen off the hotel bed with the camera in it, and one side of the lens was jammed in. I was pretty upset for a while but was able to walk off the frustration a bit. (The best part of the story comes a few days later back to Casa: Othman was looking at the lens and clumsily dropped it onto his computer... and it was miraculously fixed! Talk about lucky.) So much for nighttime photos, but after walking a while and grabbing some simple dinner food at a grocery store we went back to the hotel to eat, where I took some still lifes. in the yellow lighting.

And a picture of Othman's banged up hand! It's hard to tell here but it was quite swollen. 

We cleaned up dinner and it was bedtime. We had to sleep to prepare for another day of adventures!